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Monday, February 18, 2013

Because God Said So

When I was small, some of the most dreaded words I had to hear were "because I said so."  It hit me hard sometimes. I really wanted to know why I had been barred from doing what I felt was harmless fun.  It seemed arbitrary and an insult to my intelligence.  Sometimes I went ahead and did it anyway, just to see if it was really so bad, and a lot of times I got hurt, just as predicted.

In reality, "because I said so" is just a way parents cut to the chase. For instance, "Don't run out in front of cars because I said so," actually means, "Don't run out in front of cars because you could die before this argument is over. I don't have time to show you the reasons, but the fact that I care if you die should be enough reason to trust me on this."  In their haste to protect, they don't have time to lecture or educate, and instead opt to explain later, when there is time and maturity enough for their child to accept the wisdom behind their conclusions.

Before that maturity comes, any attempts to reason are pretty much a waste of breath with headstrong children, even though their parents make good points.  At the root of it, children are completely lacking in foresight, and need someone else to see the consequences for them.  Rules (if they are good ones) are not arbitrary, unfair, or insulting to the intelligence, but they might seem that way to someone who hasn't lived to see the consequences.  Ironically, rules and laws are designed precisely to that purpose--to prevent others from seeing those consequences!

I bring this up because I've been hearing a lot of talk lately about how God's rules are arbitrary, unfair, and insulting to human intelligence.  While it is true that God seems to say, "Do not sin...because I said so," in a few places in the Bible, it might be that God didn't want to waste precious time debating the ins and outs of sin while people were at that very moment reaping the consequences.  It might also be that He has shared His reasons, but we aren't mature enough to accept them yet.

In one place in the Bible we read, "Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes," (James 4: 14 NIV). This means we have a very short time to get things right, to learn maturity, and to understand the cautions God has given to us.  It just might be too short of a time for some.  What a shame it is when someone reaches the end of their life, and they've wasted all their time arguing instead of moving forward and accomplishing things! How pitiful it is when what little they got done was overshadowed by their foolishness that brought about their end. That's why it's better not to waste so much time debating things, and learn maturity instead. Part of maturity is finding a good guide and imitating that leadership.

In another place in the Bible we are told, "There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death," (Proverbs 14: 12 NIV).  This shows one good reason why we should trust God as our leader and guide.  In this passage, God shows that He is mature and old enough to see the consequences of things, just like a parent, and that He used that knowledge to raise a warning about something really bad that was coming. Just like the parenting example I shared earlier, God cared that we might die from sin.

So when I still hear arguments like, "This hasn't caused harm to me yet," and "It feels fun and everyone else is getting away with it," they sound like childlike arguments.  And yes, I've tried to use them myself, at times.  That still doesn't invalidate the point that was originally made: Sin is bad for you. Don't do it.  And what God means by that is, "I said don't do it because I care if you die. I have seen that sin starts out fun, but it leads to broken relationships, grief, misery, addiction, pain, disease, loneliness, darkness, hunger, poverty, loss of purpose, loss of meaning, loss of joy, loss of justice...and I have seen that death was the only logical end to such a mess, because such miserable, filthy, catastrophic consequences should be snuffed out completely for the sake of preserving what is good... and because I cared about what happens to you, and because I cared enough to defend what is good, that should be reason enough to listen to me."

So, before another round of debate begins, just stop and ask yourself why you've got to know "why," before you can let God save you.  Don't stand there thinking too long, either--if God was in a hurry, maybe you ought to be!