What is a Godparent? Does the Bible say anything about being a Godparent (God-parent)?
The concept of a Godparent was traditionally developed to provide an additional person or couple to assist with the religious upbringing of a child. Today, however, this religious aspect is often removed. Instead, Godparents are often viewed as a person who will help in the general health and well-being of raising a child. A Godparent may or may not be related to the child, and a child may have one or multiple Godparents.
Biblically, the concept of Godparents does not exist. This practice or tradition developed later in church history in association with the infant baptism of a child in the Catholic Church.
One concern about the role of a Godparent is that in its traditional sense, the Godparent speaks regarding salvation on behalf of the infant at the child's christening. Since salvation is a personal choice that a person must make when old enough to do so, this could be seen as problematic. A Godparent cannot express faith in Christ on behalf of a child. Neither does christening, or infant baptism, bring salvation. However, since many modern Godparent situations do not involve a christening or thought that the Godparent is expressing faith on behalf of the child, this may not be a concern.
Though Godparents are not specifically mentioned in Scripture, there are cases in which a non-parent role model provides an important spiritual role in the life of a child or young person. One of the most well-known examples can be seen in the relationship of Eli and Samuel. Hannah prayed for a son and promised he would serve the Lord all of his days. When God answered, Hannah brought her son Samuel to Eli to live and serve before the Lord. Samuel was raised by Eli and became a great spiritual leader.
The apostle Paul also referred to Timothy as his son in the faith. Though Timothy would have already been an adult when Paul mentored him, he was still spiritually mentored and treated as family in this spiritual relationship.
Both of these biblical examples offer helpful wisdom regarding how a Godparent can provide spiritual mentoring to a young person. Through biblical teaching and a godly example, a Godparent can help to influence a child toward greater spiritual maturity that can be helpful throughout one's life. This is a tremendous opportunity to help "make disciples" in the life of someone very close to you.
While Godparents are not a biblical concept and are not required of families, they can be used for good in the lives of those involved. Positive adult influences in the life of a young person can have a great impact, while the responsibility of helping a young person also provides a higher level of accountability to live with integrity.
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