It is my personality to question everything. I question authority. I question why things are the way they are. I question tradition. I also have lots of gospel questions. I have wondered since mothers play such an important role in our early lives, why we do not talk about our Heavenly Mother? Is there polygamy in heaven? Do we still have to work towards perfection in Heaven or do we become perfect at the resurrection? Who tempted Satan?
When we were first married, all of my questions about the gospel worried my wife. She worried that with all of my questions about the gospel, I would begin questioning my testimony and would fall away from the church. While I understand the concern, nothing could be farther from the truth.
I like how Albert Einstein explains it:
As we grow in our testimony and understanding of the gospel, the circumference (i.e. the amount) of questions we have also increase. Gospel questions are not a bad thing and can help us grow in our understanding. Just as Joseph Smith questioned the truth of other churches before getting an answer, we too can have gospel questions before getting an answer.
As we have questions about the gospel, it is important to understand the difference between questioning the gospel and having gospel questions.
Questioning the Gospel
Questioning the gospel refers to challenging, disputing, or picking something apart. When it comes to religion, the result of this approach is often not to find answers but rather to find fault and destroy confidence.
Having Gospel Questions
On the other hand, in religion, just as in science or anything else worth studying, it is absolutely essential to ask questions, even difficult ones. It’s the only way you’ll get answers. And answers mean greater knowledge and understanding—and in the case of religion, greater faith and spirituality.
Your attitude and motive in asking a question can make all the difference in where it will eventually lead you. For instance, if you’re studying the scriptures and come across a passage that seems to contradict a Church teaching or a scientific or historical fact, there’s a big difference between asking “How could the scriptures possibly be true if … ?” and asking “What’s the full context of this passage and what does it mean in light of … ?” The first question may lead you to a hastily drawn conclusion based on skepticism and doubt rather than actual knowledge or logic, whereas the second is more likely to lead you to greater insight and faith.
The difference between questioning and asking questions has to do with how and why you’re asking the questions, what you hope to gain from them, and where they’ll eventually lead you.
Don’t Judge Others’ with Questions
I have always been a little worried when I raise a question in Sunday school or Elder’s Quorum that the Relief Society president and the Elder’s quorum president will come visit me after church to make sure my testimony is doing okay. This has yet to happen, thank goodness, but the worry is still there. Rather than making people with questions feel like they cannot ask them without others judging their testimony, I like Elder Uchtdorf’s advice:
Some might say, “I just don’t fit in with you people in the Church.”
If you could see into our hearts, you would probably find that you fit in better than you suppose. You might be surprised to find that we have yearnings and struggles and hopes similar to yours. Your background or upbringing might seem different from what you perceive in many Latter-day Saints, but that could be a blessing. Brothers and sisters, dear friends, we need your unique talents and perspectives. The diversity of persons and peoples all around the globe is a strength of this Church.
Regardless of your circumstances, your personal history, or the strength of your testimony, there is room for you in this Church.
As each of us have gospel questions, let us embrace each other’s questions and help each other grow in our understanding of the gospel.