Should Children Be Baptized?

The subject of baptism came up the other day with my boys.  We’re reading through the book of Mark together and so it was logical that it became a topic.  I’ve been a bit hesitant to approach the subject, if I’m honest.

I know that we are to teach the whole counsel of God.  I know that we are to talk of these things with our children.  I know it would seem my duty as a Christian parent to even encourage my children in this direction.  Except that I don’t.

It’s not that I don’t want them to be baptized.  I do!  With my whole heart!!

It’s just that I don’t want to convince them to do it.  I don’t want them to decide to become baptized at a point in their life where they do things to please me.  I don’t want them to do it because, “Mom said I should,”  and they’ve been taught to obey.  I don’t want to manipulate them by placing too heavy an emphasis on it or make them feel guilt for not having been.

For all of these reasons I’ve never taken the subject on.

My oldest son was baptized when he was 8.  His choice completely.  He’s always been a bit of an old soul and 8 was an age of understanding for him and he decided to do it.  He met our pastor for coffee without either of us (bless his heart!) and talked it through.  He answered questions that were asked of him as to why he wanted to be baptized and we agreed that he should be.  We gave him our whole blessing and encouraged his decision 1o0%.

But we had never made a ‘thing’ of it with him.  He had heard about it, seen it happen in our church, asked us about it and decided it was what he wanted.

Our other boys haven’t followed suit in this though.  They’ve never asked about it.  Never really even considered it, to my knowledge.

So I’ve not brought it up either.

I know that I could convince my boys to be baptized.  I’m a persuasive sort and they are at a heart warming age of wanting my approval.  They come home with ribbons and awards and beam as they show them to me because they want me to be proud of them.  And I am!  But it means that we haven’t discussed baptism because I don’t want it to be an, “Aren’t you proud of me, Mom!”  moment.  I want it to be in obedience.  Apart from me.

As we were talking about it the other night after reading scripture where Jesus was baptized, my middle schooler said matter of factly, “Well, shouldn’t I be baptized?”  Of course, I agreed that he should be.  Then my little piped up, “Can I do it with him?”

And I backed down.

I moved along and I talked of other things and I said we’d talk about it later.

I fear this may have been an epic failure on many grounds but in the meantime I’m going to study more about baptism and especially childhood baptisms. I know in scripture whole families were baptized together, but for some reason I think “copycat” when my younger wanted to suddenly do it because his big brother was.

Is this bad?  Should we not want to copy each other in this?  Have your children been baptized?  Was it their idea or yours?  Did you push it or let them come to it on their own?  Did you completely avoid it in horrible fashion as I have?  I need help, people!

These are some resources I’ve found.  Please share any more you have!!

Should We Baptize Small Children?

Should We Baptize Small Children?  (a different article)

When Should My Children Be Baptized?

 

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3 thoughts on “Should Children Be Baptized?

  1. Ah this question brings me out of my commenting silence. I have a lot of thoughts on this! It’s my belief (doesn’t have to be yours, not trying to persuade- just share :-), that children should not be baptized. I believe children can be saved, but I believe in delaying baptism until the believer is closer to adult age (case by case, but around 16-18).

    It has to do with two major things:
    1) the sad but true statistics (that point to reality) that those who profess faith in childhood are not necessarily those who remain in the faith in adulthood. I have seen the numbers but don’t have them to point to now- but it’s bold. Something like 60% of those who professed faith as a child left the faith by university. Meanwhile those who profess faith in early adulthood or adulthood more likely remain in the faith for the long haul. Why is this important? Because when we baptize a child we are affirming their salvation before God. The pastor is responsible for that soul and giving false assurance is a dangerous thing. Not that kids can’t be saved! But that’s why I like the idea of postponing baptism while affirming belief- because more than half desert the faith.

    2. We’re Baptists so I realize this isn’t the same across the board, but we link baptism with church membership. Once someone is baptized then are an affirmed member of the local church with all responsibilities. Voting, church discipline, etc. It’s hard for an 8 year old to participate in the responsibilities of church members.

    Now, I definitely don’t believe is setting one age as THE AGE. Like, hey! You’re 16! Get in there! But I do agree with postponing until closer to adulthood for the 2 reasons above.

    There’s a great article on the gospel coalition blog by (I think) Trevin Wax about why he delays baptisms and I really like it. Maybe check it out?

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  2. Thanks so much for your thoughts on this, Em. I truly value them! I tend to lean the same way as you, although, when your child is asking – do we want to say no? Still a tough call.

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  3. Yeah true. When they ask you would never want to give them the idea that you don’t believe their faith or that you don’t support them. I don’t have an answer for you, but I can guess at what some people with my view might say? Something like “We are so glad that you trust in Jesus to be your saviour! Baptism represents that decision so one day we absolutely agree- you should be baptized!” (Affirm affirm affirm) then (if the church membership part convicts you), “when we are baptized into the body we are also baptized into the church which has a great many responsibilities which can’t be fulfilled by young guys, so in a few years when you’re older and can do that stuff it might be the perfect time”, or “we hope you continue to trust Jesus to be your saviour for your whole life. As you continue to love God and follow him and as your life continues to show fruit that he is your lord, baptism is definitely something you will do in obedience to him”…

    I don’t have any set script this is just off the top of my head. Brad has read like every book on the subject though! I can ask him if you want 🙂

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