Because I Said So…

November 15, 2020

‘Because I said so’ – the words of a parent about to be defeated by a two-year old.  

I really didn’t love that explanation coming from  my parents when I was little, and I couldn’t believe it when I heard those same words coming out of my mouth as a parent to my own children!  

You know the scene…..

The parent tells the child to do something which seems to be a no-brainer in adult reasoning….until the child asks WHY?  Sometimes answering that one word challenge lacked a cogent response beyond ‘because I said so;’ an exertion of power, authority, and privilege at the top of the familial hierarchy.  The battle of reason was lost.  

Score? Child-1 Adult -0. And the consequence? An endless cycle of subversive acts of childhood defiance and adult restrictions.

As adults, we still push back with the question ‘why’ in so many ways.

If someone wants us to do something they better have a darn good reason for their expectation; something besides the proverbial ‘because I said so.’ Otherwise, ‘because I said so,’ becomes a catalyst for battle and we push back with defiant acts of ‘personal freedom’ and ‘individual rights.’ 

We’ve seen a lot of defiance in the face of mandates these days.  

To some the mandates seem arbitrary and oppressive, the reasons insufficient – almost a ‘because I told you so.’ The consequence? An equally unreasonable defiance that has cost us lives, jobs, financial security and relationships as we seemingly lose the battle for our future health and wholeness. 

Score? As of November 14 at 6:56 pm: Covid – 10,946,854 cases (+170,642 since yesterday); 248,753 deaths (1,339 since yesterday.

Even now, with conclusive scientific reasons for wearing masks, socially distancing, delaying large gatherings, etc., some are still unwilling to comply. The consequence? Folks continue to die, lose jobs, financial security and the struggle with relationships. All because they thought they were being given a ‘because I told you so’ answer at the outset; that may not be accurate, but it was the perception many folks continue to state for their non-compliance. 

Isn’t there a better way to help people understand?  For sure! Just look at scripture!

Throughout scripture, God gives commands to the people, and always ‘Love God. Love your neighbor’ rises to the top. Even in the Ten Commandments! Does God tell the Israelites ‘love Me because I said so’? Nope.  

The divine answer was never a parental “because I said so,” but rather a divine and, at the same time, humanly rational response. (the citations are overwhelming!) God states that if the people would love God above all else, God would be their God and they would be God’s people; being God’s people would mean that God would bless them so that they would be a blessing to all the world.  THAT was God’s response to the ‘why?’ of the commandments to love. 

Nothing changed with the coming of the Son of God into the world. Love God. Love your neighbor (Matthew 22:37-39) – and that includes your enemy! (Matthew 5:44)  

WHY?????  

Jesus never answered ‘because I told you so.’

Christ gave an incredibly simple and beautifully pure response on the very night He would be betrayed, arrested and handed over to the authorities for crucifixion.   I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”(John 13:34-35).

Did you catch the answer to the silent WHY?  So that everyone in the world would know that they followed Jesus Christ!  

If they loved God and everyone else, their love would shore up the beliefs and behaviors of all believers during times of struggle – the first century persecutions come immediately to mind. 

If they loved God and everyone else, their love would serve as a witness to the One in Whom they believed!  

If they loved God and everyone else, their love would be the same love that Christ offered – oftentimes sacrificial and always unconditional.  

Lived lives of love without exception give credibility to the faith we have in Christ.  We don’t live according to Christ’s commandments just ‘because He said so;’ but because we follow Christ and want others to know the Love we have found and experience that Love as well.

But what does this have to do with our current ‘because I said so’ push back? 

Well, think of the mask mandate.

What answers the persistent WHY?  

I saw someone wearing a mask the other day with words that pretty well summed it up: Because I love you.

Masks are hot and uncomfortable.  Masks cause the wearer to sacrifice a lot of personal expression, individuality, and are just a general pain. I get it!  But here’s the thing.  Masks are a way of protecting the health of God’s beloved creation – the humans God so richly loves.  Ah Hah!  The loop closes!  

Because I love God I wear a mask.  Because God calls me to love as Christ loves, even in this small act of personal sacrifice, I wear a mask. You might say, wearing a mask is a small and silent witness to sacrificial love of God and love of others. 

What about large gatherings!?  A celebration delayed this year, means the possibility of many celebrations in the future.   

Loving God – loving all others – means seeking the greater good of all for the glory of God. 

But again, WHY!?  

What better way for others to see our good works (our loving works for the good of all) and give glory to God in heaven.  (Matthew 5:16

So, perhaps a reasonable answer to the why of pandemic mandates shouldn’t be ‘because I (the government) says so,’ but rather ‘because I love you as God loves you’. Can I get a witness?

And to God be the glory!  AMEN

Published by Pastor Catharine

Retired ordained elder in the United Methodist Church. I have a Master's of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry (with an emphasis on Spiritual Transformation of Community) from Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C.

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