Crazy question, right? I was just listening to a podcast, where a 20 year old woman was facing the question because her mother wanted her to be baptized when they went to visit a relative who was a minister.
When this person mentioned she didn’t know if she should since she really didn’t think she believed in God, her mother was upset.
On the one hand, if you don’t believe then why not go through the ritual that will make your mother happy. Where is the bad? Its not like you believe the ritual itself will have an impact on you and where is the purpose in making a big deal over something will just hurt someone you love. Especially when doing it will offer comfort to someone you love.
Where is the point or importance in standing up for a NON belief. Making a statement like that for no purpose, that you know will hurt someone, is not kindness or helpful.
On the other hand, there is a respect issue. This is the one I struggle with.
When I was a child I went to mass with my best friend who was catholic. My mother carefully told me not to take the sacrament because it would disrespectful as I was not catholic and it would be considered rude. This sense of respecting another person’s belief was then inoculated into me.
When I was a teenager I spent the night a jewish friend’s house. They were kosher and at breakfast I put salami on my bagel with cream cheese. It caused something of an uproar. It was deeply embarrassing and while I did it in ignorance, it was perceived as disrespect and insolence. It was hurtful to them.
So, now I am very aware of how my lack of belief may be perceived in religious settings. For example, when my friend’s husband died, I went to the funeral mass. It felt somewhat hypocritical and even a bit disrespectful to sit through a ritual that has a great deal of meaning for many people there and I see no point to it. Ultimately I went to because my support was more important to her than any perceived disrespect by people who didn’t mean as much to me.
The girl who is contemplating being baptized hypocritically may very well offend the minister who would consider the ritual of great importance and its importance would stem entirely on the belief of the person being baptized.
Its a hard question, whether it is better to not hurt your mother or to not be disrespectful.
If I have to make an either/or choice, I think I will alway choose the people I love and offering them kindness over any possible disrespect.