You guys have sent some challenging questions today for Mailbox Monday! Is there an age of accountability? | Is this situation really constitutional? | I’m a high school senior. Why does it feel like I’m being bullied? (That’s because you are.) But listen in, I think you’ll be encouraged. The Lord is on the throne and He is the foundation.
Transcribed version of podcast is below.
Today’s Scripture Writing Challenge Verse
- Colossians 2:13-15
Mentioned In Podcast
- Pocket Constitution
- Facebook group for Homeschool Seniors waiting to be adopted
- How Far Can the Government Restrain Citizens’ Lives During COVID-19? What You Need to Know
- The “Age of Accountability”
- WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS ABOUT THE “AGE OF ACCOUNTABILITY”
- Does the Bible Teach an Age of Accountability?
- Is there an “age of accountability” in the Bible?
- Where do I find the age of accountability in the Bible?
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Hey, everybody. How you guys doing? Welcome to the Heidi St. John podcast. Today is Monday, May 11th. This is episode number 922. It is also Mailbox Monday, one of my favorite days of the week here at the podcast. I’m going to take your questions. And you guys are not messing around. Whole bunch of hardball questions today, everything from “Can my governor force me to wear a face mask?” to “Please help the homeschool seniors who need to be adopted.” Lots of great questions today. Stick around. I’m going to tackle them. And I think you’re going to be encouraged.
So, thanks for tuning in today. Before I get started, I wanted to tell you how much I appreciate you guys continuing to leave reviews for the podcast over at iTunes. I know a lot of you have been telling me lately that you’ve been trying to get my books and the books have been sold out. The reason that they were sold out is because the governor of Illinois declared that publishing houses were not essential, and so they were having a hard time shipping them. But I’m fairly certain that they have been shipped now, and so hopefully if you’ve been trying to get your hands on those books, you can do it. And you can do it, if you hurry, in time for Father’s Day. I told my husband the other day, I’m like, “The world’s on fire. I’m going to miss Mother’s Day. Can we just pretend it’s not happening?”
Anyway, hope you guys had a really great weekend enjoying your families together. I want to update you on my family. Many of you saw that I posted a video. It’s been seen about, I don’t know, a little over 300,000 times now on Facebook because my mother-in-law had a heart attack and then a few days later she ended up with a terrible infection. And, again, I took her to the hospital again. They separated us. And it really, really frustrated me. I felt helpless. I was angry. Here’s my mother-in-law. And she has no one to advocate for her. And you guys know when you’re in the hospital, particularly under duress, because— hello, when you’re in the hospital, typically it’s because you are under duress—people need an advocate. And it really frustrated me.
And I continue to encourage people to engage in the conversation about what I believe is massive overreaction and massive government overreach. And we are learning right now that we have tyrannical leaders. And they’re using this thing called COVID-19, this pandemic, to exercise their authority and see, basically, I think, how much can they get away with.
And it’s really not affecting big businesses. Walmart’s going to be just fine. Hello, I’m thinking Chick-fil-A’s probably doing better than it’s ever done in its whole life. If you’re a drive-through restaurant, you’re okay. If you’re Lowe’s or Home Depot, you’re fine. But what’s really happening is they’re killing, literally killing, small businesses. Because Walmart is essential, but the lady in Battle Ground, Washington, my friend Brooke who has a clothing store that’s just a little mom and pop resale shop, somehow she’s not essential. And so, we’re running people out of business. And it’s frustrating me. And I know a lot of you are frustrated.
So, I’m going to try to give you some practical tips today to sort of help you. There’s a whole bunch of questions that are coming in, and they’re ranging wildly from “Can you please talk about suicide? We’re having suicides in our area because of coronavirus. Can you please talk about the legality of this and the other thing?” And then another mom asked me if I could address the topic of the age of accountability.
Now, you guys know, I would think, by now, I love talking about everything. So, everything’s interesting to me. Politics is interesting. Obviously, I love talking about the Word of God. We’re studying Colossians right now at MomStrong International. And that ministry is doing everything we can to encourage you and to uplift you and to remind you of who you are as children of God. And that’s what I’m going to do here. So, there really aren’t any topics that are off limits.
