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Pagan baby's Christian grandma is asking for baptism

post #1 of 48
Thread Starter 
I'm Pagan and my husband is sort of agnostic. His mother is Lutheran. Our LO is 6 months old now, and today my MIL asked, with tears in her eyes, if we'd have the baby baptized. She said she didn't want to go behind our backs (!) and have it done.

I'm torn. On one hand, I don't personally believe in baptism as a sacrament - it's not my belief system. It obviously means a lot to her. But on the other hand, I don't want to "normalize" the idea that my faith is secondary.

Has anyone else dealt with this? What did you do? Any advice is greatly appreciated!
post #2 of 48

Edited.


Edited by Tumble Bumbles - 4/10/11 at 1:44pm
post #3 of 48
It's not your religion, it's hers, she has no right to ask that of you, and in addition, her insinuation that she'd somehow do it behind your back if you didn't consent is creepy.

I would not allow this and I'd be very firm about it. Once people like this get their foot in the door in this area it is VERY hard to get them back out.

Some family members expressed a desire that my partner at the time and I would have this done to our daughter when she was an infant. Our response was that it will be her choice to do it if it fits her beliefs when she gets older, end of discussion.

ETA: I just looked up what happens at a Lutheran baptism and it is nothing a Pagan or agnostic should ever be asked to do, IMO. The parents and godparents are expected to vow before the church to raise the child according to the word of God, etc.

Aslo ETA: AFAIK I was never baptized in my mother's church (Pentecostal), but I was "dedicated to Christ" at a very young age and I'm still pissed about it. Not that I have anything against Jesus, just that I personally would never push my beliefs on my child that way and wish my mother would have let me decide for myself if I wanted to participate in something like that. Just another point to think about before you consent to having this done to your kid- she might not think it was very cool of you later in life.
post #4 of 48
we baptised our children for MIL.
post #5 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tumble Bumbles View Post
Wellll....

I'm a devout Christian, but I don't believe in infant baptism. We believe when a child/adolescent is at an age of reason (which varies wildly lol) they can choose themselves, of their own free will, to accept Christ or not. Infant baptism is simply a preference to show the parents' dedication to raising their child in the Christian church...but has no bearing on salvation. One has to willfully and knowingly accept Christ as a free-will choice to be saved. I hope that doesn't read as proselytizing, I'm just communicating what most protestant Christians believe based on The Bible.

My mom was raised Catholic, and although she is not practicing, she was so adamant (read: crazy dead set) about having our daughter baptized. We had a lot of discussions (read: arguments) about it.

I just simply do NOT at ALL believe God sends unbaptized babies to hell. I did NOT have my daughter baptized.

Personally, this is a situation where I stood my ground. I would tread very lightly and take her feelings and beliefs into consideration but I wouldn't baptize. I would ask MIL to search her heart and her scriptures (infant Baptism appears NOWHERE in The Bible) and tell her you believe that if there is an Almighty, you simply do not believe in a petty or legalistic one who damns innocent babies to hell.

I would have been furious if my mom did it 'behind my back'. Not so much because of the religious side of it, but because of the blatant disrespect of my communicated choice/belief on the matter.
Well put -- couldnt have said it better myself
post #6 of 48
I think you have two options:

one, take a stand, decline, and perhaps do some kind of baby welcoming ceremony that would incorporate your and your husband's beliefs. depending on how religious your MIL is, that might be "enough" or satisfactory, or it might be a good starting point for you to set the tone as far as religious practice in your family.

two, do it without believing in it, just to go along with family. it's pretty easy to explain to a child later 'we did this because it was very important to your grandmother even though i and your father believe differently'. i have a friend who is spiritual and not religious, but has a very Catholic MIL, and ended up getting her son baptized and doing a whole big Peruvian baptism party. it was very very important to her MIL, and my friend didn't believe in it, but was willing to go along for the sake of family. i don't think she felt like she compromised her own beliefs.

not knowing your family dynamics, it seems hard for me to recommend either one of them, so i will just lay out those two options. ultimately it comes down to what your priorities are, what your family dynamics are like, and how you and your husband plan on handling religion/spirituality with your child.

eta: i do agree with pp's that the insinuation that she would do it behind your back is creepy.
post #7 of 48
What I would do depends on the history. Has she ever gone behind your (or someone else's) back and done something she knew wasn't okay? Does she manipulate people? Is it her way or the highway? If so, I'd make my feelings known and then make sure she never has an opportunity to do it herself. If she's normally nice and respectful of your boundaries, and she's just very devout in her religious beliefs, I might give more leeway. In that case, I might arrange a naming ceremony or something (at the solstice, on her first birthday, whenever resonates with you) and possibly invite her pastor/priest/whoever to say a blessing after you/your spiritual advisor is done. I think that would make very apparent that your religion does not take second place, but you're willing to let hers be expressed within certain boundaries.

So I guess it depends on what kind of relationship you have/want to have. In my case, I put my foot down and said no, and my MIL doesn't watch my kids.
post #8 of 48
Ok wow, first she threatened to do it behind your back and that is NEVER ok and it is controlling,threatening, and manipulating ! I'm a christian and I would never do that to anyone. Second I dont think I would leave my child with someone like that at all because if she'll go as far as disprespecting your religion behind your back (which is a pretty big deal imo) then she'll do it when it comes to other matters. I wouldn't do it and like others have said, stand your ground say no, tell her that her threats are wrong, and then tell her you have a hard time trusting someone with your child who says those things.
post #9 of 48
I'm a Christian and I believe in infant baptism, not as an entrance pass for heaven, but as a symbol of the spiritual covenant between that child's CHRISTIAN parents and God. It is a symbolic gesture in which the parents promise to raise their child in the faith, and as a child of believers that child is accepted into the visible congregation. It has zero, zip, nada to do with salvation. It is not required for entrance into heaven nor will it keep you out of the other place. Salvation comes much later, and then only through personal faith.

