When my children were quite small and prone to demanding rationale for my decisions to such weighty matters as why they could not take candy as their school lunch, or why the dog could not sleep underneath the covers with them or why they must get up for church, I often replied that I had three answers for them: 1) Because! 2) Just Because! and 3) Because I said so.
They never liked my reasons, although it usually brought arguments to an end. My parental responsibilities often required me to make such arbitrary decisions (and ones which, I hope, were also caring and wise). The simple fact, however, was that usually my children did not truly need or want a logical, rational argument. They simply needed firm boundaries established for their well-being. When it became obvious to them that pleading, pouting, whining or badgering was not going to allow the dog to sleep under the cover or the lunch box to be packed with sweets, life simply moved on and the dog slept on the floor and proper nutritious foods were eaten at noon hour.
My three answers to my children worked well when they were relatively small, but as they grew up, they did begin to need, indeed they deserved, more thoughtful, reasoned answers when I found I had to say “No” to their requests. Of course, just because they had grown older was no guarantee that their requests were necessarily any more reasonable then when they were little. No, you can’t stay out at an all night party at thirteen. No, you can’t drive the car because you are “nearly sixteen” in eighteen and a half months. No, you most certainly can’t wear that excuse for a bikini!!!! Why not? Because! Just because! And because I said so!!
Oh, if life were always so simple.
By that, I do not mean to say that I wish I could dismiss requests, debate or conflict with my three fold answer in every situation that might arise. Rather, I think of God’s plea, voiced through the prophet Isaiah: “Come, let us reason together.” What is sad is that the readiness and willingness to “reason together” is often simply non-existent.
A reality of our day is that many people have never learned to respect any kind of boundary given them, nor any authority, be it from parents or employers, government officials or organizational majority. For some, not even the very Word of God is sufficient a wisdom, guide or command to deter them from their insistence on getting their own way. For many folk, “No” no longer means “no.” It gets translated as “not yet” or “try again later” or “keep arguing and they’ll have to give in” and ultimately as “I don’t care what you say: I want my own way and I will jolly well go do what I want regardless of what you or anyone else says.”
Or else, by its very nature, a “no” is received as a sort of red flag of challenge. Boundaries are viewed as something to be pushed against and violated simply because they are there. Increasingly, our narcissistic society promotes the lie that truth, morality or duty can be whatever we choose it to be, so long as it suits our selfish agenda. The only authority that is obeyed is the dictates of our own desires and prejudices and pride, and there is no one, not even God, who is allowed to speak into our arrogances with his holy “No. Because I said so.”
The prophet Jeremiah railed against the people of Israel for their willful disobedience to the ways of God, and perhaps summed up their sinfulness most damningly by noting that when confronted with their evil, they did not even know how to blush with embarrassment. The reality is that God does give us startlingly clear direction, not only in terms of what we are not to do (i.e., the Ten Commandments) but more importantly, in terms of how we are called to live out his grace (Amos 5:14–15; Micah 6:8; Luke 10:27; Romans 12:9–21) within and beyond the community of faith.
The truth is that God has shown us what is good. God has declared through his Word how to find life in all its abundance and goodness. God is forever seeking to direct us in the ways that lead to joy.
The challenge is to believe, trust and obey because, just because, and because He said so.