If you have a question that you’d like to have addressed at the podcast, you can go to heidistjohn.com/mailboxmonday. And I’m going to continue just to try to answer your questions in the most reasoned way that I can. I realize some of us are going to disagree. Some of us are going to disagree on things. So, I thought maybe today I’m going to try to tackle three of your questions. And I’m going to save the one I think is the most meaty, I guess, for the last.
So, the easiest one I could think of to shout out was from a listener, a senior in high school, a homeschool senior. And her name is Faith. So, hi, Faith. I got your question. And I’m going to go ahead and give you guys a shout-out today. So, Faith is a homeschool high school senior. And like many, many, many hundreds of thousands of kids, she was supposed to graduate and walk across the stage, but now she’s having a virtual graduation. I’m not a fan of virtual graduations. And, in fact, when the coronavirus is over, I hope to never do a Zoom call again. I reject the new normal. Heidi St. John will not be new-normaling. At least I won’t make it be my new normal. It might be the new normal, but it won’t ever be normal for me. And I know a lot of you feel that way.
And one of Faith’s responses to this was that she and her mom created a page for homeschool seniors on Facebook that need to be adopted. And by adopting, and I’ve seen this all over the internet, there’s some pages that have hundreds of thousands of people. This is largely being done through the public school system. And I think homeschooled kids aren’t really getting in on this very much. So, I love the idea. And so, you can adopt a senior and you can send them a graduation gift, cards, notes of encouragement, I think might be the most important thing. And so, you guys can find this page on Facebook. So, if you just go to the search bar, and I found it, and I’ll actually link back to it in the show notes today. If you type in “homeschool adopt a senior,” you can find pictures of homeschool seniors that are waiting to be adopted by a family who will basically just send them cards and encourage them and say, “Good job. God has good plans for you.” So, I hope this is encouraging for you, Faith, and for your mom. And I hope this increases your numbers a little bit.
So, I’m going to share that page as a way for you guys to support some of these homeschool high school seniors during this time. And right now, I went to the page and there’s several seniors that need to quote “be adopted.” So, check it out. I’ll link back to it in the show notes today. And if you’re interested in adopting a senior through the public school system or any other way, really all you got to do is type in “adopt a senior,” and bam, a whole bunch of pages will come up. But I want to give this little page a little bit of love because last time I looked at it, there were maybe 60 people on the page, not hundreds of thousands. So, that tells me homeschoolers could use a little bit of love right now. So, that’s a really good way for you to do it.
Next question that came in from a listener, she said, “Hi, Heidi. I have a legal question for you.” And you guys know I’m just a homeschool mom with an opinion. I’m not an attorney. Also, I love the constitution, so the conversation to me is fascinating. She said, “Heidi, with governors around the country issuing these requirements about face masks, how do we know if we have any legal right not to comply? How do we ask? I feel so frustrated and bullied.”
So, my stance on this… so, right now, in Washington State, we have not been mandated to wear masks in public. And I am praying against it because you’re right, I feel like we are absolutely being bullied. There’s no question about it. Governors, I think in more than a dozen states right now have implemented executive orders or some sort of official guidelines that require their residents to wear face masks or a covering when they’re in public. And what I’m reading, even from the CDC, a lot of people are like, “Face masks don’t even work.”
And as far as Heidi St. John is concerned, I told my daughter this last night, we were talking about it, it makes me feel like I’m part… When I put a mask on, I’m saying, “I believe all this stuff and I’m wearing a mask to protect you.” And I’m not sick. I don’t actually think the mask works. It frustrates me that they’re asking me to do it. But the question is not, “Are you frustrated by it?” I think we can all agree that it’s frustrating, particularly in places like Kentucky and Pennsylvania and here in Washington State. We’ve got other kinds of frustrating things beyond face masks, which he hasn’t mandated yet. But the question is, “Is it legal? Can he do it?”
