8/28/04                                                                                       View Comments

Life of a lie

sent in by CJ

I was brought up by my mother to go to church, and when to a Christian primary school, however I began questioning my faith as early as nine. At that time we learning about other religions and so I began wondering if my religion was the 'true' religion. I gave up questioning and on Christianity until I was 12 years old. At 12 I went to a Christian youth event. It was the first time I had enjoyed anything Christian based, and was amazed at how young people could be so passionate about God. This convicted me that it was true, and I felt overwhelmed with emotion (which at that time I concluded was the presence of God). I gave my heart to God that night.

At the age of 13 I was baptized, although the majority of people in my church disaproved and were rather unsupportive. At 14 I became a non-christian again as I got bullied at school, and didn't think my Christianity was helping the situation. I month later I felt empty, and knew that I wnted Jesus back in my life. I cried and cried out to God for forgiveness, but never felt forgiven. I prayed, and prayed, read my bible, listened to christian music, thought of God constantly, and still I felt that God had left me. That was until one of my youth leaders prayed for me to be filled with the spirit a year later, and I felt overwhelmed with emotion again, and later began to speak in tongues.

At the age of 15 I went to yet another youth event called Meltdown, which motivated me to get more active about my christianity and try to save all my non-christian friends from their fiery destiny. As a consequence I became the most scary fundamentilist Christian one could meet (at my age that is). All the Christian clubs which I partook in and organised exhausted me to the point of literaly almost fainting. My relationship with God was my priority so school work suffered! I spent as much time as possible evangilising to friends and even managed to convert a few. However as you could imagine it is great burden for any 16 year old to bear at the time of her Gcses, that her friends are all going to hell if she doesn't help them. I would sit in my room some nights just crying, because I so desperately didn't want them to go to hell. To make things worse my parents thought I was crazy and often expressed their concerns which made me feel like a retard. At this point in my life my brother and my best friend turned their backs on christianity. I felt like I had lost them both as I was so different to them now, and I also believed that if they didn't turn back they would be going to hell.

At 16 I began having serious doubts about my faith as my prayers were going constantly unanswered. I took the route of researching apologetics in a quest for answers, and I wanted somebody to confirm my strongly held beliefs. The answers were weak and pathetic, but I still tried to have faith and rebuked any doubts in the name of the devil. One day, during one of my attempts to convert a friend, they explained logically that they didn't believe because of the contradictions. I couldn't answer this persons questions, and that scared me. I thought, what contradictions? Then I searched bible contradictions on the net and found many! Some I could explain in context, but most of them were obvious contradictions which I knew I couldn't explain. I began reading essays by athiests, and they made alot of sense! I learnt about bible atrocities, and couldn't believe how a god of love, which I thought I was serving, could kill children, and babies. I began reading bits of the bible that I used to be afraid of, and thought were better to ignore when I was a Christian. I was appalled and confused by what I was reading. I soon became an athiest as I confronted my doubts (it was a gradual proggression).

I felt empty inside though, like a part of me had died, and i remembered a while back I had booked to go on a christian camp. I still went, with a small trace of hope that maybe I was wrong and that these people would show me I was wrong. The camp reminded me of what I used to have, but by then I had realised that what I used to have wasn't real! However my old christian friends talked to me about what had happened to me, and they got to me. They made me think and reconsider my posistion. On the wednesday night I made a commitment, but realised quickly that this was silly, and that the reason why I wasn't a Christian was because I knew logic dismissed it. Faith was ignorance, and I didn't want to be ignorant although it would be the most comfortable thing.

Much of the time I'm confused to what I believe. In my heart I want to be a Christian, but my brain won't let me be! The concept of death frightens me, and I feel like my life has no clear meaning now, and I miss believing in a God that I used to think loved me perfectly. Life goes on though, and one day I'm gong to have to come to that point again when I accept that Christianity just is not the truth!

Cjx
Sex: female
Country: England
Became a Christian: 12
Ceased being a Christian: 16
Labels before: Barton Baptist church,Living waters christian centre,Youth alive
Labels now: agnostic
Why I joined: I saw young people all passionate about it,so thought it must be true and I was depressed so the message of the cross appealed.
Why I left: Christianity drained me emotionally, and I learned to appreciate logic and reason over faith.

