Why do I choose to have my child baptized?
My husband is Protestant and I am Catholic. Our daughter is 10months and I would like to have her baptized before the new year. My husband wants to know, “what the rush is and why she can’t decide for herself when she is older to do so?” Can you please help me explain this to him? Thank you.
Great question – one that touches upon natural law, sacraments, and salvation history.
Beginning with the natural law argument first: Imagine if when the time has come for your child to start brushing her teeth, that your husband stated that you should wait for her to come of age so she could decide for herself. Would this not put her health in jeopardy?
Obviously, you and your husband both know the merits of oral hygiene, so you wouldn’t hesitate to tell her, before the age of reason, to go brush her teeth – it’s what’s best for her, and you as the parent knows this. This is just one example. Every day, in your child’s early life, you will make decisions for her, that do not require her own reason, but is for the good of her life and well-being.
Why would baptism be different? You as parents believe. Scripture told us to. It’s for her temporal and eternal health and well-being. Baptism bestows the grace of justification, an indelible spiritual mark, and forgives original sin (and all sin in the case of adults). Why deprive your child of those benefits just because she hasn’t reached the age of reason?
Just as God knows what’s best for us, even when we fail, the parent tends to know what’s best for the child – as parents you’re imaging God. Baptism is the continuation of the circumcision ritual of the Old Testament. The parent offers up the child to God in the temple (The Feast of the Epiphany). Note that neither Mary or Joseph waited for Jesus to come of age before they offered their child up to God.
What of Sacred Scripture?
1 COR 1,16 and ACTS 16:15-33; 18,8 speaks of Baptism of the whole household.
The efficacy of the Sacrament of Baptism for children comes from God and His general wish of salvation (1 TIM 2,4) of which children are included (MT 19,14) and the necessity of the Sacrament (John 3,5).
What of Sacred Tradition?
This has always been the Tradition – writings from the first century – The Martyrdom of Polycarp and the First Apology of Justin Martyr speak about child baptism. Later, Hippolytus, Origen, Cyprian – there are many more examples.
The Council of Trent, rejected the custom of repeating Baptism after attainment of the age of reason (The Anabaptists), because Baptism confers a sacramental character – what God has accomplished cannot be undone or repeated.
St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas taught that the faith which infants lack is replaced by the faith of the Church.
Put your faith into action and baptize your daughter!