Is Questioning Your Religion Bad? Or Is It Healthy? {Bias Day 12}
—Grace & Truth Linkup

Is it okay to question our religion?

For many of us, our religious beliefs are sacred. Whether we’ve held them a long time or are new to the faith, we orient our lives around what we believe about God.

This famous quote by A. W. Tozer is meaningful to us:

“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”

But does that mean we never have doubts? That we should never question what we believe? That we think we’re incapable of blindspots?

Bias and Religion

Overcoming Our Biases in Religion

Let’s apply the four biases from earlier this week to our religion. Questioning our religion isn’t a bad thing, in fact, it can be a healthy way to keep our faith alive.

(1) But It’s Mine! Why We Can’t Let Go—Loss Aversion {Bias 8}

I grew up in a very conservative church. I held tightly to my rigid beliefs throughout my youth and teen years. But as a young adult, I began seeing scripture in a new light.

I had to face my LOSS AVERSION BIAS, my tendency to hold on to my old faith because it was *my* faith. I’d owned it for a long time.

But holding on to childish beliefs is unhealthy. We aren’t supposed to believe at 25 years old and 50 years old what we believed at 5 years old.

Truth doesn’t change, but our understanding of it should. We need to release immature beliefs when we discover more accurate truths.

(2) Are Taller People More Successful Than Shorter People? The Halo Effect {Bias 9}

If you’ve had a favorite pastor or teacher that you really admired, you understand the inclination to believe that if they’re right about one thing, surely they’re right about everything.

That’s the HALO EFFECT. It’s our tendency to make an overall judgment based on a single trait, such as if, our pastor is a skilled speaker, he also must be a godly husband and a knowledge biblical scholar.

But reality doesn’t work that way. All of us have flaws. And none of us should be judged by our best trait nor condemned by our worst trait.

With our religious beliefs, while we need to seek counsel with others, we still need to look beyond the pastor, the author, the teacher, and dig out truths for ourselves.

Mom’s advice was right: Don’t judge a book by its cover.

(3) If You See Differently Than Your Group, Beware—Community Bias {Bias 10}

COMMUNITY BIAS is seeing only what our group wants us to see. But what if we start seeing differently?

This one can be painful.

Have you ever changed churches due to a church split or a difference in fundamental beliefs? If so, you know the agony it can cause. We don’t like leaving our groups, and especially not our spiritual families.

But questioning the beliefs and practices of any group is a positive step. We don’t need to blindly follow the crowd. And if we do find discrepancies, ideally we can work with the group to come back into harmony. 

Eliminate any hindrances to questioning your group’s beliefs. If the beliefs are true, they’ll hold up. But if they’re not? You need to know, so together you can change them.

Stay curious.

(4) I Knew It All Along—Hindsight Bias {Bias 11}

HINDSIGHT BIAS gets us into trouble when we become a Monday morning quarterback. We get judgmental about what happened, and wonder why nobody but us saw it coming.

Within our religious communities, we often blame someone’s downfall on the “slippery slope” we saw them on. We say they should have known better.

But in reality, we don’t know what they knew or didn’t know, and we’re in no position to judge.

Humility is key to fighting our bias to “correct” our memories after the fact. Remember, we’ve never been able to accurately predict the future, so we couldn’t have “known all along” what was going to happen.

Don’t be too hard on yourself when you lapse. And don’t be too judgmental about that church’s mishaps down the street that you knew was “wrong” all along. We all learn as we go and nobody gets it right all the time. 

If even Jesus doesn’t tell us “I told you so” (when he legitimately is entitled to), we shouldn’t say it to each other either.

Bottom line: Don’t be afraid to question your beliefs. God won’t be frightened by your questions. He already knows you have them anyway.

By remaining open to a clearer understanding of the truth, you can grow a stronger and more mature faith.

Featured Post

Theresa wrote a beautiful post that reminds us of our growth evidenced through re-reading books. If you’ve re-read a book as an adult that you once read as a child, you’ll discover that it’s quite different. Not because the words changed. But because your understanding of life changed.

With each re-reading, we see new things. It’s why we keep re-reading the Bible texts too. We learn something new each time.

Read all of Theresa’s post at her blog, theresaboedeker.com, then add your own links below.

Savoring Books: Why They Keep on Giving


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Do you ever question your religious beliefs? Please share in the comments.

You are on Day 12 of the series: “How to Uncover Hidden Biases.”

Uncover Hidden Biases

Previous: Hindsight Bias {Bias Day 11}
“I Knew It All Along! Really?”

Next: Bias Quotes {Bias Day 13}
“Don’t Be Afraid of the Light—5 Quotes”

9 thoughts on “Is Questioning Your Religion Bad? Or Is It Healthy? {Bias Day 12}
—Grace & Truth Linkup

  1. Kim

    Lisa, thank you again for hosting the link-up. I love what you said and agree completely, “Truth doesn’t change, but our understanding of it should. We need to release immature beliefs when we discover more accurate truths.” Examining/questioning our faith is a good thing. Healthy, even. It’s part of “working out our faith”. For me personally, I see my religion as a worldly “structure” in which to exercise my faith, while my faith is a very fluid, growing, active, led by the Holy Spirit way of living. Following Jesus is an adventure! Walls we construct through religion only hinders. Happy Valentine’s weekend!

  2. Barb Hegreberg

    I have at times questioned why our church did (or didn’t) do certain things. We are not called to blindly accept words from the pulpit or any other source but to test everything against The Holy Scriptures. If you earnestly seek answers, God will lead you to the truth.

  3. Laurie

    Your post made me think of this quote by Anne Lamott: “The opposite of faith is not doubt, but certainty. Certainty is missing the point entirely. Faith includes noticing the mess, the emptiness and discomfort, and letting it be there until some light returns”

  4. Pingback: God’s Character: Love and Equality – Embrace This Season

  5. Rebecca Hastings

    Point 3 (Bias 10) is exactly what I have walked through recently. It is so challenging. I keep seeking God and trusting Him to show me what I need to know. So often I would go to people in my “group” instead of to God. Yes, we need people, but our first step should always be God. I’m learning little by little!

  6. Theresa Boedeker

    Lisa, your Bias topic is so interesting. I read recently that God is love and love is never afraid of questions. Not being allowed to question is a lack of freedom and love cannot operate unless their is freedom. I may not be making much sense, but when I read it, it made sense. God welcomes our questioning and does not feel bad about our questioning him or his truth.

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