Over the 60 or more years I have been in ministry, I have had various interesting questions asked of me as a pastor. Let me give you a sample of some of them, but first, a little bit about questions.
All questions are not the same. Usually, there is something behind the question and why it is asked. This has sometimes been called “the presenting problem.” In other words, the question presented is not the real issue; there is another issue behind the question.
Then there are what you might call “gotcha questions.” In other words, some questions are asked, seeking to trap the other person by their response. This often happens in political situations, such as press conferences.
There are, of course, questions that come from a genuine desire for knowledge and truth. They, too, reveal what is in a person’s heart.
JESUS & QUESTIONS
As a public figure, Jesus received many questions. Think about some of them. He received “gotcha questions” such as “Should we pay taxes to Ceasar?” (Luke 20:22) or “Who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29). However, he also received genuine questions from earnest seekers like Nicodemus when he came to Jesus in the night (John 3:1-21).
Let’s look at some of the questions I have received over the years.
DID ADAM HAVE A BELLY BUTTON?
In New South Wales, Australia, in the 1960s, every church was given one period a week in the local schools to answer for religious instruction for students of their denomination. As a Methodist minister at the time, my senior pastor gave me the task of teaching these classes (You know the old saying, “Ashes to ashes and dust to dust what the pastor won’t do the assistant must”). So, I often taught classes of students from kindergarten to high school.
The high school class was always challenging. It was a class that didn’t count towards their grades, so the difficulty was to maintain order in the classroom. You needed to make the lessons engaging, so sometimes I opened it up to a question time. One student attempted to trip me up with the question: “Did Adam have a belly button?” The answer I gave was, “No, probably not.” The reason being, Adam was created by God and not as a result of the sexual union of man and woman. Hence, he would not have a belly button. Obviously, the student was trying to trick me, but this time, he failed.
CAN A CHRISTIAN MAN LUST FOR HIS WIFE?
This question came out of a men’s group and was a sincere question from a Christian man. It is clear from scripture that a man should not lust for a woman. Even the ten commandments make it clear, “You shall not covet…” your neighbor’s wife.
Jesus himself had some strong words to say about this in Matthew 5:27 – 28 (NIV), “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
This passage obviously refers to looking upon a woman who is not his wife. Is it right to lust after your wife? My answer was, “Lust takes, love gives. Lust is selfish, love is selfless.” In the Greek language of Biblical times, there were many words for “love” that differentiated between different kinds of love. Sexual love (Eros) was one of them. It is not wrong for a man to have strong sexual feelings for his wife, but she does not just exist to meet his sexual needs. She is his wife and needs to be loved “as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25, NIV). Remember, “Lust takes but love gives.” Love always trumps lust.
CAN I PLAN MY FUNERAL?
I will never forget stepping into the apartment of a lady from our church who was seriously ill and was dying from a medical point of view. Almost immediately, she asked me the question, “Can I plan my own funeral?” She had previously belonged to another church across town that had a strong faith emphasis. Some of her friends from that church came to see her regularly and were believing for a healing miracle that was not happening.
The question came about because of the tension we often face between the real and the ideal. Ideally, we believe what the Bible says, “By His stripes we are healed.” However, we are also faced with reality when no amount of faith or prayer seems to bring results and the fact that some heroes of the faith still suffered and died (See Hebrews 11:30-40).
I sought to calm her fears by saying that she could do both. She could still keep believing for a miracle, but if that was not to happen, she could give some thought to her funeral service and what she would like. She died in faith, and strangely enough, her husband, who later remarried, asked me to be his best man at the wedding.
DOES OUR CHURCH HAVE A POLICY ON ORAL SEX?
A lady from our congregation made an appointment to see me. Soon after she sat down on the other side of my desk, she asked me a question I was not expecting, “Does our church have a policy on oral sex?” Notice that she did not ask, “What does the Bible teach about oral sex?” or “What do Christian teachers teach about oral sex?” Rather, she asked about the church’s policy. Note – this came before Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, and people did not talk about oral sex then.
Now, the church does not have a policy, a set of laws, so to speak, regarding this or other matters of this kind. In actual fact, the Bible only forbids a few things. See Leviticus 18.
- Incest with members of your family (Leviticus 18:6-18).
- Homosexuality (Leviticus 18:22, Romans 1).
- Bestiality – Sexual activity with an animal (Leviticus 18:23).
- Sexual conduct outside of marriage (Exodus 20).
So, what are Christian couples to do? Two things to be considered here if no clear scriptural word exists.
- Be led by the Holy Spirit.
- Be led by mutual agreement.
The lady who asked the questions obviously had a husband who wanted oral sex, and she did not. Thus, they were not in agreement.
Over the years, I noticed that different couples made different decisions in the matter. Let me give some examples. A man was told by the priest who married them that they were free to do whatever came naturally to them as a married couple. So, they did. Another couple had been hippies and lived a wild life, but when they got married, they felt not to do all they did before they were married. Finally, while at a men’s meeting, a man told how his first wife had been open to anything anywhere and that it was not so with his second wife.
In 1 Corinthians 7, Paul gives some principles of marriage, including this verse, “Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control” (1 Corinthians 7:5, NKJV).
DO I HAVE TO SPEAK IN TOUNGES?
This is a question I had once asked myself, and it is often a question people ask when they are responding to a speaker presenting a message on the baptism in the Holy Spirit and are not sure they want the tounges part.
I sympathize with people who have this question. When I first became interested in receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit, I actually preferred not to receive tounges. I was prayed for by others for the baptism of the Holy Spirit three times, and it wasn’t until I came to the place of being willing to receive tounges that I had a breakthrough.
My answer as to whether or not you have to receive tounges is simple, “No.” God will not force you to receive the gift of tounges. However, like me, you probably need to come to a place where you are open to all that God offers, even tounges.
I am not going to get into the theology of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit or address the benefits that tounges can bring. I will leave that for another day. However, I want to make it clear that even though I was a reluctant starter in regard to tounges, I am fully convinced about the biblical basis for it all and the benefits of this gift.
That was just a sample, but questions are important, as they are one of the major ways we grow – by asking questions.
- Ask questions of God, just like people asked Jesus questions when he was here on Earth.
- Ask questions of others, especially Christians you respect and look up to, hopefully, your pastor.
- Ask questions of yourself and seek to understand yourself more fully.
Never give up on asking questions! God bless you as you do.