Is It a Sin to Baptize a Child Secretly, Not Telling Your Husband?

A wife resists the will of God, whenever she disobeys her husband. Fr. Roman explains why . . .

Question from a reader:

Hello. My child is 2 years old, my husband does not want him baptized, and will not allow him to be baptized. My husband has been baptized, but he does not go to church. He says that Faith is in one's mind, and that there is no reason to go to church. He says that when the child grows up, he will decide for himself which Faith to choose. Will it be considered a sin if I have my son baptized secretly, not telling my husband?

~ Elena

Priest Roman Posypkin answers:

Dear Elena!

Of course, from my point of view, your act will be considered a sin. For you are a wife — you are for your husband. Your husband is the head of your family. Unfortunately, modern women (even Orthodox women) often make a big mistake. For them, the center of the family is not the husband, but the child. For example, even at family meals, such mothers often put food on the children's plates first, even before serving the father. This approach is fundamentally contrary to the Gospel.

In the Epistle to the Ephesians, the Apostle Paul writes: “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.” (Eph. 5: 22-24). — In everything. Do you understand?

Therefore, I would advise you not to do anything secretly, "for there is nothing secret that does not become apparent, nor hidden that does not become known and revealed" (Luke 8:17).

If you demonstrate meek and humble behavior within your family, showing your awareness of your husband's primacy in it, offering your prayers for his admonition, this will be more likely to draw him closer to the Lord — better than if you resisted the will of God by disobeying the husband He has given you (even if he doesn't currently go to church).

And if, God willing, your husband comes to the Lord through you, then the issue of baptizing the child will be resolved by itself.

But if you have a confessor, a priest to whom you yourself regularly confess, it is better to clarify this issue with him.

May the Lord give you strength for this!

Source: (Russian)

Editor's Note:  The priest who wrote this article opposing secret baptism never said that baptism is unimportant, or that the child should forever remain unbaptized. On the contrary, he said that if the father is gently drawn towards a greater love of Christ, then the problem regarding the child's baptism will take care of itself.

The father is the head of the family, and thus it is primarily his job — not the mother's — to bring the child for baptism. Acting in haste to circumvent this process violates God's command for the wife to obey her husband, and does no favor for the child.

I personally know a family who suffered under a similar situation. The husband was a Baptist, but his wife wanted to become Orthodox. He forbade her from attending an Orthodox church, and of course she was also forbidden from taking their children to an Orthodox church.

At the time, I encouraged her to disobey her husband, introducing rebellion in her family, in the interest of saving the souls of herself and her children.

Thankfully, she did not heed my advice. She said she would eventually go that route, if absolutely necessary. But she said it was better to give her husband time to repent, so that her family could come into Orthodoxy the right way — following the leadership of her husband. And hastily rebelling against her husband was obviously NOT the way to accomplish this. It would have driven a wedge between him and the Orthodox Church, which in the long run would not only have endangered his own soul, but the souls of his children as well, because he would have actively fought against Orthodoxy, pushing his children to be Baptist instead. And as the statistics have shown again and again, the vast majority of children follow the faith of their father, rather than the faith of their mother.

So this wonderful mother obeyed her husband. She did not attend an Orthodox church. She did not take her children to an Orthodox church. None of them received Orthodox baptism. She continued to believe in Orthodoxy, and she patiently prayed, and prayed, and prayed. This went on for a year or maybe two. She remained steadfast in Orthodox faith, and in prayer for her husband.

Finally, things came to a head. Her husband saw that she had been fully obedient to him the whole time. Yet he was flabbergasted when he realized that her faith had not changed. She made it very clear that she believed as an Orthodox Christian, and that nothing he said or did could change that, because Orthodoxy is the only true way to follow Christ. And because of her faith, she was not willing to deny her belief in Orthodoxy — nor was she willing to rebel against her husband.

Her humble, patient, faithful perseverance paid off. He was amazed at her steadfast belief in Orthodox doctrine, even though she had obediently avoided the doors of any Orthodox church. And he did not see the Orthodox Faith as a competitor, because the Orthodox Church never drove a wedge between his wife and himself — he saw that his wife never rebelled against him in order to attend an Orthodox Church. So finally, at last, he agreed to go speak with an Orthodox priest, and at least come to a better understanding of what Orthodoxy teaches. He realized that he could not convince his wife to believe differently, if he didn't at least take the time to engage with Orthodox teaching, in order to understand it.

Fast forward a few months, and it was her *husband* who finally brought his wife and children into the Orthodox Church, and the entire family was baptized. As it should be, he was the leader, and his wife and children were able to follow him into the Church.

Today, they are a fine, faithful, upstanding family in the bosom of the Orthodox Church. When the family is at church, they are not at variance with their head, because their husband and father is there with them at church. And when the family goes home, there is no war. The children are not like taffy, being pulled between an Orthodox mother and a Protestant father.

The whole family is Orthodox, and is at peace, because the mother was willing to patiently obey her husband and pray for him, even while steadfastly holding onto her Orthodox faith.

We would all do well to learn from this faithful woman's good example.

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