Friday, February 19, 2010

#122-Baby Dedications....

Alright I am going to let my bias be known right out of the gate:

I don't like babies.

They are ugly. And are entirely dependent on other human beings for survival. I can't stand clinginess or neediness, and babies are always both. Plus they are ugly....And they make loud noises in the House of God when the Man of God is preaching....If I were to act like a baby does during church, I would get banished. But babies get to say whatever they want wherever they want without fear of consequences or a fear of God.

Plus they puke yogurt right on you.

Conclusion: If babies ever argued for a right to vote I would be adamantly opposed....

That said, there is one thing I hate more than babies.....

And that thing is BABY DEDICATIONS!

A ceremony where we honor and adore, the very things I despise: Post-embryos.

But it's not the fact that baby dedications deal with babies that makes me hate them as much as I do....

It's the meaning of the whole thing...

Here's a history (with absolutely no research so this is subject to being completely wrong):

In Judaism Jews  were to circumcise their newborns on the eighth day of their birth. Abraham got a circumcision. Moses got one. Jesus even got one (the bible talks about it in Luke)...This circumcision was basically a symbolic gesture of Jews to dedicate the Jewish males to God. This was their baby dedication.

Fast forward to past history....
Catholicism saw baptism as the new circumcision.....(less painful!)

And so in a similar pattern, Catholics would baptize (dedicate) the post-embroyos on the eighth day of their life (or at least very on in their life)...But here, in the Catholic mindset, baby dedications served a very crucial part of the Christian experience. Baptism was a way God could dispense grace in the converts life (since God's love was so strong, it did not matter whether one chose to be baptized or not on their own will, it just mattered that one was baptized in Christ). 

So then we get to the armenians (that's who we are) who argued that salvation was a choice (whereas the Calvinists did not.) And with this choice of salvation, one was to be baptized on their own will when they they could accept all the implications of baptism (see Romans 6). This meant that babies could no longer be baptized (since they were too young and ugly to be able to grasp what was going on).

This is all fine. No more baby circumcisions like the Jews. No more baby baptisms like the Catholics and Calvinists. And this would surely mean the best part: NO MORE BABY DEDICATIONS!


Except I am being sarcastic in that "hip hip hooray" because the fact is baby dedications are alive and well in Apostolics churches when quite frankly they have no spiritual implications whatsoever....

You may say to me, "that's not the case Joel...the pastor prays over the baby and the parents, and the baby is Dedicated to the Lord."

But then we are right back to where the Catholics and calvinists are are saying that God's grace precedes our free will, and thus before a baby can even choose to dedicate it's life to God (through repentance, baptism, etc...), your pastor and God himself have already chosen for the baby that it's life will be dedicated to the Lord? That's not free will. That's stupidity.

So maybe, if there is a place for God in the ceremonies, it may be in the prayer over the parents...this is entirely possible since they are choosing to be there and to have their lives as parents dedicated to Him....

But now we must ask...why in the world does this have to be done in front of the whole church? Why do we have to dress the ugly babies in pageantry that even a girl in her wedding would be embarrassed to wear? Why the whole spectacle of the thing?

Of course the obvious answer is "BECAUSE I WANT TO SHOW MY BABY OFF TO THE WORLD and I want the church to suffer through several minutes (in my church, it's more around a half hour) of boredom just so my family can get some attention!" 

Because the truth is we could be doing the baby dedications in a private room after church where the pastor says "this is where I imitate an old Catholic rite of passage for parents and children alike and pretend it has some spiritual implications but the reality is nothing within the ceremony itself means anything of importance.....Oh, and your baby is really ugly.

But we don't....

We just keep on pretending like it means something...

And it's wasting my time...


  1. Wow that's pretty interesting. I never actually thought about this tradition before.

  2. I've always seen it done in the tradition of Hannah returning Samuel to the a sign of thankfulness for the blessing of a healthy child and special prayer for the parents as they raise the child. At least that's how my pastor always handled it. However, I do think they can get out of hand with excessive slideshows and songs, etc.

  3. i've never heard that rationale before......very interesting...

