While there is no Biblical mandate to dedicate Christian children there are several good reasons to dedicate them to God.
Notice: This answer assumes that the parent desires to dedicate their child to God. Otherwise, there is absolutely no reason to enforce child dedication.
- It follows the Jewish, and thus Biblical, practice of dedicating children to God. It must be admitted that this practice was not applied to every child. In fact, it was only demanded for the first born son (Exodus 13:2,12). But, it does demonstrate that when faithful parents wanted to “set their children apart” (meaning of dedicate) for God, they publicly dedicated them.
- Hannah dedicates her son Samuel to the Lord (I Sam 1:1-28).
- Jesus, like millions of other Jewish boys, was presented at the temple on the 8th day after his birth. (Luke 2:21-40).
- It is a declaration of the parent’s faith and commitment to the child. This public celebration declares, “we pledge in front of God and witnesses, that in word and deed, we will raise this child in the knowledge, obedience, and love of God.”
- Deuteronomy 6:4: Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
- Proverbs 22:6: Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.
- Proverbs 20:7: God-loyal people, living honest lives, make it much easier for their children.
- Proverbs 29:15; Correction and discipline are good for children. If they have their own way, they will make their mothers ashamed of them.
- It is a reaffirmation of that child’s place in the community of faith. The whole church looks on, and in effect says, “we see this child, we receive her into the community of faith, and we pledge to help raise him/her in the in the knowledge, obedience, and love of God.
- It follows the unbroken tradition of the Christian church. There are lengthy debates over the merits of baptizing children, but we are not aware of any dissenting opinion regarding child dedication.
Finally, child baptism must be separated from baptism. This is not a believers baptism. The child has made no choice, and God has made no promises. This is instead a profound statement of intent from parent, family and community.
For more information about child dedication, contact Pastor Di Beals.