I have a thirty-five year old mentally challenged and autistic son. He has a mind of say less than a seven year old. We never went to church, but we believe in Jesus Christ. My question is, since my son is incapable of believing because of his condition, how will God judge him? I worry about this. I am convinced that God does not send the mentally challenged or mentally ill to hell because they cannot understand the gospel. Does He take them to heaven when they die even if they are incapable of believing?
You have a wonderful burden to bear. God must have given you great patience and love because that is needed to care for your son. Before, we answer your question, you might want to start with a previous question and answer entitled, “What happens to the souls of born babies who die unbaptized?” It is related to your concern, and it establishes a principle that we will refer to next.
From the above principle, we can infer that God will take those who have not had a moral sense of right and wrong (good or evil) to heaven. Since we do not have complete knowledge of your son’s learning abilities, it is impossible for us to know how much you can teach him about God. It also depends on your son’s sense of right and wrong. If he understands right and wrong, then you need to help him understand as much as he can about Jesus.
It is important to remember that many young children understand that Jesus is God. Many pre-school and elementary children have been taught about Jesus in their Sunday Schools, Christian Schools, and by their parents, and as a result they have asked Jesus to forgive their sins. But not every child believes or trusts in Jesus before he or she is seven years of age.
May I encourage you to start taking your son to Sunday School. I would encourage you to also start attending church, specially if you believe in Jesus. If you need help locating a church in your area, we would be glad to help you locate one, if you want. In this setting, both of you will learn more about Jesus and he might decide to believe in Jesus. There is much to learn about Jesus.
I would also encourage you to start studying the following Bible study series with your son: Solid Roots. It takes you through the essential truths of the Christian faith. We will be completing the series in the early part of next year. This will enable you to teach him about Jesus and learn at the same time. You could also explain to him what it means to believe in Jesus Christ. If you need help, you can use the page “Searching For God” for guidance. However, I would recommend that you teach him about Jesus Christ first. Please let us know how we can help.