Posted by: Botolff | January 28, 2012

More the “Why?” than the “What?”

I was going to comment on Watchman’s comment on the last post, but nothing like pretending a comment space is really a great place to write a full-on blog post.  So, I decided to pick it up here.

I feel like we(the church)’re missing something, and won’t find it until we ask a different question…”Why?”.  A much harder question to ask is  “Why?”.  We often go straight to “What?” because it’s easier.  What does the Bible say about _____?  What is the right thing to do about _____?  What would Jesus do about _____? What have other churches done about ____?  What should we do about him/her?  And inevitably, all of those questions lead most Christians back to the first one…”What does the Bible say about ______?”  It’s a GREAT question to ask, if we claim that the Bible is A or THE foundational source for understanding the Christian faith.  In the following comments, I am not at all suggesting we don’t consult the Bible or our experience with it.  However, I don’t think the question “What” has always, or even often, given us the stability we are looking for when it comes to grasping the reasoning for why we do what we do, and how we should really be living.

Instead, I think the question we need to be asking more often is “Why?”  Why does the Bible say that about _____? Why should we do or say ______?  Why would Jesus do ______?  Why have other churches done _____?  Why should we respond that way to him/her?  Why does he/she do that?  Why do I believe “Why?” is a more important question?  Because I think the question “What?” is usually a cop-out from doing the harder work required by asking the question “Why?”.  The question “What?” often propels us too quickly into action, and we love that, because it helps us feel like we’re in control.  Frankly I think control is the root of all of our human initiated problems, and one of the things we all love the most.  God, that sucks.  One of the things we love the most is something that causes us the most problems.  Sounds like the root of sin to me.  The most powerful word I think I read in Watchman’s comment was Kurt’s word “controlling”.  The root of all sin is control.  If Mars Hill leadership believes that controlling repentant people is the answer to “church discipline”, then they themselves are the epitome of the very sin they act like they want to banish.  Only they have twisted Biblical teaching to back them up in order to retain all the power…and control.

The question “Why?” causes us to contemplate intention and motivation.  I believe if we can spend more time considering those two things, and less time chasing “what” the right thing to do is, we may find the key to unlocking a lot of mysteries, not only about human behavior (“why” people do what we do), but “why” the Bible says what it says.  But if we don’t ask more “why” and less “what”, we’re bound to continue to demand control, and our individual and corporate mental illness will continue to grow.

Why did I bring up the DSM-IV in my last couple posts?  Because it gives a very educated perspective on a number of mental disorders (of which we all struggle with to some degree), that if left unaddressed, will lead individuals and whole communities into a frenzy for control.  I have seen and experienced more NPD and BPD within Christian churches and organizations that I have worked for/with and attended than I have in any other arena of my life.  NPD and BPD are found in people who demand control because they can’t mentally handle the fear and shame that comes from their lives being out of their control.  Most of their lives were out of their control when they were younger, and they were severely abused by people who themselves demanded to be in control.  If you take the issue of control to it’s most extreme, you end up with psychopathic and sociopathic behavior.  I’ve seen some of that in the church as well.  The question I ask you is “Why?”.  Why do I ask the question “Why?”?  Because inevitably it leads me back to grass roots awareness of my need for control, and the damage that can do if left unchecked.  It seems to me that the leadership of Mars Hill Church in Seattle is demanding to remain in control and unchecked.  Andrew on the other hand gave up control the first time he confessed to someone that he did something he didn’t think was right.  True repentance surrenders control.  The problem is, there are people out there that pray on those who have given up or lost their control.  We call the former…perpetrators, and the latter…victims.  The word those two categories fit best under is…ABUSE.  It’s a BIG problem in the church.


  1. Yeah, that is very challenging. ‘Why?’ is a quest that calls us to drill a little deeper than we’re normally willing. Eventually, we get so deep, we lose control. So, it is a redemptive question, though difficult.

  2. For sure…I think it’s because we get less answers with the question “Why?”. That’s why parent’s often hate that question the most from their children, because sometimes they just don’t have a good answer, and it makes them feel incompetent and out of control. Sometimes they even feel caught in their foolishness or sin by the wisdom of their children. Hence why “Because I said so” or “That’s just the way it is.” often become the default answers. Not that they aren’t justifiably useful responses in certain circumstances :).

  3. I’ll cop to being one who tunes out when the question of “why” comes up, because a fuzzy feeling takes over my brain and works its way to my facial features.

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