Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Great Debate Part II...

...one of my most popular post ever was the one titled "The Great Debate" which discussed Matt and I's difference of opinions on our religions. He's Lutheran (MO Synod) and I'm Methodist, you'd think the differences would mean we're Catholic and Jewish but honestly, we're both just stubborn. Read the original post so you're all caught up...okay, read it? Good, now I'm sad to say that it really hasn't been resolved, just put on the back burner because it wasn't really an issue.

In my "many" years of marriage, I've learned that I need to pick my battles wisely. So we've been attending his church (honestly, we haven't been in awhile...not even Christmas Eve because I had to work or Easter because I was sick!) because I feel it's more important for us to be in church and me missing communion than not being in church at all. I also know how important his church is to him being that is how he was raised and where he went to school. I would hope that if we lived in Cape then he would feel the same and attend my church rather than trying to find a new one or a Lutheran one there. Marriage...it's all about give and take, right?

So now that we're T-minus 4 weeks (holy moly!?!) until Baby G arrives, I knew that we needed to sit down and figure things out. After only like two years of urging, I finally emailed the pastor and asked him to meet with Matt and I. Last night was the night and it went...well. The pastor was young, prob in his mid-late 30s and wasn't judgmental in what I thought at all, just did his best to try to explain things to me.

When we arrived, Matt was all nervous because he'd never sat down to talk to a pastor (outside of being in trouble when he went to school!). I told him don't worry, I'll do the talking. I explained to the pastor that I had questions about communion, told him what I believed and was honest that the "turn off" to their religion for me was not being welcomed. He agreed that it was a "tough sale" with communion. He even asked if he could discuss our other questions first before tackling it.

What I took away from the conversation: They believe that all people taking communion should have proper instruction. By only allowing people of their religion then they know that they've had that instruction. Also, they as a "church family" are making an affirmation together. He suggested that I take their adult confirmation class to better understand their religion and it was totally okay if I went through the classes and decided not to be confirmed but at least I'd have that knowledge. He said if I decided that then we could meet again and I could tell him, hey, I don't want to be Lutheran but we want to a family together at church and could work something out on the communion front.

In summary, my mind isn't changed. I still believe that anyone who believes, repents and asks for forgiveness should be able to take communion. I don't think that Jesus is selective in who can take communion. At the same time, I understand that it's their church and they have the right to decide who, what, where, when people take communion so I can't be upset at that. After meeting with the pastor, I at least don't feel as snubbed if that makes sense. I don't plan on taking the confirmation classes offered this summer as my hands will be a little full but it's definitely something I will look into next fall or even next summer (summer is a shorter session).

We also discussed baptism. I know there's lots of debate out there about Infant Baptism vs Infant Dedication. Matthew was baptized 3 days after he was born due to medical issues and I wasn't baptized until I was in 6th grade. My understanding of  the debate between the two is that infants can't make up their mind to be baptized so that's why some churches do dedications instead of baptisms and then baptize the child in middle school or later in life. Luckily, I'd done my research before we met last night so I had a good idea and the pastor confirmed my thoughts.

Basically though infant baptism, we, the parents, are speaking on behalf of the child saying that yes, this child believes in God, repents of his/her sins and would like forgiveness and to receive the gifts of God. Then later in life, that child can go through confirmation and make his/her own decisions about their beliefs and make that re-committment on their own.

It was kind of funny because we started talking about confirmation and he was telling me how a parent has to go with them each week to which I asked, if we aren't available can their sponsor (AKA godparent) go with them instead. I also asked if the class was in the evening or during the school day because we haven't decided private vs public school yet. Then I started laughing and said, "Can you tell I'm a little OCD? I'm planning this out and it's 13 years away!!!"

I asked how old the child was when s/he was baptized and he said it was up to us, some as young as a week while others wait a few months. He said he baptized his daughters quickly because it was peace of mind to him to know.

Matt and I discussed afterwards and I think we'll be planning a baptism in August when the baby is about 3 months old. Me personally, I don't want the baby around a lot of people or in super public places before they hit 8 weeks. I guess I differ in the mindset too that I feel like God will watch over and take care of our child before s/he is baptized similiar to what those believe that do Infant Dedication so I guess I believe in a mix of the two.

Matt and I are also in discussion, not debate, about godparents/sponsors. We both quickly agreed on a godmother. The godfather on the other hand is where we're stumped. Matt's brought up 2 people that I've politely said no, we've discussed 2 others-one that I think would be awesome but Matt thinks he's too old but he also doesn't have anyone else in mind!

So that's the summary of our meeting with the pastor. Am I convinced to become Lutheran? No but I'm doing my best to understand and respect the religion because it is important to my husband. More than likely, we will continue to attend his church and raise our child in his church but if they can respect my opinions than I can respect theirs.

8 comments :

Kristal said...

Great post Alyssa! I'm glad you shared. I agree with you regarding communion but I really respect your decision to "give in" for Matt's sake.

