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Dear Gramps,

My daughter was raised in the church. Most of her ancestors were/are active members. For some reason, my daughter has chosen to be inactive. She now has a son who just turned eight. He has hardly been to primary and knows very little about the church. My daughter wants to get him baptized. I question this because of my grandson’s limited knowledge of the gospel. My parents think he should be baptized to get the “blessing” of baptism. What do you think? Is there any doctrine on this?

Judy from Canada

Dear Judy,

It looks like we have two circumstances here that bear some examination. In the first place, what is baptism? It is the sign of a covenant. If the covenant is not made, the sign is an empty gesture. What is the baptismal covenant? It is that we promise, having repented our sins, to take upon ourselves the name of Christ, to obey his commandments, and to remain true and faithful all the days of our life.

But what of the baptism of an eight-year-old child who would have limited understanding at best of the baptismal covenant and its significance? For this reason, it is important that children who are baptized be continually nourished in the gospel until they come to independent understanding. The principal classroom for such nourishment is the home. The auxiliary organizations of the church and church fellowship are designed to support the family and the individual in the home environment.

If your daughter understands that the blessing of baptism is not in the ordinance itself but in all that it implies of commitment to obedience and the great promise of remission of sins to the penitent, and if she would ensure that the teaching and training subsequent to baptism were to take place in the home and in the church, then that baptism would be a wonderful blessing, not only to her son, but to all the family.

There is one other point to consider. If the child were baptized, having received the authorization and permission of the bishop, and if the mother chose to remain inactive, the membership record of the child would remain in the files of the Ward in which the child lived, and would be a reference for continued contact and follow-up as long as he remained a member of the Church.

-Gramps

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