Thinking Christian

Thinking Christianity for church, home, and community

Respecting the Questions

Posted on Apr 17, 2013 by Tom Gilson

Question Mark“Tell me again what you meant by that, when you said something about ‘respecting the questions’?” 

I was talking with someone over breakfast recently — I can’t be more specific than that, since there were others involved — and he was telling me about a family that had shut down their teenaged son’s question about Christian behavior. I answered, “parents need to learn how to respect their kids’ questions.”

When he asked me to explain, I said, “I’ve heard some genuine horror stories about people jumping ship from Christianity because their churches or families wouldn’t let them ask questions. It’s damaging. We need to learn to listen. We need to recognize that Christianity is full of questions.

“It’s a mutual respect thing, of course. When I respect my children enough to really listen to their questions, I’m counting on them respecting me in the way we talk about it. And I want to make sure I’m equipped well enough to show them where there are answers — because we do have answers. I just don’t think it’s wise to jump too quickly to those answers, until the time is right.”

Christian leaders, parents included, suffer from a hurry-up-and-answer syndrome. This blog is about giving answers. Of course I’m not trying to time those answers for the key learning moment in my relationship with a person I love and live with, so I think that’s okay. These posts are here for when someone needs them, perhaps.

I look at Jesus, though, in the way he dealt with people. If I think I have some answers, I certainly don’t have any like he did! But if you look through the first seven or so chapters of the book of John, you’ll find he didn’t jump straight to answers very often. That example ought to give hope to people who have questions. It’s okay to have questions. It’s good to have answers, too! It’s a matter of being ready with the right word at the right time.

I’m kicking off a new blog section today, especially for students. I’ll be writing lots of answers to questions I think might come up where you live. I want to ask you to feed me questions, and to let me know how I’m doing with respecting them.

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