Why not both?
A few weeks ago, my nephew and I were playing a classic game of “Would you rather?” The premise is pretty simple. I would make up silly questions for him, with two different options. And he would have to choose between them—which would he rather have?
I’d ask something like, “Would you rather get to eat ice cream at every meal or have an endless supply of candy?” Joey would pause for a moment, give it some careful thought, and respond with, “Both!”
“No, no, no,” I told him. “You can’t say both! The rule of the game is you have to choose one or the other.”
So, I’d come up with the next question. “Would you rather be super fast or super strong?” … And, soon enough, the next response: “Both!”
Both options were just too great to turn down. It was hard for this five-year-old to decide. After all, wouldn’t it be fun to be fast AND strong? Why choose one, if you could have both!?
Sometimes I think we have a lot to learn from the youngest among us. It’s true, he wasn’t exactly playing the game as it was intended. The whole point is to wrestle with two equally great (or equally bad) possibilities and then make a choice.
But, especially when it comes to matters of faith, we sometimes create for ourselves a misleading narrative that we have to choose between two particular options.
I often have conversations with teenagers in confirmation who wrestle with how to reconcile science or understandings of evolution with the stories of Creation in Genesis. They ask something like, “How do I choose whether to believe in evolution or the Bible?” And my typical response is (in simplified form): “Why not both!?” Surely there are ways we can read the stories within scripture that help us understand God as a powerful Creator. But that doesn’t have to be at the expense of scientific understanding and facts. Both can be equally true.
Or I was talking recently with a high-schooler who said, “I believe in God but I have so many questions and doubts. I don’t know if I can call myself a Christian.” My response: “How about both!?” Nowhere in scripture does it say that you have to blindly believe everything without any shred of doubt. In fact, most of the gospels include the closest followers of Jesus asking questions, wondering aloud, and expressing their own, very real doubts. It’s quite possible to be both a Christian and have doubts.
Too often we’ve created a false dichotomy between life and faith. As though both don’t intersect with and shape the other. When we’re tempted to think we have to choose between our questions and our faith, maybe we simply need to say to ourselves, “Why not both?”