questions not permitted

questions not permitted April 8, 2013
questions prohibited cartoon by nakedpastor david hayward

Here are ten questions starting with the most benign and ending with the most dangerous. Ask at your own peril.

  1. How can I help?
  2. May I be excused to go to the bathroom?
  3. What books am I allowed to read?
  4. If the bible says Jonah was swallowed by a fish, why do we say whale?
  5. Why is the bible so full of contradictions?
  6. Why can’t you prove to me that there is a god?
  7. Why does me being a woman prevent me from teaching.
  8. Can I teach your children in Sunday school even though I’m gay?
  9. What does the money that is taken up on Sundays used for?
  10. 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.

"Nice vid David - hilarious! We'll miss you and wish you all the best! (and ..."

nakedpastor’s goodbye video to patheos
"Good idea! I look forward to exciting developments at your own site. I like Patheos, ..."

nakedpastor’s goodbye video to patheos

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

TRENDING AT PATHEOS Progressive Christian
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • The gospel stories are so different because they are different perspectives.

    Sort of like 4 different paintings of Jesus in a art gallery. Four artists, but four similar, yet differing interpretations.

  • Gary

    The gospel stories are not merely differences in perspective. There are absolute contradictions that cannot be so easily explained away. (They can be denied as they often are…but not truthfully) The stories are different because they were written by men who were not perfect.

  • And don’t even mention the material in Dead Sea Scrolls much less ask about them. Why? because it shows that you might be a thinking, smart woman, and they will target your kids.

  • Carol

    Gary, the Gospels are also different because, in ancient cultures, and many contemporary tribal cultures, the oral Tradition was a means of transmitting experiential wisdom through stories than historical facts (modern historicism) or systematic theologies.

    When we ask the wrong questions, questions that the Scriptures were never intended to address, we get the wrong answers.

  • Questions that made leaders uncomfortable were always glazed over by ‘lack of faith’ or similar laoded language. Oh yes, followed by dirty looks by the the ‘loyal’ flock for days afterwards. After awhile, I just avoided bible study.

  • Contradictions and mistakes do not change the story that all four Gospel writers are telling:

    That (above) explains it better than I.

  • Love the last one David!

    Wish I’d asked it a bit sooner back in the old Shepherding days!

    That’s mind control for you though!

    🙂 Dylan

  • Trevor

    What and who is the church – perfect, imperfect, a whore, a bride, an insensitive bitch, Jesus’ woman, you, me, you and me, all who believe, just the ones who hurt each other, the ones with all the answers, the ones with all the questions, the ones who forgive, the ones who refuse to forgive, the ones who can’t seem to forgive yet, the ones who trust, the ones who can never trust again, a body, a body full cancer, a body that tries to heal itself and others, a mess, a beautiful girl, a slut, a virgin, a beautiful woman?

  • Carol

    I think what we are referencing when we speak of “church” on this blog is the ecclesiastical institution.

    I like Clarissa Pinkola Estes thoughts on “the Church beneath the church:

  • Steelwheels

    I have a question. Why ask the ‘pastor’ these questions? Study and find the answers yourself.

    I also don’t think those are the hard questions. How about:
    What is Truth? Can I know anything? Where did everything come from? Does the belief I hold have warrant and is it justified?

  • I recently did a blog post on the dichotomy of money in the bible. Like a wise man leaves an inheritance for his grandchildren. (thats a lot of money) but its “harder” for a rich man. So money is a blessing but makes it harder to get into heaven? lol