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8 Year Olds, Free Will, and Baptism


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2 minutes ago, MiserereNobis said:

In another thread, someone's son chose to leave the LDS church and said that his decision to be baptized was an 8 year old's decision and he was not bound by it.

How much free will does an 8 year old really have when it comes to choosing baptism?

It seems to me that an 8 year old is just choosing to do what his or her family wants done. I have a hard time imagining a child raised in a strong LDS home saying he doesn't want to be baptized.

I've heard criticism of Catholic baptism based on the fact that infants can't choose. We obviously acknowledge that -- hence there is confirmation around ages 14-16 when there can be more of an active choice.

What do you think? Do 8 year olds have enough autonomy to actually choose? Do you know any 8 year olds raised in strong LDS families that said no?

Why do Catholics allow 7 year old children to go to confession and receive communion?

Because they have reached the age when they know, supposedly, good from bad, and presumably want to follow Jesus.

Seriously. I don't want to be argumentative about it.

When I joined at the LDS I saw a perfect parallel in these two practices.

For me Catholic Confirmation just allowed me to pick a new name!  ;)

 

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16 minutes ago, MiserereNobis said:

...Do you know any 8 year olds raised in strong LDS families that said no?

Yes, my husband. He turned 8 years old in late 1966 and did not want to be baptized. He eventually got baptized months later and he recalls that his father didn't baptize him, someone else did. He can't remember why his father didn't baptize him.

I asked my nieces and nephews (BIL's children) if they were given a choice and they said they were. They all chose to be baptized at 8 years old.

M.

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27 minutes ago, MiserereNobis said:

In another thread, someone's son chose to leave the LDS church and said that his decision to be baptized was an 8 year old's decision and he was not bound by it.

How much free will does an 8 year old really have when it comes to choosing baptism?

It seems to me that an 8 year old is just choosing to do what his or her family wants done. I have a hard time imagining a child raised in a strong LDS home saying he doesn't want to be baptized.

I've heard criticism of Catholic baptism based on the fact that infants can't choose. We obviously acknowledge that -- hence there is confirmation around ages 14-16 when there can be more of an active choice.

What do you think? Do 8 year olds have enough autonomy to actually choose? Do you know any 8 year olds raised in strong LDS families that said no?

The term “accountable” fundamentally means answerable to a superior, and the terms of this relationship differ according to the organization (parent-child, Church-member, God-soul). Often there are stages of accountability in accordance with age, experience, office, obligations, etc. that progress with tenure within the organization.

We are no longer bound when we withdraw from commitments, but there are still consequences for which we remain accountable that are more in line with cosmic and natural law than the organizational rules and regulations we no longer accept.

Appealing to experience that comes with age as the basis for withdrawal does not negate the validity of the earlier commitment, only justifying the severance (“I changed my mind.”). Now if the claim is that he didn’t know what he is doing in the first place, and now he does, that should be taken at face value since no one can prove otherwise.

I think infant baptism and “born in the covenant” are analogous in that the parents (both earthly and Heavenly) are making covenants in behalf of the child, who then under their tutelage grows into the covenants as he becomes accountable. If the earthly parents fail in teaching him, God ultimately does not, and the child inevitably grows into his accountability.

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48 minutes ago, Maureen said:

Yes, my husband. He turned 8 years old in late 1966 and did not want to be baptized. He eventually got baptized months later and he recalls that his father didn't baptize him, someone else did. He can't remember why his father didn't baptize him.

I asked my nieces and nephews (BIL's children) if they were given a choice and they said they were. They all chose to be baptized at 8 years old.

M.

As did I when I was 8. And I am quite certain my eight year olds would have gotten baptised if they believed we thought it a good choice.

But 8-year-olds do not have enough information and life experience to make life-long commitments to an organisation.

And generally the church does not offer children a real choice to be baptised or not, because there's only one correct choice.

Consider the thought experiment of a baseball-loving family where everybody loves baseball, watches it on TV, goes to weekly games, joins childhood teams and plays it as adults; a good life is defined as a life of baseball and life without baseball will always be inferior to life with baseball.  Does an eight year old child in this family have a real choice to live a life without baseball?

Edited by Meadowchik
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From the perspective of the faithful of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we baptize eight-year-olds because God commanded us to:
 

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Doctrine & Covenants 68

25 And again, inasmuch as parents have children in Zion, or in any of her stakes which are organized, that teach them not to understand the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the living God, and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands, when eight years old, the sin be upon the heads of the parents.

 

"But I don't believe the Doctrine and Covenants."  Okay.

"But what if a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints doesn't believe the Doctrine and Covenants, or doesn't believe this scripture?"  Okay.  If God can't convince him, then I'm certainly not going to be able to.

Edited by Kenngo1969
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1 hour ago, MiserereNobis said:

In another thread, someone's son chose to leave the LDS church and said that his decision to be baptized was an 8 year old's decision and he was not bound by it.

How much free will does an 8 year old really have when it comes to choosing baptism?