  4. Ok Joel, you've gone too far! What could you possibly have against babies (besides the puking, I guess)? It's like saying you hate my baby niece without ever having met her! If you met her, I'm sure you'd love her. So stop talking about her like that!

    As for the ceremony of dedicating babies, let me ask you a few questions: do you believe that the church is a living, vibrant community? Do you believe that as a community, we are responsible for one another? Do you believe that that responsibility includes the need for parents to raise their children with a knowledge of the Bible and who God is? Do you believe that the church is also responsible (to some extent) for helping to raise and educate the children of the community? Do you believe that, as human beings, we are prone to forgetting these responsibilities? Do you believe that ceremonies help us to remember? Do you believe that children are a gift from the Lord? Do you believe that the body is supposed to celebrate (or mourn) as a whole when one member is blessed?

    Do you believe the church is meant to be a community of mutual love and support? Or do you believe that everyone should should come to church, get their own individual blessings, snarl at all the kids, and go home? I think you must believe the last one, you baby-hating monster!

    And that's what you get for picking on my niece!

    (@the internet community-I'm just being funny @Joel-you're still my friend, buddy :-)

  5. Mr. Remington, (you don't even deserve the title of brother)

    As I wrote the blog I began to reconsider the aspect of the being more for the parents, and I guess if people need to use monuments in their life to guide their parenting, I can't fault them. However, I think if there is anything I am writing against in this article, it's the idea of a "baby being dedicated" and the perceived idea that there is something spiritual going on in such a day, when such a belief to smacks against what we stand for on the armenian side of things...

    But your critique well deserved... and it's something i will be pondering...i think ultimately you're right...


    Explicit Hater of Joshua Remington's niece until she turns 2 years old at which point she will probably stop puking and looking ugly.

  6. Funny... and true. Even more grueling than sitting through a 30 - 60 minute baby dedication is seeing the attire the parents abuse, err dress their baby in.

    Boys in shorts with white tights IS NOT OK. lol

  7. WOW!!! There is A LOT I could say after reading this post but I don't even want to waste my time and energy!!! This comment, "A ceremony where we honor and adore, the very things I despise: Post-embryos." , that comment i really found the most disturbing!!!

  8. your blog is satirical greatness!!

  9. as a soon to be mother, there is no way i want to be in front of the church for 30 minutes or more. however, even if it was just a ceremony with my pastor, my husband, baby and myself i would want to have some kind of dedication.
    my thinking has always gone back to Hannah. I have prayed for this baby for a few years and had been told I only had a 50% chance of ever having a child. I have prayed prayers similar to those of Hannah. I would like to have the opportunity to dedicate my role as a parent as one purposed to raising my child in a way that is pleasing to God. Not that I will be perfect, but i will try my best. Also, to show that first and foremost, this baby belongs to God.
    just some serious thought from an overly hormonal woman. :)
    Love the blog!

  10. I like how you called babies ugly 5 times. No matter what all the moms may say ("Aww that's a cute baby") babies are ugly.

  11. It's okay to think babies are ugly. It's okay not want babies or not be ready for one. But "post-embryo" is NOT okay, in my opinion. Sounds like something a pro-choicer would say.

    Sure hope IF you marry that SHE feels the same way as you........poor child.

  12. Despicable.

    Josh R hit the nail on the head. The church is a community and a family. We celebrate life together -- new life as part of that. As a spiritual community the tradition of baby dedication (as opposed to infant baptism) is an honorable one that is truly more about the extended family and parental unit than the child (since the child isn't making any commitment). It's about a commitment to "train the child up in the way he should go."

    Catholics baptized with regenerative hopes... ours is a preparation to foster and reflect Jesus to our children so they are given an environment that leads them to Jesus. This is a situation the Epistles are mostly silent on, since most were written from the perspective of first generation believers!

    I enjoy the satire and humor, but on a technical note -- strongly disagree with your views. Children are the heritage of the Lord, and baby dedications are a beautiful time for the church family.

  13. I'm really encouraged by the amount of "correcting" that has gone on in the comment section.

    It has definitely made me reconsider the placement of baby dedications within the church.

    Ultimately, you guys are right. There is definitely a place for these ceremonies in church especially in consideration of all our responsibilities to a family within the church body.

