In my circles growing up there was a belief that was taught to me in Sunday School called The Age of Accountability. To this day, I am not sure why you would indoctrinate a nine year old on matters of hell. Either way, this belief taught that at a certain point in a person’s life, they become accountable for their decisions, and die having not found God, they will burn in hell for eternity (their teachings). For example, my Sunday School teacher taught that accountability started at the age of 13 (how he got to this number I am not sure). If a person died after they were 13, and they had not consciously chosen Christ, they would go to hell. Before then, heaven.
I have some problems with this belief. Psychologically speaking, when someone experiences a traumatic event in their life, their mind stops developing past that age. So how can the victims of abuse, violence, manipulation, and neglect go to hell if they were the victims of these types of crimes before that age that God decided? How can a victim of physical and emotional abuse at age eight, who dies of a drug overdose, or a car accident, or some other tragic event later on, be held accountable for their choices? Their body may be mature but their mind is still trapped in that eight-year-old. They make the choices of an eight-year-old. How can they choose God when victims of things like abuse cannot choose things like trust and love within a relationship? If it’s been ruined by others, how can they do it with God? They wouldn’t know how to. They cannot really conceive God, or anything subjective, because that part of the brain isn’t developed until age eleven. They could never choose a relationship for themselves, all they have is the relationship with God of their parents.
So what do we teach about the childhood victims of sexual abuse (1 in 3 girls, 1 in 4 boys)?
What do we teach about mentally handicapped people, who, even when high functioning ones don’t have the intellectual capacity to enter the mind of a teenager?
What do we teach about the victims of serious emotional and physical neglect who never got their childhood needs of nurture and love met?
Feel free to open up your thoughts on this, or your beliefs on the afterlife as well.