Faithful questioning is wrestling. It’s sweat and breath and blood – up close and personal. It’s clinging tightly, as though your life depends on it, as though it really matters. It’s not letting go, in spite of exhaustion and frustration and pain.
Faithful Questions by Gunn & Shobe, pg. 14
While I am active in the church, I consider myself an agnostic religious person. I imagine that many people may question why I voluntarily give so much time and energy to a belief system that I am not entirely convinced by. It is because, while I do not always have belief, I do have faith and devotion. I cling tightly to religion and the church because it gives me a community and sources to guide my growth and my questions. This environment keeps me thinking and wondering. Nothing can force me to believe and I don’t think anything should attempt to. A forced belief is never as powerful or personal as one that was found.
Being in a church environment and a religious community ensures that I continue to explore my beliefs as well as the ways I navigate through life. When I am alone I generally forget to consider these things. I think less often about the miracle of existence and I begin take for granted that my point of view is centered around myself and my experiences. In a church community there are a variety of generations interacting, sharing literature, honoring seasons, prompts to think about your mistakes, and reminders that we are all connected. This can be found in many communities, especially religious ones, but it alone is not always enough for me.
I grew up attending churches that did not support asking questions. This was the catalyst that started my disillusionment with the church. Each question I had to suppress felt like a layer being put up between me and my church community. I had to suppress my curiosity, but it didn’t suppress my doubts. I began to see the community around me as stale and stunted. In their fear of having people find sin and atheism, they were trying to make a cookie cutter congregation and I’ve never been good fitting molds.
When I began attending Episcopal churches, I found that questions were not only allowed, they were encouraged. The questions often didn’t have answers. They were asked for the intellectual pursuit. In this environment, I have found myself and my religious life thriving. I have learned a great deal about the Bible, the history of the church, the reasoning behind religious traditions, and the people in my community. Because of this I understand what I am doing by practicing religion and I am more closely bonded to the people I practice my religion with.
It’s through asking and answering questions that we learn more about each other and ourselves. If you find yourself or your community becoming fearful of questions – faith based or not – you should examine that fear.
What is it you’re afraid of revealing?