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I am a Baptist and my wife is Catholic. She wants our child to be baptised as a Catholic. I think they should have the choice when they're older. Who should make the decision here? As the husband, should I take control of the situation?
Thank you for your honest and interesting question. It is a delicate issue because it involves both religious and personal issues. This is a matter for much prayer and discussion with others.
The first issue that it involves is whether or not you worship together. If that is the case, I suggest you have your child baptised in that church. If, however, you worship in different churches this may be the time to discuss the wisdom of doing so. To have your child baptised implies that you want to bring children up to understand and believe in the Christian faith. It is really important that they observe you taking seriously your own faith and I think that will be undermined by going to different churches. It will tell your children that you disagree on the very thing you want them to believe.
The second issue I think is involved, is whether you are both committed to Christ as your personal Saviour. The teaching of Jesus about this is very important indeed. He said, in John 3:3-8:
“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit."
This passage shows that even in religion we need more than a natural desire to worship God. A spiritual and personal change is needed for us to go beyond religious rules and rites to a state of spiritual rebirth. This is more important than which denomination you attend, though it is important to choose a church where the Bible is clearly taught and explained, and where the church seeks to put into practice those teachings. Nicodemus was not only religious, but a religious leader. Jesus praised his sincerity but told him frankly that there was something fundamental missing from his religion because he had not experienced this 'new birth'. Nicodemus could not understand. Jesus explained that the new birth is not another natural event like a baby who is born 'of water' when the mother's waters break before giving birth, but a supernatural one when the Holy Spirit brings it Himself. How does the Holy Spirit come to do this in us? Jesus said He is like the wind - you can't make it blow or not blow and you can't make the Holy Spirit do what you want. However, the Holy Spirit is God and you can ask God to send His Spirit. On another occasion, Jesus said:
"And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" (Luke 11:9-13)
Notice the three ways Jesus describes seeking the gift of the Holy Spirit. Ask for it. Seek God for it. Knock on God's door for it. This is a way of saying that we should go to God's door in prayer, ask for a new spiritual birth, and keep on asking until we receive it. We don't need to understand how God does this, because God knows how to do it already! And the passage promises that He will do it for everyone who sincerely asks for it. That sincerity involves genuine repentance from sin and a simple trust in Jesus that He is indeed the Saviour we need, who died on the cross to save us from sin. In Romans 10:9 it says:
If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.
I suggest that you pray together if one or both of you needs this wonderful new birth from God, and then ask yourselves where in your area there is a church in which this message is clearly taught. Go there and have your baby baptised. If it happens to be a church in which baptism is not allowed for babies but only those who have first turned to Jesus in the way I have described, you can ask the pastor to hold a ceremony of dedication instead for your baby. You will, of course, be aware of this because you are a Baptist yourself. Indeed, you probably object, I suppose, to your baby being baptised at all and a dedication service might be something you and your wife can both accept with a good conscience.
In summary, I suggest that instead of approaching this from the viewpoint of who is in authority in your home, you look at the faith you should share and begin with this fundamental step of asking Jesus to become your personal Saviour, and then looking for a church where the Bible is clearly taught and this new birth is well understood.
I do hope this general answer to your question goes some way to helping you find peace with God through Jesus Christ our Lord. If you want to know more about what Jesus has done for you please watch the video on the main part of our site: www.lookingforGod.com
In closing, I want to encourage you to get more involved with your local church. It would be good to speak to a Christian leader or another trusted church individual regarding your question. I know they would be delighted to further answer you as well as offer prayer and support as you continue your spiritual journey: www.lookingforgod.com/churchfinder
Please use our Interactive Answer Matrix and feel free to ask another question. Our helpful staff are praying for you and waiting to try and answer to you from the Bible, and will be delighted to tell you more about Jesus Christ the Lord, the Saviour of the world. www.lookingforgod.com/your-questions
*If anything in this answer affects you directly, then please feel free to call our confidential prayer line in the UK on 0845 4567729, where trained Christian volunteers will take your call and pray both for you and with you. If you are outside of the UK then you may submit your request for prayer on line at www.ucb.co.uk/prayerline
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