Are children considered members of the Church before baptism? Why don’t we baptize little children?

Hide Footnotes


“Are children considered members of the Church before baptism? Why don’t we baptize little children?” Ensign, July 1974, 17

Can you help me with two questions I have about baptism? First, are children considered members of the Church before baptism? Secondly, why don’t we baptize little children?

Calvin D. McOmber, instructor, Institute of Religion, Idaho State University: All children of Church members, whether or not they are born in the covenant, are listed as “children of record” in the Church. However, they, like all others, must be taught the gospel and be baptized when they reach the age of accountability, in order to become members of the Church.

Little children were blessed by Jesus as recorded in 3 Nephi 17. [3 Ne. 17] The story relates the great respect the Lord had for their sweetness and innocence. In the New Testament Jesus tells adults that they must become as little children in order to enter the kingdom of God.

Mormon, when he answered the question of his son, Moroni, concerning baptism of little children, was emphatic in his answer that it was “gross error” to assume that little children should be baptized. He said that he had inquired of the Lord and “the word of the Lord came to me by the power of the Holy Ghost saying: Listen to the words of Christ, your redeemer, your Lord and your God. Behold I came into the world, not to call the righteous, but the sinners, to repentance. The whole need no physician but they that are sick, wherefore, little children are whole for they are not capable of committing sin. …”(See Moro. 8:6–8.)

Further, he said that repentance and baptism should be taught to “those who are accountable and capable of committing sin; yea, teach parents that they must repent and be baptized, and humble themselves as their little children, And their little children need no repentance, neither baptism. Behold, baptism is done unto repentance to the fulfilling the commandments unto the remission of sins.” (Moro. 8:10–11.)

And so we see that the scriptures make plain the teachings of the Savior that little children need no baptism.

In studying these passages, one cannot help but exclaim from his own heart how just and kind Christ is in his teachings. One’s very soul declares to him that little children are innocent and are not denied any of the blessings of Christ’s kingdom.