Read Psalm 51:5
5 Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me. (NIV)
Any of us who have looked upon a newborn baby will recall the delight and wonder of it. We admire the intricacy of its creation, and even more basically its sheer ‘cuteness’. One thing we don’t usually think about is that this cute baby is a sinner.
So what is this text about? The newborn baby, even the foetus in the womb, has not actually committed any sin, which we understand to be a falling short of God’s standards. The baby wouldn’t know what sin is let alone wilfully commit it.
Perhaps the truth lies elsewhere. That cute and adorable newborn baby will one day inevitably go his or her own way, asserting their independence from God. It is ingrained into the human condition. No human being is free from the taint of self-assertion no matter how well they are raised or how decently they live.
The little baby is not a sinner as yet but will turn out to be. That doesn’t render the individual valueless or unloved or even desperately wicked. It just means that he or she will not automatically follow the way of Jesus. For that to happen, a rebirth is required.
If we are to get all theological around newborn babies, perhaps it is best to see them as much loved recipients of the grace of God rather than miserable sinners.