Have You Been Neglecting Your Baby?

Of course, this does not mean that the baptism of an infant in any way saves the baby. For, as Calvin remarked, "since God threatens punishment only to despisers (of infant baptism, and formerly of infant circumcision), we infer that the circumcision of children would do them no harm, if they died before the eighth day. To consign to destruction those infants whom a sudden death has not allowed to be presented for baptism, before any neglect of parents could intervene, is a cruelty originating in [Romanistic] superstition….   [But] whoever neglects baptism [for his own babies], suggesting that the parent is content with the bare promise [of salvation for his children], for his part tramples upon the blood of Christ or at least does not believe that it flows for the washing of his own children…. Such contempt shall not pass unpunished…. As God adopts the infant son in the person of his father so, when the father repudiates such benefit, the infant is said to be cut off from the church."33

However, not only is it seriously detrimental to the baby for him or her to be left unbaptized. It is also seriously detrimental even to the baby's parents. For, as Calvin pointed out: "God will take vengeance on every one who despises to impress the symbol of the covenant on his child (Genesis 17:14), such contempt being a rejection… of the offered grace."34 No one, no matter how godly in other respects, is excepted from this vengeance. For even the great Moses himself had to learn this the hard way.

Although born in a time of great tribulation and general backsliddenness, Moses himself was apparently circumcised in infancy,35 just as Paedobaptists (or those who believe that baptism should be given even to the infants of Christians) rightly have their babies baptized in infancy today)36 However, Moses later married a woman who

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was opposed to infant circumcision, Zipporah, the daughter of Jethro, the Godfearing priest of Midian.37 Also today, this kind of "interdenominational marriage"38 is sometimes entered into between Christians, for instance, whenever a (paedobaptistic) Lutheran or Presbyterian or Methodist marries an (antipaedobaptistic) Baptist or Pentecostalist (or Campbellite "Disciple" or "Christian Church" or "Church of Christ" member). Fortunately, however, even today there are also those numerous happy cases where the less consistent spouse (like Ruth who married Boaz) genuinely changes his or her views about the need to give the sacramental sign of the covenant even to their infants.

If only Zipporah had embraced Moses' God-given views regarding the need to circumcise infants, all would have been well. And if only modern Baptists or Pentecostalists who marry Presbyterians or Methodists would embrace the latter's Biblical views about the need to baptize infants, more would be well in these "interdenominational" marriages today. Unfortunately, Zipporah was not willing to learn until God threatened the very life of her husband Moses. May we, however, be willing to learn from her mistakes!

Apparently, Zipporah had at least outwardly (if reluctantly) agreed to allow her husband Moses to have his firstborn son, Gershom, circumcised shortly after birth.39 Yet the inward reluctance of Zipporah to promote infant circumcision seems to have led to much friction between her and her husband both then and later. For when their second son, Eliezer, was born, it is clear that Moses tried to avoid any further arguments with his wife about the necessity of circumcising infants. He simply decided to ignore the need of circumcising Eliezer in his infancy. For Moses resolved to withhold the sacrament from his own baby child. No doubt in the interests of domestic peace with his wife, he deliberately decided to compromise his own Godgiven beliefs about this vital matter.

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