From 1 Corinthians 7:14, how are children made ‘clean’ by a believing parent?
Femi Osunnuyi: The short answer is I don’t know. There’s a lot of debate on it. If you are somebody who believes that children can be baptized, very easily, that’s it. I don’t think that children should be baptized. I don’t think the Bible teaches that, so you have to look at it in certain ways. When I say I don’t know, it’s not that I don’t have an opinion about it, but I can’t be totally sure. Here’s what I do think: I think that being part of a Christian family gives you certain benefits that are hard to always describe, but nonetheless are there. So, let me give an example; Muyiwa and Damoye had a baby a few months ago, right? When the time is right, what are we going to do? We’re going to dedicate that baby. Now, how about children who are not dedicated? Let’s say their parents don’t go to church, does it mean that God doesn’t love them or that they are created in His image? Does it mean that they won’t do well in life? No, it does not. Yet, we still feel like there’s something special about a dedication, don’t we? There’s just something about setting this child apart in the body of Christ, there’s a benefit to it, and that’s why parents seek it.
I’ll give you another example; you know here in City Church, we don’t believe that to get married you have to come to church. Marriage is a thing of the court, so if you have gone to court and you have not gone to church and you are living apart, suffer dey worry you o, it’s not the church that’s doing it. Seriously, I think that the Bible shows that marriage was first given in Genesis 1 and 2, not in Ephesians 5. So, marriage is given for the whole of humanity, because it was for just the church, then what of the two Moslems that got married? Are they not married? They are. So, what is it then that the church does that separates it? I think that’s what you call a Church Blessing. That is a special thing that only people who are Christians can get, and what we do with the church blessing is that we are in a special way trying to set apart this marriage to God. Now, it doesn’t mean that they should not go for marriage counselling, it doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t follow the tenets of the Bible. But you are in a moment trying to declare and appropriate what you want to see in that person’s life.
That’s what the dedication is doing; “Lord, we’re dedicating this child to you so that this child will ultimately come to believe in the faith of their parents. This child will actually grow and learn in the ways of the Lord”. We are taking all that we hope for that child to be in their life and we’re trying to concentrate it into this one sacred moment. That is a special blessing. So, there is a sense in which if somebody is born into a Christian home to a Christian family they have benefits, whilst they are not born as Christians and while the baptism that they may experience does not save them. First, it is most likely that the child will go to church; that is a blessing. You know, the surest way of making a human being become a Christian is actually just giving birth to them in a Christian home. Now, if they’re in an actively Christian home that goes to church, that’s already a thing. You know, your children start learning languages, they start thinking in a Christian way, they are dedicated, and they go to children’s church – CityKidz.
So, there’s a sense in which they are set apart. But the ultimate setting apart is still faith in Christ. You know, I got saved in my final semester in school. But the truth is that whilst I was living a life of sin, I always felt like I didn’t belong there. Somehow, there was always something pulling me. I remember once when I scaled a fence in school; yeah, I did – Mommy and Daddy, I’m sorry. But they changed my school, so that was a good thing. I was a bad boy but it was always me that would get caught. You, the Christian that was set apart, it’s always you that would get caught. I went to see one girl in my sister’s school, and it was that same day that my mom decided to show up. My mom that never ever picks up; why?
So, you are set apart, made “clean”, in that way. Not “cleansed” by the Holy Spirit in the washing of rebirth that you see in Titus 3, but set apart in a definite way by the Christian community – by belonging there.
Answered by Femi Osunnuyi, lead pastor of City Church, a gospel-centred urban church in the city of Lagos. Because of his passion for church planting and leadership development, he also serves on the Lead Team of Acts29 and the Advisory Team of City to City Africa. He is happily married to Tosin and is father to Tofunmi and Timilehin.