Ask, but never question.
This was the overshadowing and unspoken premise surrounding the beliefs I was taught by my parents and my church growing up.
If I had questions about what I was taught, it was never a problem.
As long as I asked my questions to the right people, and had “real intent” to know the truth, I would be given the right answers both by those who knew more than me and (as promised repeatedly) from God himself.
And believe me, I had lots of questions surrounding those beliefs. Why we did certain things the way we did, why we believed certain teachings, why so much of it made any sense at all. In truth, most of the beliefs never made a lot of sense to me, and in a lot of ways never felt completely right, and so I spent a large portion of my adult life asking questions about them, doing everything I could to find the right answers and actually believe them when I got them. It wasn’t too difficult because there was always someone close by who had an answer for me.
But I never fully questioned any of it until I was in my late twenties. Questioning one’s beliefs was not an okay practice in my family and in my community. To question was to show a lack of faith. To question was to let the devil start to trick you. To question was to admit that you weren’t as strong as the person sitting in the pew next to you.
And because the human mind has a very real need to make sense of the beliefs on which it centers all of life, I suppressed my urge to question anything and went about collecting the answers I needed to make it all work.
Until, that is, living the beliefs of others became so heavy that I could no longer blindly accept what I was being answered, and I actually asked myself whether I had been asking about or questioning my beliefs throughout my entire life.
I realized there was a big difference. To ask about one’s beliefs is to seek for an answer to the things that don’t make perfect sense so that you can keep on keeping on without stirring life’s pot too much. To question one’s beliefs is to honestly ask whether those beliefs are well-founded and true or not. Yes, to question is to open yourself up to the very possibility that you may not have been taught the exactly right things. To ask is to close yourself off to that possibility. This is the difference.
So why is it that it was always so difficult for me to question what I was being taught instead of ask? I mean, I never truly believed it, so why did I not do it so much sooner? And why do so many people do the same thing? Why do so many people live their lives the same way?
Why do we fight to believe that which we were born into without ever fully questioning it? Why do we refuse to believe that anything else might be true? Why do we not realize that there are an infinite number of different beliefs in this world and that there is at least a slight possibility that we were not born into the perfectly true set of them?
And why do we fear so greatly what might happen if we do question things?
The answer for me, looking back, is simple. I was taught to fear it. I was taught that the world was absolutely full of people who would take any doubt I had and use it as a chain to drag me away from the truth. I was taught that the world was full of half-truths and blatant lies about my beliefs that I should be very wary of ever hearing, let alone entertaining. I was taught that doubt was the first step toward a life (and an eternity) cast out from my own salvation. I was taught that there was no place for doubt in any situation. Faith was everything. Accepting everything as it was delivered was the only way to please God and all others. And because we just might die tomorrow, I could not even for one second stray from that which I was born into.
Ask, but never question.
How do we not see that this is absolutely contradictory to one simple truth:
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