I know a bit about Lutheran theology and I have this funny feeling your MiL is confused about the matter. The baptism won't mean a thing unless that child is raised in a Christian home. I wonder if her pastor would even knowingly baptize an infant in such an underhanded manner, going behind the parents backs.

If you are Pagan and your husband agnostic, the ritual means nothing to you and can have no benefit for you. If your MiL is threatening to do this behind your back then I think it is even MORE important to draw a very clear line. This is YOUR child, and you should be able to raise him/her in the faith/belief system that YOU choose.
post #10 of 48
ok so, I'm a christian. We don't believe in infant baptism. But I get that some people do.

I would ask MIL why its so important to her. If in her heart she believes that having the baby baptized protects it in some way then she is doing it out of love for you child. (the asking not the back thing)

If you don't believe in God and see no harm in having some water put on your baby's head then let her. If it makes her feel better. I just am trying to think about her perspective and if it would plague her. I'm much more forgiving of wierdness that is does out of love than selfishness.

Then again, you have to look into what kind of relationship you have with her. Would this set the precedent of her wanting you to bend to her every whim? or Do you have a healthy relationship? and this is just important to her.

I guess for me, if it was important to a family member to walk around the baby three times and quack like a duck I wouldn't see the harm. But I don't know how you truly view this 'rite.' (not my perspective but how I know some non christian friends view religious rituals)

I don't think it would make your religion secondary, because its not an if this happens this can't kinda thing (like having a circumcision in the hospital verses a bris)
post #11 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tumble Bumbles View Post
Wellll....

I'm a devout Christian, but I don't believe in infant baptism. We believe when a child/adolescent is at an age of reason (which varies wildly lol) they can choose themselves, of their own free will, to accept Christ or not. Infant baptism is simply a preference to show the parents' dedication to raising their child in the Christian church...but has no bearing on salvation. One has to willfully and knowingly accept Christ as a free-will choice to be saved. I hope that doesn't read as proselytizing, I'm just communicating what most protestant Christians believe based on The Bible.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nerdymom View Post
I'm a Christian and I believe in infant baptism, not as an entrance pass for heaven, but as a symbol of the spiritual covenant between that child's CHRISTIAN parents and God. It is a symbolic gesture in which the parents promise to raise their child in the faith, and as a child of believers that child is accepted into the visible congregation. It has zero, zip, nada to do with salvation. It is not required for entrance into heaven nor will it keep you out of the other place. Salvation comes much later, and then only through personal faith.

I know a bit about Lutheran theology and I have this funny feeling your MiL is confused about the matter. The baptism won't mean a thing unless that child is raised in a Christian home. I wonder if her pastor would even knowingly baptize an infant in such an underhanded manner, going behind the parents backs.
Just wanted to say, that as a Lutheran, neither of these is in line with my (specific type of Lutheran) beliefs. If you are strongly considering this, I would talk to your MIL about what she believes baptism is. If you know what type of Lutheran she is and I happen to be the same and you'd like more info, let me know.

I hope you are able to come to the best decision for your family and everyone can respect that.

ETA: No offense to the above posters, just offering my knowledge on the topic!
post #12 of 48
Have a wiccaning of whatever sort works for your style of paganism. Invite MIL. This should cover the baby welcoming and protection part as well as asserting that your religion is what is practiced by your family.
post #13 of 48
Pagan mama with an agnostic DH here too. My extended family is very staunch Southern Baptist, but under no circumstances would I have any of our children baptized to appease them.
post #14 of 48
I baptized DS for my mom. Like you said, it meant so much to her. As for my religion, DS lives in my house and celebrates with me. My religion is not secondary.

BTW, she has never said a word about baptizing DD.
post #15 of 48
I am lax Taoist & grew up in a non religious household. DH grew up Lutheran & his family is very involved in the church. Before we ever got married I told him I don't believe in christianity or baptism & would never allow it. He agreed and no one has ever brought it up to me. I would not allow it & have a serious talk with her about boundaries.
post #16 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Virginia884 View Post
Just wanted to say, that as a Lutheran, neither of these is in line with my (specific type of Lutheran) beliefs. If you are strongly considering this, I would talk to your MIL about what she believes baptism is. If you know what type of Lutheran she is and I happen to be the same and you'd like more info, let me know.

I hope you are able to come to the best decision for your family and everyone can respect that.

ETA: No offense to the above posters, just offering my knowledge on the topic!
By "bit", I meant a little bit! No offense taken, I know not all Lutherans are in agreement. But Lutheranism and Presbyterianism (what I am) have a certain common history, of which I am aware. And I have Lutheran friends who debate back and forth the minutia of theological differences between reformed Presbyterians and conservative Lutherans. I sort of zone out but pick up pieces via fb, lol!

Talking to the MiL about what baptism means to her is a really good point, and might help both parties better articulate their feelings on the subject.
post #17 of 48
I'm not Lutheran, but in our church, when you present your baby for baptism, you as a parent have to make a public declaration of faith in Jesus. So if you do decide to get the baby baptized for the mil, you should find out what you are agreeing to in the specific church before you do it!
post #18 of 48
Ugh, no. Heck no and no way!
post #19 of 48
Pagan mama with agnostic DH here too. MIL threw a fit that we didn't get DD baptized in the Catholic church. She got over it.
post #20 of 48
What we did was attend the Universal Unitarian and have a baby dedication... totally different.
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