Monday, May 17, 2010

Women baptizing

Here is an interesting question. I have a co-worker who is getting married soon. She is a confessing Christian and her fiancĂ© up until recently was not. He has made a profession of faith and desires to be baptized. So their local church is going to have him baptized before their wedding but here is the kicker: his fiancĂ© is going to baptize him. Well, she is going to actually dunk him and one of the pastors will speak. So that raises an interesting question…

- Can a woman baptize another woman or a child?

- Should a woman baptize a man?

My instinct is to say that no, a woman should not baptize a man. Then I started thinking about it and wondered if that reaction is based in Scripture or not. The question hinges on whether or not baptism is limited to ordained men or elders and whether the act of baptizing a believer is an authoritative act which would run afoul of 1 Timothy 2: 12. There are no examples as far as I can think of where a woman baptizes someone in Scripture. On the other hand, I wonder if there is a warrant for assuming that it is not permitted. I am as firmly committed to the complemantarian position as anyone I know but this is one of those areas where I wonder if we are deciding a question reflexively instead of Scripturally.

So what do you think? Is there a Scriptural reason that a woman cannot baptize someone?
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8 comments:

Steve & Paula said...

I do not see Scriptural basis preventing a woman from performing baptism, but, a little common sense would say that the believeing men should be performing them as a rule.
However, if one is not around, and a woman or child makes a profession of faith and desires baptism, then be all means, a woman may certainly proceed to do so.

I am of the opinion, that baptism is not something that you put off until a more convenient time, or until growth is seen.
Paula

Joe said...

1Ti 2:12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.

Arthur Sido said...

Joe, I affirm 1 Tim 2:12. What does that have to do with women baptizing? Is baptizing another believer an authoritative act and if it is so what is the Scriptural grounds for that claim?

Alan Knox said...

I don't see anything in Scripture prohibiting a woman from baptizing.

-Alan

Joe said...

If it is not exercising authority over a man (which seems painfully obvious to me)"by the authority vested in me, I baptize you..." (Matt 28:18-20 being a clear example of Christ granting authority to baptize and the Scriptural grounds for my claim )
What about the Bible's call for women to be silent in church? Is there to be no statement to the church of this person's testimony of conversion and what baptism signifies? By whom? Is she not even going to speak? Or is she going to speak and as Paul would say, "Shame on her"?
- Paula, you say baptism should not be put off. What would you tell John the Baptist who wouldn't baptize people until they brought forth fruit in accord with repentance?
If I were the pastor, I would be very hesitant about encouraging such a marriage where "getting saved and baptized" was a requirement to get married. I think wisdom would wait until "growth is seen" before you hasten to unequally yoke 2 people.
And lastly, I find it interesting that people reject infant baptism because there is not one single biblical example of it in Scripture, yet every single example in Scripture of baptism is done by a man without exception.

Ur Man CD said...

Questions I'd ask in order to answer the predicament. Who is given permission to baptise? How is baptising someone exercising authority over them? Is there a valid argument for a compromise in the complimentarian position?

As I read and understand it at this time, subject to change, there's nothing that indicates there being anything wrong in a woman baptising a man

Geoff said...

Joe: I think that baptizing more qualifies as a good work than an act of authority. Jesus commands the apostles to make disciples, but Matthew wrote about that episode so that all disciples would make disciples. So unless doing other things Jesus commanded to do in Matthew's gospel is considered an "act of authority," I would say that baptizing is simply a task for disciples.

If we want to make baptism an act of authority, then women also cannot take care of male versions of the least of these, obey the sermon on the mount towards men, or even pray for men, as all obedience to Jesus is by the authority of the great commission.

Mark said...

Joe,

the baptism of John the Baptist was different than the baptism that Jesus speaks of. I agree that if an individual has truly given their life to Christ, there is no need to wait on baptism, as it is an outward expression of an already inward reality. There is no call in scripture that I am aware of that fruit should be apparent before baptism is performed.