Whose Child Is It?
“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”Proverbs 22:6
The command to “make disciples” starts the moment water and word touch that person at the font of grace in baptism. At that time, a parent usually promises to raise the child in the Christian faith. But many of today’s parents make other responsibilities a higher priority. They are highly motivated to provide healthy food, chemical free products, learning advantages, social connections and anything else that they believe satisfies their success in raising the child.
So why do so few parents who make Baptism Day a family social affair, pledge themselves to make a disciple of their child, but relegate those activities to Christmas and Easter, or worse? The sad truth is that the trend is people only want God on their terms, when they need Him, or want something, or when it is convenient. But God wants to be in fellowship with each of His children every moment of every day.
What is the remedy? Should congregations limit baptism to only those parents who demonstrate they are fulfilling their baptismal pledge in their own life? Maybe parents should put down a $5000 deposit returnable at some future time based upon performance in fidelity of their promise. How about turning the child over to the church who raises them in dormitories dedicated to catechetical training as part of the regiment.
There is no assurance in any of these suggestions that the promise will be kept. So, what is the remedy? Let’s return to the reason why the question is asked in the first place. Whose child is it? This is the big question that needs to be answered to move in the right direction. When a parent believes that this bundle of joy is just the product of a union with another person, they make a grave mistake. To believe that we are the originators of creation instead of the means through which God creates, is an idolatrous thought.
Whose child is it? This child, every child, is God’s. The creation of a life is as much God’s work as is the work of baptism to extend the grace of redemption and create new life. The promise made at the font is the parent’s confession that God is the creator and Father of their child. It is also their acceptance of the responsibility as parents to answer God’s call into the office of parent.
God’s holy design is that His “oneness” works through the creation of “one in His likeness” differentiated as male and female. This binary union extends itself as God’s means of creating new life. Whether a couple plans on having children or not, this fundamental truth needs to be taught as part of preparation for getting married.
I have seen too many pre-marriage classes preparing couples for the wedding and the task of living under one roof. Time is spent on everything from psychology to life style preferences. But the quintessential role of a marriage is that the binary union learns to care for God’s creation as a “one flesh.”
Rightly administered, marriage preparation is a specially focused exercise in catechesis. If parents understood God’s role for male and female and confessed God as creator and owner of all things, perhaps the pledge to raise the child in the Christian faith might be better understood and faithfully kept.