Do You Need to be Baptized Again?
Or Even Once? What Does Baptism Do?
©2009 Tiffany Snow
If you were baptized as an infant, do you need to get baptized again as an adult? If you are baptized in one religion and then change to another one, do you need to get re-baptized? What if you are not part of an organized religion but try to live a good life, do you need to get baptized? Does it matter what religion you get baptized in? What if you left God and now want to come back to him? Also, does it matter if you are baptized with a sprinkling of water or immersed? And is it OK if a person wants to get baptized more than once? In fact, does baptism matter at all if you feel close to God in your heart?
What really is baptism? Baptism is not about your destination after death. On the human side, it is a free will desire to accept, trust and follow God’s will for your life instead of your own. Free will is a very big deal to God, because he will not force anyone to take his advice, guidance, protection or to love him. Even when our decisions may lead to injury, he will not interfere but will continue to present opportunities for better choices. So on God’s side, baptism is an active response you have made to receive his invitation. What is this invitation? To have him as your loving parent, your spiritual teacher and leader, and that you desire his greater protection, guidance and direction in your life – all of which he is happy to give as he holds you yet closer. It is also recognition that you are turning away from the ways of the past and desire to walk a new, holy (clean) path – you are symbolically receiving a washing away of sins (imperfections), asking for forgiveness, and receiving it. It also shows your desire to step up for more responsibility, and gives God the opportunity to grant it and the additional gifts and Angelic help needed to fulfill it (1Corinthians 12:4-27). And in addition to all these things, baptism also shows respect for God’s son who broke the ancestral bondage upon all of mankind, beyond religion.
The rite of marriage is the closest example we have to the baptismal union with Divine Love. In most places around the world marriage is taken seriously, and this step is recognized as building the strength of the relationship. There is an acceptance that the choices a person now makes in their life will affect both of them, that two people have now become one in unity. Often there is a custom of gifting or exchanging something between those promising their lives to one another. The ceremony itself may be inside or outside a building, and is usually held in front of other people who acknowledge the new relationship and wish the couple well. Unless those making this important commitment are already of age and thus under their own headship, consent must be given by the parent(s) or by law the marriage would be void, since they would still be under the headship or authority of the parents. Many of the same principles of marriage apply to baptism.
Baptism strengthens the relationship between you and God, which includes greater communication. This greater communication increases the clarity to hear him better and know the deeper things of the heart of Love. This gives you additional fortitude and strength in yourself as well, for your discernment sharpens on what is of Love and what is not, and helps you let go of anything that may taint your relationship. This may include letting go of any traditions that are based on fear, and bringing closer those things that are based on love. And just like building a relationship with a good marriage mate, the more time you choose to spend together, the more you communicate and know how each other think, so that your loved one’s likes and dislikes are still in your head even when you may not be actively talking with them. So it is with God, baptism helps you to know each other better at the heart level, since you have given your consent. This is one of the exchanges that God gives through baptism; it is his gift or ring of unity, having the peace of God that excels all thought (Philippians 4:7). With that peace, your heart and mind is guarded, and no matter what may occur your spirit will have an inner calm. There is a deep knowing that transcends all understanding, a confidence that you are never alone, you are loved, forgiven and accepted, and that without a doubt God will never, ever, leave you.
In our example of human marriage, we see that unless those making this commitment are already of age and thus under their own headship, consent must be given by the parent(s) or by law the marriage would be void, since they would still be under the headship or authority of the parents. Keep this in mind as we discuss some deeper aspects of baptism. When a child is under age (and that may differ from place to place by the laws of the land) that child is under the authority of the parents. This is a protection in many ways for the child, and places the parents in a place of lawful responsibility to provide at least the basics of food, clothing and shelter. But most parents desire to provide more than just the basics for their children, and want to love, guide, teach, play with and protect them as well. This may include the ceremony of baptism (containing a sprinkling of Holy water) which brings upon the child many additional safeguards that a perfect heavenly Father can give. But, the child is unaware and has no ability on his own to ask, receive or fulfill many of the additional aspects that baptism brings. A baby is not asking God to step up for greater responsibility, or to turn away from his previously sinful path. He is not aware, and does not have to be; for his parents have the headship over him, and the child falls under their authority, and God recognizes the parental right and grants the baptism and additional protection and blessings. Now, this brings up other questions about baptism.
