I Don’t Have to Carry the Weight of Every Question
The pressure to give an answer, particularly in matters of faith can be a heavy burden. Christians are told to “always be ready to give an answer for the hope that lies within you” (1 Peter 3:15). I’m afraid we’ve taken this to mean that we should know everything and to intellectually satisfy every non-believer that comes our way. I hope this particular tip and insight doesn’t give Christians a(nother) reason to not study, seek, and learn, but I do hope it takes the pressure off of us to feel we have to know all the mysteries of sexuality and faith.
Being God’s representative and ambassador doesn’t include a job description where I’m always confident and never doubt what I believe. I think “giving a reason for the hope that lies within me” means telling why I have decided to follow Jesus despite having many other reasons not to. The reason for my hope may not be the same reason for your hope, yet they have led us to similar conclusions about the One who has called us by name.
So when I’m freed up to not feel like I’m responsible to “create faith” in people, I can enter into people’s questions, accusations, & doubts with shared humanity and my limited perspective, yet still be confident that God will use our time together to reveal Himself. Jesus often answered with questions in order to get to the heart of what was behind the inquiry in the first place.
So, very practically, what does that look like?
- Question: “Do you really believe God says no to same sex relationships?”
- Ask: “Do you think God cares who we have sex with? How did you come to that belief?
- Q: “Why would God make me gay and then say no to it?”
- A: “Do you feel like He’s against you if that’s true?”
- Q: “Am I just supposed to be alone for the rest of my life?”
- A: “Does not having a romantic relationship feel like a relational death sentence to you?”
- Q: “Why are Christians so homophobic & bigoted?”
- A: “Oh, has that been your experience? I’m sorry, will you tell me that story?”
With all of these questions, I have responded with one that invites the person to tell me more. Why is the person asking you this question in the first place? Where is the question coming from? These questions are often laden with pain. Behind every loaded question and each accusation, there is a story waiting to be heard and sometimes simply being heard is what removes the blockage to faith. I don't know how; I’ve just seen it happen.
Notice that I did not respond with something I learned in a course on systematic theology. These types of questions are hints to the listener saying, “Do you care why I’m hurting, frustrated, & angry?”. I answer, “Yes, I do care” by asking good questions. Reader, I can already hear you shouting, “But I have a really good answer to each of those questions!”. I’m only asking you to hit pause on your answers in order to diffuse the pain that has created the question in the first place. What I have found is that once the story is heard and the person knows I care, the question sometimes becomes irrelevant.
Of course we don’t want to come off as an enigma of non-answers, so there may be times you can offer up your perspective if you feel it will be helpful. But let it come from a place of peace, rather than pressure to make God look good or your own antsy need to make people see things your way. God is not expecting you to know all the answers, but he is expecting you to care about those He cares about, giving space to people that have been hurt and an ear to the stories that need heard.
This blog is one in a series of 30+ tips for relational effectiveness with LGBT people. Find the condensed list HERE. These relational tips are from a handout acquired from “Lead Them Home”, a Boston based ministry that equips the church on LGBT issues. These blogs have been expounded upon with permission.
These tips, along with numerous other insights, are found in an excellent resource called “Guiding Families” available HERE.