I recently launched a discussion forum on the “Let’s Talk” tab of this blog. The most recent discussion, on Christians and Cussing [this discussion has been removed], triggered surprise (perhaps dismay?) from people who know me in person. They want to know why I would ask a question like that, one in which the answer is obvious.
What Am I Thinking?
I have many reasons to ask a given question. Of course, not all of these are in play each time I ask.
Because other people may be afraid to ask it.
I am not afraid to speak up and ask questions (just ask anyone who took classes with me in college… or anyone who sits in studies with me now). I figure, if the question occurred to me, it has occurred to someone else, too. So why not give it a voice? So I look like a fool. It won’t be the first time, and it won’t be the last.
I see asking questions as my spiritual gift. It’s my specialty, my ministry.
Because someone else might not know the answer.
Reading people’s opinions can help inform their final conclusion. People who read this blog, sit in classes, or attend studies with me come from all walks of life, all backgrounds, all faiths. We must not assume everyone is the same, knows the same, believes the same.
I do this a lot in my job — what may be obvious to me and the parents who use our children’s hospital is NOT obvious to the employees there because they experience the hospital completely differently. So we ask obvious questions to the parents so that the employees can hear the answers for themselves.
Because I don’t know the answer.
(Even if I’m supposed to know). Hey, whaddya know? I don’t know everything.
An example… in the Christians and Cussing discussion, Todd explained that taking God’s name in vain isn’t about saying “God” in a string of words that includes “Oh my.”
The command “do not take the Lord’s name in vain” refers to people who use God’s reputation to back up their own. people do this all of the time. “In God’s name, I command you to…” or “God would want you to…” or “God told me that…” when the things have absolutely nothing to do with God.
Had that ever occurred to you? It hadn’t to me. I learned something.
Because I don’t know why the answer I know is a good answer.
Hearing others explain their thinking really helps me understand and embrace for myself. Paul wrote in Romans 14, that we need to understand why we do what we do.
Who are you to condemn someone else’s servants? They are responsible to the Lord, so let him judge whether they are right or wrong. And with the Lord’s help, they will do what is right and will receive his approval. In the same way, some think one day is more holy than another day, while others think every day is alike. You should each be fully convinced that whichever day you choose is acceptable.
Fully convinced. That requires understanding why. Asking questions. Getting at the root of something.
Because some questions have more than one valid answer.
Whether a given questions does have multiple answers is up for (sometimes heated) debate, but the fact is that some questions have no single correct answer. In order to be fully-convinced, I need to know all the possibilities, and the pros and cons of each. For example, I may be evaluating a decision about child birth or feeding a baby (both hot topics among women), and I want to know all the ins and outs of the various options.
Because other people may have *gasp* a different answer than I do.
By listening to them, I learn more about the issue. I learn more about how other people think. God made variety, and it’s beautiful. Let’s celebrate it, instead of being threatened by it.
Because I might be wrong. *gasp*
How many times have you learned something that changed your mind about an issue? If that has never happened to you, then you aren’t teachable. When I hear the reason for a new rule at work that I think is idiotic, I change my mind. By asking questions and listening to intelligent and thoughtful responses, I might learn something that changes the way I see or understand something.
What about you?
Do you think asking questions is healthy or harmful? Why?
What questions do you wish you could ask? (Feel free to post anonymously or email me if you prefer.) I would consider it a privilege to ask them for you.
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