So does a person have to be baptized again when they are an adult? It depends. Does an underage couple have to be married again when they are of legal age, does their marriage dissolve somehow unless they have the ceremony again? No, they do not have to get remarried. But the reason is this – they may have been young, but they were still old enough to make a decision on their own, and to voice their agreement, or else the one facilitating the service would not have completed it and the marriage would have been void, even if the parents had given their consent. But, if the couple had run away together without their parent’s agreement and gotten married, the marriage would be null and void if the parents later refused. This means that if a child is old enough to actively voice agreement to baptism and have a reasonable knowledge of what that means, and if one or both of their parent’s agree, the free will decision will stand even beyond reaching the age of consent and no additional baptism is necessary. God acknowledges the agreement of the child-turned-adult to receive further opportunities for greater responsibilities and blessings. In regard to the parents, both are free will agents of their own, and if there is disagreement or the location of one of the parents is unknown, either the woman or the man may make the agreement for baptism for the child. Whichever one agrees to the benefits of baptism would be granted the role of spiritual headship in this regard, while still seen as fulfilling the place of respect in relationship to the marriage mate. This is allowed because the ripple effect of the baptism is similar to a parent choosing to cover their child with a bullet-proof vest during a military or gang confrontation – it is the most loving thing to do, and above all, God is love (1 John 4:8).
However, if a child is still under the headship of his parents and gets baptized without consent of those responsible for his care, this baptism is void because it does not respect the principles of parental authority that God has instituted for the family. This still holds true no matter if the parents do not have a religion, or do not recognize or respect other faiths. It is a null baptism and not consecrated by God. This does not mean that the child is not loved, nor protected and guided, since prayer, grace and opportunities are available to all; and any desire of the child to grow in communication and connection with God and is encouraged and rewarded. Christ reflected and taught about God’s attributes while he was here on earth, and emphasized the specialness of the younger ones: “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” (Luke 18:16) Also, each one of us comes into life with an Angel that is our individual guardian, and fights for us. If we didn’t, every single one of us would have been killed by the fallen unHoly Angels in our infancy. We have many provisions in place because each of us is a child of God, a spark off his Divine flame; but when we get baptized, the provisions increase.
What about betrothal? Even today, some cultures still use this custom. Historically betrothal was a formal contract, officiated by a religious authority and usually done by the couple’s families with bride and groom having little or no input. It might last from infancy until the age of marriage, and sometimes is even called child marriage. Even within the strict traditions that follow this, most have a requirement that the bride be allowed to have at least veto power, and the parents may call it off too. How does this relate to baptism? When a child is baptized as a baby, they are basically betrothed to God and come under his additional special care. However, when the child is of legal age, they can choose to break the betrothal (baptism) by their own voiced expression of this to the one they are betrothed to, God. This means that even if a formal baptism, contract or officiating of a religious authority had occurred in their childhood, the adult may refuse to continue the deeper relationship with God, and the additional connection and blessings that came with the baptism will be removed.
So what about when a person is baptized as a baby without ability to voice their consent? As we have noted, they will be covered during their childhood. But, as an additional blessing of God’s grace, those who have been betrothed to God in this way without vetoing the decision later, are continued to be covered by the former parental free will of baptism. But, with the greater knowledge comes the greater responsibility – and the same reason why Jesus waited until he was legally a man to become baptized is now more deeply understood. Also, the method of baptism should be taken into account. It is by grace that God has allowed the sprinkling of Holy water for baptism (and continues to allow it for those whose health does not permit otherwise, or in places where immersion is not available), when full immersion is the example we were given by Christ himself, and the method that he taught all his followers to use. Again we see the patience of God upon mankind, and him meeting them wherever they are at – for those with a little knowledge, he approves it and fills in the gaps, and expects their follow-through in what little amount they may know. However, to those who have more knowledge, he approves it (and still fills in any gaps) and expects follow-through with the greater amount they know. It is like the parable of the ten talents – those who have more responsibility, more is expected of, and more blessings are added. Such is God’s grace about baptism (Matthew 25: 14-30). Like a grade-schooler, simply learning the basics is fine for that stage of life, but if we choose to ignore more complex matters as we mature, we may never be able to experience the bigger opportunities and joys that life has to offer, just like it is more fun to drive a car than to ride all our lives on a bicycle.
