When parents bring their baby before the church congregation in what is called a Baby Dedication, what is really happening? Are the parents simply wanting to honor God by dedicating their child to God with a meaningful expression? Or, does this confer some kind of spiritual designation on the child as in infant baptism?
We don’t see this as a huge controversy, but people actually are curious to find out what the baby dedication is all about. Some say that it is clearly found in Scripture, while others claim that it is nothing more than a tradition. Let’s draw some conclusions of our own. Why not??
A baby dedication is a public commitment made by parents to raise their child according to Christian principles. The baby is not being baptized, as the decision for believer’s baptism can only be made by the individual when they are old enough to understand and make such a decision for themselves.
Instead, the parents are making a vow before God, and usually, the church congregation, that they will do everything in their power to instill Christian values in their child’s life from birth.
Baby Dedication – Quite Differing Points of Views
Sometimes before you get into the weeds of trying to define or describe a church tradition we need to define or describe what it is not.
Also, when you describe differences in Christian traditions you can come across as being critical or putting down another person who may very well believe in the same God you do. That is not our purpose here. This post is not about being argumentative or critical of others.
However, we will express a view of baby dedication that is primarily from an evangelical protestant stance which differs quite a bit from Catholicism and also some protestant churches that are a bit more liturgical in their customs.
Baby Dedication – What It Is Not
First of all, from an evangelical Christian point of view, we do not look at baby dedication in the same way as the traditional infant baptism as is the practice of the Catholic church and many others.
The baby dedication that we are speaking of and infant baptism are not at all the same. They have similarities in that the parents come forward in front of a church congregation and the minister says a few words or prayer.
Baby Dedication Vs. Infant Baptism
However, the theological differences between the two practices are quite different. Many non-denominational, Baptist, and a few other protestant churches simply view baby dedication as a time of simply dedicating the child to the Lord.
Catholic, Orthodox, and a few other Protestant churches hold to the tradition of infant baptism. With infant baptism, the child is “christened’ into the faith by sprinkling with water. For Catholics, infant baptism is viewed as an act of salvation, cleansing original sin and initiating the child into the Catholic Church.
The Protestant denominations including Baptist and many non-denominational churches do not have the belief that infant baptism carries with it an act of salvation. Baptists, for instance, believe that the baby would certainly be protected in the afterlife if they were to die as a baby. However, they still believe that the child will grow up and make their own decision about accepting Christ as their Savior.
We do point out that, for infant baptism and baby dedication, the parents should be committing to bring the child up in a home that honors God and also as a part of a church body and community. Likewise, the church body should agree to support and pray for the development and raising of those children.
So, baby dedication is looked at as an act of dedication while the child must make their own decision about salvation when they are older. Infant baptism, depending on the belief of a particular church or denomination can denote an act of salvation, cleansing original sin that is inherited and initiating the child into the church.
So, here at LivingPraying.com, we fall into the category of those who do not believe that any sin is forgiven or washed away by infant baptism. We believe that Jesus Christ has made a path of forgiveness. Those infants are protected should they be called to the afterlife they lost their lives before they could understand the Gospel.
However, later in life, they will be faced with a choice to choose Jesus as their Savior or another path in life.
Baby Dedication – What The Bible Has To Say About It
Well, if I had to take you to a chapter and verse in the Bible that says that you should go in front of a church to dedicate your child, I don’t think I could. There are some examples where people prayed, thanked God for their children, and dedicated them to the Lord.
However, as far as an instruction or commandment from God to publicly do that in front of a church or other Christian organization, I don’t think it’s there.
That doesn’t mean that it’s not a good thing. Churches have many traditions that serve people and serve the church well that are based on the scripture but not specifically commanded in scripture.
So, while the specific type of baby dedications popular in evangelical churches today are not mentioned quite specifically in the Bible, they are based on biblical principles.
Jesus Loves The Little Children
There was a children’s chorus that was taught to many children decades ago. It is probably still around now. The words went like this:
“Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world. Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight, Jesus loves the little children of the world.”