Well, the bottom line is yes, he can do it. And this is what you guys need to understand. So, here, in Washington State, I’ve been railing against this. We have a tyrannical governor in Washington State. His name is Jay Inslee. And Jay, if you’re listening, I’m praying for you. And I’m praying someone’ll kick you out of office because we’re being… It’s amazing what’s happening here. Extending the lockdown indefinitely, while people are losing their jobs and their livelihoods. And we’re seeing the sharp now rise of suicide. And depression is setting in. And you guys know, I talked to my friend Kathy Koch about this on the podcast last Friday, but what you didn’t hear was the conversation that we had before we went on the air. And I was just telling her stories of people in my area. And it is devastating what’s happening here.
So, I reached out to an attorney and I said, “Listen, what kind of legal standing do we have?” Well, unfortunately, we can all see that limiting the right to assemble. So, for example, here’s part of the frustration. We have friends who go to church in Northern Washington in a town called Mount Vernon. They tried to have a drive-in church service, and the police were dispatched to make sure that they didn’t get out of their cars. Well, why aren’t the police dispatched to Walmart? Because there are hundreds and hundreds of people parking in the Walmart parking lot, getting out at any given time. Why aren’t we dispatched there? Why are we singling out the church? These are real issues that we are beginning to face now.
And I think we’re going to start to see a barrage of lawsuits. Because when you say, “Well, this parking lot can have people in it, but this parking lot can’t,” now you’re not comparing apples to apples anymore. Now, you’ve singled somebody out. And so, I think we can talk all day about the illegality of it and the unconstitutionality of it. And certainly, it’s nonsensical in a lot of ways.
But I discovered that here in Washington State, our legislative body, the ding-dongs that we have allowed to be leaders and lawmakers in the State of Washington, have passed laws over the past several years that have literally given Jay Inslee sweeping authority to do what he’s doing. So, technically, it’s legal. And I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but that’s typically the case in most of these states. So, where they are issuing these tyrannical laws, they typically are within their rights to do it.
So, then the question becomes “How far can the government restrain our lives during COVID-19?” And as the pandemic goes on and on, we’re going to hear more and more examples of government overreach. Police ticketing people who attend services in their cars. One Florida county introduced curfews. It’s crazy. And there’s a part of me that wonders, I was talking to a friend of mine on the phone the other day and she said, “I think a lot of these people realize now that it’s overreach and COVID-19’s not nearly as bad as they said it was going to be, but for them to back it up, they’re going to have to basically say, ‘I was wrong.'” Well, we don’t want that. So, rather than say they’re wrong, they’re digging their heels in. So, for example, Costco, starting on the 4th of May, started telling everybody that they had to wear face masks. Well, I’m like, “Why on the 4th of May are you doing that, but you didn’t do it when they introduced the pandemic way the heck back at the beginning of March?” So, there’s all these questions that are floating around in the air. But the bottom line is they, really, in many of these places, the governors have legal authority to do that.
Now, we can argue all day long about the constitutionality of it. And I’m really praying that there are… I think the only way out of this that I can see is we’re going to have to recall a lot of these governors and sue them. I mean, I kind of think that’s what’s going to happen. I think you’re going to start to see lawsuits. I’m sure that places like Alliance Defending Freedom are getting phone calls… They have to be getting phone calls every single day because the constitution sets up a federal government that has limited and enumerated power so we know exactly what those… That’s what enumerated means. We know exactly what those powers are. And we know that they’re limited. And the only time in which a president can exercise this sort of extraordinary power is if our nation faces an imminent attack from a foreign nation, or if there is, say, outright rebellion, like an insurrection, that happens in the states, which, frankly, I’m starting to wonder if we’re not very far off from that.
And so, other than that, the federal government and the president have a lot of power when it comes to controlling foreign travel. But what we’re seeing happening in the country right now is sort of unprecedented. So, the federal government can stop people from trying to enter the country. Let’s say that they think you could be infected with the coronavirus. So, President Trump rightly clamped down on the borders and said, “No, you can’t come into our country until we figure this thing out.” So, they have very sweeping power when it comes to interstate travel and things like that.