8/12/04                                                                                       View Comments

The Truth Is Forbidden

sent in by Dan Lovette (ForbiddenTruth)

"For we were little Christian children and early learned the value of forbidden fruit."
- Mark Twain

For some reason, the above quote really resonates with me. Growing up in a strict homeschooling Christian household with church as my main -- woefully inadequate -- social outlet, I always liked the forbidden things more than those that were officially endorsed. So clearly, I differ with American Christianity as to what is really important in life. Why does God want us bowing to, praying to, and worshipping him all the time? Wouldn't he rather have us enjoy the world he created for us, and enjoy our fellow human beings? To be hyper-religious is to miss the point of life. I believe religion should make our lives better; to spend a life in service of religion makes no sense to me, and could never make me happy.

However, I understand that many people have powerful religious experiences, and their religion really does make them happy, and gives them a structure of meaning for their life. That's fine with me; however I'm sure I'm not alone in failing to find satisfaction in religion. I could never find meaning or fulfillment for my life in seeking to connect with God. I must look to the wider sphere of life and simply content myself with it, rather than with some great love for Christ, as the church would have us do. I love people and I love this beautiful planet, and that is where my love has been shifting to for some time.

I became a humanist around ten years ago; before that I was suicidal. Yes, that's right, a ten-year-old suicider. I never actually attempted suicide, but I thought and talked about it. From the Christian beliefs about heaven and hell, I concluded it would be better to die and go to heaven that to live in this fallen world, and I sincerely wanted to die. When I learned that most people are going to hell no matter what I do, I concluded that life was pointless. That sense of pointlessness has stayed with me ever since. So you see how Christianity could never be a source of meaning for me; in fact it drained meaning from my concept of life! But I grew from that initial utter pointlessness and discovered that I had a deep love for people and nature. I wanted the best for all people, regardless of whether God agreed with me. And as soon as I learned of the term humanist, I knew that it described me.

The Christian faith is so narrow, and it asks us to live narrow lives. But life isn't narrow to me, it's broad and full of good things to enjoy. Why would God create such a broad world and give us broad minds if he really wanted us to live narrow lives?

How does the Bible teach a narrow view of life? Very briefly: In I John (e.g. 2:15), we're taught not to love the world. And we all know Jesus said to love God with everything you've got. I was never to clear on how we're supposed to "love" God... until I discovered that it's explained in John 14:15, "If you love me, you will keep my commandments." Anyway, to repeat, the Bible says: don't love the world, love God, and the way to love God by keeping his commandments. That's it. That's the main Christian structure of meaning for life. Seem a little narrow to you? Yeah, thought so. Like I said before, I always felt like all the other stuff that the Bible doesn't mention is much more fulfilling.

(Side note: I know Jesus said we're supposed to love our fellow men too. But how does the Bible say we should do this? I was always taught that it was by a) sharing the Gospel with them, and b) giving money to the poor. But who is going to spend their whole lives doing those two things? And does that mean everything else I do isn't meaningful? If my life is to be totally given to God, sold out for him, how can I find meaning for my life in things he doesn't prescribe?)

I just want to be honest here, and I hope my honesty isn't too stark, or the account too melodramatic. But then again that's just the way I talk about things that I care about. I share the story of my “spiritual journey” below, but I can summarize it right here. I chafed against my religion for so long that finally my faith died a natural death. I left Christianity, not out of rebellion against God, but because my faith simply died.

I have believed in Jesus for most of my life thus far, but I've never really had anything that I could honestly call a spiritual life. When I tried to pray, I usually felt like I was talking to the ceiling, but I perservered in my faith anyway in order to avoid hell. You see, I had a strong fear of hell taught to me from a young age. This fear dug in, and when I was eight I prayed to be saved so I wouldn't go to hell. Thirteen years later, I was still a Christian mainly because I still had that same fear. I tried to convince myself that I believed because I loved God, but it was really because I feared him. I knew that I had to love him to be saved from eternal fire, so I lied to myself and kept trying to get that love to sprout in my heart, but it never did! I was also living in sin, a rather mild one, but habitual, for the last say, six years. Thus I had constant guilt also doing a number on my mind. Joy of life? Peace? Yeah, right! How about a steamy dish of soul-sucking depression, served up on a near-daily basis? Over the last few years my Christian faith gradually became a prison to me, from which I longed to escape to the wider world and live by my own moral standards.

