Bertrand Russell once said that one should entertain their opinions with a measure of doubt. Ronald Reagan observed that you should trust, but verify. One should not just accept what they hear as truth without first examining it’s validity, and one will not do that unless you skepticize the validity of what one hears.

Proverbs 18:13 teaches us that if you give an answer before you hear it, it is a folly and a shame. In other words, if you only hear part of the story, you do not have the authority to give voice to an incomplete opinion.

You may have heard it said or have seen the bumper sticker slogan: “question authority,” or “question everything.” There is wisdom in this rebellious mantra. It is a good thing to skepticize, for if you do not think past the sound bites to what you are told to believe, or being asked to stand for, you will not know how to defend your position, or question what you are being taught.

People of today’s culture are shallow thinkers, often emoting instead of engaging their intellect to reason through the facts. Skepticism, it would seem, is a sign of weakness, a lack of self confidence, proof that you are in the wrong. Yet, second guessing yourself is a way of making certain you are, in fact, in the right.

Consider a pro-choice individual. She has been taught since early childhood that abortion—the intentional slaughter of a pre-born child—is a “right” for women, a right which if taken away would result in thousands of her sex dying in the streets. She has been taught that the opposition are sexists because of that fact. The claim that thousands of her sisters would perish in unimaginable agony if they could not kill their babies does not seem an absurd fact to her, she does not second guess the logic thrust upon her, and she accepts the fact that millions of “anti-women, anti-abortionists” are all sexist without batting an eye.

However, if she just took a moment to examine what she had been taught, if she took a moment to doubt the views she is being asked to believe, she would find that abortion in fact is harming women like her, increasing breast cancer risks and fostering depression in half it’s “patients” on top of the horrific fact that abortion dismembers an innocent little human life. If she just second guesses the monumental accusation that half of America is sexist, she would find that the “anti-abortion” movement is one of compassion for her sex and for the life in the womb. She would discover crisis pregnancy centers that stand by the mother through thick and thin instead of dumping her off on the curbside after her “right to choose” was completed. Skepticism, doubting what you have been asked to believe, is the first step to discovering the truth, and is thus a solid, useful feeling to have.

When what you believe is challenged, doubt also is a key figure. For example, suppose you were brought up in a Christian family. You attend  church every Sunday, you have prayer meetings at your house on Wednesdays, and you have seen the film “God’s Not Dead” at least twice. Your faith is all sunshine and rainbows, everyone you know has a fish symbol on the back of their 12 passenger van, and you get a warm, fuzzy feeling inside every time “10,000 Reasons” comes on the radio.

One day you are at the doctor’s office in the waiting room, patiently waiting for your monthly checkup when out of the blue a gnarly voice asks: “So, you’re one of those Bible thumping Jesus freaks huh?” Glancing around in surprise, you reply you are not a freak, but yes, you are a Christian, and how did they guess?

The stranger points to your shirt which you unconsciously pulled on that morning. “God is good” is cheerfully printed on the front of your chest along with a handful of hearts and smiley faces. You look back up at the skeptical stranger sitting across from you to see him leaning forward, his bitter face twisted in a menacing frown.

“Let me ask you something,” he growls, “if God is so good, why do children get cancer?”

The question rocks you to your core. As the sour laugh of your gruff accuser fades away as he walks down the hall, you repeat his question to yourself. Why does God allow children to get sick if He’s good? Your faith is shaken and your rainbow turns into a storm cloud of doubt as you drive home. The wheels of your brain begin turning for the first time in your life, and when you return home, you begin to search for answers as you have never done before.

Doubting your beliefs as a Christian helps you grow closer in your relationship to God, as your search for answers in His word and ask His shepards for guidance.

Doubting oneself or what one’s been taught is a crucial element in growing as a human and growing in your relationship with our Maker, the One who gave us the ability to reason; be skeptical; to doubt. So, next time you have that feeling of “are you sure this is what you want to do?” coming over you, don’t feel like you are a weak individual who can’t “believe in yourself.” Instead, stop what you’re doing and ask yourself why you are doubting your decision, or what you’ve been told. You may find out that little gnawing feeling in the back of your brain was justified after all.

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