Under the constitution… Now, this is what I want you guys to understand. So, the 10th amendment, this is the state governing officials, usually governors, who exercise what’s known as a residual police power to protect the health and safety and welfare of the citizens of those states. And this is the authority that the governors are using to issue their stay-in-place orders. So, they closed down what they deemed to be non-essential businesses, prevent large gatherings, and things like that. And the longer this goes on, we can start to see the absurdity of a lot of these things. And so, initially we were like, “Yes, let’s flatten the curve. We’ll do the thing.” And we did it. And now, we’re seeing they’re unwilling to yield back to the people. And this is where you’re going to start to see issues come. So, if your governor has issued an order that says that you have to wear a mask when you go out into public, the bearer of bad news, Heidi St. John, is going to say, “He probably has the legal authority to do that.” I mean, look into your state law and your state constitution, but most of the states where the governors are doing that have been given this authority by the legislative body.
And it’s more important than ever… For those of you who are listening, we’ve been talking about this for years here at the podcast. And I’m saying ordinary people should be sitting in these positions. Run for office. You can run for city council. So, for example, you can run to be manager of your city. You don’t have to be a politician or somebody who went to school to study this stuff to run for office.
And it becomes more and more important with each passing day that we start to really look inside of ourselves and say, “How precious is our freedom?” Patrick Henry said, “Give me liberty, or give me death.” And I’m with him. Our freedom should matter. Our liberties should matter. And so, every single person that’s listening within the sound of my voice, I hope you guys will be praying about what God would have you do to protect your freedom. And it isn’t just for you. This is the freedom of your children and your grandchildren. What kind of a world are they going to grow up in? I keep hearing things about the new normal and how nothing’s going to go back to normal. And, you guys, it’s like a hostile takeover from people who don’t value freedom at all. And they would rather have the government keep us safe. The role of government is not to keep you safe; it’s to exercise justice. And justice is not being served, I think, in many, many ways right now.
So, that’s my answer to your question. Unfortunately, I do think your governor probably has the legal footing to do that. I also think we’re going to start to see these decisions challenged in court, and many of them are probably going to make it all the way to the Supreme court. So, thanks for that question. I wish I had better news for you. I understand that you feel frustrated and bullied because you are being bullied. So, that makes sense to me.
So, again, a reason for us to be engaged, but not panicking. We want to be prayerful about these things. We want to be respectful. I have been going to protest in my state. I think it’s very important to stand up for your first amendment rights. A virus does not cancel the constitution of our country.
So, if you guys haven’t ordered a pocket constitution, I’m going to link back to it in the show notes today. I ordered 10 of them and I gave them to all my kids and I was like, “Keep these with you all the time.” And we’re studying and looking at the constitution again in our house so that our children understand the beauty of this document that was way ahead of its time and has served our nation very well for over 200 years. And so, understand your rights and your freedoms and be willing to stand up for them. I think the next front is probably going to be churches. But we have to wait and see what these governors do. So, as soon as they say, “Well, this place can open, but this place can’t.” In Kansas City, just massive overreach over there. Massive government overreach. The 10/10/10 rule went into effect. You guys should look it up. It’s crazy. I couldn’t believe it. A friend of mine who lives in Kansas City sent that to me. And it’s terrifying actually, what these guys are trying to do in taking advantage of a pandemic.
So, stay engaged. Watch what’s happening. I would say participate in local protests. If you guys are like me and you’re frustrated by this, participate. You have a right to do that. And that’s what we’re doing here. And we’re praying that somebody, eventually someone with authority because that’s what it’s going to take, begins to make wise changes so that this nation can get back to work because, as I told my kids the other day, I’m much more worried about government overreach than I am about COVID-19. I’m much more worried about losing my freedom and our liberties in this nation than I am about COVID-19. And that to me is the central issue.
