Allowed to Wrestle
Updated: Apr 29
I am not sure if it was normal or not. I grew up in a family surrounded by boys, so that probably has a lot to do with it. When my brother and I got together with our cousins, it didn't take long for the "RKOs" and the "5 Knuckle Shuffles" (wrestling moves) to follow. We had some beautiful tag team brawls in the loft at my grandparents house. These usually ended with one of the cousins getting hurt and we would get shut down for the day, but I don't ever remember our parents telling us we were not allowed to wrestle.
Those are some good memories. Another good memory is when I discovered that its okay to wrestle with my own beliefs. I think it was my senior year of high school when I discovered my first problem. I was reading my Bible in Genesis, and I hadn't gotten very far when I had a belief challenged. Now this belief wasn't challenged by a friend or a teacher, but it was the Text itself that was challenging my belief. See I had always believed that Adam and Eve were the first people created on Earth and all man-kind are descendants of them. I got to Chapter 4 and I read about their boys, Cain and Able. Now I was never good at math, but I can count to 4 at least. Then Cain murders Able and we are back down to 3 right? But this is where things got hairy for me. You see in v12 God tells Cain because of what he has done he is to be a fugitive and wanderer on the Earth. No issues yet, but in v14 Cain says that he is afraid that whoever finds him wandering around the earth is going to kill him. Did you catch it? Apparently there are others out there somewhere. We don't know where they came from and there is nothing in the text that leads us to an answer, but certain conclusions can be and should be drawn from this insight. I can't just ignore it.
The above is just a small, mostly insignificant, example of when I needed to wrestle a little bit with both my beliefs and with the text. I firmly believe that everything in the Scriptures are true, and if there is confusion, it stems from me and my own understanding. If we are careful readers of the scriptures this kind of exercise will happen often. I want to encourage all of my readers out there with this: It's okay, you're allowed to wrestle!
The simple truth is, understanding the nuances of the text can be quite challenging, but don't get discouraged, here are a few things that will aide you in your wrestling.
1. A tag team partner. Get you a buddy and discuss these challenges together. Community and diversity are a gift from God and we should be quick to use this gift when we are wrestling with our beliefs and understanding.
2. Growth will follow. All athletes know that when they put their bodies to the test, they come out stronger on the other side. This concept is especially true for those who wrestle. Wrestling takes and enormous amount of preparation, stamina, and focus, and at the conclusion growth is certain.
3. Humility is key. To allow ourselves to wrestle means accepting the fact that we might not have all the answers. We need to allow our assumptions to be challenged when the text demands it. We can no longer skip over difficult concepts or sweep passages under the rug. We must be willing to tackle each challenge head on, even if our assumptions or previous teachings are in danger.
4. You win every time you wrestle. Here's the rub, whether your previously held belief is upheld or not, you still come out of the wrestling match a winner. After careful study and investigation you will have a greater understanding of the question at hand. Isn't that the goal? To have a more complete knowledge of the text? Sounds like a win to me!
5. You're not the first person to wrestle these questions. There are some good strong thinkers out there who have come before us. Many of them have written a lot of words on their own belief wrestling. This is a good starting point, but don't let some one else's work be a substitute for your own. Use their work as an aide, not as the final word. Take their work into account, but draw your own conclusions.
I hope this article has been helpful. Are you wrestling with biblical questions? If so, what are they? Let me know in the comments!