In a world all about “you do you,” it’s not very popular to say that something needs to be done in a certain way. But God has told us to do some things precisely—including baptism.
So what matters, and what doesn’t? It seems that God cares most about the who and the how.
- Who: Because it’s an eternally significant ordinance, baptism needs to be performed by someone with priesthood authority from God (which is part of what the Lord restored through the prophet Joseph Smith), under the direction of authorized Church leaders. And the person being baptized should understand that they are covenanting to follow Jesus Christ.
- How: When a person is baptized, they should go all the way under the water and then come back up, otherwise known as “by immersion.” This is symbolic of our old lives being laid down and us taking up a new life with the Savior.1
As is true with all things, Jesus Christ set a perfect example of baptism. He was baptized by his cousin John, who had priesthood authority. And scriptures describe the Savior coming “straightway out of the water” (Matthew 3:16).
By the way, lots of good people are baptized into Christian churches without this who and how—and we should be loving and supportive of the steps they are taking to come closer to Jesus Christ with the knowledge they have. Someday, through missionary and temple work, every single person will have the chance to receive the covenant of baptism by priesthood authority.