In a recent class, one of the young people asked if it was OK to doubt aspects of religion. I was happy for this question, because I think others probably wonder the same thing but are afraid to ask.
I told the young lady it was absolutely OK—and normal even—to doubt, but that she also had to consider why she was having doubts about a particular issue. For instance, was the doubt due to struggling honestly with a question of faith, or was it a doubt because she didn’t understand exactly what or why the Church teaches what it does on a particular issue? Or was it more a matter of a personal disagreement and really wasn’t a question of doubt but of disliking a teaching?
I tried to emphasize that honest doubt and struggling with questions of faith are good things in that they show a desire for truth and to know more about the Catholic religion. God created us with brains and curiosity and wants us to use our minds and our inquisitiveness in all areas of our lives, which, of course, includes our faith. The Lord would welcome a conversation in which we bring to him our doubts, because it means we’re taking faith and religion seriously.
We might not get the answers right away or the answers we think we want to hear, but asking the questions deepens our relationship with the Lord just as it would in any human relationship. We learn more about the person we are in conversation with by asking questions, and bringing our doubts into the conversation is a show of trust. If we are to be friends with the Lord, we need not be afraid to ask whatever questions are on our hearts.
So I’m glad that young woman asked the question, and I pray that by acknowledging that doubts are normal that the young people in my group are more comfortable asking their own questions. For how else would any of us grow in faith and love of the Lord?
Have you ever had a young person ask about doubt? How did you respond?