I can’t even begin to tell you how much I’m against infant baptism. I’m cool with some ceremony where the parents commit to raising the child as a Christian, and ask for the help of the Church to keep them on track.
But I don’t get the purpose of actually baptizing their child.
There are way too many people who get their child baptized and then leave the church. There are also stories of grandparents who are concerned that neither parent is Christian. They take the child to a church on the weekend they have the kid and get her baptized, unbeknownst to the parents. There are also stories of parents whose child is gravely ill and they ask for an emergency baptism.
In all these instances they aren’t planning on raising the child as a Christian. There is something else going on. Do they think that there is something magical and protective that happens when a child is baptized with water?
Jesus never baptized anybody with water. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to his disciples after he ascended into heaven. The water is just a symbol. It isn’t the real thing. It is the commitment to following Jesus that matters. We need ceremonies to let us know that a change has occurred. We need ceremonies like we need doorways, to show us transition and evolution. Baptism is a ceremony, but it marks a change that occurs within the person. Just pouring water on someone and saying some words doesn’t make them a follower of Jesus.
It seems like idol worship for people to baptize their children. It seems like they think that words and water will do the trick. It seems like they think that that is all there is to it. Get baptized, and you’re in the club.
But baptism should be a choice of the person, not something done to you. I think that deciding to follow Jesus is too important for someone to do it for you. It is like deciding to be vegetarian. That is a major choice. Your parents may think that being vegetarian is something that you should do for your own good, much like following Jesus. But if you aren’t in agreement with it, you aren’t going to keep doing it once you are out of their house.
Then again, you can get baptized with water and it doesn’t mean anything. You still aren’t connected, you still don’t get it. It isn’t the water or the words. It is the Holy Spirit that makes it work.
The Holy Spirit baptizes. That is like being upgraded from a 110 to a 220, like being transformed from a garden hose to a fire hose. It is overwhelming. When you’ve been touched by the Holy Spirit you are never the same again.
Let us stop baptizing children. They aren’t able to make that decision, and it is too important for it to be made for them. Let us remember that God is the one who saves us, through Jesus and the Holy Spirit. It isn’t the water. It isn’t our words.