As we continue our look at baptism, we come to another reason why Lutherans baptize infants and young children. And the next reason we do so is because we are sinners from the very beginning of life. We do so because even infants are sinful.
I realize that this challenges contemporary thought. In our society, we like to believe that infants are innocent. At the very least, we want to believe that they are blank slates, having done nothing good or evil. After all, they haven’t yet had the opportunity to violate God’s commands. In fact, we believe that, because they are so helpless, it’s not possible for them to sin.
Scripture, however, teaches us something very different. It teaches a concept that we refer to as original sin. It teaches us that we enter into the world with a heart of sin.
We see this, for example, in Romans 5:12, which says: “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned…” Paul tells us, in this verse, that sin came into the world through one man, Adam. He says that death entered into the world through sin. And, for this reason, death spread to all men because all sinned.
What he’s saying is that the sin of Adam brought sin to all mankind. We’ve inherited his guilt and are born with the same desire for sin. And no one, other than Christ himself, is exempt from this reality.
David also testifies to this truth in Psalm 51:5, where he says: “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” He tells us that he was born in sin. In fact, he tells us that he was sinful from the time he was conceived in his mother’s womb.
We see this again in Genesis 8:21. God tells us, in this verse, that the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. So, from the time we’re young, the intention of our heart is evil.
Anyone who’s spent time with children can testify to their sinfulness. They don’t have to be taught selfishness. It comes quite natural. They don’t have to be taught to lie or to manipulate. But we do have to teach them to share. We have to teach them generosity, honesty, and integrity.
In short, we baptize our children because they are sinful. Like us, they too are in need of salvation. And this is exactly what baptism provides for them.