As much free will as anyone else.  Nobody gets more as they get older.  100% at all times.  And everyone is free to change their mind, and abandon any promises or covenants they made earlier, at any time.

 

Edited by Ahab
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47 minutes ago, Maureen said:

I asked my nieces and nephews (BIL's children) if they were given a choice and they said they were. They all chose to be baptized at 8 years old.

Maybe I didn't express myself clearly. I don't mean "are 8 year olds asked if they want to be baptized or are they forced?" What I mean is: "can an 8 year old really make an independent decision?"

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1 hour ago, mfbukowski said:

Why do Catholics allow 7 year old children to go to confession and receive communion?

Because they have reached the age when they know, supposedly, good from bad, and presumably want to follow Jesus.

Seriously. I don't want to be argumentative about it.

When I joined at the LDS I saw a perfect parallel in these two practices.

For me Catholic Confirmation just allowed me to pick a new name!  ;)

 

I can see the parallels here, obviously, but in LDS baptism you are joining the LDS church, making promises, etc. There seems to be a distinction there.

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1 hour ago, The Nehor said:

Do most people getting married know what they are doing?

Is this why you're single? ;) 

I don't think you can compare an 8 year old baptism to marriage. The reason there are consent laws to marriage is because we recognize that children are incapable of making certain decisions. Is an 8 year old in an LDS family capable of saying no? Too bad we don't have hard data on this. @Maureen shared that her husband said no (but I'll note he was baptized a few months later). How many 8 year olds say no and never join? I think the numbers would be infinitesimally small, which would seem to show that they are not capable of choosing whether or not to join the LDS church.

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28 minutes ago, Kenngo1969 said:

From the perspective of the faithful of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we baptize eight-year-olds because God commanded us to:
 

Quote

 

Doctrine & Covenants 68

25 And again, inasmuch as parents have children in Zion, or in any of her stakes which are organized, that teach them not to understand the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the living God, and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands, when eight years old, the sin be upon the heads of the parents.

 

 

Interesting. So if the 8 year old says no, it's the parents fault? That seems to reinforce my position that baptism occurs because of the parents, not the choice of the child. If the child says no, how can it be the parents' fault, unless the child choice is dependent upon what the parents have done?

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20 minutes ago, Ahab said:

As much free will as anyone else.  Nobody gets more as they get older.  100% at all times.  And everyone is free to change their mind, and abandon any promises or covenants they made earlier, at any time.

 

An 8 month old baby has exactly the same abilities to choose as a 30 year old? I must not be understanding you.

Either that or my parents totally enslaved me as an 8 month old, forcing me to eat what they wanted to feed me, forcing me to wear what they wanted me to wear, forcing me to go where they wanted.

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7 minutes ago, MiserereNobis said:

Maybe I didn't express myself clearly. I don't mean "are 8 year olds asked if they want to be baptized or are they forced?" What I mean is: "can an 8 year old really make an independent decision?"

Probably not really. They do what their parents have taught them and want them to do. They go along with it because they don't know why they should not go along with it. And I really have not known any 8 year old, raised in the church, who has refused to do it.  The main reason  they are baptized at 8 is because at that time in their lives they have  probably become aware of right and wrong and are therefore able to commit sin and so require baptism to help them start with a clean slate and to officially become members of the church and receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost.
They can always choose to leave the church later on if they want or just go inactive.

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1 hour ago, MiserereNobis said:

In another thread, someone's son chose to leave the LDS church and said that his decision to be baptized was an 8 year old's decision and he was not bound by it.

How much free will does an 8 year old really have when it comes to choosing baptism?

It seems to me that an 8 year old is just choosing to do what his or her family wants done. I have a hard time imagining a child raised in a strong LDS home saying he doesn't want to be baptized.

I've heard criticism of Catholic baptism based on the fact that infants can't choose. We obviously acknowledge that -- hence there is confirmation around ages 14-16 when there can be more of an active choice.

What do you think? Do 8 year olds have enough autonomy to actually choose? Do you know any 8 year olds raised in strong LDS families that said no?

I think it depends on the child.  Some clearly grasp it better than others.  I suspect that many are baptized at 8 without much of a clue at all as to the implications and commitment that they are making, and may be acting in large part to receive their parents approval.  I don't believe God will hold anyone accountable for violating a covenant they made when they were 8 years old, when they did not fully understand or appreciate the weight of it.  However, it is not something that we do once at 8 years old and never revisit again.  In fact, every single week we are allowed to re-evaluate and renew our commitment to those baptismal covenants through partaking of the sacrament.  If an 8 year old child truly does not understand and acted in ignorance, I don't believe that they will be held accountable for any violation of that original covenant.  That is the doctrine I subscribe to, and it is scripturally based.  At some point they will understand though, and they will have the opportunity to renew their baptismal covenant with purpose and integrity.

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7 minutes ago, MiserereNobis said:

Maybe I didn't express myself clearly. I don't mean "are 8 year olds asked if they want to be baptized or are they forced?" What I mean is: "can an 8 year old really make an independent decision?"

