Hello, I need some advice about a delicate issue: the potential baptism of my 5-month old daughter. I was baptized and raised Catholic (first communion, confirmation, attended church almost every Sunday, etc.). I stopped attending church when I got to college, and I now only go to Mass, with my whole extended family, on the occasional Christmas eve and Easter when I’m visiting my hometown.*
My husband is an agnostic/borderline atheist who was raised without any form of religion (his family is very anti-religion). In fact, no one in his family has been baptized for over 100 years. Since I wasn’t really practicing, and didn’t really even know if I believed in God, I was totally fine with this. We were married in a civil, secular ceremony. My very Catholic mother and her family made a few comments, but it was totally fine in the end. My mom did ask my husband if he was willing to do a church wedding, but he flatly refused. I didn’t really care either way, and certainly didn’t want my husband to feel uncomfortable on our wedding day! One of his many reasons for refusing my mom’s request was that I, as the nominally Catholic parent, would have had to promise to do everything I could to raise our future kids Catholic, and that idea horrified my husband.*
Fast forward a few years, and we just had our first child, a girl! When I was pregnant, my mom asked if their would be a baptism, and I just chuckled and said “very unlikely, mom”. I told my husband about this conversation, and I assured him that I was not actually contemplating a Catholic baptism and taking our child to church. At the time, I thought that baptism and church just weren’t things that well educated, liberal, professional people did!
Then the baby was born. She is so sweet and innocent, and something deep inside me (maybe just from my childhood) starting tugging at me and made me want to get her baptized. Maybe its some residual fear of hell for the baby, but I just wanted her to be recognized by God. I tried to ignore and suppress these feelings for months, hoping they would just go away. But they didn’t; in fact, they grew stronger.
So I told my husband about my feelings and asked him if he would be OK with baptizing our daughter. He got very sad and upset, and he felt betrayed. I get where he is coming from, I really do! I married him fully accepting his views on religion, and I promised him that there wouldn’t be any baptism. I’m the one changing my mind here, and I get why he feels annoyed. He is a really great guy, brilliant lawyer, and we are very happy in our marriage. So because he is such a good guy, he agreed to think about it and not rule it out totally.*
I can tell he is really uncomfortable with the whole idea, and he said that once a person is baptized Catholic they become subject to Church Law for the rest of their life, and can never get out – even if they refuse to be confirmed. He thinks that signing a kid up to be bound to those rules without their consent as an infant is basically equivalent to child abuse. Is there anything I can say to alleviate his concerns? Maybe I can promise him that our daughter would only go to church on Christmas eve and Easter (and only if we were with my family, not his obviously), and that she wouldn’t do first communion? It’s not like I would want our daughter to have a “strict” Catholic upbrining like mine anyway.*
I know, based on some of the other answers here, that some people say that “your relationship with God and the Church is more important than your relationship with your husband”. I absolutely do NOT believe that, and I would never, ever force the issue if my husband truly objected. But I do think a little part of me would be disappointed if my daughter wasn’t baptized like I was, if only for the “cultural” aspects of being Catholic with my whole family, and because I know how incredibly happy it would make my mother. Anyone else navigated this issue? Any advice, either for me or for my husband? (oh and don’t worry about the local priest church refusing to baptize on the ground of “no founded hope”…my family is fairly prominent in the local church in my hometown, and the priests there would never ever refuse to baptize a kid from my extended family…in fact, the priest even offered all these concessions to my husband to try to induce him to agree…i.e, he wouldn’t have to be there for the baptism, he wouldn’t have to attend the class, they would take his name off the baptismal certificate etc).*
Thanks a lot for any advice!