i’m going to go out on a limb here. i believe in baptism. i believe the example of jesus being lowered into the water by john the baptist is more than a cool story. i believe his example in the water is an example we are to follow. i believe the response of the ethiopian eunuch to the message of the apostle phillip in acts 8 is the same response we should expect of anybody who comes to faith in jesus: find some water, get in it and get baptized.
too cut and dried? too literal? too demanding? too bad.
i believe when the apostle peter was asked by people what they should do if they believed the story of jesus’ death and resurrection, he gave a very clear and undebatable command: repent and be baptized…everyone of you.
i’m not much on the infant baptism thing, either. the picture painted in the new testament is of people coming to faith, repenting of their sin, making a public confession and then being immersed for everyone to see…as an act of the will… and often at great risk of persecution.
baptism was the public declaration of commitment. it showed the other followers of jesus you were in it with them. it was that place that made the intent of the heart more than just an idea. it was the event that made it real in the eyes of everyone…to friends…to family…to enemies…to authorities…even to god.
without the public ceremony, the decision could never be fully held accountable…because nobody would ever know for sure.
the same is true for marriage.
a marriage is, first and foremost, a decision of the heart. without hearts being united and energized by a shared commitment, a wedding ceremony will be meaningless…nothing more than a charade and a self-centered spectacle. i get this.
but just like the public declaration of obedience and fidelity in baptism, i would suggest a marriage without the public sharing of vows and the making of promises for the community to hear and hold accountable, is a union lacking it’s most essential ingredient.
we walk in the footsteps of people of faith through the centuries. ceremony and symbolism are more than just meaningless traditions or empty rituals. the passover meal means something. bread and wine means something. baptism means something.
and a marriage ceremony means something.