    If there is one place that i do stand firm on, it's that we understand these dedications in their proper context. I do think the idea that a baby can be dedicated at birth to the Lord is a somewhat corrupt concept. My correcting would be that we dedicate the parents and the church body in the raising up of the child, but as for the baby, i do not think there is anything really to be dedicated (not that the baby is of no value). that said, I feel like the term "Baby dedication" is ultimately what I am at war with. Not that ceremony itself, but rather the concept that a baby can be dedicated to the Lord.

    Thank you guys for the critiques.

    As for the term "post-embryo," I do not repent such a term. It was used in jest....

    In closing, i would like to posit an argument for you guys to think about (should anyone read this)....

    If babies go to heaven because they never reached an age of accountability, we must therefore say that native savages of centuries past who never heard the gospel message went to heaven too because they cannot be held accountable for not being saved by a message they never heard.

  14. First off Joel, i feel you on what youre saying lol.
    I wish that I was slain in the Spirit during baby dedications, as well as liturgial dances, and when like 35 get baptized...just me.

    But for everyone else who is harshly criticizing Joel for his post and his other posts you're kinda missing out on the point of the whole website. You bashing and trashing just takes away from the vibe of the whole thing and it brings an air of religiosity that we can all be spared because we get enough of that in the Apostolic tradition. This is supposed to be a safe haven for free-thinking yet ardent Apostolics that don't mind asking questions and pressing the envelope. Christ taught us to be courageous not satisfied with the status quo. Just sayin...::kanye shrug::

    AND last...yeah about the whole thing about people in native savage countries...i do believe that those who died without hearing the Gospel of Christ will be held to the law of ethics and morality that's written on their hearts as is acceptable in their society. That's the only thing that I can fathom from Scripture...those darn LDS found a cop out with their extra books and their whole "Jesus-went-and-preached-everywhere-around-the-world-after-his-resurrection" theology...smh. sometimes its not fair being "the first" lol.

    Keep up the good work man, I love the site.

  15. about your last argument Joel, you probably should read Romans chapter 1. in verse 20 it says "For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:"
    just thought i would point that out.

  16. Aye aye....Louie and Scott...Two men who are after the logic of Romans!

    (I account Romans as the book that has me saved)...

    Louie I believe you are referencing Romans 2:14... which says basically what you said (those who did not know God, are judged by the law that was placed in their heart)...

    Scott, I refer you to romans 2:14 as my counter answer..Also you must take not that the identity of Christ is not at stake in the first two chapter of romans (starting at 1:18).... romans 1:20 mentions the knowledge of God (and thus are responsible to some moral ethic in our heart), but God as revealed in Christ is not at stake.

  17. I will counter that with Romans 2:11-12.

  18. I would just like to say I love the angry-baby-face graphic. SO funny :)

    PS All the baby dedications I've been to involve a reading from Samual I.

  19. We all hate baby dedications, Joel! Stop acting like you are the only suffering soul. I have to admit, sheepishly, that I have afflicted three baby dedications on my long-suffering church. Can I just say that it was REALLY meaningful to me and my family? and that I REALLY loved getting to show off my gorgeous non-ugly baby to the whole church and getting to be the center of attention for those brief moments?

  20. A baby can't be dedicated to God from birth? Hhmm. Better sit down and have a talk to Sampson's mom and Samuel's mom and then to John the Baptist's mom. And I guess maybe then we could talk to Mary but maybe she didn't count. LOL
    All these men were dedicated to God in utero. It didn't make them perfect or saved but it reminded their parents not to kill them before they had time to grow up! Seriously consider being the mom of the kid who eats bugs and pure sugar all the time! Poor old lady!
    And as for circumscision being just a symbol to the Jews... I think you may want to think that over again too. A guy was not even considered one of his own people without it. God sent an angel to kill Moses (after he called him to go deliver his people no less) because Moses had neglected to circumcise his sons. Go figure.
    But I do apreciate the satire. And I get it. I also will lay down some really good money to bet that you don't have your own "ugly baby" yet. *smile*
    Let us all know when you do.
    Jennifer W

  21. so i really appreciate the advice Jennifer, but are you suggesting that circumcision is a requirement for Christians?

