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The unpopular truth is that even children are sinners who deserve death and hell. The context of this verse is that God is punishing every individual in pagan nation of Babylon for its collective sin.
Some argue that the Bible is contradictory because Psalm 137:8-9
- O daughter of Babylon, doomed to be destroyed, blessed shall he be who repays you with what you have done to us! 9 Blessed shall he be who takes your little ones and dashes them against the rock!
Almost everyone agrees that people who are evil deserve to be punished. Although most people would not consider children to be evil, the Bible teaches that every human being is evil and sinful, both because every human has inherited a sin nature from Adam and because every human has failed to worship God as He ought to be worshipped.
- Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin...
- 10 as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; 11 no one understands; no one seeks for God.
Because every human being is evil and sinful by nature, every human therefore deserves to be punished with death.
- For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
God has the right to punish any human with death at any time. If He decides to end the life of particular humans earlier in their lives, such as when they are still children, then He is still just to do that.
The children that God is punishing in Psalm 137 are not being punished exclusively, or for no reason. God was punishing the entire pagan nature of Babylon, which had committed much evil, and so fully deserved the punishment they received.
If the Bible is true, and it is true by philosophical necessity (see Greg Bahnsen Debates Atheist Gordon Stein - Highlights), then we simply must submit to what the Bible teaches.
The Bible teaches that God's will is itself the definition of right and wrong, because God is the sovereign creator. There is no higher law above God that God must submit to.
Therefore, if God decides to punish anyone, for whatever reason, it is right for God to do that, simply because God has done that. It is not cruel because God has the right to punish those who deserve to be punished. It is not murder because all life belongs to God in the first place.
If you disagree with what the Bible teaches, it does not good to simply say that you do not like what it teaches. You must explain where the moral standard you are using to judge the Bible comes from, and why this moral standard is legitimate.
However, there is no moral standard outside of the Bible that can ultimately stand up to philosophical scrutiny.
Some people have trouble accepting possible explanations to alleged contradictions in the Bible, especially ones that they consider a stretch. For example, Dan Barker, president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, says this:
I have received numerous replies from Christians who think that these contradictions are either trivial or easily explained. Yet not a single "explanation" has been convincing.
The fact is that there are plausible explanations for every alleged contradiction in the Bible. That there is a plausible explanation for an alleged contradiction does not mean that it is definitely the correct explanation for the alleged contradiction.
However, as long as a possible explanation has been suggested, then it has been objectively demonstrated that there is no necessary contradiction regarding the Bible verses and passages brought up.
When people like Dan Barker say that they don't find a particular explanation for a contradiction "convincing," then that is merely their opinion. A plausible explanation has been suggested that eliminates the necessary alleged contradiction. They simply don't like it, which is not at all a relevant argument against the explanation.
To read more about solutions to Bible contradictions and difficulties, check out Norman Geisler's The Big Book of Bible Difficulties: Clear and Concise Answers from Genesis to Revelation. While we do not agree with some of Geisler's theology, particularly concerning his view of predestination, this book is still an excellent resource. It is thorough and filled with research.
Another book to check out is Tim Chaffey's Demolishing Supposed Bible Contradictions: Exploring Forty Alleged Contraditions, which also answers many alleged contradictions in the Bible.