You mean outside of internal influence? I would think that an 8 year old's decision is definitely based on those internal influences.

My question was sent in a group message. My one niece said that she never saw the baptism as a choice but an expectation. She said she never felt forced by her parents, they never told her she HAD to be baptized but they also never offered her an option "not to do it or to wait.".

M.  

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3 minutes ago, MiserereNobis said:

An 8 month old baby has exactly the same abilities to choose as a 30 year old? I must not be understanding you.

Yes.  What is hard for you to understand about this?  Each person has 100% free will ability to choose whatever they do or don't do.  At all times and in all places. 

That doesn't mean they/we have any ability to choose what OTHER PEOPLE or other outside influences to to us/them, though, if that's what you're thinking. 

When parents choose to baptize their infant child, for example, the infant is not making any choice about what those parents have done.

3 minutes ago, MiserereNobis said:

Either that or my parents totally enslaved me as an 8 month old, forcing me to eat what they wanted to feed me, forcing me to wear what they wanted me to wear, forcing me to go where they wanted.

No, they didn't force you to do anything, but you had no choice about what they did to you or for you, either.  They did what they did and you did what you did. They never made you do anything, but they still did whatever they did to you.

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35 minutes ago, stemelbow said:

Free will is an illusion.  It ain't real nor possible.  

My brother in-law has gone inactive and has become fairly critical of people of faith, including myself.  He too subscribes to the illusion of free-will philosophy, promoted by Sam Harris.  He once made a comment in frustration, "How can anyone choose to be a Mormon after knowing this...?"   I simply responded (knowing his philosophy), "Well Aaron, we don't really have a choice, do we?  Give us some slack!"

I suspect that those who subscribe to this philosophy don't really believe it deep down, or at least they don't act like it.

Edited by pogi
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17 minutes ago, MiserereNobis said:

Is this why you're single? ;) 

It is because I have not yet embraced the wisdom of Drax: "You just need to find a woman who is pathetic, like you."

24 minutes ago, MiserereNobis said:

I don't think you can compare an 8 year old baptism to marriage. The reason there are consent laws to marriage is because we recognize that children are incapable of making certain decisions. Is an 8 year old in an LDS family capable of saying no? Too bad we don't have hard data on this. @Maureen shared that her husband said no (but I'll note he was baptized a few months later). How many 8 year olds say no and never join? I think the numbers would be infinitesimally small, which would seem to show that they are not capable of choosing whether or not to join the LDS church.

I think in God's eyes the difference between the intellectual and decision making capabilities of an 8 year old and a 21 year old are rather insignificant. I am not denying that 8 year olds have limited ability to make good decisions on their own. I just think adults exaggerate how much we have improved since then.

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I can only tell you my experience with my 8 year old grandchild whose parents had not had him blessed and didnt' take him to church.   He had older siblings who'd been baptized when they decided to take the missionary lessons, and his older sister had just started taking the lessons.   And he insisted on joining her, got mad when she kept skipping the lessons so his baptism had to also be postponed.   Sure I think there are 8 year olds who do it is a matter of tradition.   But there was no question in my mind that that child who knew his parents and siblings had trouble living the gospel and who still wanted it for himself.

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1 hour ago, rpn said:

I can only tell you my experience with my 8 year old grandchild whose parents had not had him blessed and didnt' take him to church.   He had older siblings who'd been baptized when they decided to take the missionary lessons, and his older sister had just started taking the lessons.   And he insisted on joining her, got mad when she kept skipping the lessons so his baptism had to also be postponed.   Sure I think there are 8 year olds who do it is a matter of tradition.   But there was no question in my mind that that child who knew his parents and siblings had trouble living the gospel and who still wanted it for himself.

One child is different from another. Some are very precocious and serious or motivated. But the same child will not be the same person when they're 12, 16, or 22. There are whole dimensions of human understanding that are yet to be accessible at age eight. It's therefore impossible for them to experience informed consent about a commitment that directly impacts pieces of their identities which are not yet developed.

 

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3 hours ago, stemelbow said:

Free will is an illusion.  It ain't real nor possible.  

Free will is the beginning and end of the atonement. 

Free will is based on the Spirit and not on visions, visitations and miracles.

Free Will is based upon scripture, as deeply flawed as they are.

Free Will enables those who know Christ to reject Him. 

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Since we only baptize at 8 because we believe that's when God said children should be baptized, does it matter what we believe about 8 year olds and their abilities to choose?   it seems to me the two options are:

1- it's not from God

2-It is from God and if God says they know enough, they know enough.  What we think about it is irrelevant.

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12 minutes ago, Bob Crockett said:

Free will is the beginning and end of the atonement. 

Free will is based on the Spirit and not on visions, visitations and miracles.

Free Will is based upon scripture, as deeply flawed as they are.

Free Will enables those who know Christ to reject Him. 

And free will, or agency, is what allows us to be responsible for our choices.  Without free will, no one is responsible for anything (something most people would not want to argue).

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