All right. So, then the next question. I’ll try to answer this one. You guys have such good questions. This one was about the age of accountability. And she said, “Heidi, I love your podcast with Phil Hopper about the end times. I have an additional question about the end times. As a Christian mom, I try my best to point my children to Jesus daily and live with eternity in mind. While my children are still young, eight, five, two, and number four is on the way, we speak about salvation and our need for it often. To my knowledge, they have not yet accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior. And while I pray that they will come to know the Lord at a young age, I understand that it could also happen when they’re a bit older. So, with everything that’s going on in the world today and how it seems the end times are closer than ever, I become increasingly more overwhelmed with my children’s deeper salvation. Can you discuss the age of accountability? What do most theologians and scholars believe is the age of accountability? I have been so worried lately that my eight-year-old will be left behind and have no one to provide for him and protect him. Would Jesus let children that young be left behind to fend for themselves? Any insight you have would be appreciated.”
Wow. So, you’re asking a pretty… This is a pretty hardcore question. And I remember arguing about this… Well, not arguing. Discussing this with people in Bible college years ago. And I got to tell you, the concept of the age of accountability is that children are not held accountable by God for their sins until they reach a certain age. So, if the child dies before they reach the age of accountability, that child then, by the grace and mercy of God, is granted entrance into heaven. So, I thought they had a really fascinating article about this at gotquestions.org, and so I’ll link back to that in the show notes for you.
So, ultimately, I think that the best way to answer your question is to say this. I don’t see anything in Scripture that clearly defines an age of accountability. I don’t see it identified anywhere. There’s nothing in the Bible that says, “This is the age. And from here on out, you’re responsible.” And I think the reason for this is because our children mature at different paces, at different ages. And this is true in different cultures. This is true depending on the emotional and spiritual maturity of your child. And so, I think that the Lord didn’t identify a specific moment because He is all-knowing and Ge knows this about us. God knows that each soul is accountable and when. And the Lord knows when real rejection has taken place, and when the love of sin exists in the heart, when enmity with God is conscious and willful. And only God understands that.
So, let’s look at Romans, Chapter 8 for a second. Romans, Chapter 8:7. “For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s law and it never will.” So, God understands our brokenness. He understands our sin nature. And the Jews identified an age of accountability at about, I don’t know, 12 years old. And this is when Jesus was taken by his parents to Jerusalem to the Passover feast. And He was there in the temple questioning His leaders. So, this is kind of a good illustration. Jesus walking around, asking profound questions at that point. So, this then seems to be an age when these kinds of questions begin to be very personal in the heart of a child.
And so, I noticed Grace to You, Dr. John MacArthur has a pretty good, I think, synopsis of this. He says that he’s always felt that somewhere around the age of 12, the transition from childhood to adulthood takes place. And it’s probably not totally disassociated from puberty, where there’s a consciousness of your own impulses, your feelings, your desires, those kinds of things. And therefore, sinful attitudes and passions and whatever else, all the things, start to emerge. So, with this in mind, he believes it’s absolutely essential, all along the way with children, and this is where I wanted to read what he said because I agree with him 100 percent. He said, “It’s absolutely essential all along the way with children, that every time they desire to make a commitment to Jesus Christ at whatever age, as someone giving spiritual oversight to them, you encourage them to do that because you don’t know, we can’t know, when their desire is indicative of genuine, saving faith.”
So, when a child says, “I want to invite Jesus into my life,” encourage them to do it. Every one of those are steps towards the Lord Jesus and to knowing Him better. And so, at what point does it become saving faith? Only God knows for certain. And so, I think it’s wise for you, Mama, just to say, “Would you like… ” I mean, we did this with our kids. Some of them came to us on their own. And others we’d say, “Would you like to ask the Lord Jesus into your heart?” And we give them opportunities to do that. And I think give your children opportunities.
So, the age of accountability, again, I’m just going to recap for you, not clearly identified in Scripture. I think it’s up to parents, every time a child wants to respond with an open heart to Christ to encourage it all along the way until they come to a point where that’s genuine. And the Lord knows that even if you don’t. And so, there are lots of articles. I’ll link back to some of them in the show notes today. I think theologians are generally consistent on this. They might have little differing ways of looking at it, but, as a general rule, going to be pretty consistent that nowhere in the Bible does it actually say there’s an age of accountability.