I knew that I had no real intellectual basis for believing, only this irrational fear of hell. Thus, for fear of derailing my faith I refused to take any religion or philosophy courses in college. However, in one of my low moments I did manage to go to the URL LosingMyReligion.com, because that was how I felt at the time. What I found there were not arguments against the truth of the Christian faith per se, but objections to the content of Christian doctrines. Many topics were covered, including church doctrine on homosexuality. I already felt for the plight of the many poor souls born gay and denied by St. Paul the right to romantic love, but the site helped to highlight the issue as one of the biggest weaknesses of today's church.

There were other objections that hit the mark as well, but the one that really struck to the heart of me was their position on hell. The doctrine of hell says that God will torture billions of people for eternity, but when you see it from God's point of view, you'll see that it's actually a GOOD thing. Their objection went something like,

"I could never see that as a good thing, no matter who's perspective I'm looking through, and no matter how nice of an afterlife I might get. If something is fundamentally wrong, it's wrong no matter who does it, deity or not. Don't let Christianity dictate to you that "God is good because God is good because the Bible said so, and the Bible is God's word because the Bible says so." If the God described in the Bible is not good, then he's not good, even if he did create everything. We can't give up our right to judge whether God is good! If we did, how would we know if we were serving an evil god? He could do anything he wanted, and we would still believe it was good, just because he said so."

I'll continue the argument myself: How could God do anything worse than hell? Reformed Christian doctrine states that everyone's going to hell unless God picks them to be saved. I cannot think of anything more evil than inflicting eternal punishment on someone who had no opportunity to avoid it. That, my friends, is the face of evil, I firmly believe it. But they didn't take the argument that far, and back then neither did I. Instead, I kept my objections at bay with wishful thinking, saying that surely God must give everyone a choice. (Which makes no sense anyway; if God really gave everyone a choice of whether to go to hell or not, everyone would be Christians! You'd have to be crazy to actually choose to go to hell!) Regardless, my mind had been freed just enough that I could now objectively judge whether God was good. Part of the control that Christianity had over my mind had been broken.

Years later, this spring I came to the beginning of the end of my faith; I just didn't know it yet. It started when I realized that God had promised to deliver me from my sin, but he never had! It had been my responsibility all along, when all the while it was supposed to be him transforming me! But of course if I did get better, he would get all the credit. What about when I got worse? All my fault! You never saw him lift a finger to help me then, no matter how hard I prayed! I concluded that I should no longer look to God to help me solve my problems; I would have to do it myself. I was fully aware that this course of action is implicitly forbidden to all Christians, but I had to do it. The old path had led me nowhere, so I had to see where this new path would lead!

Unfortunately, as I walked along this new path the sin still didn't get better; in fact it got worse. But instead of retracing my steps, I realized that personally I didn't care whether I did this sin or not. It wasn't hurting me or anyone else, being a sin of the mind. It was, and still is, a natural part of who I am, just like homosexuality is for those gays the church is always yammering on about. I had no choice in the way I was made up, that was God's problem. I began to accept myself for who I was, taking another turn away from the Christian path.

Finally, after beginning to taking responsibility for my life and accept myself, one night the last remnants of my fear of hell unexpectedly crumbled away, leaving me free from my religious prison. It was the most beautiful feeling I had felt in years. I remember thinking, “It's over. At long last, I'm out of my prison!Finally, I have the freedom I craved! I can start a new life, one that's completely my own!”

