My wife and I are reading the delightful The Story of the Trapp Family Singers, written by Maria von Trapp. I highly recommend it; it is written in an endearing colloquial style and full of practical faith and humor.
Maria clearly believes that the events of their lives are firmly directed by God’s will. She returns often to the theme of a saying posted above the doorway in her convent: God’s Will Hath No Why.
Now, my favorite question since — well, since I learned how to speak — is “why”? So, this idea that “God’s will hath no why” really challenges me. There are two questions that arise for me from such a saying. The first is: “Is God a rational being?” That is to say, does he have reasons for doing and saying what he does — is there a “why” behind God’s actions? It seems to me that Mormonism’s understanding of God as an exalted man requires that we answer “Yes” to this question. God is a rational being. He has reasons for what he does. He thinks, deliberates, plans. (Of course, the philosophical implications of this in terms of God’s absoluteness are very interesting — in what sense can we say that an absolute being thinks, deliberates, or plans?)
Since this answer seems obvious to me, the more challenging question is the second: Are God’s reasons any of our concern? Is it fruitful for us to try to figure them out? Is it harmful? If “God’s will hath no why” means that we are not to raise the question of what God’s reasons might be, is this a beneficial approach? Are there drawbacks to it?
Often, when questions such as this are raised, very quickly a closely related question is raised; namely, “How do we know whether something is the will of God or not?” I’m not particularly interested in pursuing that question in this post, except in this respect: Does our acceptance of the idea that “God’s will hath no why” influence us as we seek to determine what God’s will is?
Finally, how would we live our lives differently if we had a different perspective on “God’s will hath no why”?