So today, I really struggled with what I should write about. I knew what God put on my heart but I feel it is not a subject I am an expert in. I then remembered, I’m not writing this blog as an expert in anything. Just a person who is saved by grace and wants to share my thoughts and experiences. So, if my logic and reasoning isn’t accurate please be forgiving and kind in your feedback. 🙂 Remember this is my knowledge and understanding of things and my view of the world. The rants and ravings of a small town girl.
Today’s subject is baptism. I was, like all good Mormon children, baptized at the age of 8. At that time in the Mormon church, the policy was to have group baptisms so all of the kids who had a birthday in any given month had their baptism the first Saturday of the following month. They would get baptized on Saturday and “confirmed” or “the laying on of hands to receive the holy ghost” at church on Sunday.
My baptism was just like this except I didn’t get baptized the month following my birthday. I had to wait for 2 months because my parents were out of town. I remember turning 8 and being asked if I was going to be baptized. I think I wrote about this before. I didn’t know that getting baptized was ever a choice. I don’t think it is. What 8 year old is going to tell their parents, “No, I want to disappoint you and the rest of the family, and everyone I go to church with. So, I’m not going to get baptized”. So of course, I said yes, I was getting baptized. And I did.
I remember the day. Sitting with my classmates in the front of the room, all of us dressed in white. The baptismal font full of water in front of us. Excitement and fear filling the room. Of course, all of us had met with the bishop before hand to determine if we were “worthy” to be baptized. I’m not sure what I could have done at 8 years old to make me unworthy. The bishops interview, I think, was also to help us understand our “baptismal covenants” and to acknowledge we wanted to become a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
Each one of us took our turns being baptized. If I remember correctly, one of the other girls getting baptized was really scared and she cried and cried. I think she was scared of the water. She didn’t want to get baptized. They finally talked her into it but what a traumatic experience for her. I still remember it.
So at 8 years old, I met with a man who has authority through the Mormon church to determine my worthiness to be baptized and at that age, I would now be held accountable for my sins. Also when you get baptized in the Mormon Church you are agreeing to the terms and conditions of being a member of the Mormon Church. I’m not sure how, at 8 years old, you can agree to becoming a member of anything especially something as in-depth and rule oriented as the Mormon Church.
In Mormonism, baptism is to forgive you of your sins, to make you a member of the Mormon Church, and then you receive the gift of the holy ghost. I think the thing I struggle with in Mormons baptizing their 8 year olds is what it means to be accountable. Do 8 year olds really understand what accountability means?
As a Christian I don’t believe baptism is necessary for salvation. Baptism is not required at all because salvation comes from Christ dying on the cross. I know many people who are Christian who have never been baptized. I know there are references to being baptized in the Bible. Here is a great link to an explanation of all of those https://carm.org/is-baptism-necessary-salvation. I believe baptism is an outward expression of my acceptance of Christ as my Savior. Baptism should never be linked to a membership in a church or salvation.
I was baptized as a Christian to show the world that I had accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior in August 2003. So far, my experience of Christian baptisms is a lot different than anything Mormon. The church we were attending held a big worship event in a local park by the river. I had always wanted to get baptized in the river like Jesus did. I was pretty nervous. I was still a baby Christian. I was afraid that the guilt and shame of walking away from Mormonism would overtake me and I wouldn’t be able to enjoy the feeling of being baptized like I wanted to. But I knew the time was right. So I walked down to the river and one of the pastors of the church said a prayer and dunked me under the water. Coming back out was such an amazing feeling. I felt new and refreshed. It was the moment that I began finding myself. It was the moment I began discovering who God created me to be.
As my kids grew up they wanted to get baptized. I told them they needed to be able to explain to me why they wanted to and the reason you get baptized as a Christian. When they were able to do this I allowed them to be baptized. It was not at 8.
This again points back to, we are saved by grace and grace alone. There is nothing we can do, no ritual, no action, no behavior, that will make us worthy to go to Heaven. Nothing gives us salvation except accepting that Christ is our savior, He died on the cross for our sins, and He rose again so that we can have eternal life. The gift of grace is so simple, but we as humans make it so complicated.
I have had many nieces and nephews who have been baptized Mormon and I never went and supported them. I have a really difficult time supporting a choice that I don’t believe my nieces and nephews really made.
I think getting baptized at the age of 8 is where the guilt and shame of Mormonism really starts. It’s not about knowing the difference between right and wrong, it’s about being held accountable for every choice you make. It would be easy to be accountable for your choices if we lived in a black and white world. But we don’t. We live in a world with a lot of grey.
I’m just a small town girl… living in a world lacking accountability.
One of my all time favorites!!