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Should my child be baptized?

Today’s 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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