When Jesus was on this earth, little children were attracted to his love. He scolded his disciples when they thought the children were bothering him. Look at His love for them:
“One day some parents brought their little children to Jesus so he could touch and bless them. But when the disciples saw this, they scolded the parents for bothering him. Then Jesus called for the children and said to the disciples, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. “I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.”Luke 18:15-17
With that love in mind, let’s take a look at the tradition of baby dedication.
7 Purposes Of Baby Dedication In the Church
1- To Publically Acknowledge the Raising of That Child In the Way Of a Christian
When a parent or parents stand on the stage in front of a church with a desire to commit their child to God, they are taking a public stand in saying that their desire is to raise that child according to God’s word.
They should be committing to do everything that they can to instill the scripture and the love of Jesus into that child.
2- For the Parents To Ask For God’s Wisdom in Raising and Teaching the Child
The dedication of a baby carries with it the need to humbly ask God to give the parents His wisdom as these parents raise the child. Life is too difficult and too complicated to bring up a child without the wisdom of God. Baby dedication is a time to ask for that wisdom.
3- To Express Gratitude For the Child
A time of baby dedication is a wonderful time to express great thanksgiving that God has given this child to this family. The blessing of a child is very special and not quite like any other. It’s a blessing that comes with great joy and great responsibility.
4- To Ask God For His Blessings On Their Baby
Fewer prayers will be prayed more important to a couple than those that have to do with their children. Asking God to bless their child is a very important prayer and those prayers should continue throughout the life of the child.
“‘I asked the Lord to give me this boy, and he has granted my request. Now I am giving him to the Lord, and he will belong to the Lord his whole life.’ And they worshiped the Lord there.” 1Samuel 1:27-28
5- To Ask The Church For Prayers and Support In Raising a Christian Child
Much of the time in a baby dedication the pastor or minister will ask the congregation to commit to pray for the baby and be supportive of the family as they try to raise the child in a Christian home. Knowing that you have a congregation of believers who will stand beside you can be very encouraging for a young couple.
It is common for grandparents, godparents, and other close relatives or friends to come to the baby dedication. It’s encouraging to know that they also make promises during a baby dedication ceremony to help support the parents in their task of raising the child.
6- Parents to Acknowledge They Are Giving Their Child To The Lord For His Purposes
Yes, those parents will raise that child for many years. However, a parent should be willing for that child to love and serve God in any way that they are called to in the future. Recognizing that and trusting God for the very best for the child is wise and liberating for a parent.
The Apostle, Paul, in one of his letters to Timothy, reminded him of what he had been taught and learned from birth. This is a beautiful scripture:
“You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.”2 Timothy 3:15-17
7- Ask For the Child To Accept Christ as Savior When The Time Comes
In a baby dedication, we can do everything that we can and it can be a great day. However, humans have free will. When this baby is grown and can understand, he/she will have to make a choice about who Jesus Christ is.
There is no greater prayer that you can pray for your child than for them to grow up and accept Jesus Christ as their Lord. Yes, baby dedication can be a precious time, but none so precious as when you see your son or daughter when they understand the gospel and put their faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sin and life like no other.
Baby Dedication – Enjoy and Cherish It
So, while scripture would indicate that parents should pray for their child and quite literally dedicate them to the Lord always, it doesn’t look like there is a prescribed church baby dedication that must take place. But, it’s a good thing.
If you are in a church where that is the tradition, I would encourage you to have your baby dedicated. Is it going to impart some kind of spiritual force field around your child so they will never face temptation, have hard times, or even rebel against their parents or their God at times? No, probably not.
Those children will still have to grow up and make their own decisions in life. However, by parents taking the action of standing in front of friends and families and sincerely dedicating themselves to raising that child in a Godly home, promising to trust Him in raising that child – that’s a good thing.
And, to have other friends, family, and church family agreeing to support and pray for you and your child as you continue the journey of raising a child, that’s a good thing.
If you choose to dedicate your child in a baby dedication in church, hold on to those memories and even more so, follow up on the commitments you made on that special day.