“Because I said so.” As a child, it was the most annoying thing you could hear from your parents; the ultimate dismissal for which there was no rebuttal. They are the parents, they are the adults, they own all the things, and they make all the rules. But, as children, and even more so as teenagers and young adults, we see this discussion-ending statement as utterly unfair. After all, we’re people too, with thoughts and ideas, who should have the ability to rationally disagree with our parents, and when we’re pushed into doing something we don’t want to do, we deserve an explanation. Tell me why I have to go to bed. Why do I have to share my toys with my sister? Explain to me why my curfew has to be 10pm when I want to stay out until 11pm. So often, instead of an explanation, we get, “because I said so.”
There are a couple different schools of thought on this sort of decisive, discussion ending statement. I’ve heard people say that it robs you of the opportunity to teach your children something, or that parents often hide behind the phrase, and use it as a crutch to avoid having to actually have a reason for your decisions. Other parents are all too happy to play this particular trump card at any given moment. While I think we should take the opportunity to teach our children about the world and potential consequences of their actions, and we should generally make decisions based on well thought-out reasons rather than on a whim, it is also something valuable for a child to learn that they won’t always have access to all the information or answers. There are going to be times when someone in authority tells you to do something, and you may never know why.
This week’s episode of Ringside explores a couple of these instances when it comes to our relationship to God. Scripture provides us with a lot of information for why things are the way they are, but there are also times when God’s reasons and explanations remain hidden from us. When bad things happen, we know it is because there is sin and brokenness in the world, and Rev. Joel Hess explores to what extent God actively causes them. “So, if a storm comes, is it just a result of this broken world that there are storms, or did God actually send it to bring people to repentance?” The truth is, we don’t know. The mechanics of how this sinful world operates are not revealed to us. “You have to back up and say ‘who cares.’ Why don’t you just repent, because either way that’s what you should be doing when bad things happen.” God said this is how it works, and this is how it works. God says repent when bad things happen, so we do.
A similar mystery in the Church revolves around communion. How exactly does the wafer and wine I consume equal the body and blood of Christ? “It just is because Jesus says it is,” Tyler notes in the episode, “and we don’t have to go further than that. We don’t have to figure out what the magic trick is or how it works. That’s really freeing to me.” Once again, God has neglected to explain to us how this works, or even why He has chosen this method of interacting with us. Why bread and wine, and not olives and water, or pizza and beer? We don’t know. God said bread and wine is the body and blood of Christ, and we are to consume them in remembrance of him, so we do.
Oftentimes when it comes to our faith, we revert to our childish predispositions. We want to understand why things are the way they are, and how these things work. We invent intricate theories and complex explanations for the things that God has kept shrouded in mystery. We think it’s unfair that he asks so much of us, yet doesn’t bother to explain Himself. We demand answers from God. Instead, what we get is, “because I said so.”
This article is a brief examination of one of several topics discussed during this week’s episode of Ringside with the Preacher Men. Listen to Rev. Joel Hess, Rev. Ross Engel, Rev. Paul Koch, and Tyler the Intern as they duke it out over how the Bible came to be as we know it, and why you can trust it, the divine election of God in the parable of the wedding feast, why bad things happen, and whether Roman Catholics can take communion in Lutheran Churches on the full Ringside with the Preacher Men episode, “Why Trust the Bible?”.
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