Sanctification and the Seinfeld Effect



For just a moment, join me in remembering some of television’s best comedic duos (trust me, there is a point to this).

  • Jerry Seinfeld and George Costanza.
  • Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.
  • Andy Griffith and Barney Fife.
  • Jim Halpert and Dwight Shrute.
  • Leo Marvin and Bob Wiley.
  • Bert and Ernie.

Each of these brilliant duos has one thing in common: The combination of a normal, straight-laced guy, with a total nut job. In almost every situation, each guy drives the other one crazy. Dwight insists on sitting on an exercise ball instead of a normal office chair. Jim pops the exercise ball with a pair of scissors. Bert tries to keep their apartment neat and organized. Ernie is constantly bringing chaos into the apartment. Jerry wants to join together with George, Kramer, and Elaine, to buy a television for their engaged friend. George, who is a perpetual cheapskate, can’t believe they are spending so much money on one person.

By themselves, the characters wouldn’t be nearly as funny. I suspect this is why the solo projects by these guys haven’t been nearly as successful (what has Jason Alexander done in the last twenty years other than “Dunston Checks In”?).

God also seems to have a particular affection for odd couples. In fact, one of the primary ways he sanctifies us is through the quirks and quaintness of other people.

For example, I’ve never been a particularly sympathetic, compassionate person. When I was younger, I didn’t have much patience for what I considered to be the weaknesses of other people (despite the fact that I am rife with weaknesses). Then God gave me three daughters. Three daughters means a lot of drama, a lot of crying, and a lot of princess talk. Having three daughters has forced me to grow in compassion and mercy and sympathy. It simply doesn’t work for me to tell my daughters to suck it up when they get hurt or when they are sad. I need to comfort them and be compassionate toward them. In his infinite wisdom, God gave me daughters who are verty different from me in order that I might grow in holiness. God joined me with three little girls who are wonderfully different from me.

God has also paired you up with people who are very different from you. You are creative and artsy and spontaneous. Your husband is ordered and regimented and inflexible. God has put you together in order to sanctify you both. You are neat and clean and hygenic. Your son could wear the same pair of jeans for a month straight. God has intentionally brought you together! You are passionate about the outdoors. Your daughter is more interested in writing and performing music. God has paired you together in order that you might serve each other.

Don’t despise the stark differences in your spouse, children, or friends. Don’t view those differences as obstacles. Instead, see them as divine opportunities. God has joined you to those people in order that both of you might grow in holiness. God brings odd couples together to help the odd couples grow in godliness.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a Seinfeld marathon to watch.


  • Johnny says:

    You know, I never found Seinfeld very funny, only troubling at all of the sex-humor rank throughout the series. I remember listening to, of all things, a seminary series I was listening to (I think Dr. Kelly at RTS) and how I was taken aback by a Seinfeld reference, and how it didn’t seem appropriate for a professor to be endorsing a show like that, one with so much abase sexuality, even if just in jest. It’s the whole “dead fish in the wellspring” thing.

  • lisa says:

    I was wondering something along those lines too…. I know that people draw the line in different places, and I have several Christian friends who enjoy(ed) Seinfeld, but I have never been comfortable watching it. I’m curious: are there any Seinfeld episodes you would turn off?

  • lisa says:

    (and I realize that this is something of a tangent, as your main point was more along the lines of “iron sharpening iron,” but I think it’s still a fair question. :-)

  • stephenaltrogge says:

    Honestly, I think Seinfeld is pretty tame compared to most television shows today. Yes, they make some sexual references in the episodes, but compared to so many of the shows on television today, such as “The Office”, “Parks and Rec”, “Law and Order SVU”, “House of Cards”, and a bunch of others, the amount of sexual content is relatively low. There are some episodes which center around a sexual theme, and I don’t watch those.

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