I’ve grown up in the evangelical church, though my family is half Jewish, and half Christian. Evangelicals in particular stress the importance of an utter lack of doubt of the faith. All in all, many turn away.
I’ve struggled to wonder why, and I’ve come to the conclusion that ultimately, faith is something that should be in God’s hands. If faith is so utterly pervasive and powerful, it should be something we don’t need to coerce. We attempt to have all of the answers within our own hands. We shame doubt as something to be condemned. We treat questions and uncertainties as heresies. We excommunicate those who question the seemingly fundamental aspects of our faith.
And when our Christian brothers and sisters leave the faith, we shame them as heretics, accuse them of apostasy, and excommunicate them. Yet, all in all, we do this in the name of love. We do this in the name of the same Jesus who preached “love your neighbor as yourself.”
Why is it that we do this?
The protestant reformation was condemned by nearly everyone in the Catholic Church during its time period, and yet it is widely acclaimed as one of the greatest events in church history. Whether you are Catholic, Protestent, or otherwise, most will agree that the printing press’ wide publication of the scriptures brought light to many issues previously taken for granted by the church. We learned to think beyond simply what was taught by the papacy of its time. We learned to reform our thinking, bringing with it much resistance. We learned to value critical thinking and to value the process by which we come to believe what we believe.
Anecdotally, I’ve noticed that many of those who are seemingly the strongest in their faith are the ones who fall the hardest. Those who doubt are those who are honest, who are comfortable with being real. There is no honor in false certaintly. There is no shame in true questions and doubts. There is no shining condemnation to those who ask questions of themselves.
Ask yourself: Is this really what I believe? How will I defend it?
And when your brother, sister, mother, father, daughter, son, or friend believes differently than you do, remember the second commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Don’t judge. It’s not our place to do so. It’s our place to love.
To doubt is to be honest. To question is to be real. To research is to be informed. Embrace these questions, and don’t disguise or otherwise hide them. They are not only a part of the religious and spiritual journey of any believer, but they are a part of life itself. They are an aspect of life that we cannot easily decouple from the certainties of the world.