Is a Baby Dedication Brainwashing?

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It is loving the child enough to give them a healthy foundation as a believer

Years ago, I was blessed to witness my granddaughter’s dedication.

Similar to a Catholic Baptism it is a Christian ceremony, but in a Dedication, the parents dedicate their infant to God and make a promise to raise their child in a godly way.

The day before the ceremony, I visited my brother (who is agnostic) and when I mentioned that I was looking forward to the baby’s dedication he made a snide remark, “You mean brainwashing?”

I laughed it off at the time, but it has since gnawed at me. I looked up the term and discovered brainwashing to mean, “The process of pressuring someone into adopting radically different beliefs by using systematic and often forcible means.”

Obviously baby Dedication is anything but this!

The pastor provided me with the script he used for the ceremony:

The General Idea

Baby Dedication is a special rite observed in a worship service where parents pledge to raise a child in the Christian faith. Because raising a child in the faith is not done independently, I recommend involving the parents, godparents (if applicable), and congregation in the charge to help each party recognize their responsibility in nurturing a child in the faith. I have provided a sample charge to the parents, godparents, and congregation below.

Dedication Biblical Authority: Matthew 19:13–15

Then little children were brought to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked those who brought them. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there.

Address to the Congregation

The family is a divine institution ordained of God from the beginning of time. Children are a heritage of the Lord committed by Him to their parents for care, provision, protection, and spiritual training. It is good when parents recognize all of these obligations and responsibilities and make every effort to fully carry them out.

In this act of dedication the parents acknowledges these responsibilities and come before us today to dedicate themselves and their child to God and his will for their lives as a family.

Just as Hannah dedicated Samuel to the Lord and Joseph and Mary dedicated the infant Jesus to the Lord according to Jewish custom, we believe dedication more closely follows the biblical pattern than baptism, of which we have no precedent of an infant or child being baptized in the Bible.

Thus, this dedication ritual does not impart faith or forgiveness of sins to the child. Rather, it is the parent’s public acknowledgment that the child is a gift from God to them, and that they have a spiritual responsibility for the Christian nurture and training of this child.

This hardly sounds like brainwashing to me.

As a baby, I was baptized into the Catholic religion. I was raised in a Catholic home, attended a Separate grade school and high school, and went to church every Sunday.

My parent’s believed in raising me in the faith. But they also believed that it was my choice to follow Jesus, and ultimately I had to decide for myself whether to continue as a believer.

Over the years, I admit that I struggled with my faith. But unlike my brother, I always believed in God, and Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. In my 30s, I was born-again and rededicated myself to Him.

When a parent dedicates a child to the Lord, they are agreeing to:

• Accept the God-given responsibility to raise the child in a Christ-centered home.

• Teach and discipline the child in their home so that they are not solely dependent on the church or school system to impart biblical knowledge and spiritual values.

• Not assume that their career or peer approval are the highest goals in life; but rather what will advance the cause of Christ.

• Not make their life’s choice based on secular trends or material gain, but rather make their life’s choice based on what will benefit and strengthen the faith of their family.

• Give the child the special attachment they crave from the parent and the special nurturing touch that you are uniquely gifted by God to give the child.

Raising a child in the Christian faith is not brainwashing.

It is loving the child enough to give them a healthy foundation as a believer.

I feel blessed to have been raised in the faith and never felt brainwashed. I plan to continue the legacy and do my part to nurture my grandchildren to know and love the Lord.

(First featured on Medium platform January 27, 2021)
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