5 (Theological) Reasons A Man Should Change His Own Oil

For whatever reason, the mechanics I tend to use have been really busy lately and so it occurred to me that as I am a competent adult male I should start changing my own oil. This led to replacing a failed power steering pump, which led me to consider the whole concept of maintaining my own vehicles. I could write a blog on twenty reasons you should let a mechanic service your vehicle, but I have actually enjoyed the work and thought of 5 (theological) reasons you should change your own oil, because four reasons was too few and six was – let’s face it – too many.

  1. To Reinforce the Ontological Realities of the Created World

God created the world and everything in it by wisdom. Things in His world have a nature and operate a certain way. But in our world there are some people who think that this is some kind of myth. That 2 plus 2 does not in fact equal 4. God help us if those people ever start building planes. If you change your own oil you will not be one of those people. You will recognize that a 13mm bolt head does require a 13mm socket, no matter how much you may wish it required a 14mm. And if you come to that conclusion, you may find yourself wondering along with Professor Kirk, “What do they teach at school these days!” The more theoretical schools become the more outlandish the theories become. Your shop teacher had his finger (one of the ones left) on reality more than your social studies teacher did.

2. To Steward the Possessions with which you have been entrusted

By this I do not mean that you will save money servicing your own vehicle because you may not. You may do such a poor job of it that your motor blows up and you go to bed every night wishing you had never read this blog. But there is value in knowing how things work, especially the things that you possess. A couple of decades ago a friend of mine who knew a thing or two about his car took his vehicle to a quick change oil place where he was told that his vehicle needed some thingy-ma-jigger replaced. But since he knew his vehicle and had been watching the technician through a window, he knew that they had never even looked at the thing-ma-jigger in question so he knew not to waste money replacing it, or to ever return to that business establishment. This is but one example of how it is beneficial to know stuff. If you own something, you should know something about it. When God put Adam into the garden he assigned him the task of naming the animals, which had something to do with figuring what exactly they were.

3. Because you’re a man.

We are still within the orbit of political correctness among evangelicals when we suggest that there is a difference between men and women. But God forbid you try to define that difference! Man (as opposed to female) was made to have dirt under his fingernails: he was a gardener. It’s manly to be able to work on cars. It’s manly to have bloody knuckles. It’s manly to fix stuff. It’s manly to smell sweaty and oily and look like you just crawled out from under a car. Your wife will think so and your home will be filled with babies.

4. To Sustain a Sense of the Miraculous

You may think that a mechanic is the most prosaic person on the face of the earth, but he is actually a sorcerer. In the land of make believe, some noble personage is held captive by the curse of a witch until by courage or by luck or by skill she is freed with some phrase or deed. So the mechanic frees the oil trapped in the motor by one twist of his wrist. It is no less magical because he has done it a thousand time before, just as the witches curse is no less magical because she has used it upon a thousand people. And the point is proved when some child is present to squeal with delight when a motor starts or a tiny kitchen volcano explodes or 7 quarts of oil cascades down into the pan. We do not bother to explain to them that these are just the rules of our world because it would make no difference. They are not excited that there are no rules, but that the rules themselves are quite magical. They have not grown tired of physics or gravity just as the sun has not grown tired of running his daily course.

5. To learn gratitude and respect

As I wrestled with two wrenches and a pulley puller (for my power steering fluid pump), the sun beating down on my back and my knuckles torn as my hands slipped on sweat and hydraulic fluid, I decided that I would stop complaining about my job. I was thankful for the patient O’Reilly employee (Austin in Ozark, BTW) who willing showed me the correct way to use the pulley puller and even lent me a wrench as the ones I had brought did not include the right size. I thought about the mechanics and the masons and the landscapers and the contractors of all shapes and sizes – round being a popular one as they age – that make our worlds run. And I was glad that engines are not designed by politicians and that plumbing is not installed by bureaucrats.

I may not always change my own oil, but at least once in your life – you should. And if you do so having never done so before, find a guy who keeps oil and tools in his garage and ask him to help you your first time so you don’t blow your car up.

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