Tonight, as I rocked my beautiful baby girl to sleep, I studied her. I soaked in her rosy cheeks, long fingers, quiet breaths, and soft hair. I watched her heavy eyelids slowly close. I watched her stretch and wiggle into a more comfortable spot against my chest.
And as she let out a deep sigh from the satisfaction of a full day and a full tummy, I became angry…. almost to the point of tears.
I was angry at the thought of taking my precious baby to the church I attended as a child. The church in which many members believe my darling daughter will go to hell, should she die tomorrow, for mistakes she has not yet made.
I was angry because, if the doctrine of hereditary total depravity is gospel truth, then the fate of my child’s soul rests in the flawed, imperfect, human hands of her father and I.
I was angry with myself and with all of my ancestors. If sins can be inherited, we are responsible for the potential damnation of my three month old.
I was angry for all of the mothers who’ve lost infants in the womb or during delivery who may always wonder about the fate of their babies who were tragically tainted by “original sin.”
A few chats with some advocates of infant baptism will reveal the hilarious confusion around the concept of original sin. In fact, interview a few Lutheran pastors and you’ll find their answers may differ greatly on the issue, especially when you discuss miscarriages and abortions.
As a child, I questioned the theology and logic behind the doctrine of original sin from time to time. I’d wonder, “If God is perfect, how come he made me flawed?” But then, I’d attend church on Sunday morning, recite my confession of sin, and accept the doctrine as truth.
“I, a poor miserable sinner, confess unto Thee all my sins and iniquities with which I have ever offended Thee…”
Imagine these words coming from the mouth of a kindergartener. It’s comical.
During my pregnancy, when people asked me when and where my infant would be baptized (which happened on a number of occasions, by the way), I would reply with “Whenever she believes the gospel and wherever that occurs.”
If the issue was pushed further, I would direct a line of questioning that went something like this:
1.)At what point is my child sinful?
2.) You say that, according to Psalm 51:5, she is sinful at conception. If I miscarry this child tonight, what will happen to her soul? Will I see her in heaven someday?
3.) So, you think my child will be damned if I miscarry tonight. I will do everything in my power to prevent her from going to hell. So please… please tell me… What must I do to ensure her salvation?
4) Can I get baptized right now to save her? She’s in my womb, so if I get baptized will that grace transfer to her?
5.) Oh, it’s unbiblical for me to be baptized for the salvation of my daughter? Do you have any other suggestions? No? Well, that’s depressing.
Please don’t think I take the issue of salvation lightly. When it comes to my daughter’s spiritual wellbeing, I am invested with a burning passion. Her salvation is of upmost importance. I pray that one day, she will make the decision to be baptized. That day will be the highlight of my life as a parent. That day will be mean so much more than her high school graduation or her wedding day.
I will not teach my daughter the doctrine of original sin because it is not found in the Bible. This is a man-made teaching and a remnant from early Catholicism.
“What about Psalm 51:5?” you may ask.
“Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” – Psalm 51:5, ESV
Rather than debating the meaning of David’s words and delving into the many popular interpretations of this passage, I will simply ask that you acknowledge the following concept:
If one believes the Bible to be the inspired word of God, then it is unacceptable to cherry pick passages on which to construct doctrine. If the Bible is the inspired word of God, then it stands to reason that the whole book is true and complete, with no contradictions.
Consider the following verses:
“The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.” – Ezekiel 18:20, ESV
“Fathers shall not be put to death because of their children, nor shall children be put to death because of their fathers. Each one shall be put to death for his own sin.” – Deuteronomy 24:16, ESV
So, are these contradictory statements, or is it possible that David meant something other than, “I was a filthy, dirty sinner from the moment my mother’s egg was fertilized… before I had a heartbeat… before my brain was developed.”
Throughout the Bible there are passages about the sinful nature of humans. When someone references our sinful human nature, he is simply pointing out that humans err. We all make mistakes. No adult makes it out of this life with a clean record. I believe this is what David was referring to in Psalm 51:5.
At this point in my child’s life, baptism would accomplish nothing. It would merely be an empty, symbolic ritual… There is really no difference between infant baptism and a bath. I find it completely absurd, by the way, when Lutherans and other “infant baptizers” become so flabbergasted at the thought of being baptized for the dead, a Mormon practice. PLEASE explain to me how being baptized for the dead is any different from me taking my baby to be baptized! I would love to understand this logic, although I doubt there is much logic in it at all.
I will teach my daughter about baptism based on what the Bible says.
1.) All those who believe AND are baptized will be saved. Jesus clarifies the requirements for salvation in Mark 16:16.
2.) One cannot believe the gospel unless he is taught the gospel. In every New Testament example, baptism only occurs after an individual believes and confesses that belief. We know that an individual cannot believe until he has heard the message (Romans 10:14). This is where the great commission (Matthew 28:19-20) comes into play.
3.) The purpose of baptism is for the remission of sins and addition to the church. We know that baptism will cleanse us of our sins (Acts 2:38, Acts 22:16) and add us to the number of Christ’s followers (Acts 2:41, Acts 5:14, Galatians 3:27).
I apologize if this post seems callous. If I came across as rude to infant baptizers, it is only because of my disdain for misused scripture. I was raised by amazing, dedicated Lutheran parents and grandparents. I was sprinkled as a baby. I am so incredibly appreciative of my parents’ fervor and dedication to our spiritual well being, but I cringe at the thought of any mother questioning the eternal whereabouts of her infant. It has to stop.
Thank you for reading. I love you all. God bless.