  22. 1. I think you're a jerk.

    2. You're a blatant poorly executed rip-off from Stuff Christians Like.

    3. Your chronicling of a bizarre sub-culture of Christianity practiced by the cult-prone apostolic "non-denominational" denomination is highly disturbing because while your comments are made in jest they're illustrative of the lifestyle that is actually carried out by thousands of followers.

    4. I think you need a time of introspection to figure out what has made you such a harsh and hurtful person. Comedy and cruelty are not synonymous.

    5. Hurt people hurt people. Let Jesus heal you.

  23. We're not a rip off of Stuff Christians Like. We're a rip off of Stuff White People Like, which is what Stuff Christians Like is a rip off of.

    As for the rest of your comment, you sound like the bitter conservatives we've given up fighting with who argue cultural memes and nuances instead of scripture, with the exception of engaging in proof texting. If you don't get the humor you don't have to visit the site, but thank you for increasing the hit count. Good day.

  24. The baby dedication isnt really for the baby. Its to admonish the parents. Its to publicly dedicate the baby to God. And the point that you are clearly missing is that it is so the congregation can stand with the family in unity to train up this child for Gods Kingdom.

    You dont like babies? Then you dont like God. Babies are made in His God. They are his heritage and reward. They make us happy. They are what its all about. They are a blessing.

  25. Biblical example of a baby dedication please?

  26. So are you saying it should only be done if it is in the Bible? -- I wouldn't be able to drive a car if I only did what was in scripture. Are funerals like ours in the Bible? Are alters in the Bible, actual wooden alters to kneel down on at the front of the church? What about an actual church building for that matter? Were those in the Bible? Church weddings? Were those in the Bible?Prayer lines? People jumping up and down? Running the aisles?

    I agree we shouldn't elevate BDs to a Biblical Scriptural mandate. That's adding but if its a good idea, why knock it just because some single guys are too carnal to understand what a blessing a new baby is?

  27. Luke is an example of a law requirement, and 1 Sam is not relevant, unless you plan on forfeiting your parenting rights and leaving that child with the pastor to be raised, I am a father and I did dedicate my child, I just think it is dangerous when you start adding non-biblical traditions in churches, not saying there isn't a place for these traditions it just seems a step away from baptizing babies.

  28. I agree that adding non Biblical traditions can be dangerous, *if* we are requiring them for salvation.
    What about funerals and weddings they are ceremonies we perform in church? Should those be stopped?

  29. I disagree John. The Bible isn't a codified manual of how to live. It's our story of why we live. We have "Christ in us" the hope of glory. Doing things in celebration (ie. weddings, funerals) and even cultural traditions that are created are not a departure from the Story. We are the Story. As long as Jesus is first, our teaching points back to Jesus (this goes for our teaching not putting unbiblical demands on people as salvific, or putting demands on them at all!), then we are doing what we should. Baby dedications is a wonderful time for the parents to publicly and symbolically give their children to the Lord's care, while also doing their best as caretaker's. It's a beautiful celebration of new life. It's not salvific, nor is it speaking to the baby's individual salvation. That's a LONG ways from infant baptism IMO.

    Has anyone read Leonard Sweet's essay, "Jesus Manifesto?" A couple pages of pure delight.

  30. And GT, unbiblical traditions taught as biblical traditions fall into that category as well. And unbiblical traditions that are compulsory for church goers is an injustice to the cross and nothing but divisive tearing apart of the Body.

  31. I would prefer to leave funerals and weddings outside of the church, but culture has changed and even people who do not attend a church wants to have their wedding in the church. I believe the bible is your how to live manual but don't think it is coded. Love christ, love your neighbor, witness and be a light. I agree cultural changes are going to be applied in a church but unfortunately some turn into rules enforced by a pastor to a congregation which to me turns them into a heaven or hell issue, because if you do not follow them then you are disobedient. I think it is a hard line to draw, but really I find no problem with the dedication as I said I even had my daughter dedicated, and I wonder does that mean I won't get credit in heaven for dedicating my child because I did it in the open?