Why does God allow child abuse to happen if He loves children so much?
The question we are concerned with is, “Why does God allow child abuse to happen if He loves children so much?” The answer to this important question is given in three parts.
God Loves Adults and Children
The first part of the answer must start with a reminder that God loves His creation, including the children. John 3:16 reminds us that God loves everyone, both adults and children.
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16 (NASB)
That is also the message of other verses (Romans 5:8; Titus 3:4; 1 John 4:9-10, 19). God loves everyone. He loves the children too!
A wonderful example of God’s love for children is found in Exodus 1:15-22. In this passage we are told that God protected the babies born to the Israelite mothers. Even though Pharaoh wanted all of the Israelite babies killed, God saved them from death. God did not want the babies to be killed at birth. Psalm 127:3 teaches that God considers children to be a gift to parents.
Behold, children are a gift of the LORD,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
Psalm 127:3 (NASB)
That reveals how special children are to God. They are His precious gifts. Because He loves them, He teaches parents to love them too! That is why God warns fathers to “not provoke your children to anger” and to teach them about the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). In Proverbs 13:24 parents are told that they show love to their children when they discipline them for being disobedient. If they do not discipline them, they hate their children. Why? Because children will continue living according to an evil and self-centered bent (Proverbs 22:6).
In Colossians 3:21 God warns fathers to not exasperate children, which means to not make their children bitter.
Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart. Colossians 3:21 (NASB)
Finally, in Titus 2:4 God urges mothers to love their children. God loves children and wants parents to love them too!
God Is Holy and Just!
The second part of the answer is that the character of God determines what He does and how He responds to people. For example in Psalm 22:2-3, King David said that even though he might suffer and cry, he must not forget that God is holy. God cannot and does not sin.
O my God, I cry by day, but You do not answer;
And by night, but I have no rest.
Yet You are holy . . .
Psalm 22:2-3 (NASB)
Deuteronomy 32:4 and Isaiah 30:18 tell us that everything God does is done perfectly for His ways are just. The word “just” means that He always does what is “fair.” When He punishes someone, His punishment is exactly what he or she deserves. He is not a respecter of persons.
The Rock! His work is perfect,
For all His ways are just;
A God of faithfulness and without injustice,
Righteous and upright is He.
Deuteronomy 32:4 (NASB)
We are also told that God is righteous, which means that His actions toward us are always sinless and perfect. Finally, Isaiah 30:18 plainly declares God is just.
For the LORD is a God of justice;
How blessed are all those who long for Him. Isaiah 30:18 (NASB)
All of these verses reveal that God never sins or does evil by ignoring evil. He always responds with justice. When He causes someone to suffer, they will suffer just as they deserve, according to their sin.
Therefore if a child suffers due to an abuser, we know our loving God will be just and punish the abuser. God can make people suffer greatly, if necessary. In Romans 12:17-21 we read these comforting words.
Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:17-21 (ESV)
Why Does God Allow Child Abuse to Happen?
The third part of the answer is that God allows child abuse to happen because we live in a sinful world because of the Fall when Adam and Eve chose to disobey God. God has given every individual the freedom to choose to do what is right or to do evil. He has given us the freedom to sin. We have the freedom to be a glutton, lie, hate, be angry, gossip, murder, and commit every other sin. Just imagine if God stopped us every time we wanted to do something that was not perfectly holy. We live in a sinful world and God has given all of us the freedom to choose to be holy or evil. This does not mean that God is evil (James 1:13-15). It means that whoever performed the abuse did an evil deed. That person is the one who causes the abuse.
It is a serious mistake to blame a holy and just God for the evil done by an evil person. If God prevented every evil deed, then the world would be a perfect place, but it is not perfect. If God prevented every evil deed, then we would be robots because we are inherently sinful ourselves. But God gave and Adam and Eve the freedom to sin. He is still allowing people to sin. When we sin, we are responsible – not God. When someone else sins, they sinned and not God (James 1:13-15). We are to blame for our actions for God never does evil or fails to act justly. Why does God allow child abuse to happen? Because He has given people a free will to choose to sin or not to sin.
Therefore, when someone does evil to children, God will punish them because He loves children and is holy, just and righteous.
How should an abused child respond according to the Bible? First, Romans 12:17 says,
Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Romans 12:17 (NASB)
Romans 12:19 says that we are to leave vengeance to God.
Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord. Romans 12:19 (NASB)
We are to respond by forgiving the evil person who has performed the abuse (Ephesians 4:31-32). Otherwise, the abused person will become bitter and bitterness will destroy the person emotionally. Forgiveness does not mean that the abused individual excuses the evil behavior of the abuser. Forgiveness is a choice to not seek vengeance and to leave that to God (Romans 12:14-21).
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 reminds us that love “does not take into account a wrong suffered.”
Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NASB)
Notice that love does not seek its own. Abused people need to ask God to help them forgive their abusers. An abused person needs to start by confessing any lack of forgiveness as a sin and then ask God to help them forgive. Let God punish the abuser. He will often do so through the auspices of law enforcement and the courts. All of us should be alert to intervene and to protect children when we can and to report such abuse to the proper authorities. God is holy, just, righteous and has promised to punish those who cause us to suffer because He loves all of us, including children.
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