Q: Choosing a godparent for our child is a very difficult decision. We have a variety of Christian denominations in our family, so this makes it especially hard so as to not hurt anyone’s feelings. What is really the right choice according to what the Bible says?
A: The Bible gives you the following points to consider in making your decision:
1) Baptism is not just a symbolical washing, as some in other Christian denominations believe, but it is a “washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Titus 3:5). So, the person whom you choose to serve in the role of sponsor naturally should be expected to remind your child of the importance of the baptism throughout his/her life. You will want to be assured that the one in whom you are investing this responsibility is in full agreement with what God’s says concerning the saving power in this Sacrament .
2) The Bible says, “Train up a child in the way that he should go, and when he is old: he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). What higher privilege can a sponsor have than to be asked to play a major role in leading a young child to know more and more the Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ? The person selected as sponsor is being asked to provide spiritual counsel to your child, especially in the event of your death. You want nothing to jeopardize your child’s spiritual future. You want your child to be brought up in the very same teachings you are now professing. For this reason, you will strive to find a person – not necessarily a relative – whom you can trust to lead your child down the correct path both by way of instruction and example. So, finding sponsors of our own doctrinal fellowship is very important,
3) Another responsibility of a sponsor is regularly praying for the spiritual well-being of your child. Once again, while recognizing there are fine Christian people in various denominations, a common confession of doctrine is a prime consideration when seeking a “prayer partner.” The Bible says, “Again, I say unto you, that if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 18:19). Unity in doctrine is assumed. Why would a confessing Lutheran, for example, ask a relative to pray for one’s child to be reminded daily of his/her baptism, when such a relative may not even confess that there is regenerative power in this Sacrament?
One final thought, or recommendation: There is no need to feel obligated to “honor” relatives when selecting sponsors. Concern for conscientious confessional commitment is of far greater concern. However, relatives who lack the necessary qualifications for serving as sponsors may serve simply as witnesses. Witnesses may also sign the baptismal certificate, if you so desire. You may wish to speak with your pastor about such an arrangement.
The custom of baptismal sponsors is a good one only when sponsors for the child are prayerfully and carefully chosen. Having witnesses is advisable when conscientious sponsors are difficult to find. You want nothing to detract from the importance of your child’s baptism.