Here are ten questions starting with the most benign and ending with the most dangerous. Ask at your own peril.
- How can I help?
- May I be excused to go to the bathroom?
- What books am I allowed to read?
- If the bible says Jonah was swallowed by a fish, why do we say whale?
- Why is the bible so full of contradictions?
- Why can’t you prove to me that there is a god?
- Why does me being a woman prevent me from teaching.
- Can I teach your children in Sunday school even though I’m gay?
- What does the money that is taken up on Sundays used for?
- What makes you the boss of me?
Ya, I joke. But you get my point I hope. I have a lot of people challenge my claim that questions, generally speaking, are not welcomed in the church. Some insist that they are allowed to ask questions in their church. I believe them. But there are different levels of questions.
There are harmless questions, like can I be excused, or how can I help, or what’s a good book about the synoptic gospels, or can you please explain this passage. Pastors love these questions because they have the answers for these.
Then there are more risky questions, like why are the gospel stories so different, does Timothy really sound like it was written by Paul, do people really get swallowed by great fishes, do people really rise from the dead, is there a god. These questions usually instigate the pastor’s concerns for you.
Then there are the dangerous questions that challenge the tradition itself, like why can’t women teach men, why can’t I teach your children in Sunday school if I’m not straight, what’s this head of the household crap, why can’t we have marriage equality, why is the church so myopic, and isn’t it possible that the whole human race is connected and one and that there is no separation illustrated by the ancient paradigm of heaven and hell. These questions usually indicate to the pastor that you are presenting a challenge and we have no idea how this is going to turn out.
Then there are the fatal questions… the questions that challenge authority itself, like where does the money go, can i still be an elder even though I question the existence of God, why do you assume authority over me, why do you do things the way you do because it doesn’t make sense to me, can you explain why I should submit to you, why do we need a leader… can’t we do this together. These questions are usually unbearable to those in authority. You will most likely be asked to leave.
Maybe you have something to add? I’d love to hear about it.