“Deconstruction is a slippery slope,” warned the Sunday school teacher. Her student replied, “Sure is. You need one of those for a wild ride.”
The Slippery Slope Argument
You’ve heard the slippery slope argument before. We mustn’t question God about anything, because soon we’ll question God about everything. It starts out innocent enough, like Adam and Eve naked in the garden. All it takes is one serpentine question, “Did God really say…?” One bite of an apple. Then the devil has you. So, let’s stay off the slippery slopes, kiddies. You don’t want to lose your footing.
But what if God built bobsled tracks just so we could revel in their breakneck speed? What if God delights in watching us thrill to the wild sleigh ride? And what if our fear of questioning makes us miss out on the greatest ride that God ever designed?
The Sawdust Pile
As children, my brother and I hiked into the winter woods carrying inner tubes over our shoulders, ready for adventure. Years before, a lumber company logged the forest behind our house, leaving the rutted trails of logging roads as evidence of their work. Decades had passed, and the forest had regrown, but the traces of the old road remained. As growing boys, these became our pathways to escapade.
We fancied ourselves explorers, winding our way through the woods on primordial trails. If there had ever been gravel on these paths, none remained. Saplings and small trees grew in the middle of parallel ruts, making them impassible to vehicles. For young boys, however, they were highways to adventure. They took us to the creek where we found salamander eggs in the summer. To the swamp that sucked our gumboots right off our feet. To Jones’s pond where the sunlight danced upon the water. But my favorite location was the old sawdust pile.
Local legend had it that the woods behind our house were not just logged, but that the lumber company had operated email on that property. While the mill was long gone, a huge sawdust pile remained. Centered in a clearing, it rose as big as a house from the forest floor. With our friends, my brother and I loved to play King of the Hill. And in the winter, that sawdust pile made the best sledding around.
The only problem was that this was no slippery slope in a farmer’s field. Like a miniature mountain, the slope’s 60° angle functioned more like an extreme sliding board. We didn’t come to a gradual stop at the bottom but hit the ground with force, bouncing in our inflatable sleds until we skittered to a halt. Bouncing was the best-case scenario. In the worst case, we had oak trees and briar bushes to break our fall. That slippery slope could be dangerous, but it was one hell of a ride!
Deconstruction: A Slippery Slope, But a Wild Ride
Folks who feel a sense of responsibility for other people’s souls often caution them against examining their own faith critically. They warn against the dangers of questioning God or the teachings of the Church. You might emerge from such an activity with a broken tooth or picking briars out of your butt. Many who deconstruct their faith emerge with their innocence shattered. They can wind up cynical, bruised, and battered. But don’t let them convince you that it isn’t worth the ride.
Why is it Worth the Ride?
- Because it’s honest. If you have questions, God knows you have them anyway. So, if you refrain from questioning, you are really being disingenuous with God and yourself. If you have questions, the honest thing to do is ask. Jesus said, “Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find.” Don’t let people tell you it’s wrong to question God. The Creator wants you to question so that you can find the answers you need.
- Because losing your innocence isn’t the worst thing in the world. Growing up without adventure is even worse. We boys emerged from our sledding trips with cuts and bruises. But even more important was the freedom we felt. Whether you reconstruct your faith or leave it dismantled, you’re likely to feel a greater sense of spiritual freedom after sliding down that slippery slope. You won’t emerge undamaged, but you will return triumphant.
- Because You Just Can’t Help Yourself. Deconstruction is something you’re drawn to, almost irresistibly. Like a young boy to a sawdust pile covered in snow. Some hills were meant to be sledded. Some things you just can’t unsee. When you see something disturbing in Christian theology, church life, or the marriage of fundamentalism to right-wing politics, you can’t unsee it. You can’t look the other way. You must deconstruct. You have to ride that slippery slope—even if you get banged up in the process. Because you can’t help yourself.
When They Warn You
Some, like the Sunday school teacher, will warn you against deconstruction. Most, like overprotective parents cautioning against a steep sledding hill, just don’t want you hurt. So, it’s best to try and see the loving intent of their admonitions. Try to appreciate their concern. Even weigh the wisdom of their cautions—and then do what you must. Because some hills are meant to be sledded. Yes, it’s true that deconstruction is a slippery slope—but it’s a wild ride!
For further reading, click here for my deconstruction category.