No matter when you were baptized – as a baby, or with free will choice when you were of age, you are not forced to remain in this special relationship with God. Remember he desires you to be close because of love, nothing more. And even in the time of you taking your hand out of his, he will never withdraw his – he will always be reaching out for you, hopeful that you will return, and he will reinstate your baptism. Even in this time of his sadness, his generosity continues, for God will not take back any additional special gifts he gave you, for he gave those freely and will not ask for them to be returned. But you will not be guided by God’s will anymore, since that is what you have asked for, you want to do your own thing, and will face the cause and effect of that without any head’s up about what is good for you or not. But, since you were in a companionship in using the gifts, the additional connection to fully utilize them and the Divine protection that would normally be in place to use them would be absent. For example, if you were given the gift of healing, you would still be able to heal, but the power source was rejected, so you would be using your own energy, which means you would not see any big miracles but you could start experiencing emotional and physical distress from depleting your own reserves. Or if you had the gift to hear the other side, your channel of hearing and recognizing what is of God and his Holy Angels and what is of manipulation and unHoly Angels may be much more difficult to discern. The additional layer of protection upon our bubble of free will that comes from baptism is now gone.
Please note that leaving a religion is not the same as leaving your baptism with God. The relationship God desires to make with each person is beyond that. No matter what your religion, faith, culture or background, if you recognize the core of God as the personification of Love, you will be able to hold all things up to that, and you will know what is of God or not. Religion is often used as a fence, whereas God prefers the freedom of open pastures. Houses of prayer and fellowship are wonderful – when they are focused on Love. God does not want us to follow one another; he desires each one of us to be the mystic, to be able to hear Love in our own hearts, to follow him. So be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater – do not throw God out because you are disappointed in those who say they represent him. Your spiritual peace of mind, fulfillment and joy of purpose is bigger than that. And if you join another house of prayer and fellowship, you do not need to get re-baptized, but you can if you want. Similar to a married couple wishing to retake their wedding vows, only one time is really needed, but taking the additional step to reconfirm the commitment shows the continuing desire to express and expand the love.
Now that you know all the details about baptism, what do you need to do? If you desire to get baptized, it can be done simply. It will require three things: one who is ordained (in rare instances when there is no priest to perform the ceremony, God allows a person to baptize themselves), the one who is to be baptized and a body of water (if possible). It can be as simple or elaborate as you wish. The vital step in the process is the acknowledgement of the one who wishes to be baptized. What baptism means should be clear, and is to be entered into with respect and joy, just like a marriage union. As for those witnessing the baptism, it can be as few as the one who is ordaining and the one who is receiving. The water is to be placed upon the individual desiring baptism: sprinkled, poured or by immersion (remember immersion is a more accurate reflection of what Christ taught his followers) and the words added “I now baptize you in the name of The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit” and the sign of the Cross + made over the person. The baptism is now complete. God’s love is simple, and his ways are straightforward and simple (1 Peter 3:21).
We know in our hearts what a good marriage should be, and that the wedding day is an important chapter in the expanding book of a happy life. Baptism is also the beginning of the deeper relationship you desire with God, and with more time and experiences shared together, the more profound and lovely the relationship will grow. Take the first opportunity you have to be baptized and experience the peace of God that excels all thought. Remember, with that peace, your heart and mind is guarded, and no matter what may occur your spirit will have an inner calm. There is a deep knowing that transcends all understanding, a confidence that you are never alone, you are loved, forgiven and accepted, and that without a doubt God will never, ever, leave you. What are you waiting for?!