Because I Said So

Raise your hand if you were told by your mom or dad, "Because I said so" in response to your demand to know why you needed to do what you were told, and you simply accepted that response with no questions asked. I'll wait.

We were determined not to use this phrase in our parenting. We would patiently and lovingly explain the reasons for our parental requests to our cherub-faced children. But our son never stopped asking "Why?" (sometimes in defiance). And some things a child cannot fully understand.

I got the old "Because I said so" from my mom one time the day before my birthday. I was reading superhero comic books. I loved reading Superman and Batman comics. My mom told me to put the comics away and do something else. I couldn't understand why. I asked her why (truth be known, not in an entirely respectful tone of voice). All I got back was, you guessed it, "Because I said so."

It all became clear the next day when mom and dad presented me with a much-appreciated birthday gift of a whole boxful of superhero comic books mom had found at a rummage sale. She didn't want me reading comics the day before because she thought I might read some of the same comics that were in my birthday box, and spoil the gift. I immediately understood why she couldn't tell me the real reason, and I got her motherly, "Because I said so!"

It is the nature of life that we all live both in authority over others and under the authority of others. As workers we work under the authority of our employer. As parents we live in authority over our children and even our grandchildren. Perhaps some who are reading this own the business and have authority over all the employees. One still operates the business under the authority of the laws of the state and nation.

In husband-wife relationships, in parent-child relationships and in employer-employee relationships, we feel the tension of living in and under authority. I believe God's design for relationships that are marked by holy love is for mutual submission out of reverence for Christ.

The sentence in Ephesians just before the Apostle Paul advises wives to submit to their husbands and husbands to love their wives as sacrificially as Jesus loves the Church says this:

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. (Ephesians 5:21 NIV)

Jesus submitted Himself to the constrictions of human existence, and then submitted Himself to death. He did it out of love for you and me. And He calls us to take up our cross and follow Him into a life of loving others enough to submit our desires to sacrificing for them, rather than asserting our desires over them.

When we are in authority as parents or employers we are called to exercise servant leadership like the Lord of the universe who did slave duty at the Last Supper by washing His disciples' feet. When we are under authority as children or citizens or employees we are called to exercise Godly submission out of love for Christ and for those in authority over us - and that is really hard, especially when we don't fully understand them or even respect them.

One caveat. Submitting to one another does not mean continuing in an abusive relationship. Image bearers of the Living God are not called to live as door mats to abusers.

Why does God call us to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ? Well God would be within His own authority to simply tell us, "Because I said so." He is, after all, the Lord of the universe. But there are at least two spiritual reasons to submit to authority in love. For one thing, that gives victory over my prideful sin nature that is inside, screaming, "You can't make me do it." And for another, submission to earthly authorities teaches us the beauty of submission to God Himself.

Okay. So now that you've read this short piece, you can go and have yourself a glorious, good day. Because I said so!

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