Baptism Before Marriage?

Q. I have a question about something our church and my family are going through right now. My niece, who is almost 30, is getting married to a man she has known for about 4 years. He was brought up Catholic, but says he believes the gospel way of salvation. My niece thinks he is saved. Her father isn’t sure. One of the reasons they (our pastor, her dad, and the deacons) give is that he is not baptized. Is baptism a qualification for marriage in other churches? I have gone to our church for almost 50 years and have never heard of it being an issue before.

A. You didn’t say whether or not you belong to a church that teaches baptism is essential for salvation. Some do and some don’t. Normally baptism is not a requirement for marriage, but pastors who believe it’s essential for salvation can refuse to marry a couple where one party is not baptized, just as they could refuse to marry a believer to a non-believer. This leaves the couple with the option of getting married somewhere else.

The little bit you’ve told me about the situation prompts me to wonder why the prospective groom doesn’t just agree to be baptized. Maybe the elders have backed him into a corner and he’s being as stubborn as they are. From what you say, the whole church seems to have taken sides, so even if he agrees to be baptized you won’t know whether he’s being sincere or just jumping through your hoops. I think everyone needs to step back and give this poor couple a chance to work this out for themselves.

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