Traditionally, the godparents were counted informally responsible for ensuring that the child’s religious education was carried out, and for caring for the child should he/she be orphaned. Today, the word godparent may not have explicitly religious overtones. The (particularly) modern definition of a godparent is “an individual chosen by the parents to take a vested interest in raising a more complete human being.” However, godparent is not a legal position, and should the parents seriously intend the godparents to act as foster parents in case of their death, this must be legally specified through the usual means (such as a will). A godparent may, or may not, be related to the child. A child may have one or several godparents.
Godparenting is usually associated with a baptism or christening ceremony in some Christian denominations. The term godparenting or godparents is not addressed in Scripture. Godparenting is entirely a tradition, neither condemned nor condoned in Scripture. In those circles where godparents are chosen, they are sometimes called “sponsors.” Since the baby or small child is not able to speak for himself, the sponsors may make the statement of faith in Jesus Christ for the baby or child.
Biblical baptism requires an individual to have his/her own faith in Jesus Christ as Savior. Baptism is a symbol of one’s trust in Jesus. It is a public declaration of believing in Christ and is a picture of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus and being raised to live for Him. Therefore, godparenting is not biblically in agreement with the baptism rite for believers. No one else can speak for a baby or small child as to his or her salvation. That must be a personal decision, and the one making it must be old enough to understand what he/she is doing and its significance. Please read our article on infant baptism. With believer’s baptism in mind, it would be difficult for the concept of godparenting to be compatible. If, however, somehow serving as godparent could be connected with believer’s baptism, or separated from baptism entirely, then godparenting could be appropriate and acceptable.