A Baptist pastor in Memphis is taking a misguided stand against teen pregnancy by refusing to baptize babies born to unwed mothers.
Ralph White hopes to shame young men into marrying their baby mamas, by refusing to baptize their babies. It’s hard to see how this is supposed to work. Isn’t it the babies and mothers who are being punished here? I thought baptism had something to do with saving your eternal soul. Refusing it seems like a pretty harsh punishment for something your parents did (or didn’t do) before you were born.
The Rev. White isn’t really consigning little babies to the inferno if their parents won’t get hitched. He’s open to the possibility of doing the baptisms – just not in church. We need to make sure we don’t condone this kid’s behavior in front of people, you know. Or something.
I don’t think the church-going young men who really care about whether their sons and daughters are baptized are the root of the teen pregnancy problems in Rev. White’s community. Or anywhere else. If you’re showing up for Junior’s baptism and care a lot about having it at church, odds are good you’re in for being Daddy, not just a sperm donor. The people being ostracized by this probably aren’t the ones who just haven’t gotten around to getting married yet but are totally going to any day now.
So who does the good Reverend’s new rule really affect? Most likely it’s parents who don’t have the option to get married, for whatever reason: because they were never in a relationship with the other parent, or the baby’s other parent is married to someone else, or they were abused by their child’s other parent, or they’re victims of rape or incest or the thousand other reasons a person might show up at church wanting to baptize their child but having no marriage certificate in hand.
Never mind the many people who are in alternative families, have same-sex partners or became single parents by choice. None of them would be welcome in Rev. White’s heaven anyway, so the baptism rule is really a technicality.
Do you see any good coming from this? What are some real solutions to Rev. White’s problem? I’m thinking good sex ed classes and access to family planning would be a fine start.