A few individuals asked me about my faith journey the past year or two and how I have questioned some of the lessons I have been taught about Christian culture and theology. Admitting that I have questions about faith, my beliefs, and evangelical culture was sort of alarming; I mean, come on, I’m a pastor. Shouldn’t I have all of the answers? I went to a Christian high school and university, and I’m in graduate school; surely parsing out the details of centuries old faith with approximately 200 denominations in the US alone should be easy. I’ve had great teachers and mentors who genuinely cared about me, so why would I question? Why would I struggle through terms like “deconstruction” and “liberation”? Seeking answers to these questions made me think “will I question so much that I’ve gone too far?”
Questioning is good and healthy. Questioning one’s faith makes way for it to become one’s own. Having the privilege of growing up in a Christian bubble allowed me to be taught ideals, but it was time, perhaps even a little bit late, for me to assess what I believe. I needed to be able to look at scripture and determine if I agreed that it says what I thought it said. I also needed to determine how the practices I have been taught and lived out have impacted others and myself. Questioning makes a way for one to stand firmly open truth.
When asked what of my theology is changing, I realized that many of my beliefs have not changed, but my practice of theology has. For example, I have always believed that we are created in the Image of God. This is a beautiful distinction that God has given humanity. Now I see that to believe that God has given dignity and value to all people means that I should be involved in being an ally to marginalized people groups. Now I see that I should speak out against racism and the atrocities that have taken place against people of color. It is not enough for me to advocate for unborn babies, but now I see I should advocate for the mother who needs help. The child that is left without a family and is aging out of the foster care system is someone who was created in the Imago Dei and deserves to be treated as such. Perhaps believing in the radical compassion of God for all people means advocating for holistic health, not just advocating when performative allyship helps me look “woke” on Instagram.
Questioning has also helped me see God’s heart for sexuality and marriage. I will devote another post to this topic specifically, but questioning showed me that I was studying a few trees instead of getting elevation and seeing a whole forest of God’s marvelous design. It also helped me see the necessity of caring for creation, for this is something that God himself designed! We are merely stewards of it, so we should be putting just as much care into our environment as we would put into our sanctuaries. All of creation was designed to bring God glory and worship, and we should treat it as such.
Another friend asked me for advice for those reconsidering some of their previous beliefs. First of all, I would stress the importance of having safe friends or mentors to parse these questions and concepts out with. Not everyone is going to be a safe person to bring on this journey, and that is okay. Find a couple of people who will help you stay grounded while you ask the difficult questions. Provide a foundation to be accountable to each other. Get lots of resources from a bunch of different perspectives, and listen to the stories of people who have been impacted by this theology. For example, how has purity culture impacted women as opposed to men? How has christian nationalism impacted people of color? Get used to being uncomfortable. Questioning can be a painful and uneasy journey, so remember that this is a marathon. Work through at a healthy pace, and don’t take on all of the topics at once. It is okay to change your mind as you get exposed to and work through truth. We’ll be questioning and growing our faith for a lifetime, so it is important to remember that Immanuel is with you in this. Deconstructing is challenging, and so is reconstructing. Whether we realize it or not, we are always in a process of reconstructing new beliefs that we follow. Let this journey help you find the truth.
“The truth does not fear investigation” has been a rock to hold onto as I question. God is not threatened because he is truth, and the truth will prove itself (Psalm 119:160; John 1:1, 14:6, 16:13). When we question, we are able to find ourselves more confident in the validity of theology because we found it to be true. Learning how to wade through the grey areas and the confusion leads to greater compassion and understanding because we learn how to have nuance as we work through big topics. When we question, we are able to take the faith of our parents and our teachers and make it our own. This is a faith that we believe in. These are principles that I adhere to and know to be true. You are not alone, let’s journey together and see how we can become the kind of people who worship in spirit and in truth.
What is “Another Q with T” ?
If you follow me on Instagram, I like to invite my friends to participate in “Another Q With T.” It’s an opportunity to ask my friends what their thoughts and perspectives are. Sometimes I ask them fun questions, like their thoughts on Taylor Swift and her superior songwriting skills, and sometimes I ask more serious questions about their thoughts on purity culture and the election. Other times, I let them ask me whatever they want. Sometimes I respond to them, sometimes I don’t. It’s a party.
My goal in sharing “Another Q with T” is to provide a safe place to have conversations about the spicier topics in life. What started as a place to ask questions ended up being a really cool place to connect and hear the perspectives of others.