Housewife Theologian

The Gospel Interrupting the Ordinary

Because I Said So!

Written By: Aimee Byrd - Sep• 27•11

Now there’s a comeback that I hated to hear as a child. I remember making a mental note when I was like 8 years old that I would never give, “because I said so,” as an explanation. I wanted to really know why my parents were making the decisions they were making. I mean come on, I was 8, practically a grown up! I was mature enough to weigh in on their reasoning and then do a little evaluating of my own.

And now I’m 35.

“Because I said so” is a wonderful lyric to sing to my own children. Like any other great ditty, you can overdo it. You hold on to that fine little tune in your head, and belt it out at the fitting moments. With all the weight in between those lines, you save it for when your children need a little lesson on authority. The heavy implication is: “I’m the boss here, and therefore, what I say goes. As a matter of fact, since I have proven myself to be a loving, nurturing, caring (albeit a little crazy) mother who constantly seeks your well-being; you will have to trust me on this one. Yes, this four-letter-phrase is a reminder that you need to trust me. Talking back will do you no good because my will cannot be changed on this matter. Maybe you would like to take a moment to celebrate the fact that I do say so, because I do know so, and you don’t have to be bothered with all the other puzzle pieces to the matter right now. You’re welcome.”

But like me, my kids don’t seem to appreciate that answer. In a similar way, I believe we sometimes lack a proper grateful response to some of our theological indicatives. If you’ve been catechized as a child, or if you are just beginning to delve into theology, you quickly notice that one of God’s primary concerns is his own glory. Question one of the Westminster Shorter Catechism is: What is the chief end of man? The answer: The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. The goal of our accomplishments and our failures, our thoughts and our motives, should be how God is being glorified.

As a child, we may think God is being pretty selfish. After all, why is he so concerned with his own glory? Why is he demanding that we take notice? Isn’t being God enough—why does he continually seek our praise? We read about it so often in Scripture and hear it spoken from the mouths of so many teachers that we know it must be important, but what weight does it carry between the lines?

Obviously, God doesn’t need our praise. His glory isn’t diminished in any way if we do not give him proper credit. What we fail to recognize so often is that God is good. Sure, we know that to be true, but we don’t always act as if we really believe he is the source of all good and everything he does is good. There is no good apart from God. Our sinful nature wants to maybe take God’s advice, cherry-pick what we think best benefits us, and then independently build our lives upon it. Sound familiar? Maybe Adam and Eve ring a bell?

I’m always reminded of Augustine’s words in his book, The City of God,when it comes to our need of God’s glory.

For our good, about which philosophers have so keenly contended, is nothing else than to be united to God…We are enjoined to love this good with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our strength. To this good we ought to be led by those who love us, and to lead those we love…This is true religion, this is right piety, this is the service due to God only. If any immortal power, then, no matter with what virtue endowed, loves us as himself, he must desire that we find our happiness by submitting ourselves to Him, in submission to whom he himself finds happiness(307).

We are created beings, made in the image of our Creator. He is the source of all good, of all blessing. We were made to be united to him and therefore cannot live autonomously. It is evil to seek good in anything else.

The cause, therefore, of the blessedness of the good is adherence to God. And so the cause of others’ misery will be found in the contrary, that is, in their not adhering to God (380). And,… when the will abandons what is above itself, it turns to what is lower, it becomes evil—not because that is evil to which it turns, but because the turning itself is wicked (386).

How often do we turn from God? Evil is a strong word that we barely utter. But why do we use the word good so flippantly? God is good. Any turning from him is evil. Peter may have thought he had good intentions when he didn’t want to see his Lord suffer, but Jesus rebuked him by saying, “Get behind me, Satan!” We want to have our own ideas about how God should be glorified in us. We constantly need to be reminded that God will be glorified because he is good. How can our depraved hearts comprehend this?

We must therefore acknowledge, with the praise due to the Creator, that not only of holy men, but also of the holy angels, it can be said that “the love of God is shed abroad in their hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto them” (389).

With that I will echo a ditty that never can be overdone–praise God from whom all blessings flow!

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6 Comments

  1. Doc B says:

    I got a good laugh out of your opening. I too made some promises like yours when I was a kid. I promised myself I’d never slap my kids across the face like my mom did (that one has been easy to keep), and I too promised not to use the phrase, “because I said so”. That one’s been tougher, so I’ve learned to say the words in a different way, like you explain in your post. And like your kids, mine still don’t appreciate the general idea!

    But I’ve also done one thing my parents never talked about (I don’t know if it was in their minds or not)- I’ve used those times to teach them that my job as a parent isn’t to simply rule over them, but to teach them that even when they grow up, they will be under authority…God’s authority, and the parent-child relationship is a picture of that.

    I hope it’s working.

  2. Tim says:

    Aimee, when I became a parent I also made a decision about using “because I said so.” I decided that I would never use it by itself. If my son or daughter asked why in a way that seemed to question my judgment or authority, I would answer something like this: “There are two reasons. The first is because I’m your father. The second is … [and then came my reasoning behind the decision].” I used this occasionally, and the kids never seemed to turn me off after the first sentence.

    On the subject of glorifying God because he said to, don’t you think confusion often arises because we mistake the purpose of praise? People sometimes seem to think praise is a tool for making the object of praise feel better (“Oh sweetie, yours was the best solo in the whole fifth grade jazz concert!”), or that receiving praise is about making sure others know that we have done a superior job at something (“Woo-hoo! I won the award for best limerick in the 50-52 year old category at the Toad Hollow Pumpkin, Porridge, Poetry and Tractor-Pull Festival!”)

    Instead, as C.S. Lewis points out in his comment on the Westminster Shorter Catechism passage you quote, “In commanding us to glorify Him, God is inviting us to enjoy Him.” (Reflections on the Psalms.) He also notes the correlation between praise, love and joy: “Praise is that mode of love which always has some element of joy in it. … Don’t we in praise somehow enjoy what we praise, however far we are from it? I must do more of this.” (A Grief Observed.)

    I think it is fair to say that true praise not only acknowledges the worthiness of the subject of our praise (Revelation 5:12), but expresses love and joy in that praise (as does Psalm 145). Like Lewis, I must do more of this.

    Thanks for another good post.

    Cheers,
    Tim

  3. Aimee Byrd says:

    I’m pocketing the parenting tips, guys! So true about the continuing authority, Doc. B. Yes, Tim, I almost went with the joy direction in my article, thanks for adding that part (love the CSL quote). And your funny details crack me up. Now, if only I can get Cricket to comment on this article I’ll have my “trifecta,” that is, my three favorite commentors that I don’t know and love (in no particular order, of course).

  4. Dana Tuttle says:

    I always enjoy DocB and Tim’s addition to your blogs! You are the 3rd in the “trifecta’ in this great blog/comment conversation!

What do you think?