Monday, November 09, 2009

Deeply Rooted

The vast majority of Christians never have to think deeply about their faith or what it is based on. They are immediately accepted in any church they choose to wander into on any given Sunday. If they are heterosexual or from a respectable family or social class, our society ordinarily assumes them to be "good Christians." They easily accept the tenets of the faith, teach them to their Sunday school classes, listen to the preacher repeat them, and go about their lives believing them without question. They don't have to question any of these beliefs because nothing in their experience challenges those beliefs and everything outside of them affirms those beliefs.

The faith of GLBT people, by contrast, is constantly under assault. We are always questioning our beliefs and wondering whether we're being true to our experience of God or deluding ourselves. Our more conservative friends come down firmly on the side of delusion, but often their opinion is colored by their own unexamined faith - a faith that isn't used to being challenged. Instead of questioning their own faith, they question ours. They insist that their faith must be right and ours must be wrong - but this isn't necessarily true. An unexamined faith is not a bulletproof faith. A faith based on a "this is what we've always believed" mentality is not a faith that can withstand doubt. Instead, that kind of faith must insist on its own way - by discounting or demeaning any faith that disagrees.

Remember, if our faith is doubted or questioned by others, it has nothing to do with us or our faith. That's "their stuff." Our faith has challenged them in a way that is unfamiliar to them. They've never had to question their faith. They've never had to examine what they believe and why. The preacher said it's in the Bible, and they believe it. That settles it for them. The appearance of a GLBT person of faith presents a danger to their own faith, so they lash out at us, calling us names or condemning us to hell. Don't take it personally. It has nothing to do with you. It has everything to do with their faith and the shock of having their faith challenged.

The difference between a bulletproof faith and one that cannot handle a challenge is that a bulletproof faith embraces the doubt. It welcomes it, makes it at home, and begins to explore what this fresh doubt means and how it may change, improve, enhance, or have no effect whatsoever on faith. When we embrace doubt as an opportunity for growth and not as an enemy to our faith, we have the ability - and the humility - to say, "If new evidence ariese, my faith can adapt without being destroyed."

-Candace Chellew-Hodge, Bulletproof Faith (pgs. 137-138)

1 comment:

Norm! said...

Thank you for sharing this. It is so true.

I have often wondered if I wasn't gay, would I have ever had the motivation to honestly doubt and question the comfortable conservative Christian life I was raised into.

It is unfortunate that many conservative Christians seem to discourage honest doubt and encourage dishonest dogmatism.