(D&C 84: 28)
Here we find an example in scripture of a mortal man being “baptized while he was yet in his childhood”. If we say little children means "under the age of eight", it is fair to also say that "in his childhood" also means under age eight as well. John the Baptist lived at the time of Jesus during His mortal ministry. John was Christ’s cousin. Interestingly, the book of Moroni chapter eight, which is an epistle from Mormon to his son Moroni, informs us of a possible contradiction.
"Behold I say unto you, that he that supposeth that little children need baptism is in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity; for he hath neither faith, hope, nor charity; wherefore, should he be cut off while in the thought, he must go down to hell. For awful is the wickedness to suppose that God saveth one child because of baptism, and the other must perish because he hath no baptism.
If we define “little children” as under the age of eight years old, then these two scriptures are not compatible. If Mormon meant to say, “he that supposeth that children under the age of eight need baptism is in the gall of bitterness”, then what we have is someone baptizing John, before the allowed age of eight in direct violation of the edict of Mormon. If we presume that the person performing the baptism is the angel mentioned in the above verses, then we are forced to conclude that an angel of God is in the “gall of bitterness, the bonds of iniquity, for he hath neither faith, hope nor charity”, and that this angel, or whomever baptized John before his eighth birthday, “must go down to hell” just for thinking about doing this, let alone actually doing it.
If on the other hand, if “little children” means what King Benjamin meant, that little children are infants, (see prior post: Accountability) and those without knowledge and understanding of their awful and fallen situation and of the need for a Savior, then what we have is a person in John the Baptist who came to this earth already possessing great enough knowledge for the angel of God to baptize him without an age requirement. We are being shown what accountability really means. Accountability is not age related at all, it is based on the knowledge of the individual. Mormon continues:
"Wo be unto them that shall pervert the ways of the Lord after this manner, for they shall perish except they repent. Behold, I speak with boldness, having authority from God; and I fear not what man can do; for perfect love casteth out all fear. And I am filled with charity, which is everlasting love; wherefore, all children are alike unto me; wherefore, I love little children with a perfect love; and they are all alike and partakers of salvation.
For I know that God is not a partial God, neither a changeable being; but he is unchangeable from all eternity to all eternity.
Little children cannot repent; wherefore, it is awful wickedness to deny the pure mercies of God unto them, for they are all alive in him because of his mercy.” (Moroni 8:14-17)
Don't pervert the ways of the Lord. Don’t do that! Don’t fear man. Mormon didn’t fear man because he was filled with perfect love or in other words he was filled with charity. He knew what he was talking about. All children are alike to Mormon. Children are “all alike and partakers of salvation”. How charitable is it for one child being 7 years, 11 months, 30 days, 23 hours, 59 minutes and 59 seconds old to be saved by Christ, and then a few seconds later be subject to the fall and be damned to hell? All this while they slumber in bed! Is this charitable? Is this equitable? Is this viewing all children alike? Or is this condemning some to hell and some not based on the arbitrary tick of the clock? Do you “suppose that God saves one child because of baptism, and the other must perish because he hath no baptism”?
This is a perversion of the ways of the Lord! I speak with boldness for I fear not what man can do! All children are alike to me, and those who are without the law or in other words, those who do not know or understand, are “all alike and partakers of salvation.”
For I know that God is not partial, neither is He changeable! If God would allow for John the Baptist to be baptized based on the knowledge he possessed, which allowed him to repent-he being under the law by his knowledge, then could an unchanging God prohibit another child of any age the same blessing if they possessed understanding of their need for a Savior? If God did forbid it, would He thereby be changeable? If changeable, would He cease to be God and lose His own salvation?
It is awful wickedness to deny the pure mercies of God! The first fruit of repentance is baptism. (Moroni 8: 25) Without baptism then, there is no fruit of repentance. Repentance is null and void, and pure vanity and iniquity if it is not followed by baptism. Repentance without baptism is in a word, fruitless. Multiply and be fruitful, Adam was told, or in other words, humble yourself down into the depths of humility and repent and be baptized in my Name—be fruitful!
Does a child under 8 years old understand they have done wrong? Is wrongdoing sin? If we teach a child of sin and error, and then teach them to repent, but then deny them baptism because they are not 8, what have we done? Have we not damned them? For now they have knowledge because we taught them they have offended God; we taught them to repent; and then we deny them the fruit! We literally place them under the law by giving them understanding, and then deny them Gods pure mercies! We enshrine our own lack of understanding as a false tradition upon our children, teaching them to set at naught the mercies God offers through the fruit of repentance, even baptism. Mormon says don’t do this! Mormon views all children alike!
We hardly understand this most correct of books! We see ourselves as Nephi and really we are Laman and Lemuel, never getting the answers because we won’t ask God to reveal to us what lies just beyond our perception in the the scriptures that lay before us. We revel in our darkness and call it light. We refuse to see that it is US that is denying the pure mercies of God and US that is denying the Holy Ghost to the children we say we love. Mormon wants you to be clear on why he can say he truly loves children: its because he is equitable and fair to them and does not differentiate based on anything other than knowledge; He does not discriminate child from child based on age, and this he calls, “everlasting love”.
Wo be unto them that shall pervert the ways of the Lord after this manner! Those who continue after being brought into the light shall perish except they repent. I speak with boldness, having authority from God! I fear not what man can do for I am filled with charity and everlasting and perfect love, which casteth out all fear, and which makes all children alike unto me, wherefore, I love little children with a perfect love, and they are all alike and partakers of salvation.
He that supposes that children need baptism based on any criteria other than knowledge and understanding, is in the gall of bitterness, the bonds of iniquity and has neither faith, hope nor charity. For who having understanding has God not commanded to repent?