Out of curiosity regarding infant baptism: do you believe that if a baby dies before baptism, he/she goes to hell? And is the baltism what keeps them from hell? This is the main thing I don't understand about the practice. As a Baptist, we don't baptize infants and I think scripture backs that practice. But I also believe that if a person dies before the age of accountability (which is not a specific age, depends on the person), they go to heaven and I do not believe baptism is a determinate for a person's eternal life. I've asked Chad this same question, because he was raised Catholic and they baptize infants, but he didn't know the answer (regarding the denomination's belief, not his own personal belief).

Julie said...

I am Methodist, born and raised. Keith was raised Catholic per his mom and his Dad is Lutheran but didn't argue with his mom when how she wanted to raise the kids. When we got married, Keith said he would like to do it in my church because he knew he wasn't in sync with the Catholic church anymore and he wanted to find a new home. I was relived because I didn't want to go through everything for a catholic wedding. So we started going to my church together and Keith felt comfortable with the pastor that married us. His mom, the die hard catholic, even softened up and said our church was beautiful and she could relate to the sermon.

Fast forward to a few months ago, Keith and I decided we needed to start going to church more. We picked a Sunday, and picked the contemporary time and I could tell that he was really enjoying it. Communion time came and he asked me if I was going up. I said yes and I said our church recognizes all religions (the open hearts, open doors and open minds) and you are welcome to come and take communion if you want (and the pastor of course echoed my words) and I didn't press it any further. I got in line and before I knew it he was behind me. That really made me feel good to know that he was comfortable enough to take communion at "our" church.

I can also honestly say I believe our kids will be raised methodist as well. I have been more active than him in the church so I would feel more comfortable with that.

On a side note, during the rehearsal at the church when we had a break, I caught Keith's dad around the brochures and information center at church. Turns out he was really interested in MUMC because it wasn't catholic like his wife has made him go to so many years.

Meredith said...

Alyssa- First of all, check out this PDF (http://www.lcms.org/Document.fdoc?src=lcm&id=537) from the LCMS that talks a little bit more about infant baptism. It has a TON of info about what the LCMS Lutheran church believes about baptism. I think their beliefs about infant baptism are actually pretty similar to my understanding of Methodist beliefs in that area (I think the official UMC recommendation is "as soon as possible and is practical", but it's been awhile since I've studied Methodist belief and practice).

To answer your question Kristal, the LCMS church does not believe that if a baby dies before baptism, that he/she goes to hell. Rather, we baptize infants because we believe that they are included in the command to "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." (Matt 28:19). My understanding of "all nations" as it is used there and elsewhere is that it applies to every person of every age, social status, race, gender, etc.

The Lutheran Church also cites verses such as Acts 16:15 and 33 that describe whole households being baptized (elsewhere, such as 1 Samuel 22:16 and 19, examples of "whole households" included infants) as further basis for infant baptism.

Overall, I believe that God is the one doing the work in baptism and that He is able to give the gift of faith to infants and welcome them into the family of believers, just as He does with adults (even though infants are unable to verbally articulate this).

But no, baptism as an infant is not a requirement for salvation. Actually, the Lutheran Church doesn't believe baptism is an absolute requirement for salvation at ANY age...

And I should probably cut this off now since it's getting to be the longest comment in the world!

Meredith said...

Oh, and I just wanted to add...my hope was just to give an overview of LCMS beliefs on infant baptism, not to say than I'm right and anyone else is wrong. I know many people (like Kristal) have done a lot of study in this area, and their beliefs are reflective of that study (as are mine). It's okay with me that we've come to different conclusions in this area...because our core beliefs about Christ and salvation are the same.

Aimee said...

Very interesting post! I hope things work out well with the baptism, agreeing on a church, etc. Max wasn't baptized until he was about 3 months old. It was probably later than most Catholic baptisms, but oh well.

Faith said...

Very interesting post. My religious education was limited & the bit I had was in the Mormon church. One of a few things I agree with with them is to not baptize children until the age of accountability. For them they believe it's 8. I don't think it should be a set age though since like Kristal I think the age is pretty much up for discussion. John & I haven't talked about what we'll do with our future kids. J was raised in a Christian missionary church, his dad was a pastor & he originally went to school to be a pastor. Needless to say some things with his dad has pushed him away from that. Right now neither of us go to church & I'm not sure if we could ever agree on one if we wanted to as our beliefs are at totally different ends of the spectrum. What we have agreed on is to send our kids to church with his mom as I think it's good for kids to get that basic understanding of God and all that goes along with it. Anything past that - choosing a religion or baptism we'll have to have that discussion. I'm open to letting my kids choose for themselves since to me choosing to believe or not & identifying yourself as a certain religion is such a personal decision. But who knows what will happen? They're things J & I have yet to discuss. Good luck to you both as you go through this journey.

Faith said...
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Hilary Lane said...

Man, that's tough because faith is such an integral part of someone's life and it's such a touchy topic, even though it probably shouldn't be. I admire you for everything you're doing, because I'll be honest with you, if Josh and I had differing beliefs, I probably wouldn't be so understanding. I want to say I would be, but I am a hard headed one!!!