A couple of thoughts on child baptisms.
This discussion comes up from time-to-time about the legitimacy and appropriateness of baptizing 8-yr-olds. And it is a good discussion to be had because I think it is a very valid view to question whether a child so young has sufficient awareness to make this decision independently. We know they don’t. In fact, I think it is cringe when parents announce how proud they are that their child is “made the decision to get baptized”. No child is capable of making that decision for themself.
But,… the practice is rooted in revelation.
And their children shall be baptized for the remission of their sins when eight years old, and receive the laying on of the hands.D&C 68: 27
So, how are we to understand this principle? Especially since the Book of Mormon seems to warn against it ( see Moroni 8).
The answer is found two verses previous to in the Section 68 revelation.
And again, inasmuch as parents have children in Zion, or in any of her stakes which are organized, that teach them not to understand the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the living God, and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands, when eight years old, the sin be upon the heads of the parents.D&C 68: 25
The sin is upon the heads of the parents if they fail to raise their children and teach them sufficiently the gospel. This is key. When we have a child baptism it is actually more of a covenant that parents are making than the child.
Child baptism is a parental covenant. Much more so than any covenant the child is making. When announced, I think parents should say something to the effect, we have chosen to raise our child in the covenant, and we take upon ourselves the responsibility of their blood and sins to do so. We rejoice in our children and ask all to help raise this child in righteousness.
And the parents raise that child until they grow into spiritual maturity and can make covenants of their own “free will and choice”. This covenantal language appears first in the endowment. A child that has been raised in the covenant has the opportunity to receive their endowment in adulthood and for the first time accept their baptismal covenant out of their own free will and choice. This is key.
In the endowment, the core covenant is that one answers for their own blood and sins. This is also key. For the first time they are fully birthed from their childhood / parental covenant and now accept full responsibility for their covenants. Parents should understand that they are baptizing their children with an eye single to the temple and preparing that child to bear the full weight of their own covenant.
If they fail to prepare the child and come clean from the blood and sins of that child they then bear the weight and judgement of breaking the covenant.
This is the pattern of raising a righteous posterity and repenting of multi-generational iniquity. It is the pattern of a Zion family.