On This Page:
¨ The Responsibility of Victims of Abuse from an Accountable Age
¨ God Holds Us All, (Young and Old; Pagan and Christian,) Responsible from an Accountable Age
¨ At What Age Does Accountability Dawns Upon a Child?
¨ The Role and Responsibility of Parents in the lives of Children
WE WERE ALL BORN AND RAISED UNDER THE DREADFUL CONSEQUENCES OF SIN
It is a reality that we all live under the dreadful consequences of sin from the moment we were born into this broken world, (Romans Chapters 2 & 3.) Despite what psychiatry teaches, man is not an ‘advanced animal.’ God The Holy Spirit made humanity in His Image, (Jn. 4:21-24.) But humanity chose to plunge into lawlessness and forfeited their peace and holiness at the fall in Eden. Sin is not a ‘negative, impaired perception.’ It is a reality – the cause of all suffering, and it is constructed by verbs such as murder, “sorcery, adultery, harlotry, ridicule, make a wide mouth and stick out the tongue, [against God,] inflaming yourselves with false gods, slaying the [innocents…”] (Isa. 56:3-6.)
No form of philosophy or man-made dogma can ‘rectify’ this fallen state of mankind, (Col. 2:8-15.) The only Way to heal this sick situation is through personal surrender to Christ when we reach the age of accountability, when we are able to distinguish right from wrong, (Jn. 3:16; 16:4.) Everyone has this inborn ability, as God “writes His [Moral Law] on every heart and mind,” (Heb. 10:16.) No one will be able to hide behind the notion that we ‘inherited’ the sin, troubles, and foul behavior of our forefathers and so, we may remain corrupted. Everyone will stand accountable before God for their own, unrepentant sins, (2 Cor. 5:10.)
Sin has no hold on true believers unless they transgress God’s Moral Law and remain in sin unrepentantly, (1 Jn. 5:18-19.) The wonder of Jesus’ work on the cross is that sincerely born again believers in Christ cannot be cursed, as they are fully blessed through His atonement in their place, (Gal. 3:10-14.) Still, God views unrepented sin in such a serious light He curses all those who choose to continue in immorality without a sincere relationship with Him. Proverbs 28:13 declares, “He who covers his sin will not prosper. But whoever confesses and forsakes it, will find mercy.”
Yet, we cannot dispute the fact that we all gravitate ‘naturally’ towards the sinful behavior and problems of our ancestors. We “naturally” choose to follow what we know and learnt. Conversely, psychiatry and psychology teach alcoholism and other types of sinful behavior that run in families are ‘illnesses’ not sin. For instance, Great-grandpa Tim or Thabo was a violent alcoholic. Grandpa Tim or Thabo was the same. Pa Tim or Thabo followed closely in their footsteps. Generations of Tims or Thabos were also too lazy to hold down a job. They neglected and abused their wives and children, pushed them into dreadful poverty, molested their little girls, beat up their boys, destroyed their families, and nearly shamed them all out of existence. Or: Grandma chose to have her brother-in-law’s child and raised him as her husband’s child. This so-called “illness” skips one generation. Then it surfaces in the third and fourth generations, when Daughter-in-law and granddaughter has their brothers-in-law’s children, recycling the sin, (Ex. 20:1-6!) This is because we all choose to obey or disobey God. This is where the age-old saying originated, “As the mother so the daughter!” (Ezekiel 16:44.)
THE RESPONSIBILITY OF VICTIMS OF ABUSE FROM AN ACCOUNTABLE AGE
Nothing in this article or in the book, Dealing with Abuse and Abusers God’s Way, diminishes crimes against victims, or exonerates unrepentant abusers. Unrepentant, escalating abuse has the power to destroy victims not only physically and mentally, but spiritually as well, (Rev. 3:11.) No child of God can intentionally continue in theft, emotional and physical murder, and destruction, (Jn. 10:10.) The person that commits such unrelenting harm is a psychopathic narcissist and Satanist, (Jn. 8:44!) While an attitude of forgiveness must guide true believers, God continually commanded that wilfully unrepentant Satanists must not remain part of their lives, (2 Tim. 3:1-5; 2 Cor. 6:11-18; Eph. 5:11-13; 4:17-24.)