And, in fact, the Bible says we have been sinful from birth. And so, then the conversation comes in, “What happens when a young child dies?” I think there’s a very good case to be made for God being merciful and God making those decisions correctly. I thought this was interesting. And I’m going to talk about this really quickly because I’m over time already. But frequently lost, I think, in the discussion regarding an age of accountability is the fact that children, no matter how young they are, are not innocent in the sense of being sinless. And this is what the Bible says. We are guilty from birth. The Bible tells us that even if an infant or a child has not committed a personal sin, all people, including infants and children, are guilty because of inherited sin. So, we inherited this. It’s the condition that is passed on from our parents. In Psalm 51:5, David said, “Surely, I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me,” because David understood that even at conception, he was a sinner. And the very sad fact that infants sometimes die demonstrates that even infants are impacted by Adam’s sin since the physical and spiritual death were results of original sin, of Adam’s original sin.
And so, then the study, it goes on. “What about babies and young children who never attain the ability to make this individual choice?” And this is where God’s grace and mercy comes in. So, an age of accountability is like a concept that is thrown out there. But, like I said a few minutes ago, it’s never really clearly stated in Scripture. But I think one verse that can speak to God’s mercy is Romans 1:20. “Since the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities, His eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made so the people are without excuse.” So, according to this, our guilt before God is based, really, in part, on the fact that people reject what they can quote “clearly see of God’s existence.” And this leads to the question of children who have no faculty to clearly see this. Wouldn’t their natural incapacity to observe and reason provide them with an excuse?
So, this is where good people can sort of disagree. And I don’t have time to go into the whole thing today. I think there’s a very, very good case to be made for the wisdom of God, God’s understanding of our human heart and our ability to have faith even when we’re not able to voice it. Do you guys understand what I’m saying? Anyway, it’s a huge, big question. I love that you asked it.
And I want to really quickly say one more thing. You’re talking about the second coming of the Lord. And I believe, as I’ve said here many times in the podcast, this generation could very well live to see the return of Jesus, very well live to see the rapture, which, wow, what an amazing thing. And this is a good time to study God’s Word. It’s a good time to be in the word, be immersing yourself in the Word, be teaching and training your children in God’s word. And that’s what I want to encourage you to do. So, be encouraged today. “Study,” as Paul said to Timothy, “to show yourself an approved workman unto God, who does not need to be ashamed and who can rightly divide the word of truth.” And this is God’s Word.
And so, keep praying for your kids. I accepted the Lord Jesus when I was four years old. I remember my grandmother sitting down next to me and saying, “Would you like to ask Jesus into your heart?” And I didn’t fully understand what it meant to follow the Lord, but I loved Him and I wanted to know that I loved him and I wanted Him to know that I wanted to be His. And I think that the Lord does that. He impresses his love on the heart of a child. And so, give your children the opportunity to accept Jesus into their life. And don’t waste any opportunity that comes your way to do so. So, I hope that helps.
I’ve gone a little bit over today. I’m going to go ahead and link back to a ton of different articles for those of you who want more information on this in the show notes today. And, again, I appreciate your listening. Appreciate you joining us at MomStrong International. We’ve just begun studying the book of Colossians. And it’s going to be a great study. Really great study for such a time as this. And pointing you back to Jesus being our source of hope and encouragement. Jesus Only is the name of the study. And you can find it, and you can find me, over at momstronginternational.com. Thanks for listening today, everybody.
I’m going to bring my daughter back with me and maybe her husband, if we can get him in here. And we’re going to talk about Savannah’s first two weeks of postpartum, postpartum depression, and anxiety, and sort of what our family has done to come around Savannah as a third time new mom and the impact that that’s made on her life. I know you guys are going to be encouraged. She’s such a precious young mother. And she’s going to have a wonderful word of encouragement for you. So, come back on Wednesday and invite your new mama friends and those who are expecting; or those of you who are grandmothers and you’ve got daughters who are expecting, come back on Wednesday and I think you guys are going to be really encouraged.
We love you. The Lord loves you guys. Stay faithful, stay faithful. God is still on His throne and he is still sovereign and you can trust him. We’ll see you back here on Wednesday.
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Heidi St. John
c/o Firmly Planted Family
11100 NE 34th Cir, Vancouver, WA 98682
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