My Maria can get dirty. Understatement. But she is not dirty. It's something you can just feel and know, children ARE pure. Children ARE clean. Children are without sin.
Recently I posted some song helps for When I am Baptized. I appreciate everyone who has taken the time to comment and express their thoughts. I think we all can agree that it's good to discuss doctrine and learn and understand truth. So I really hope that this post isn't misconstrued as me trying to argue or be contentious. I've studied a lot the topic of little children, baptism, atonement, and death because I have a baby that died and wanted to know all I could possibly know! There is so much knowledge out there thanks to our prophets and apostles and thanks to a loving Father in Heaven who has blessed us with the avenue to search, ponder, & pray and then in return give us answers.
Here is the backdrop. I have a simple qualm with the words from the song, "I know when I am baptized my wrongs are washed away." It's nothing to go inactive about, it's nothing really that has blown my world to bits... it's just something my 7 year old brought up, "Mommy, why am I singing this if I don't have sin?". At that moment and even more so now, I know the importance of teaching our children that they are pure and loved by their Heavenly Father.
Misconceptions & Explanations:
- A recently turned 8 year old doesn't have many "wrongs" to wash away
Children do not have any wrongs that are washed away.
- Children are not without wrongs. When they yell at each other, hit, disobey parents, etc. they are obviously wrong for doing those things.
Children make choices. Always they are in a process of learning. Under the age of 8, they do NOT commit sins that are washed away by baptism. They are pure. We are responsible to teach them properly.
- They (children) do commit wrongs, but because of the atonement, those wrongs are washed away without the child having to repent.
The atonement brings children who have died under the age of accountability back into the presence of God and redeems them from physical and spiritual death. Children do NOT have sin.
- The atonement doesn't automatically wash away our sins anymore like it did before we were eight.
Children do NOT have sin before the age of 8.
- God doesn't hold children accountable for their wrongs because they have not yet reached the age of accountability, therefore Christ's atonement makes up for those wrongs.
"The whole need no physician, but they that are sick; wherefore little children are whole." (Moroni 8:8) The atonement for children under the age of 8 is the means by which they are redeemed from physical and spiritual death, and by spiritual death it is not because they are wicked, but because they were separated from God, the Eternal Father.
- That would assume that Christ's atonement couldn't wash away the sins of the little child
Little children do NOT have sins.
- She is absolutely right, and it is important that we teach our children that we do have "wrongs" that need to be washed away.
Little children do NOT have sins that need to be washed away.
- These children, who are not yet 8, are not perfect, and therefore do need to understand where they can improve each day
We as parents need to teach children in correct paths, but should one die before they reach the age of accountability, children ARE perfect through the grace of Christ.
I'd like to take an in depth look at each misconception and hopefully the spirit will bear witness of truth spoken by latter day apostles and scripture.
What is the purpose of baptism?
As defined in the Bible Dictionary, " Baptism in water has several purposes. It is for the remission of sins, for membership in the Church, and for entrance into the celestial kingdom."
Notice there are 3 purposes. Joseph Smith also taught an additional purpose, obedience. " Do you believe in the baptism of infants? asks the Presbyterian. No. Why? Because it is nowhere written in the Bible. Circumcision is not baptism, neither was baptism instituted in the place of circumcision. Baptism is for the remission of sins. Children have no sins. Jesus blessed them and said, "Do what you have seen me do." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith compiled by Joseph Fielding Smith pg. 314)
Children have no sin. Children cannot be tempted by the devil. Children are pure. Children are innocent. See Moroni 8. See D&C 29:46-50.
What then of the atonement and children? We need to understand the basics, so we turn to Gospel Principles:
" The Fall of Adam brought two kinds of death into the world: physical death and spiritual death. Physical death is the separation of the body and the spirit. Spiritual death is the separation from God. If these two kinds of death had not been overcome by Jesus Christ's Atonement, two consequences would have resulted: our bodies and our spirits would have been separated forever, and we could not have lived again with our Heavenly Father (see 2 Nephi 9:7-9).
But our wise Heavenly Father prepared a wonderful, merciful plan to save us from physical and
spiritual death. He planned for a Savior to come to earth to ransom (redeem) us from our sins and from death. Because of our sins and the weakness of our mortal bodies, we could not ransom ourselves (see Alma 34:10-12). The one who would be our Savior would need to be sinless and to have power over death."
