Welcome to the forums! And congratulations to you and your wife on the upcoming birth of your first child.
From reading your posts, I gather that you are not exactly opposed to having your
child(ren) raised in the Catholic faith. . .but you have some concerns, specifically related to infant baptism. I understand your concerns as follows:
- You believe that true religious experience comes from a personal awkening to God. You see people in the Church who just “go through the motions” without exhibiting any deeper relationship to God. Therefore, you worry about Baptism being nothing more than an empty ritual, especially for an infant.
Catholics talk about the Sacraments as being an “efficacious sign” of God’s grace. In other words, it should both reflect that deeper reality of our relationship with God (a sign) and help bring it about (efficacious). Baptism is the gateway to all of the other Sacraments and the graces we receive through them. This is why the Church (including your wife) consider it so important.
In the case of infant baptism, the Catholic parent is essentially promising to bring their child up in the Church, raising him or her with an awareness of God’s love, and with access the Sacraments that express that grace but also help bring it about. While people can come to an experience of God later in life with no upbringing in faith, it is far more likely to hap;en when children are raised in an environment of faith.
- Your second concern deals more broadly with claims of Christian exclusivity, which conflict with your belief that many faiths offer valid paths to God. You want your child to be raised with an awareness and appreciation for the beauty and truth which many religious traditions contain, and not to be closed-minded, intolerant, or arrogant about their faith.
There is a tension about this in the Church that runs back to biblical times. We know that Christ is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life” and no one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:16). But St. Peter also tells us that “God shows no partiality. Rather in every nation, whoever fears him and acts uprightly is acceptable to him.” (Acts 10:34-35).
The Catholic Church strikes a balance by recognizing that elements of valid truth, sanctification, and holiness can exist in all religious traditions. Nostra Aetae the Vatican II document dealing with the church’s relation to non-Christian religions speaks eloquently about this. There are conservative Protestants who object to the Catholic Church for being too accepting of non-Christian religions. But ultimately, we believe that all truth, all peace, all love (all other spiritual gifts) which are found anywhere in the world flow from Christ. However, the grace of Christ is not limited to the visible boundaries of his Church.
I hope some of this is helpful to you and I hope that ultimately you will be comfortable with having your child(ren) baptised. I want to echo 1ke’s suggestion above that you and your wife talk and maybe write out your respective visions for how to raise your children, to see where there is overlap and where there are conflicts. I also agree that it may be helpful to talk through some of your concerns with a priest, preferably one who is experienced in working with inter-faith couples. Perhaps the priest who married you would be a good person to start with? Talking with someone in person who knows your particular situation can be much more helpful than an anonymous internet board.