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Question 173

Jesus was baptised at the age of 33 why do we baptise babies who have no understanding about God?

 

Answer to Question 173

 

Many assume that with the early Church there were only adult baptisms, but this is easily disputed. In the Acts of the Apostles we read how the apostles baptized certain people, but it also says that they baptised their whole household. This means that everyone in the house was baptized from the oldest to the youngest and also the house servants. Thus infant baptism was practised from the very beginning. Baptism of whole households continued up to the eight century and then infant baptism prevailed. Why? Simply because there were no more adults. As the Christian faith spread throughout the Roman Empire there came a time when everyone had been baptized and only the new born remained, thus it was natural that infant baptism prevailed and became the normal procedure up to our present day. We often hear the argument, from western churches that practice adult baptism, that we should not baptise children when they are babies since they don’t understand what is being done to them, thus they are not entering baptism with a free will, but rather that we should let them grow up and become adults and then they can decide for themselves if they wish to be Christians or not. According to their argument we should not worry about our children’s spiritual needs but then, why should we worry about their bodily needs either. We do not wait until they are adults to give them vaccinations which protect them from various illnesses that might otherwise kill them. In everything that our children need or don’t need, we the parents decide what is best for them. We decide whether they have breast milk of bottled and what foods will best nourish their bodies. We decide what clothes they will wear according to the weather to protect them from the wind and the rain and the scorching sun? In everything we as parents decide what is best for our children, what school they will go to, what friends they can have, what TV they can watch and in general everything they need is our responsibility. In the same way we look after our children’s bodily needs we also look to give them their spiritual needs. Man is both body and soul and we do not take care only of the body and neglect the soul. But also as Christian parents we must listen to want Christ said: “Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not for of such is the kingdom of heaven. (Mark 10:14)”  If , when that child grows up and decides that he doesn’t what to be a member of the Orthodox Church, he is free to go and has the choice to reject the God’s grace he was given with baptism.