When ‘I Don’t Know’ Is a Good Answer and When It’s Not

Two Kinds

It’s vital that everyday Christians are speaking into nuanced cultural issues from a biblical perspective, but I think we need to understand there are two ways to say I don’t know. The first is a good I don’t know and I’ll give you an example of that from my life.

Confronting Christianity

Rebecca McLaughlin

Addressing 12 controversial issues about Christianity—the Bible’s teaching on gender and sexuality, the reality of heaven and hell, and more—this book shows how current psychological and scientific research actually aligns with teaching from the Bible.

A number of years ago when gay marriage was legalized in America, most of my friends were turning their Facebook profile pictures rainbow in celebration. I wrote a long Facebook post explaining why I was not doing that. It was not based on bigotry or lack of empathy, but on a profound belief that there was something more important than our own sexual fulfillment; that there was a love story in this world that was greater than any individual love story between two people.

I had thought long, hard, and deep about the question of same sex-marriage. Certainly that is not something that Christians can participate in. One of my friends asked a question in response that was about people on the transgender spectrum and people who are born intersex. In that moment, part of me wanted to give an answer. I had some instincts around those questions, but the reality was that I hadn’t done the research, I hadn’t done the thinking, I hadn’t had the conversations with real people with real issues, I hadn’t studied the Scriptures carefully enough on this issue.

So the most honest thing I could say was, “I don’t know.” I needed to research more on this and I needed to educate myself better before I could give an answer that was in any way helpful or meaningful. At that point in my life, this was a good I don’t know.

Each of us has a responsibility to grow in our understanding so that we can grow in our ability to help our friends and to help ourselves.

Inform Yourself for Good

If today, several years later, my friends continue to have that question and all I have to say is I don’t know, then I think I’ve been failing to love my friends. I think I’ve been lazy. I think I haven’t been looking for the resources that are out there to help me develop more of an understanding.

Do I have to have all the answers figured out? No. But each of us has a responsibility to grow in our understanding so that we can grow in our ability to help our friends and to help ourselves. It’s like saying Let’s leave giving to the millionaires. Until I have a certain amount of money, I’m not going to share.

We can’t have that mentality as Christians. We’re called to love God with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind, and all our strength. Part of how we love our neighbors is by loving them with our minds.

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