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What Does It Mean When Someone Dedicates Their Child to God?

by Kathryn Rateliff Barr

Baby dedications are common in many Christian churches and Jewish temples. The Bible includes two child dedication stories -- the dedication of Samuel in 1 Samuel 1:9-28, and the dedication of Jesus in Luke 2:21-40. In Mark 10:13-16, parents brought their children to Jesus for a blessing. Baby dedications may use any or all of these passages as a precedent.

Children Come from God

In Psalm 127:3-4, Solomon declares that children are God’s gift to parents. In Psalm 139:13-17, his father, David, explains that God orchestrates and watches the development of the child in the womb. When Jewish or Christian parents dedicate a child to God, they affirm the truth of these Scriptures. They acknowledge that God gifted them with the child and that he continues to watch over the child as he grows.

Parent's Vows

When parents dedicate a baby to God, they take vows to raise the child according to the commandments of God as stated in Deuteronomy 6:4-7 and Proverbs 22:6. The parents know that their example is an important influence of the child. They promise to teach the child about God and guidelines for godly living. They know that they will need wisdom of the task, so they ask God to provide wisdom they need for the child to grow up to love and serve God.

Biblical Precedent

Samuel’s dedication to God occurred when he was weaned in 1 Samuel 1:9-28 because his parents planned to leave him with the priest to raise and serve God for a lifetime. The parents of Samuel and Jesus dedicated their first-born sons to God according to the commandment of God found in Exodus 13:2. Many parents dedicate babies irrespective of their birth order or gender. They more closely identify with the tradition of parents bringing children to Jesus for a blessing. Some parents might hope that their child grows up to serve God in full-time ministry as Samuel and Jesus did.

The Ceremony

The baby dedication ceremony varies, according to the faith or congregation. Some church denominations don’t dedicate babies at all. If you want to dedicate your baby to God and your faith community does not offer the service, you can do a private dedication at home. Thank God for your baby and ask for wisdom to raise the child to know and love God. Promise that you will behave as godly parents so your child will understand how she should live.

About the Author

Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.

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