Should my child be baptized?
Question: I am from India but now living in Texas. I am 30 years
old, married and with 3 children. My husband and I have been living here for
almost a year now in Texas. We are Catholics.
At first we used to go regularly to the Catholic Church. But after
reading the Bible, I just don’t agree with the teachings of the Catholic
Church. My husband and my parents and all his relatives are pushing me to
get our two-month old son baptized in the Catholic Church. I don't want
him to be baptized there. I want him to first know the gospel, accept
Jesus Christ as his savior, and then make a decision on his own to be
baptized in the Holy Spirit and with water.
Please tell me how to convince them and please pray for my son in this
regard. What can I do in this matter? They say that if the child is not
baptized as a baby and it dies his soul won’t be saved and since the
other two children were baptized when they were about the same age, he too
should be baptized.
Name Withheld by request
Bible Answer: The way I approach infant baptism is in this
way: The Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 7:9:
Once I was alive apart from law; but when the commandment came, sin
sprang to life and I died.
What did Paul mean when he said, "Once I was alive apart from law"?
It is obvious that Paul was spiritually alive before he reached a certain
age when he discovered and understood the law. From this Scripture we see
that it is possible to be alive spiritually while you are a child. Paul is
talking about the age of accountability. Before you are accountable, God
suspends the sentence of spiritual death, such as in Paul’s case.
For example, in most countries if a child commits a crime before a
certain age, the law may suspend the sentence or simply lower the penalty.
God is no different. It would be a miscarriage of justice for God to damn a
soul to hell or at the very least, keep an infant out of heaven just because
the parents never baptized him or her.
This brings us to another question: At what age does a person become
accountable for his sins? I had always wanted to know a clear answer. Most
ministers simply say, "Well, the age is different for everyone, and
only God knows when that age occurs." That answer, however, makes God
sound arbitrary. How would you like your country to have such ambiguous
laws? Of course you wouldn’t, and most countries clearly state the age.
Does the Bible state the age of accountability? I believe it does. In the
Old Testament, there was a type of baptism called "ceremonial
washings." These washings cleansed people from their sins. At what age,
then, did an Israelite first get washed? . Here is the passage that most
directly states when a person should be baptized:
"’When a man has an emission of semen, he must bathe his whole
body with water, and he will be unclean till evening…
"’When a woman has her regular flow of blood, the impurity of
her monthly period will last seven days, and anyone who touches her will
be unclean till evening. (Lev 15:16 and 19)
As we see in Leviticus it appears that a child was never washed in water
for ceremonial cleansing until the age of procreation. When the girl had her
menstrual cycle, she was first washed, which is the type of baptism. When
the boy had an emission of semen, he was also washed. Noticed, the first
time a Jewish boy or girl was washed was when they could procreate. This is
the age of accountability, which is around twelve or thirteen. This is the
time a person should be baptized. I simply wait until children turn twelve
before baptizing them.
I find it interesting that the Bible does not mentioned Jesus childhood,
except when he turned twelve (see Luke 2:42). It is around this age the
Bible mentions that Christ was in the temple talking to the rabbis about the
Torah, the Law.
Nothing is mentioned before that period. I believe the Bible is silent
because it is not important. Today, in Jewish tradition, the time of manhood
is celebrated at the age of thirteen; it is called bar mitzvah. Some
Reform and Conservative synagogues have a similar ceremony for girls called bas
mitzvah. The age of procreation corresponds to the age of
accountability, and it makes sense that it does. Think about it: why should
a child be accountable for his spiritual "life" if he is not old
enough to make a "life"? However, once a person is able to
procreate and give life, then his life is made accountable to him.
One last scriptural point: When people brought children to Jesus, He
declared, "The kingdom of heaven belongs to these" (Matt 19:14).
Children are in the state of innocence, so they are not condemned to eternal
damnation. On the contrary, Jesus said that they already have the kingdom of
heaven. I believe they will enter heaven if they die before the age of
accountability, with or without baptism.
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