Children are Holy – Epiphany 3B

Jonah 3:1-5, 10

1 Corinthians 7:1-31

Mark 1:14-20

Growing up Mennonite and continuing with some of their doctrinal beliefs, the Scripture in 1 Corinthians gives  me some special problems. Please note that I expanded this from the RCL text for the sake of my sermon series on sexuality.

First the issue of sexuality was verbotten. There was no talk about marriage relations more than “women submit” and that was in general and not sexual. But Paul here gives a wonderful picture here, although sparse, about the mutual pleasure that sex is supposed to give. Paul is not talking about procreation; he is talking about passion and hormones.

Next there is the issue of the infallibility of Scripture. “All Scripture is God-breathed…” Now, I don’t disagree with that but there is a unique quandary in this passage. In 1 Corinthians 7:6, Paul says that this is not a command but a concession. Then in verse 10, Paul affirms that he is speaking the words of God, not himself. “Pay attention, God is speaking.” Then again in verse 12, Paul does not blame God for what he is saying, he says that these are only Paul’s words. Again in verse 25, Paul speaks, not God, but Paul feels that his counsel is trustworthy. So my question is: when Paul says that he is speaking, not God, is this the Word of God? Do we grey out these sections like the Jesus Seminar? What does it mean that Scripture is inspired by God? How are these passages Scripture and how should they be applied?

The last one is the deepest struggle for me. Growing up Mennonite, I was “submerged” in Anabaptist theology about the nature of baptism and communion. Both are symbolic and baptism is for believers. Since infants cannot make a profession of faith, they should not be baptized. Then as I came to faith through the Catholic church, I had to deal with the issue of infant baptism for the first time. How do I deal with my brothers and sisters in Christ who were baptized as infants? It has been a growing experience for me and hopefully will continue to be.

I have searched the Bible and the early church fathers for examples of infant baptism and have not found an explicit reference (I’m still looking). I know that there is the story of the Philippian jailer and his family being baptized. What if there was an infant or small child who was baptized? What if there wasn’t? We just don’t know. But in the middle of Paul’s sex talk in 1 Corinthians 7, there is an interesting sidelight: children of a Christian parent are holy.  What does that mean? How is holiness transferred from believing parent to child (let alone to the unbelieving spouse)? If the children are holy, why shouldn’t they be baptized? What about that unbelieving spouse? Is this holiness related to salvation? There are many questions in this passage but verse 14 is the most direct and convincing argument for infant baptism in the Bible for this Anabaptist.

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WordPress Tags: Children, Epiphany, Jonah, Corinthians, Mark, Mennonite, Scripture, marriage, Paul, procreation, passion, Word of God, Jesus, Seminar, Anabaptist, theology, baptism, communion, profession, faith, Catholic, church, Christ, Bible, Christian, parent, spouse, salvation, infants

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~ by Dale on January 19, 2009.

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