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Response to John Crisp's ‘Pets or Kids’

On Jan. 11, 2022, the Butler Eagle ran John M. Crisp’s op-ed “Pets or Kids?” in which Mr. Crisp takes exception to Pope Francis’ categorizing married couples who choose pets over children as “selfish.” In countering the Pope’s concern of having a new generation to take care of the current one in retirement, Crisp claims that “Pope Francis doesn’t attempt to square these comments with Jesus’ injunction in Matthew 6: 34: “Take therefore no thought for the morrow.”

While Christians are enjoined to not be anxious about what tomorrow will bring, the Bible does say a great deal about sowing and reaping. Farmers who hope to reap a harvest need to sow seed today. – “Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for you reap whatever you sow.” Galatians 6:7 NRSV

In Genesis 1:28, having created humankind in His own image, God directs us to “Be fruitful and multiply.”

Later in his op-ed, Crisp asserts that “Christianity should heed Jesus’ most basic message, which was to be satisfied with what you have and to lay up your treasures in heaven.” However, Jesus’ message was about His followers building up the kingdom of heaven. To that end, He declares “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23, NRSV

Here, what Pope Francis says about the role of couples in raising children is germane. While marriages cannot succeed unless each partner sacrifices for the other, raising – and loving – children entails a great deal of sacrifice (i.e. cross-bearing) from changing diapers, to establishing boundaries, and even giving grown children space to develop their own lifestyles – including making their own mistakes.

It is in the things that we do each day that Christians lay up their treasures in heaven. As a Protestant pastor, I view parenting as a calling: Not every individual is cut out for the job. That said, I am blessed to behold the beauty borne by the sacrifices of moms and dads in raising your children and I assure you that your efforts shall bear fruit unto eternity. So I close my remarks with the words of the Apostle Paul in Galatians 6:9, as rendered by The Passion Translation: “And don’t allow yourselves to be weary in planting good seeds, for the season of reaping the wonderful harvest you’ve planted is coming!”

Rev. Matthew A. Kail

Muddy Creek and Unionville E.P.C.