Why Do You Love Me?
Greenwillow Books, 1990
Why Do You Love Me isn’t overtly theological, so it’s quite different than any of the other books Sarah and I have reviewed here on the blog. But after I tracked down a copy in our county library system I knew we had to feature it here!
Martin Baynton wrote this book as a tribute to the unconditional love between a parent and child. In some ways it’s very similar to books that you probably already know. Don’t we all have at least a handful of mommy-and-daddy-love-you-no-matter-what books? This particular version tells of a young boy asking his dad if he loves him when he is fast, kind, funny, brave, etc. Of course the answer is always yes!
What sets this book apart – and makes it profoundly theological – is the last few pages. The boy asks his dad if he loves him when he’s naughty. His dad answers that he does, in fact, love him when he’s naughty as much as when he’s good. Here is the text that follows:
Why do I try to be good then?
I don’t know why. You tell me.
Because I love you too.
And with that, the book ends. There’s no mention of God anywhere, but I’m pretty sure that when you turn the last page there’s a profound theological discussion just begging to be had. Do you agree? My hunch is that we adults may tend to emphasize obedience to God (and parents!) more in terms of law than in terms of love and grace. But the truth is that our “trying to be good” should flow out of love, not fear.
Yes, our God is the Almighty King and as such deserves obedience. But he is also the Incarnate Son who sacrificed himself and conquered death out of his great love for us. He set us free from the laws of sin and death and gave us a living hope, which makes praise and trust and love well up within us! And it is that love that compels us to walk in the light. And that is why I think you should read this book to your kids.
I found out about this book from a Hearts & Minds Bookstore blog post. Even though it’s out of print I’m sure they’d be happy to help you find a copy if you’re interested in purchasing one!