Saturday, December 03, 2005

Sitting On the Fence

Doubt is a difficult feeling to live with. By nature we want definite answers to our questions, and would rather settle for questionable certainties than accept the existence of gray areas. Hence the popularity of fundamentalistic religions with their confident, unyielding answers to all of life's questions. However much it may require closing one's eyes to the countless nuances of real life that contradict those "straight answers," it's simply easier to maintain faith in a deity that tells you exactly what to think and do in any given situation. If those one-size-fits-all "biblical solutions" don't work, it's obviously the individual's fault - perhaps they didn't have enough faith, or didn't really want to be healed, or just plain did something wrong.

Or maybe life really is more complicated than we're comfortable admitting. Maybe God deals with each of us as individuals and not with a cookie cutter approach. Maybe one of the reasons the church seems to have so little power nowadays is because we're trying to prescribe simple, pat answers to complex issues. Maybe, as Brian McLaren might suggest, we're so busy fighting the battle of A vs. B that we've failed to notice that God is up above the battlefield entirely and not particularly interested in taking sides in our squabble.

And maybe all of those above statements apply to the debate over homosexuality. What if there's not a single, all-encompassing answer to the question of whether it's right or wrong? What if God says yes to some and no to others, based on His intimate knowledge of each of us and the millions of factors that make every person a unique individual? Are we willing to live in a place of less-than-absolute certainty? Can we accept a God who doesn't cater to our demands for absolutes that are small enough for us to fully grasp?

Does doubt really represent a lack of faith, or is a willingness to live with doubt the true act of faith? It's not so easy to trust a God whose answers sometimes raise more questions than they resolve.

I suppose this is one issue I'll eventually have to take a side on, at least in terms of how I choose to live the rest of my life. For now, though, I'll settle for uncertainty. What else can I do when I see God so clearly present on both sides of the fence? Both sides make statements that ring true to me, but both have their blind spots as well. From where I sit, to choose one and reject the other would be to cut myself off from an area where God is actively at work.

Perhaps it's time to tear down the fence altogether.


natasa said...

hi, i like your blogg, i find it interesting, and your view on life!, take a look at my blogg.
angel in disguise.

TL said...

Excellent questions. =)

Not sure where I sit with any sort of religion, as every day presents me with more questions than answers. But I just don't buy into certainty. Most of the greatest atrocities have been committed by those who thought they were absolutely certain about one thing or another (that's sorta stolen from Peck's book).

From my post-Christian perspective, faith in the Christian God and in Jesus is one of the most personal relationships in the world, and that alone removes this idea that one man's certainty about one issue is to be fitted for everyone. You just have to deal with each issue in your way, and God would seem to need to lead you in a different way (to the same place as another? Maybe - or maybe not).

As far as questioning goes, it seems healthy. It's detrimental to just say "okay, I guess that's what you say, so I guess I've just gotta do *fill in the blank." In parenting, it's damaging to tell children to simply obey without allowing any room for questioning, discussion, and some room to budge (on many issues, but not all). To do otherwise is to stunt growth and thinking and keep children from thinking for themselvesm and being themselves

I'm rambling. I guess I just like your blog, and I hope you figure things out. In any case, questioning is good, and anyone who tells you not to doubt or question *this or that* is not committed to knowing the truth about anything or allowing you to be a healthy man.

Eugene said...

Natasa and Topher,

Thanks for stopping by.

As far as the church goes, I should add that most Christian leaders would allow a certain amount of room for doubt - they just have a fairly short list of things that it's okay to question.

**** said...

I'm a Christian, but I've been trying to persuade people for the longest time that Christ never actually set up a religion and therefore there shouldn't be any rigid regulations on what people want to believe and how they want to live their lives. (Fortunately we are given at least a few guidelines, which I mention below) The religion we know of as "Christianity" nowadays didn't really exist until a few centuries after Christ's death and ressurection.

It's quite obvious to me that if God is indeed love, and the only two commandments we must follow are to love God and to love our neighbors, then it doesn't really matter what other doctrines you choose to buy into or not.

Usually at this point the listener tells me that if a person doesn't "accept" Christ, then they will go to hell. However, one can hardly argue (logically) that we must have faith in a specific god or savior, seeing as how now religion in existence claims a god that is knowable anyway. That belief also doesn't account for the poor souls whom God apparently wants to force into hell anyway by choosing not to introduce them to his gospel.

I could talk about this forever, but I'm not going to. If anyone wants to discuss it further, just IM me or something. My contact info should be stored by blogger.