Sunday, February 24, 2008

Their Own Sins

I have a friend who once belonged to a church which had two cemeteries--one for those who had been baptized, and one for everyone else.

My friend was serving as a secretary in the parish organization, and one day at a meeting the pastor mentioned the upcoming burial of a baby born to church members. The infant died without being baptized, and the pastor stated the baby could not be buried in the cemetery for the "saved."

Despite having been a member of this particular church her entire life, this woman was suddenly struck by the error of this practice. She spoke up: "That's wrong." Everyone turned to her, shocked at her outburst. When the minister remonstrated, citing the doctrine of original sin, she said, "I can't be part of a church that condemns innocent babies." And with that, she walked out, never to return.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints--the Mormons--believe that men and women will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam's transgression. Further, the Book of Mormon teaches that little children are not capable of committing sin. They are beneficiaries of Christ's atonement, and to deny them that is to deny the mercies of Christ.

Anyone who has held a newborn infant; anyone who has spent any time with a little child; anyone who looks into the faces of such innocents knows in their heart that God is more merciful than to banish such from His presence for lack of baptism.

Back to my friend. After moving into a new neighborhood, she became friends with a neighbor who invited her to learn more about her church--the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. My friend was leery, having heard dubious things about the "Mormons." But she agreed to be taught, and all hesitation vanished upon learning this critical doctrine: that we will be held accountable for our own sins, not for others' transgressions. That babies are not held accountable for the sins of their parents, however many generations away those parents may be.

That God is great, and kind, and good, and fair.

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