The couple has expressed their faith publicly numerous times, most recently at The Catholic University of America’s 2016 Commencement. During their commencement speech, Jeannie and Jim discussed what it was that made them successful.
“Neither of us could’ve had these accomplishments by ourselves,” said Jim. Jeannie added, “We needed each other, we needed our family, we needed our friends and we needed God.”We live in an age in which children are like distractions from our higher pursuits. We have children and then assign day care or extended family to "raise" them. We have children because we want them like toys or trophies and turn to reproductive technology to deliver them to us when we find it convenient to have them. We have children as the just fruits of the equality of every gender identity and life choice and not as the fruit of a long, enduring, and faithful marriage between a man and a woman. We have children as private decisions and choices and not because they are intrinsic to marriage itself or the society to which we belong.
Jim Gaffigan has violated the cardinal rule of modernity. He has elevated children higher than career or compensation and had the nerve to describe them as the most important project of he and his wife, Jeannie. More than this, he cloaked it all in the fabric of faith and of the God whom they needed and before whom they and their children live. The world around us can stomach the idea of vocation in terms of career but it bristles at the idea of marriage between a man and woman being the most central vocation of the husband and wife and their vocation together as parents to their children. Worse than making children and marriage an equivalent to career, the Gaffigans have raised their home and family above the sacred markers of success and meaning with which we value our lives as modern people.
On another forum, the idea that marriage and singleness (as a choice and not as charism) were not equivalents and equals both in status and morality was attacked as the rudest and most primitive of attacks on the freedom of choice. What a world we have come to in which we must defend marriage and then defend the priority of marriage over singleness. Is it permissible not to marry? According to Luther, it is not a matter of what is permissible but what is good and what is better. If you have the supernatural gift and grace not just to be celibate but to be chaste in thought, word and deed then singleness is good. It is not good to choose singleness as a means of avoiding marriage (but not avoiding sex) in order to free up your time and resources for your self. The gift of celibacy is to enable you better to serve the world and the Lord unencumbered by familial duties that can and should come first. This is not a legitimate choice for the Christian to free you up for a life of career, travel, pleasure, things, and self-fulfillment. Marriage is always better than singleness (apart from the gift of singleness and its accompaniment of chastity and purity without burning with desire). Read Luther on the 4th Commandment writing in the Large Catechism. Read St. Paul.
We push college on our children as a better choice. In fact, most Americans today view higher education as a sacred value. Luther said marriage and children should be this sacred value. We value higher education because we are sure it is a means to self-improvement, to higher earnings, to better jobs (meaning those without menial labor), and because we think it will make us more productive and help us achieve more success. We drill this into our children even at a young age. We understand when marriage is deferred for the sake of education and we even understand when personal goals of earthly success, accomplishment, and education substitute for marriage and family. Luther certainly valued education but he constantly pushed us to a higher value and would insist that replacing marriage with singleness and family with education or career success and self-interest indicates our priorities are way out of whack. Dare we say it -- sinful???
Clearly this is a subject for some considered debate and discussion. What happened to make marriage merely one of many lifestyle choices and family a decision second or third in priority to pursuit of those other things one wants or desires? How did it end up that this became the normal in our thinking and marriage the exception? What happened to remove this whole issue from the realm of what is good and what is better, what is faithful and what is true for the Christian captive to God's Word?
Great article. God and family first. Men and women should marry young and seek compatible mates, especially Christians. Today many people in our society are not mature and committed, but pleasure seeking and self centered. A man and woman who love the Lord and one another throughout a committed marriage are blessed indeed. It is well worth the effort and brings rich rewards.
You are doing a great job Pastor Peters. I agree with this:
"Marriage is always better than singleness .."
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