Today’s post is by guest blogger The Teacher.
I know what you are thinking: “You have a rant about baptism?”
Yes, I do. One of my pet peeves is telling innocent little kids that they need to repent of their sins in order to get baptized. You hear it with surprising frequency, like at almost every baptism service you attend, and at lots of Primary Sharing Times. And take, for example, this line from the song “I Like to Look for Rainbows,” sung at every Primary-run baptism I have been to in the recent past:
I know when I am baptized, my wrongs are washed away, and I can be forgiven and improve myself each day
How did this get past correlation? Did they not read the scriptures cited in D&C 29: 46-47 which tells us that little children are incapable of sin and are redeemed from the foundation of the world. Moroni 8: 9-12 says that little children do not need repentance and are alive in Christ.
I would be hard-pressed to identify an LDS doctrine I like more than the redemption of little children. It is beautiful and merciful, and intuitively true. So, why do we find ourselves telling innocent little kids that they need to repent of their “sins” to get baptized?
I know that there are scriptures out there that say you have to repent in order to be baptized. I know that there are scriptures that say that children have to be accountable and capable of repentance in order to get baptized. But “capable of repentance” and “needing repentance” are two different things.
One of the most difficult scriptures on this topic for me is D&C 20:37, which says that candidates for baptism should “truly manifest by their works that they have received the Spirit of Christ unto the remission of their sins.” Oliver Cowdery tried to get this phrase removed from the Book of Commandments, but Joseph insisted that it remain in. How does this qualification for baptism, which Joseph Smith felt was truly inspired, square with child baptism?
Don’t get me wrong. I think we should teach our children about repentance and help them understand it. I think they need to know what it is and how it works by the time they reach the “age of accountability.” But to me, baptism for an 8-year old is different than for an adult. It is about obedience. It is about discipleship. It is about entering the strait gate and joining the Lord’s church. It is not about repenting and remitting sins. What sins has an eight-year old committed?
But am I wrong here? Am I misunderstanding something?
End of rant.