Keep your questions inside the church

I woke up this morning with the following memory in my head.

I was 21 years old. And I’d posted a question to Facebook:

What do you think: should women be allowed to teach men? Or should they just be allowed to teach kids and other women?

I posted it because it was taught in my church that women were under the authority of men. This meant (among other things) that women couldn’t teach men or instruct men in any way.

At the time, just about everyone I saw on a regular basis held that belief, but it just didn’t seem right to me. So I wanted to see how that idea landed with people in my network who might have different thoughts.

This got me in trouble with one of the church elders — someone I trusted and respected. The next day, he asked me to talk with him in private. He expressed severe disappointment in me for my post.

He told me he couldn’t believe I would go to people outside the church with a question like that. That of course they wouldn’t understand, because they didn’t believe the Bible.

He said that if I had questions, I needed to talk to someone within the church. He told me I was being unfaithful and should take the post down.

I walked away feeling dirty for even questioning the belief. I took the post down. For a while after that, I asked my questions in hiding, as though I were doing something wrong.

Remembering this now, it’s clear that his disappointment wasn’t what it seemed. Supposedly, he was helping me grow. And while he may have had the best of intentions, something much uglier was really behind this interaction—whether he realized it consciously or not.

He was threatened.

He was threatened by the idea that I might learn something that he hadn’t already approved of.

He was threatened because I was looking for answers, and deep down, he knew there were better answers out there than the ones he had to offer.

He had power that he wanted to keep, and questions could take it away.

Questions are only dangerous to people who have unjust power.

Questions are good for everyone else.

I wish I had understood then that if someone is trying to stop you from asking questions, it’s because they have something to hide.

Looking back, I’m proud that I asked that question. It needed to be asked. There was, and still is, a lot of oppression going on—and questioning whether the status quo is really right is one of the main things that can stop that oppression.

Searching for better answers is a subversive act.

The world needs your questions. Keep asking them.

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