“The First Principles and Ordinances of the Gospel”
The official church guide can be seen at the Official LDS Church site for a direct link to this lesson
We encourage you to make sure you are familiar with the official church curriculum as the first step in your lesson preparation, as this is the material recommended by the General Authorities of the church.
Supplementary material here is not intended to substitute for lesson preparation, but hopefully it will enhance your preparations for Sunday School.
I know what you are thinking. “You have a rant about baptism?”
Yes, I do. One of my pet peeves is telling innocent little kids that they need to repent of their sins in order to get baptized. You hear it with surprising frequency, like at almost every baptism service you attend, and at lots of Primary Sharing Times. And take, for example, this line from the song “I Like to Look for Rainbows,” sung at every Primary-run baptism I have been to in the recent past:
I know when I am baptized, my wrongs are washed away and I can be forgiven and improve myself each day
How did this get past correlation? Did they not read the scriptures cited in Lesson 7? D&C 29:46-47 tells that that little children are incapable of sin and are redeemed from the foundation of the world. Moroni 8:9-12 says that little children do not need repentance and are alive in Christ.
I would be hard-pressed to identify an LDS doctrine I like more than the redemption of little children. It is beautiful and merciful, and intuitively true. So why do we find ourselves telling innocent little kids that they need to repent of their "sins" to get baptized?
I know that there are scriptures out there that say you have to repent in order to be baptized. I know that there are scripture that say that children have to be accountable and capable of repentance in order to get baptized. But “capable of repentance” and “needing repentance” are two different things. And, don’t get me wrong, I think we should teach our children about repentance and help them understand it. I think they need to know what it is and how it works by the time they reach the “age of accountability.”
But to me, baptism for an 8-year old is different than for an adult. It is about obedience. It is about discipleship. It is about entering the strait gate and joining the Lord’s church. It is not about repenting and remitting sins. What sins has an eight-year old committed? But am I wrong here? Am I misunderstanding something?
Other purposes of baptism
Alma's words at the waters of Mormon:
8 ...as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;
9 Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life—
10 Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?
It doesn't even mention remission of sins here. Rather we are witnessing that we want to help each other, serve God, and join his community of believers.