What vs. Why

I popped over to SSM’s joint* just in time to catch a great guest-blog by Scott of The Courtship Pledge, and then spent some time snuffling through the archives on his site. (Well worth your time, and he’s got a great idea – http://courtshippledge.com/).

It brought to mind the what vs. why dichotomy in evangelism – and in Christian living, including Christian parenting. I have two kids. Of course I want the best for them (which includes courtship) but I’ve never said, “do this or else”. Instead, I’ve worked on them from the time they were wee – telling them that they absolutely had to have a Christian spouse (and why), and then as the world has been quite generous with cautionary tales, explaining to them the dangers of doing things the wrong way. “Look, see? This could be you!” The world is *very* generous with cautionary tales. :p

I was raised in a church that just went for lists of rules (What) instead of explaining the reasons for the rules (why) in any depth. Didn’t work out for me, I figured I knew better. I don’t want to make the same error with my kids – they get why out the yingyang.

Extrapolate that “what vs. why” to your conversations. Our faith is a reasoned faith. When God sets up a rule, you don’t have to wait too long to find out why He set that rule in place. It’s not hard to point to the world for examples and say, “If we followed God’s law, this wouldn’t be nearly as big a problem as it is”. We tend to focus on the hot-button issues of the age, but how about focusing on social justice for a change? There are loads of corrupt judges, and our God *is not down* with that. Our lawmakers? They’ve completely forgotten accountability. My liberal extremely not-Christian friends are the loudest to howl about a lack of justice – and there’s plenty of reason to do so – so why not open the conversation about God as Ultimate Judge?

Lists of rules only work for those who want to obey the rules. *I* am very fond of God’s law, but that’s because I love Him and want to please Him. My non-Christian friends? Not so much. And why should they be? No. We have to show them why the rules work, and work for everyone’s good, and how they’ve been twisted.

We have to show them how our relationship with Christ Jesus operates in our lives, and talk about the choices we make and why we make those choices.

And once they understand the “Why”… at that point they’re ready for the “What”.

*https://sunshinemaryandthedragon.wordpress.com/ frequently NSFW/K, especially the comment section.

7 thoughts on “What vs. Why

  1. Elspeth

    NSFW/K probably needs translation for some, Hearth. “Not safe for women or kids”

    I like your approach. It’s our apporach as well. Not just the what, but the why.

  2. Scott

    This is a good practice and goes a long way toward getting their buy in on the important stuf later. We can defend our beliefs–they are Truth and defensible.

    1. hearthie Post author

      Yes! And I do this with things other than morals. We talked about texting while driving last night in the car when my phone rang… isn’t that what parenting is all about?

  3. ANorthernObserver

    What about pointing out the “success stories”? Failures are generally pretty noticeable – long term successes that “just work” – not so much, which is why they needed to be pointed out just as much.

  4. ANorthernObserver

    I’d add also point out that the risk of pointing out “failures” is that that may become all your kids see – the downside dangers, as opposed to the upside benefits of a healthy, working relationship.


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