We all know someone who’s so sure in their faith that nothing seems to deter them. One that I deal with on regular basis is my ex-wife. To say we have a dysfunctional relationship is like saying the sun is a bright spot in the sky, so if what I say seems critical or mean-spirited, take it with a grain of salt. Anyway, she attends a very conservative Southern Baptist church; one that scrupulously follows the N. C. Convention’s admonition not to allow openly gay people to be members. In fact, their former pastor introduced the very resolution stating that. I don’t understand the thinking behind that. As I said the other day, if you believe these people are such terrible sinners, why are you pulling in the welcome mat? I asked her about that and the answer was that if they couldn’t allow someone to join the church who was going to continue to knowingly sin. When I pointed out that they excluding these people, she said “Oh no, they can come to our church. They just can’t be members.” When I asked if she’d want to attend a church that would never let her all the way in, she didn’t have an answer. Unfortunately, that lack of an answer didn’t budge her conviction that what her church was doing was right. I’ve recommended books that helped me in my faith walk, only to be told that she got everything she needed from the Bible. Sometimes I wish I was that confident in my faith.
Well, actually, I don’t wish that. That’s not confidence as much as close-mindedness. But, the idea of not having a bunch of questions banging around in your head all the time has its attraction. I’m a naturally inquisitive fellow, have been all my life. When I was little, I was forever taking things apart to see how they worked. Putting them back together again was a different story. Heck, with my ADD, sometimes I’d get distracted before I got them apart. That curiosity began to manifest in questions as I got older. When no one had an answer, I started looking for my own. When I was about 11, my parent’s left the Methodist Church they’d attended for years; led away to what, for all intent and purpose, was a cult. I won’t go into detail here, but it wasn’t good. Especially for an inquisitive young man such as myself. Questions about faith were actively discouraged, even if I’d thought to ask them. You just did what you were told and shut up. I was a teen when we finally got out of that and, I’ll be honest, I didn’t really care to see the inside of a church and the mere mention of God didn’t set very well with me. When I finally did come back to the church about 7 years ago, it was with the understanding that I wouldn’t take anything at face value. Whatever I was presented with was going to get poked, prodded, bent, folded and spindled to make sure I understood it and wasn’t being fed another bill of goods. Maybe that’s cynical, but it’s the way I operate.
That’s a double-edged sword, though. Because, once you start asking questions, you can’t stop. Questions lead to more questions, which lead to more questions, which…, well you get the picture. And, while I like studying these spiritual things, sometimes it gets a little overwhelming. Just once, I’d like to ask a question that has a nice, pat answer. Not one that leads to hours on the computer, searching the web for an answer or bent over the Bible, trying to sort out something from infuriatingly obscure references that I don’t really have the cultural background or knowledge to understand. Which only leads me back to the computer to search for something that puts it into a context that I can begin to comprehend. Tell me again why I like this?