Contrary to the occult teachings of psychiatry and psychology, the way in which both abusers and their victims react to abuse is crucial to their redemption, salvation, healing, and general well-being in this world. By this I mean, psychology teaches that man is but an animal; living on primitive urges and desires, and so, he has no moral responsibility or accountability at all during any stage of his life. On the other hand, a fact that stands central to our redemption in Christ, (and contrary to the lies of psychiatry and psychology,) is that we must realize and accept that personal responsibility and accountability are essential, self-protecting, Scriptural commandments and creation principles of God! (Gen. 1:26-28; 2:15-25; Jn. 1:12-14.) E.g., victims of abuse would commit self-harm if they neglect to take care of themselves and secretly hate, and take revenge on abusers without accepting the responsibility to work through the abuse God’s way! (See Mt. 18:15-20!) Whether a person is an abuser or the victim of abuse, if they minimize and avoid personal responsibility and accountability, it will result in far reaching, growing sin, which disrupts and endangers not only the deceived abuser and his or her victim, but everyone in contact with them, (Heb. 12:15.)
As a result, all people from the age of accountability and according to their mental capacity are compelled, as far as it depends on them, to obey God’s disciplinary commandments to resolve the harm done to themselves and to others God’s Way, (James 5:16; Mt. 18:15-20.) Jesus commanded, “You shall not hate [your abuser] in your heart. You shall surely rebuke him, [this is God’s anger management in Mt. 5:21-26,] and not bear sin because of him, [don’t let him drag you down to hatred and revenge because you think you have no way to vent your indignation. For] you shall not take vengeance, [as I will repay; so do] not bear a grudge [or bitterness that leads to decided unforgiveness…]” (Lev. 19:17-18.)
GOD HOLDS US ALL, (Young and Old; Pagan and Christian,) RESPONSIBLE FROM AN ACCOUNTABLE AGE
God’s Word makes it clear that we have absolutely no excuse to continue living in a fallen state of sin without Christ, or to continue in unrepentant sin of any type, (Jn. 1:12-13; 3:3-5; Rom. 3:23-24; Eph. 2:1-10; Rev. 21:7-8.)
For this reason, God holds us all responsible for every sinful decision and action from the very moment we can distinguish between right and wrong, and thus, can decide to do right or wrong, and choose to purposely abstain from sin and flee from dangerous people, (Rev. 20:11-25; Rom. 2:11-16; 3:21-23; 7:7-25.)
This sounds as if young children and those who have never heard or understood the Gospel, and were never taught the precepts of the Moral Law, might be exempt from personal accountability before God. Yet, even pagans, who do not regard Jesus or even heard about Him, are answerable before God because they too, have His Moral Law written on their ‘hearts,’ or human spirits, and in their “minds,” (Heb. 10:16; Rom. 2:5-6; 14-15; 1 Ths. 5:21-23.)
By ‘default,’ everyone that possesses the necessary mental capacity, knows it is ‘wrong’ to steal, lie, defraud, rape, murder, adulterate, etcetera. In addition, the Holy Spirit, using all the precepts of His Law written on humanity’s ‘heart,’ convicts everyone on earth (capable of personally understanding the difference between right and wrong,) of immorality or moral sin, righteousness in Christ through His completed atonement, (the Way out of sin,) and judgement for living without Christ and for unrepentantly violating God’s Law, (Jn. 16:8-11; 13:34.)
It is another certainty that the Holy Spirit warns us of danger from a young age, so that many people, even as children, flee from sexual predators and other danger because they simply feel terribly uneasy with the person and situation, and ‘know’ they must run or shout! This does not diminish the crime of paedophilia, any other type of immorality, or the guilt of these demoniacs, but it does prove that even young children are, to the degree they can understand at any given age, capable of obeying the Voice of the Holy Spirit and act on the Moral Law written in their little ‘hearts!’
