Cover 2016-10-16

Ron Writes

Is My Child Ready for Baptism?

What do we do when our preteen wants to be baptized? If we are doing our job of training our children in the way of the Lord, then by the time they’re half way through grade-school they know about baptism. Having good hearts, they often have the desire to be baptized. But is it needed and are they ready?

Children are sinless before God (Mt. 18:4). They make mistakes and display rebellious disobedience, but they are not sinners. As adults, we are sinners. It’s the in between stage that confuses us. At what age should we consider our children accountable? We have coined the term “age of accountability” to try to describe an age when our children become accountable to God.

In the Old Testament men of war were 20 years old and older (Num. 1:3). When Israel refused to enter the promised land, He made them wander for 40 years in the wilderness until the men of war perished (Josh. 5:6). Those who were under 20 were not held accountable. Moses describes those who would enter the land as “little ones” who…have no knowledge of good or evil” (Deut. 1:39). Here the “age of accountability” was 20.

Is twelve the age of accountability? Oregon law says "A person who is tried, as an adult in a court of criminal jurisdiction is not criminally responsible for any conduct which occurred when the person was under 12 years of age." Most children aren’t considered to be developmentally, morally or ethically able to make decisions until they’re at least 12 years old. Jesus was 12 years old when he was found in the temple (Lk. 2:49). However, his parents took him home and he continued to grow and mature (Lk. 2:52). Research by Dr. Flavel Yeakley found that children baptized before the age of 12 were more likely to fall away from the church.

Society has set certain age markers. A person isn’t considered to have the judgment to drive until they’re 16. One cannot legally enter into a binding contract until they’re 18. One cannot partake of alcohol until they’re 21.

At what age is your child ready for this life changing decision? That will have to be decided by the wisdom of parents along with their children.