photoBy: Claire Colvin

I’m not interested in a faith that falls apart under scrutiny. I need to be able to ask my questions, and for much of my life it’s felt like that’s not okay.

I grew up in the church, so I’m used to right answers. I was raised in a culture that was direct about what it believed. I was taught that anyone whose faith looked different from mine was going straight to hell. All of the social issues of the day had black and white answers that could be found in the Bible and it was all fairly simple. There were right answers and there were wrong answers and the answers didn’t change, because God said so.

There is a lot of comfort to be found in knowing for sure you’re right and being able to point to a verse that proves God is on your side. I can understand the attraction. But as I got older and went out into the world, it was harder to ignore the questions I couldn’t answer. Some of these things I’d been taught just didn’t sit right and I didn’t know what to do about it.

The worst part was that it felt like it wasn’t okay to have questions. There were so many times I would read something, be moved by it and pull back from posting about it on Facebook because I knew, I just knew, the backlash that would follow. The few times I dared to share a different opinion, it was met with fierce and unkind debate. I was expected to defend my new stance from every possible objection. It was exhausting.

It was as if the act of having questions meant I was turning my back on God and “falling away from the faith.” There was no middle ground, so for years I let fear silence my voice. I clipped my own wings and convinced myself it was for the best. I tucked my questions away and tried to just love God better.

But that’s where it fell apart. The more you get to know God, the more you see God’s heart beats for love and for justice. He’s the gathering God who goes looking for strays and always leaves the porch light on. If God had a kitchen, this God would keep my dinner warm long after I missed curfew.

God sings a song of coming home, of forgiveness and restitution and inclusion. It’s a love song, not a war cry. I kept hearing voices from the church that were exactly the opposite. They excluded people and shamed them, pointing out their sin while claiming to “love them anyway.” I knew I couldn’t be one more voice making that message louder.

So there I was with all these questions and no idea what to do with them. I had to honestly ask myself: knowing what I know, can I still be a Christian?

Now there’s a terrifying question.

For a time I tried to let go of my faith. But as it turns out; I couldn’t let go of God either. God is in my life, with or without the questions.

What I am learning, finally, is that I don’t have to have all the answers to commit to God. That’s such a relief.

I can be a Christian and ask questions. In fact, asking questions and having discussions is really important. In the church we’re often taught to take things on faith and sometimes that gets misunderstood as “just blindly follow.” I don’t believe that Jesus calls us to blindly follow. He never asks me to check my brain at the door.

His invitation is simple: taste and see that the Lord is good. We can step in close and see for ourselves. When Thomas doubts the resurrected Jesus he isn’t chastised and sent away. Jesus calls him in closer. “Put your finger on it,” He says. “Feel the tender edges of my scars.” Jesus is okay with doubts and He’s cool with questions. I am learning to be cool with my questions too.

 

This article was originally posed on sheloves magazine.com. See it here.