Still, young children does not necessarily understand the Gospel and the rules of society, because they are simply too young to comprehend, personalize, and remember it all. Everyone from an accountable age, and especially from the time they are old enough to understand the truth of God’s Word, actually undertake a journey or lifelong process of emotional and mental growth in Christ, which is never an instant thing, (Rom. 12:1-3.) That is why even the elderly sometimes trust the wrong people and are defrauded of their life savings, etcetera. Afterwards, if they are honest, they would all be able to say, “I instinctively knew something was wrong, but…” Being deceived, not understanding the situation properly, or trying to be kind to the wrong people, do not minimize our personal responsibility to obey the Moral Law and the leading of the Holy Spirit. Accordingly, God warned in Jam. 4:17, “To him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.”
However, none of us know it all. Someone always used to say we learn until the moment we die, because we have never died before. Therefore, no one knows beforehand how to die!
AT WHAT AGE DOES ACCOUNTABILITY DAWN UPON A CHILD?
Think back to the very first wrong thing you did. How did you know it was wrong and why did it make you feel guilty? (I am not talking about not wearing your shoes when you were supposed to. I am referring to moral sin like lying, stealing, being cruel to animals and other people — or even your passivity in the face of another’s cruelty to someone or something, while you could have fled or helped.) That was when you became accountable for your sins; discerning between moral right and immorality or moral wrong.
Of course no one can expect a young child to act as responsible as a teenager or an adult. A child’s age and personal understanding lessen his or her responsibility, but even young children can make important moral decisions from the age of accountability. I mean, even a young child knows ‘instinctively’ it is terribly wrong to pulverize a little kitten with a brick and will normally scream hysterically to protest the cruelty. Thus, the principle of God is that immorality remains sin in both young and old. God wants us to make the right choices as soon as we are capable of doing that.
So, as soon as we remember some moral sin from our childhood, that is the moment when the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin and righteousness, and gives us the opportunity to confess that sin to God, and if possible, to those we wronged, dealing with guilt and shame forever. God commanded in Heb. 3:15-17, “Today, if you hear My Voice, do not harden your hearts…” (Jam. 5:16-17; Jn. 16:8; 1 Jn. 1:9.)
Most Bible scholars believe accountability usually dawns upon us between the ages of five and seven, depending on personal ability, of course. Paul explained this as follows in Rom. 7:7-12, “[All people are born into a state of sin and lostness, Rom. 5:12; 3:23. However...] I would not have known sin except through the law… But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, [the precepts of the Moral Law, “you shall not steal, covet, lie, murder…” which are written on all human ‘hearts’ while no one is able to keep the Moral Law in totality, Gal. 2:21,] produced in me all manner of evil desire. [Once we begin to practice immorality, the devil gets a hold un us to tempt us to greater immorality.]
“For apart from [me knowing the precepts of] the [Moral] law, sin [or accountability] was dead [in me.] Thus, I was alive once [unto God] without the law…” [Paul means, I was completely innocent and belonged to heaven before the age of accountability; not knowing right from wrong, because all babies and little children belong to Jesus in their innocence]
“But when the law came, [when I began to know right from wrong, being guided by the Moral Law of God written on my heart in the conviction of the Holy Spirit,] sin revived, [meaning the sin-state into which I was born took hold of me,] and I died [spiritually,] because [knowing what is sin,] I stood guilty before God for breaking the entire law. (Breaking one precept of the law makes us guilty of transgressing the whole law.) And without personal acceptance of the complete atonement of Jesus in my place, I could do nothing to save myself from my guilt and condemnation...]” - (Jn. 1:12-13; Gal. 2:16-21; 3:21-25.)
Hence, it is necessary to evangelize even young children with the true Gospel of Christ, (Jn. 3:3-5.) To allow them to be Biblically baptized as disciples of Jesus, however, must remain the child’s personal decision when he or she is old enough to fully comprehend the Scriptural responsibilities which accompany Scriptural discipleship in Christ.