The atonement DOES NOT wash away the sins of children because CHILDREN DO NOT HAVE ANY SINS OR WRONGS to be washed away. They are clean and pure. The atonement provides a means for children under the age of accountability to overcome physical death and spiritual death, which wasn't because of sin, but simply because they were separated from Heavenly Father because of the weaknesses of mortality.
If it still seems confusing, further clarification is given by Bruce R. McKonkie in a talk entitled The Salvation of Little Children (Ensign April 1977) quote: (I highlighted words that especially meant a lot to me personally)
“How and why are they (little children) saved?
They are saved through the atonement and because they are free from sin. They come from God in purity; no sin or taint attaches to them in this life; and they return in purity to their Maker. Accountable persons must become pure through repentance and baptism and obedience. Those who are not accountable for sins never fall spiritually and need not be redeemed from a spiritual fall which they never experienced. Hence the expression that little children are alive in Christ. “Little children are redeemed from the foundation of the world through mine Only Begotten,” the Lord says. (D&C 29:46.)
Why do some children die and others live? Are those who die better off than those who remain in mortality?We may rest assured that all things are controlled and governed by Him whose spirit children we are. He knows the end from the beginning, and he provides for each of us the testings and trials which he knows we need. President Joseph Fielding Smith once told me that we must assume that the Lord knows and arranges beforehand who shall be taken in infancy and who shall remain on earth to undergo whatever tests are needed in their cases. This accords with Joseph Smith’s statement: “The Lord takes many away, even in infancy, that they may escape the envy of man, and the sorrows and evils of this present world; they were too pure, too lovely, to live on earth.” (Teachings, pp. 196–97.) It is implicit in the whole scheme of things that those of us who have arrived at the years of accountability need the tests and trials to which we are subject and that our problem is to overcome the world and attain that spotless and pure state which little children already possess.
What is the age of accountability?Accountability does not burst full-bloom upon a child at any given moment in his life. Children become accountable gradually, over a number of years. Becoming accountable is a process, not a goal to be attained when a specified number of years, days, and hours have elapsed. In our revelation the Lord says, “They cannot sin, for power is not given unto Satan to tempt little children, until they begin to become accountable before me.” (D&C 29:47.) There comes a time, however, when accountability is real and actual and sin is attributed in the lives of those who develop normally. It is eight years of age, the age of baptism. (D&C 68:27.)
This principle of accountability has been twisted and perverted and even lost at various times. It was at the root of Mormon’s inquiry to the Lord about infant baptism. (See Moro. 8.) One of our most instructive passages on the point contains the words spoken by the Lord to Abraham. “My people have gone astray from my precepts, and have not kept mine ordinances, which I gave unto their fathers,” the Lord said."And they have not observed mine anointing, and the burial, or baptism wherewith I commanded them;
But have turned from the commandment, and taken unto themselves the washing of children, and the blood of sprinkling.” (JST, Gen. 17:4–6.)
Infant baptism was practiced by some even in those early days. The reason? Men no longer understood the atonement. For, as the record continues, those ancient peoples “said that the blood of the righteous Abel was shed for sins; and have not known wherein they are accountable before me.” (JST, Gen. 17:7.)Then the Lord made this promise to Abraham: “I will establish a covenant of circumcision with thee, and it shall be my covenant between me and thee, and thy seed after thee, in their generations; that thou mayest know for ever that children are not accountable before me until they are eight years old.” (JST, Gen. 17:11)
*******I always turn to the words of the Lord when a question arises. I always go with what the Spirit whispers to my heart. As I look at my children I do understand perfection, I do understand what the Savior is like. Elder Boyd K. Packer, whom I love, love, love - understatement- gave a wonderful discourse on the beauty of children in this last General Conference, found HERE. A quote I particularly felt touched by was, "Fathers and mothers, next time you cradle a newborn child in your arms, you can have an inner vision of the mysteries and purpose of life."
Our children are what heaven is. Plain and simple. The are pure. They are clean. They have no "wrongs" needed to be "washed away". We should enjoy them, teach them the best we can and love them with all our souls. Christ knows all. God knows all. And They love us more than words can say. This I bear testimony of in the Name of my Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.