To Baby Dedicate or To Not

So our newborn baby girl is a few months old, and we never got around to doing a baby dedication.  And I have already let my wife know I am not really for the idea of doing a baby dedication.

For those who are not familiar with baby dedications, it is a short ritual where the parents (and sometimes extended family) come in front of the church to pray and dedicate the child to the Lord.  It’s not just for the baby but also for the parents, because the pastor not only prays over the baby but also over the parents.  He prays that the parents “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it”  (Proverbs 22:6)  Really Baby dedications are for the parents in the sense that the parents are dedicating and making a commitment to raise her for the Lord.

I’m really just blogging about it, because my wife has not only brought it several times, but even has a white dress picked out for my baby girl to wear.

Since I am no longer a believer I feel somewhat mixed up and perplexed about the situation.

About M. Rodriguez

When I first received Christ salvation, I made it a priority to read the whole bible and I did. But it was the Bible that made me question my faith. For I found it flawed and lacking. Due to this I launched a personal inquiry/investigation into my faith, and ultimately realized that the Christian God of the Bible was indeed man-made. Now I Blog about those findings and life after Christ.
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23 Responses to To Baby Dedicate or To Not

  1. aynway says:

    For the past few years most of my friends and relatives have either done the dedication ceremonies (or infant baptism, depending upon their churches’ stance on the matter) primarily to placate older family members. I don’t think I have any close friends or relatives who actually take their children to church with any regularity. Three years ago I stood in front of an Episcopal priest as godfather to my friends’ infant son, with their full knowledge that I am an unbeliever. I will do all I can to help that boy be successful as a human being, but I have absolutely no intention of encouraging him to be superstitious.

    If you want to keep peace in your family, you may just want to go ahead with the ceremony but then never take your daughter to meetings. On the other hand, such a choice is deliberately deceptive. Can you live with that? If I had an infant of my own I certainly could.

  2. Nate says:

    I say go along with it. You don’t believe it does any harm (even if it doesn’t do any good), and since it’s important to your wife, I think you should do it. Helps keep the peace…

  3. unklee says:

    It’s a common situation in life – trying to balance a bunch of conflicting principles. In this case it is truth vs peace + serving your wife. I don’t think I could do it, but I don’t think I would be in your situation in the first place. I wouldn’t want to suggest what you should do, but I do feel for you (if that’s worth anything!).

  4. Brenda says:

    I don’t think I could personally go through with it, but I didn’t have to face situations like that because my husband left Christianity with me. I can certainly understand why some would choose to do it to keep the peace (especially when it’s within your own marriage).

    From what I can tell, some religious communities are used to the idea that many people use those types of ceremonies more as tradition than actual belief. Your church community however sounds similar to what I left and in those it is more of a heart thing and it is expected that you truly mean what you say. You can correct me if I’m wrong on that.

    I was wondering if it’s possible for a compromise? For example, could you be allowed to write up your own statement of commitment? If it’s similar to the dedication ceremonies we did with our children, it’s all kind of prepackaged and you just say, ‘We will,’ in agreement, etc. But I wonder if they’d allow you and your wife to each write up your own statements? So your wife’s would include more traditional things but yours could be more along the lines that you commit to being a good example to your child, to raising her to be a moral and caring person, etc. I kind of doubt they’d allow it, but might not hurt to ask. It might be a good compromise if they would go for it.

    • M. Rodriguez says:

      Thats a good idea,

      And the pastor would probably allow it. However it would be a lil weird cause it is different from the traditional baby dedication we do at the church. And it is like you said, the pastor prays, says a few things, then we come into agreement with him in prayer. I don’t recall if we affirm anything with “I do” or “I will.”

      But I feel it would be too hypocritical if I did get up to do it.

  5. Nate says:

    I didn’t realize until reading Brenda’s comment that you would actually have to participate or say something in this ceremony. If it were me, I could stand there politely, but I couldn’t have a speaking role unless it was along the lines of Brenda’s suggestion. But I would definitely find some kind of compromise that will make your wife happy. Good luck with it.

    • M. Rodriguez says:

      yeah you actually do have to stand up infront of the entire congregation while they pray over you.

      The pastor has offered to my wife to do a private ceremony instead if I agreed to it. But knowing my wife, I know that is not what she really wants. It doesn’t have the same feel of community and family if it was a private ceremony/dedication.

  6. Brenda says:

    Btw – I didn’t realize you had a new little one BibleReader (aka M. Rodriguez – but I’ll always think of you as BibleReader – lol!). Congratulations!

