I’ve been reading through Leviticus. It’s a hard book in a lot of ways for me, mostly because there is so much that I don’t understand. Nevertheless, I have found that each time I read it, I comprehend a little bit more (although I’m convinced that there are a number of whys that we don’t understand this side of heaven).
This time around, I have been trying to pay attention how many times God gives a reason for various laws. Many times, it’s simply, Because I am the Lord your God. That sounds a lot like, Because I said so, but perhaps there’s more to it than that. (I speak as a fool. Why should we obey God? Because he made me and takes care of me. I am the Lord your God.) Other times, it’s more specific: be holy, because I am holy. Keep the feast of the tabernacles because I want your children and your children’s children to remember what it was like when I brought you out of Egypt.
I’m noticing all these explanations and considering how and when I give explanations for my children. When I give commands? After I discipline? At a quiet and private moment completely separate from a “problem”? Although there are a good many times when I sense that my children need to learn to obey without evaluating whether mom’s command is reasonable, I still see that God often gives reasons alongside his commands (not merely after obedience, as I like to do).
Of course, sometimes we aren’t given reasons: God told Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, and Abraham moved to obey, even without explanation. Job didn’t really get an explanation for his trials. Plenty of the commands in Leviticus don’t come with explanations, but we can come up with a pretty good guess. And sometimes, God gives the explanation, but the explanation is equally mystifying to me as the command. Let us pray for wisdom as parents, and consider when (and if and how) it is appropriate to give our children explanations for what we do and command.
In any case, I’m challenged today to think again about why I do what I do. To consider that it is appropriate to sit our children down and explain why we are taking a certain approach. True, sometimes they don’t understand our explanations and must trust that they will some day. But explaining why is not a wimpy parenting technique.