Saturday, January 11, 2014

Questions and Questions

I was talking with some guys today about Judges 13, the chapter where Samson's parents get the message from the angel that they are going to have a baby. It was interesting that the general consensus among the guys present was that the angel came to the wife first because she was more willing to trust, rather like Hannah, Elizabeth and Mary (although not like Sarah.) One guy even said that God might find it easier to work through women because they don't question as much.

Now to me, perhaps because I am a natural born questioner, that raises the question of what the purpose of the men is, then. Throughout the Church there seems to be this assumption that women are "more spiritual" and somehow more naturally "religious" than men, and that this somehow accounts for, or even excuses, the fact that most of the Catechism teachers, parish staff and pre-daily-Mass Rosary sayers are women. There seems to be a hidden attitude that the spiritual, naturally religious women are going to put up with the coarser, more cynical, more "questioning" men and coax, nag and all but drag them into heaven.

So what is the point of men? If you grant that men are more likely to ask questions and be pigheaded (which I may or may not grant) then what is the purpose of that? It was not intended to be an obstacle, but rather an aid to doing God's will. No trait that exists in any gender, personality type, or individual was designed by God as an unfortunate byproduct, but rather as a glory and a stairway to heaven, if used correctly.

So for myself, it helps if I remember that there are two kinds of questioning that I typically engage in. I question either rhetorically, "What do you think you are doing?" or I question wonderingly, "What are you doing, Lord?" The first is a challenge. I am expecting God to justify Himself to me, explain His actions so that I may judge and approve or disapprove them. The second is a request for education. I want Him to enlighten my mind so that I understand His ways, so that my thoughts become more like His thoughts and my ways more like His ways.

That typically masculine curiosity, and the desire simply to know things for their own sake, to understand ways and means, is not a bad thing. It is a good thing, if the attitude is one of humility, acknowledging that there are limits to what we can understand. If the fundamental attitude is one of trust that God has a reason and that His ways are good, then all the questioning in the world can never harm us or prevent us from doing His will. It can only draw us closer to Him, make us better students, better friends, and better sons (and daughters) of Him who delights to teach. I believe that God will eventually answer all such questions, and I certainly believe He means us to ask them, and to keep asking and asking, so long as we leave room our minds for His answers, not for what we expect His answers to be.

In this sense, that questioning attitude is a means of emptying the mind to make it more capable of holding the Word that made the Universe. Never give up your questions, or the fundamental trust that leads you to ask them in the first place.

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