“Because I said so.”
Most parents have, at one time or another, said this to their children. This statement of finality is, at times, a matter of expediency (after much childish whining), but often it is due to the inability of children of certain ages to understand the reasoning behind a command or prohibition. No matter how permissive or orthodox we may be as parents, there are certain parameters beyond which our children are not allowed to trod, whether or not those are rationales to our offspring.
“Yes, you must wear a helmet (even though your cousin doesn’t).”
“No, you may not eat that.”
“Yes, you must go to Mass (even though you already went with your class).”
“No, you may not sleep over at his/her house.”
“Yes, you still must be home by 10 (even though your friend can stay out until 12).”
“No, you may not stay in the same room as your girlfriend.”
All but the laxest — or lacking — parents set rules for their children for one reason alone: They love their children beyond all measure and want to protect them from harm. Even though our children may not understand the reason for our rules, we are right to expect them to obey, for their own good.
“Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who delight in them.” (Psalms 111: 2)
We can generally agree that even the best educated among us cannot comprehend the enormity and complexity of God’s creation and design. There is so much which we simply do not understand in His creation, even with all of the scientific and technological advances of our age.
Yet, ironically, we often demand to understand God and His rules for us before we accept and obey them. We often become the petulant children who demand to know why, and when the answer is not to our liking or understanding, we feel entitled to disobey.
“The works of His hands are faithful and just; all of His precepts are trustworthy.” (Psalm 111:7)
Worse yet, we use our own limited understanding to define what God’s rules should be or how they should be interpreted. We like to select alleged discrepancies in God’s law, which, we submit, invalidates all of those laws. We point out that, if we were following God’s laws, we would still be stoning adulterers, not eating shellfish, or wearing linen with wool. We conveniently ignore the difference between God’s laws and those traditions made by men, even though Jesus clearly differentiated between those traditions, which were not valid, and God’s eternal laws.
Finally, in our own Christian “virtue-signaling,” we set up various “if/then” scenarios to attempt to belittle the faith of others. How can you call yourself pro-life if you promote policies to help the poor, but do not protect the unborn? How can you claim to promote Catholic social justice if you advocate for anti-trafficking legislation, but also support abortion access for minors? How can you support the needs of our refugees and immigrants, but still purchase products made by slave/poorly paid workers from many of those same countries?
“Reverence for the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”(Psalm 111:10)
To paraphrase Fr. Greg Boyle, S.J., we choose the rules we like and then create a God who agrees with our choices.
We demand the right to understand and approve of His laws before we follow them.
We call ourselves children of God but do not give Him the deference that our Father deserves. He is allowed, “Because I said so,” for the same reason we say this to our own children — and even more so. We only loved because He first loved us.
We must first have faith before we can have any understanding. Whether it is His definition of marriage, His creation of male and female, His prohibition on divorce, His openness to life, His command that we forgive as He forgives, or His requirement to love Him above all else (and our neighbors as ourselves), we do not get to choose which law to obey.
If we love Him, we obey His laws. If you lack understanding, rely upon faith, just as Abraham, Mary, and so many others have before us.
Our loving Father will never let us down.