THE AGE OF ACCOUNTABLILITY
I remember teaching a class in Relief Society on the Blessings of the Sacrament and struggling through it. It was one of those teachings, where “everyone knew everything there was to know about the subject”. What could I bring to the table, except questions? I asked a question concerning the sacrament, and a sister who had obviously lost her patience with me,answered, "We all know this, “we” have all been taught this since we were 8 years old in Primary. So I said, “I am 8 years old” and I have only been a member for 3 short years, please answer my question to that reply, there was much laughter. Serendipitously, I am “teaching” Primary for the 7-8 year group. God loves us and has a sense of humor.
When I was 8 years old, I was baptized and joined Baptist Temple Baptist Church. I was almost baptized against my wishes when I was 6 or 7. I had spent the summer with my grandmother in the “country”. I remember this because I was sent to vacation bible school at a local church. My cousin was a member and she was planning on being baptized. And she did. There was a line of people waiting to go into the little pond at the back of the church. The congregation was singing Amazing Grace; people were crying and laughing at the same time. I remember being intimidated about this, and I stepped out of the line, I didn’t want to be baptized without my mom’s permission. Of course this didn’t go over well with my Aunt and cousins.
But I wanted to be baptized at my own church. I remember discussing this with my mom, and she said it was ok with her. So I had to speak with the Pastor of the church. I remember having a very serious conversation with him, which was interrupted by giggles from me. On the Sunday I was baptized, no one in my family came to church, at least not the first service. My mom and I had picked out a dress for me to wear afterwards. I remember putting on the baptismal clothes, a white t-shirt and shorts, and I walked into the pool. The pastor and his assistant were there. Before I was lowered into the water, he preached a short sermon, and then “in the name of the Father, the Son and Holy Ghost, I was baptized. Just like that, total immersion, (I had a swimming cap on to keep my hair dry).
I marvel at the audacity of my 8 year old self. What motivated me to do this? I know that a few of my friends had turned 8 and I thought they were special. So I wanted to be special too, I suppose. I knew I had a testimony of Jesus Christ, this I know for sure.
So what is the age of accountability, why 8 years old?
I have the special privilege to “teach” 7-8 year old boys and girls in Primary. I don’t know if teach is the right word, because they seem to know so much more than me. They have been taught by their parents and it shows. They know what it means to be accountable. Does the Lord start to speak to your heart at 8? Does he “open up” long lost instructions to prepare you for the progression into “big kid” life, and teenage life and eventually adulthood? The Lord has a lot to say on this issue, and I feel that I have taken a lot for granted. Jeremiah was a “child” when the Lord called him to perform his duty as a prophet. Even Samuel was called as a little child, not fully knowing who “God” is, but only what they were taught by their “goodly parents”.
Jeremiah1:5- before I formed thee in the belly, I knee thee, and before thou came forth of the womb, I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nationsThe Lord does speak to our “hearts” as children. We are protected, even in the most abusive of life’s circumstances. This was a plan that has been “written” in our hearts, even from the foundation of the world.
6 Then said I: “Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I cannot speak, for I am a child
1 Samuel 2:26 And the child Samuel grew and was in favor both with the Lord and also with men.
1 Samuel 3:4; 7; 10
4 that the Lord called Samuel and he answered “Here am I”
7 And Samuel did not yet know the Lord, neither was the word of the Lord revealed to him.
10 And the Lord came and stood and called as at other times “Samuel, Samuel”. Then Samuel answered, “Speak Lord, for thy servant heareth”.
Doctrine & Covenants 29:46-47There are two key words here, redeemed and sin. I was a pretty good kid growing up but I had my moments of mischievous behavior, and I know that I transgressed many of my mother’s commandments. My paternal grandmother pronounced me “bad”. She told me that if I didn’t change my ways, I was going to hell. That scared me for a long time, and I did try to be good. I wish that I had known that Jesus had this covered too, that even from the foundation of the world, when all the rules and guidelines were being hashed out, our Heavenly Father put this term on the table. I have the impression that this was a deal breaker, that children from infancy until the age of 8, would not be responsible for the sins of Adam, and they would be sinless until they were at an age whereby after all of the teachings of their parents or not,they would have a way out through baptism and the confirmation of the Holy Spirit. Children have agency, but it is a powerful thing agency, and the opportunity to be instructed and taught was given to us.The Atonement was in full effect at the foundation of the world. The war in Heaven was on, and there would be no negotiations and no hostages taken.
46 But behold, I say unto you, that little children are redeemed from the foundation of the world through mine Only Begotten;
47: Wherefore they cannot sin; for power is not given unto Satan to tempt little children, until they begin to become accountable unto me.
Romans 9:11 (for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls).Who is He, who calls? Jesus the Christ
Mark 10:13-16The kids in my class are so smart and independent, they know who they are. I want to be like them when I grow up. I can see my 8 year old self in these kids. Where did they get this information? From their parents, whose parent’s also taught them.
13 Then they brought little children to Him, that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked those who brought them.
14 But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased and said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God.
15 Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.”
16 And He took them up in His arms, laid His hands on them, and blessed them
5 For He established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers,
That they should make them known to their children;
6 That the generation to come might know them, the children who would be born, that they may arise and declare them to their children,
7 That they may set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments.
48: And they rehearsed unto me the words of their mothers saying, “We do not doubt our mothers knew it.”
Job 38:7 When the morning stars sang together, and all the Sons of God shouted for joy.