Is There A Right Age To Be Baptized?

[by contributing writer Heidi Eastman]

Since becoming a mother, I view the world differently.  My kids have a way of making me think about things in a new way.  They have a sense of wonder that I lost long ago.  And after a discussion about God and Jesus with a child, the phrase “faith like a child” gains much more depth. 

Baptism is one of the things my daughter is helping me to think about in a new way.

Two summers ago, she was just five years old and we watched people being baptized in the park. 

     Her:  “What are they doing?”
     Me:  “Well, when you love Jesus, the pastor pushes you under the water so everyone will know.”
 
(Perhaps if I thought before I spoke, I would have come up with a less traumatizing explanation).

Fast forward to this Easter Sunday. 

During the baptisms, my daughter, now seven, whispered:  “Mommy, I want to get baptized.”

I told her we would talk about it later.

Later came:

    Me:  “Why do people get baptized?”
    Her:  “Because they love Jesus.”
    Me:  “You’re right.  And they want everyone to know it.”
    Her:  “I want everyone to know.”
    Me:  “I’m really glad you want to get baptized, but I think you should wait until you’re older.”

Because obviously seven is much too young to truly understand what baptism means.

But is it?

Baptism is a public declaration of faith.  And children have a much purer faith than most adults.  Maybe seven is the perfect age to be baptized.  Maybe she should be baptized while she still has the faith of a child.  Maybe I am over-complicating this beautiful tradition.  Maybe I am preventing something amazing by saying no.

But then again, Jesus got baptized when he was around thirty years old.  Why did he wait so long?
Were there no other opportunities along the way?  If anyone was ready for baptism at a young age, it would be Jesus.

On the flip side, there are multiple Biblical examples of people accepting the gospel, and being baptized immediately.  It seems as though sometimes we want to ensure that people’s Christianity is going to stick before we put them in the tank.  But really, do any of us know with absolute certainty that our own faith is going to stick?  Do we know beyond doubt that we are not going to face challenges or a crisis that will shake, or even shatter our faith?

Is there a right time to be baptized?  Should it be because one feels called?  Should it be when one has been a Christian for a certain length of time?  Should it be at a certain age?  Or is simply loving Jesus and wanting to keep on loving him reason enough?

Heidi Eastman lives in Neustadt with her husband, two daughters, and a beast of a dog. She has been an active part of the HMC congregation from the moment she was old enough to contribute. You can find her over at her own blog, My Sister Told Me To Start A Blog.  [Articles by Heidi]

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