  7. Brenda says:

    Just ignore this question if you like because I realize it’s personal, but does your wife realize that if you get up and do it in the expected way that you’d be lying – and publicly at that? The Old and New Testament both make a pretty big deal about making false oaths or promises. I have to admit that while I understand her desire to have her baby girl dedicated, I’m a bit surprised that she’d be willing to have you do it even though you’d be making a public promise you have no intention of keeping. You don’t have to answer if you don’t feel comfortable, but some food for thought.

    • M. Rodriguez says:

      She is really not trying to pressure me into doing, but because I can see it does bother her, she has just casually brought it up in conversation and dropped it. And I can see it in her eyes many of the little things such as baby dedications that we will no longer be able to do together as a family.

  8. unklee says:

    I’ve been thinking about this from a christian perspective, and I think if I was your wife, now (or while) you are an unbeliever, I would want more than ever to have the congregation’s support for bringing up my children as christians. But I wouldn’t want you to have to lie, so I reckon I would be looking for an honest dedication that included you in an honest capacity.

    I don’t know how that would be done, but perhaps (1) an open recognition that you cannot commit to the christian upbringing, and therefore the congregation has to provide more, and (2) you do want the best for the child and will not stand in the way of a christian upbringing (however you and your wife have actually agreed on that).

    It could be that, in working out those details, everyone (you, your wife, the minister and the congregation) all come to a better understanding of what you have decided, which could be good for everyone.

  9. ... Zoe ~ says:

    After a baby dedication ceremony one of the elderly women asked me why we (the church) hadn’t seen our daughter dedicated yet. I gently smiled and said, “Our daughter was dedicated the night she was born.” She was a bit startled but also I think moved. So much of what goes on in the church is public and it seemed to me to always be a show for the family members and friends not yet saved. An opportunity for the gospel to be shared one more time. Maybe a soul will be saved as a result. I often questioned the sincerity of so much that went on.

    I have no answers. I personally could not do it. I suspect the congregation knows now of your unbelief? In so many ways I don’t see a baby being dedicated or the collective church promising to raise your daughter in the faith when daddy is going to hell. 😦 If this congregations knows of your change in beliefs, then there you are and they all know it as you stand beside your wife and child. Is it a baby dedication with these known facts or a funeral, an opportunity for whispers and gossip?

    I don’t know all the circumstances of your agreements MR. Would it be possible to do this not in front of the church but with a smaller group of family and friends?

    • M. Rodriguez says:

      That would be considerable, but I would still be playing the role of liar if I did.

    • M. Rodriguez says:

      actually at the church, my unbelief/agnostic/atheism is still a pretty tightly guarded secret. Only the pastor and the elders know. It’s not going to get out anytime soon, unless I or my wife start to tell other people.

      The church is for the most part, is ideal for the charcater of what a christian should be. no gossiping, no sleeping around, no power struggles, very family oriented, slightley evangelical, good church structure with elders who have a very good track record.

      If an elder did speak when they were not supposed to, I imagine they would get reprimanded by the rest of elders and the pastor.

      I am pretty sure nobody else knows, because everybody else treat me exactly the same. The elders were a lil stand offish at first, but they are now starting to warm back up to me. I think that was more of, not knowing how to approach or talk to me.

  10. In the short time that my husband was an unbeliever and I was still Christian I worried about this situation. At that time I decided it could wait for a while longer(our children were already older(2) than most dedications due to them being preemie and having to stay away from crowds.

    I don’t know if I could do it now. Stand in front and promise to do something that I don’t even believe in, but then again I deconverted shortly after my husband, so it never came up again. I feel for you and hope that you and the wife can come to some sort of mutual agreement.

  11. limey says:

    Personally I’d say go with it. That is what I would do.

    I understand the concern about hypocrisy in the verbal elements of the dedication commitment. However, peace with your wife is of far greater importance and since this is an event that’s of critical significance to her, then she should be supported in that and it would likely mean a whole lot to her that you will go and stand by her in that.

    • M. Rodriguez says:

      I do agree with you there. peace in the household is far more important, the good thing though she does seem to have moved on from this. And has seemed to stop bringing it up. So maybe we will see how things progress in the future.

  12. Neil Rickert says:

    We never did with our Children.

    The dedication will be for your wife, not for the child. Given what else you have said about relations with your wife, I suggest that you go ahead with the ceremony.

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