First off, I would like to say, I grew up in a church of Christ. A few years ago, I was struggling with hardcore sin in my life. My brother died that year, and it woke me up quickly. I was partying, drinking, smoking weed, cussing, having sex, and just not living right. I realized how much of a sinner I was and wanted the change.
I had already been baptized 5 years prior (at age 14) but at that time, I felt like I knew what sin was. I just didn’t know how sin affected my own life. Therefore, I decided to be baptized again at age 19. (I understand we are only truly baptized once for the right reasons).
For the most part, I did change. I stopped the partying, drinking, weed, and that lifestyle. However, I didn’t necessarily want to quit the sexual sins I was involved in. In my head, I thought “This is the one thing I can’t give up” and “I’ll just quit closer to when I decide to get married.” I even remember thinking “I’ll just stop for a week or 2 before I get back into having sex or masturbating.” I wish more than anything I didn’t have that attitude towards these sins. I finally started trying to do something about it nearly a year later, but even then I wasn’t committed.
Last year, I confessed this to my minister, and I really started the process of quitting. I backslid a lot then, and around the start of this year, I started putting 100% effort into repenting. Since then, my minister and I have met periodically to talk about problems. I’ve actually had the desire and effort to put an end to this. I’ve had my slip-ups, but now I use them as opportunities to learn and grow.
Sometimes I just worry that my heart wasn’t in the right place when I was baptized since I wasn’t willing to repent and let go of the things I had struggled with for years prior to that. I know baptism is about forgiveness of sins and burying the old man and rising a new, but sometimes I wonder, “how could I have been forgiven when I wasn’t willing to stop.” I know we can still fall after we obey the gospel, just like Simon the sorcerer did in Acts chapter 8. What worries me about my situation is that I didn’t have the right mindset about repentance in the first place, and it scares me for my salvation.
Was my unwillingness to change my sexual sins at the time of my baptism a legitimate reason to be baptized again?
Were you right in thinking that you could hold onto some sin and be a Christian? No. "What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?" (Romans 6:1-2).
From what I understand, you were properly baptized when you were 14 but you fell away into sin. But like the prodigal son, you've made your way back to the Father of Light. You wanted to be baptized again to show your commitment, but at the same time, you were ready to let go of the sins you fell into.
As you noted, there is no requirement to be baptized again. Yes, you were naive in regards to sin when you were younger. But that doesn't mean your baptism was wrong. You fell hard. But you got back up. "For a righteous man falls seven times, and rises again, but the wicked stumble in time of calamity" (Proverbs 24:16). Clawing your way out of the pit took some time, but you are improving daily.
You are trying to set perfection as the standard for baptism. You are treating it as a ritual that has to be done absolutely perfectly before it is accepted by God. As a result, you are placing requirements on yourself that God never placed.
If it calms your mind, then go ahead and be baptized again, but it looks to me that you became a child of God when you were 14. That covenant is permanent. Yes, you failed for a while, but what brings me joy is that you've returned.
As God told Israel, "Repent and turn away from all your transgressions, so that iniquity may not become a stumbling block to you. Cast away from you all your transgressions which you have committed and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! For why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies," declares the Lord GOD. "Therefore, repent and live" (Ezekiel 18:30-32).
Thank you for such a rapid response. I understand exactly what you are saying. Your view is very similar to my Dad's when I brought this up to him recently.
But looking back even in regards to my baptism at age 14, I still don't think repentance was present. At that age, I was already involved in sexual sins consisting of lust, masturbation, and even mutual masturbation with a female, which I didn't make any changes nor attempt to then. This is why I say at that time, I knew what sin was, I just didn't see how it was in my own life. I've been baptized twice but both times I didn't stop the sexual sins, nor did I even attempt to stop. Now I'm finally trying to put these sins behind me and stay pure till I marry.
Then for your peace of mind, be baptized based on knowing that you are dedicated to God and leaving your sins behind.
I talked more with my minister yesterday evening and decided to be baptized, this time knowing I obeyed the gospel 100% and not leaving any parts out. Thank you for your guidance. I hope that one day I can be a strong leader of the Church just like you and so many other faithful men I know.
In Christian Brotherly Love,