The reality of heaven leads many people to wonder about who enters it when they die and on what basis. The Bible teaches that if people confess and repent of sin, and put their trust in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, they go to heaven when they die.
But what about physical attributes like being below-average height? Is it a factor when it comes to going to heaven?
Short people can go to heaven when they die. Height isn’t a factor in any person’s eternal destination.
The idea that they can’t is based on a misunderstanding of an Old Testament passage that mentions dwarfism.
The passage that mentions people of short stature isn’t about who gets into heaven and who doesn’t.
What does the Bible teach about dwarfism? What does it have to do with worshipping God? Did God punish or curse short people? Keep reading to learn the answers to these questions and others.
Also see Is There Sex In Heaven? to learn more.
What Does the Bible Say about Short People?
In the Bible, there are several instances where a person’s height is referenced.
One example is Eliab, the eldest son of Jesse, who was tall and handsome. When Samuel was looking for a king to anoint, he initially thought Eliab was the chosen one based on his appearance.
However, God told Samuel that He looks at the heart, not the outward appearance (1 Samuel 16:7).
Another example is Goliath, the Philistine giant who was defeated by David. Goliath’s height is described as six cubits and a span, which is approximately nine feet, nine inches (1 Samuel 17:4).
Lastly, there is Zacchaeus, a short tax collector who climbed a sycamore tree to see Jesus (Luke 19:1-10). Despite his height, Zacchaeus was noticed by Jesus and received salvation.
These examples show that in the Bible, a person’s height is mentioned, but it is not the determining factor for their worth or their relationship with God.
Yet, it’s a passage from the Old Testament book of Leviticus that makes some people wonder if short people can go to heaven when they die.
What does Leviticus say about the service of short people?
Dwarfs are mentioned in Leviticus 21:20. The context of Leviticus 21 concerns rules and regulations for priests in ancient Israel.
In the scene, God gives Moses instructions about proper worship, which he communicates to the Israelites.
God called Israelite priests to a special way of life because they were the members of the community who handled people’s sacrificial offerings to God.
Animal and grain sacrifices are how Israelites expressed their faithfulness and devotion to God. Some sacrifices were voluntary; other sacrifices were mandatory. All sacrifices were, in part, word pictures.
As word pictures, every sacrifice symbolized truth about God (especially his holiness), people (especially their sinfulness), and the relationship between them. The mandatory sacrifices had important, and sometimes detailed regulations.
Israelite worship had to be holy because God is holy (Lev. 21:8). The Israelites couldn’t approach God to give thanks, confess their sins, or communicate anything else, in a flippant or cavalier manner.
The priests stewarded the peoples’ sacrifices and were the ones that actually killed the animal or performed whatever action was required for each sacrifice.
God instructed priests to undertake this responsibility with the utmost seriousness.
Perfect animals and “perfect” people
The animals that were sacrificed in mandatory offerings, and the priests who performed the ritual, couldn’t have physical abnormalities.
The physical characteristics of the animal and the priest were visible expressions of God’s purity.
Characteristics that were considered deformities eliminated a priest from performing certain tasks, though their restriction wasn’t a punishment (more below).
Leviticus 21:18-20 offers a list of physical deformities that disqualify a priest from certain functions.
The verse in question is Leviticus 21:20, “or a hunchback or a dwarf or a man with a defect in his sight or an itching disease or scabs or crushed testicles” (ESV, emphasis added).
All major English Bible translations render the relevant word “dwarf” or “dwarfed”:
|Bible Translation||Word Used|
Also, see Will People With Tattoos Go To Heaven? to learn more.
What do Bible scholars teach about dwarfism in Leviticus 21:20?
Scholars and experts on ancient Israel are in general agreement that dwarfs, and people with the other physical characteristics mentioned in Leviticus 21:18-20, were restricted from certain aspects of the priesthood.
Yet, such regulations had no ill effects on their relationship with God or other people. And it definitely didn’t answer the question of can short people go to heaven with a “no.”
|Literal definition||thin, small, fine|
|Also translated as||gaunt (e.g. Gen 41:4, NASB)|
Leviticus scholar Gordon Wenham writes, “No person who had a deformity, was disfigured, or had a rash could act as priest. Physical wholeness corresponds to the holiness of his task.”
He continues, “While such a person could not function as a priest, he maintained the prerogatives of a priest in regard to support and living quarters. Neither he nor his family was placed under financial hardship because of his physical handicap.” 
Also, see Do You Have To Be Baptized To Go To Heaven? to learn more.
A Wrong Theory: God Punished or Cursed Short People
God’s restriction against dwarfs, people with a skin rash, or any of the other physical issues mentioned in Leviticus 21:18-20, is not a curse or a punishment. The regulations were to maintain symbolism pertaining to God’s holiness.
The theory that people of below-average height are especially sinful or evil is unbiblical. The Bible teaches that all people, no matter their height, are sinners and fall short of God’s glory: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23, ESV, emphasis added).
Short people, tall people, and average-height people sin the same and are saved the same (more below).
Were short people excluded from the priesthood and its benefits?
No. A dwarf could serve as a priest and received all the benefits of the position, like a place to live.
Dwarfs in Israel, including priests, were neither social outcasts nor did they experience any unique hardships because of their physical stature. Short people have never been restricted from God’s blessings, including going to heaven when they die.
Did the dwarfs in Israel know and love God? Yes. God loves all people, no matter their height or any other physical ailment mentioned in Leviticus 21:18-20.
Asking if God’s love is different for short people than it is for others, is the same as wondering if God loves people with skin rashes less than he does others.
Also, see Did Judas Go To Heaven? to learn more.
Are Short People Restricted from Serving God Today?
Short people aren’t restricted from any ministry function today. Whatever restrictions people had in the Old Testament because of physical abnormalities have been lifted because Jesus Christ fulfilled the law (Matt. 5:17).
The New Testament book of Hebrews teaches that Christ is the one and only perfect high priest for all believers, and his sacrifice and ongoing intercession for people is without blemish (cf. Heb. 14:14-16).
How Do People of Any Height Go to Heaven?
People of any height can go to heaven when they die, just like people of any weight, eye color, or skin color can. The Bible teaches that anyone that responds to the gospel of Jesus Christ can be saved and go to heaven when they die.
What is the gospel of Jesus Christ? The word “gospel” means “good news.” The “good news” of Jesus Christ is that God sent him into the world to die for sinners. What motivated the Father to send his only son as a sacrifice of atonement is the great love he has for people (John 3:16).
How can people respond to the gospel? People are invited to respond to the gospel by confessing and repenting of sin and believing in faith that Christ died for them and rose from the dead three days later (Rom. 6:23, 10:9-10).
The height of Zacchaeus
The story of Zacchaeus, found in Luke 19:1-10, provides a compelling case study on the question of whether short people can go to heaven.
Zacchaeus, a tax collector, was described as being short in stature. Despite his height and his unpopular profession, Zacchaeus was eager to see Jesus. He climbed a sycamore tree to get a better view.
The salvation of Zacchaeus
Jesus noticed Zacchaeus and invited himself to Zacchaeus’s home. This encounter led to Zacchaeus’s repentance and Jesus declaring that salvation had come to his house.
The story of Zacchaeus highlights that physical attributes, such as height, are not barriers to salvation.
Instead, it is a person’s heart and actions that matter.
Zacchaeus’s story underscores that everyone, regardless of their physical appearance, can receive salvation through repentance and faith in Jesus.
Also, see Did Moses Go To Heaven? to learn more.
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