THE ROLE AND RESPONSIBILITY OF PARENTS IN THE LIVES OF CHILDREN
Everyone is born into a state of sin, yet remains innocent before God until the age of accountability. Still, the God-given role that parents, grandparents, teachers, and other educators must play in the Godly upbringing of children, remains essential in the formation of human character, which severely affects human choice, (Deut. 4:9; 11:19; Eph. 6:4!)
Someone fittingly explained, “[Apart from teaching our children the truth of God’s Word and His Moral commandments,] personal failure to use capabilities such as speech, etcetera, increases the scope for actual sin. [This also constitutes the sin of parents, who neglect to teach and discipline their children lovingly, and to teach them to develop their capabilities such as conscience, speech, Godly behavior, and intellect.] Kids are responsible for whatever righteous responses are possible for a child to make at any given age. [We must remember that neglect has an incredible influence on children, which, in the long run, affects every aspect of their lives. But the crime of neglect is no excuse for a child, teenager, or adult to sin and continue in sin, as everyone from an age of accountability can begin to discern between right and wrong.] At any given age the child is responsible for his abilities at that age. [As his abilities broaden, the growing child becomes increasingly fully responsible before God.]
SHAMING, BLAME SHIFTING, AND DENIAL ARE SOME OF THE REASONS WHY VICTIMS KEEP QUIET
That being said, we should also realize that circumstance, parental guidance or the lack thereof, and background play an important role in people’s sensitivity to danger and their view of sin, although this does not delete or lessen the power or importance of the Holy Spirit’s conviction and God’s inward Moral Law.
When speaking about the age of accountability, we should also take into account that learned perceptions such as acceptance of sin, the mind and body’s natural response to sexual stimulation, (on which all sexual predators prey,) as well as shaming and denial, can imprison victims of abuse in sin and silence when they should speak out, flee from, and stand up to abusers. [See the example of a shaming granny under the heading, “Legitimate Blame Versus Undeserved Hatred for Passive Protectors.”]
So, it is common that many victims of abuse, (those who, because of their oppressive circumstances could not stand up to abusers; those who were restrained to submit to the abuse, those who could flee but didn’t; as well as those who did stand their ground and dealt with the abuse before it could take hold of their lives,) often smother the abuse rather than seeking the protection and intervention of parents and other protectors they can trust.
Shaming, Blame Shifting, and Denial are common motivations for unreported crimes such as sexual molestation, rape, and incest. It is basically the predator’s word against the child or woman’s word. As a result, children must be taught from an early age to be vigilant against the dangers of abuse and to either flee or stand their ground against all forms of abuse without over-reacting to harmless situations, or being dishonest and manipulative. They must never, ever accuse anyone falsely as that can destroy the lives of innocent people and even send them to prison.
Without justifying sin against children in the least, it remains a fact that children from an accountable age have a remarkable capacity to discern between right and wrong because God created humanity this way. However, some children, just as adults, can be incredibly spiteful, deceitful, unrepentant liars.
It is a sad fact that men and women have been falsely accused of sexual molestation and even rape, while such crimes never really occurred. Nevertheless, all reported crimes against children (and helpless animals) must be thoroughly investigated. The child must be taught to inform people in protective positions right away, and then children must expect that protector to take immediate action. Most importantly, the abused child, teenager, and adult must realize that he or she can never expect people to help if they do not know about the abuse.
Our children and teenagers, especially, are precious in the sight of Jesus.
All people are responsible before God to protect our children as well as one another as far as possible.
When the damage is done, physical wounds might heal well, but psychiatry and mostly psychology too, will only do further emotional damage. Only obedience to Jesus and the Truth of His in the leading of His Spirit, can truly protect, heal, and deliver the shattered lives and souls, even human spirits, of the abused.
Articles and books relevant to this article:
¨ The book, Dealing with Abuse and Abusers God’s Way