My evolution was real, but after one short week my resolve faded away and I sought comfort in my old beliefs, unable to cope with the possibility of an angry God. But after weeks of struggling, I realized it could never work for me. The irrational fear had died, and the possibility of that angry God awaiting me was very remote, enough so that it could be dismissed. Thus I left for good about five weeks after my first exodus. It still feels amazing to write those words. The thrill of true freedom is still real. Freedom of the mind, freedom of actions, and best of all, freedom from telling myself and others that I love an evil God.



Sex: Male
URL: http://www.xanga.com/socalrox
City: Rochester
State: NY
Country: USA
Became a Christian: 8
Ceased being a Christian: 21
Labels before: Reformed, Fundamentalist
Labels now: Atheist
Why I joined: Fear of hell
Why I left: God was evil but he expected me to be perfect
Email Address: dan_lovette at hotmail.com

8/10/04                                                                                       View Comments

Still struggling

sent in by Lynne Fisher

Hi,

I am so glad to have found this site. I enjoy reading the postings. In my mind, I have dropped Christianity completely, and for good. The problem is I think it is ingrained in my personality. (Just for the record, I do see a shrink). My boss referred to me as "her holiness," and I am frequently told I am "too good" or "too Catholic." I'm afraid that religion made me feel I was morally superior, and therefore did not have to deal with social uneasiness. Again, I have rejected Christianity, but am having problems relating to people. I still am a kind person, I believe, but am very rigid. Any advice on what to do? I realize that psychology and religion overlap here. Any advice would be much appreciated. I guess you could say Christianity really fucked me up, hopefully not for good!

Lynne

City: Rochester
State: NY
Country: United States
Became a Christian: 5
Ceased being a Christian: 26
Labels before: Catholic
Labels now: Agnostic
Why I joined: yearning for goodness
Why I left: clinical depression

8/1/04                                                                                       View Comments

When you find youself in a hole, stop digging

sent in by Willem Kortekaas

My Testimony to Ex-testimony (the encapsulated version)

To begin, I wasn’t always a Christian. I do not come from a Christian family. The only contact I had with any religion or interpretation of life to begin with was what our state school called “Religious Education”. It was far more like Christian Education.

Anyhow, So I got through primary school relatively sound. Yet for a higher education my parents decided to send me to a Private School, and where I lived only had religious private schools. Turns out I had to go to a school called Nambour Christian Collage (NCC).

High school – grade 8 school camp. My first encounter with ‘sin’. During out camp, (which seemed like an excuse to have us in a church for a week) they preached to us about sin, what it is, we all had it and to make it worse, if we didn’t have Jesus we’d burn in the next life.

I was introduced to many concepts at this time. Sin, God, Hell & Heaven and Eternity. To make me swallow this pill, they used the fear of hell. So at the end of a particular service they got those of us who were duped to stay behind and chant the sinners prayer. Felt good at the time, escaped a painful never-ending end. Also found some of my friends made he same decisions and got to meet some more people.

For the next two years I kept this faith under wraps, at school the pastor would hold bible studies with the few of us that would go. I would read it, not understand it and the pastor would interpret it.. their way.

I first started going to church around 3 years after this conversion. I went with a friend and his huge Baptist family to a evangelical Baptist Church. I started playing in their church.

The church started to claim that because witchcraft had been practiced in the car park one night that they need to move and began asking the congregation to part with large sums of money. The typical unnecessary church building fund. I soon left their and went to another Baptist church (Nambour Baptist Church), made friends and soon became their technical productions person and ran the sound. This church was I thought was good and soon became one of the leaders of the youth group, started teaching Sunday school and began planing and running Christian events.

Today I know I did all these things to try and subdue the questions in my mind. Not only would I read the bible, but I would always be reading Christian Science books and apologetics. For a time, this worked. I had a Christian girlfriend and walked the strait and narrow. Yet still trying to discover myself, what did I like. Who am I? Why am I here? – the Christian answers never contented me and that’s why I was so active, I thought I could find the answers in God and would do his will.

My relationship with my parents degraded because of the void between us. My relationship with my girlfriend also suffered and we were miserable together (quite often anyway). We were together because we thought we’d gone too far together, not sex if any of you are wondering yet we were taught it was wrong.

Christianity, a dieing relationship and overworked in the church was sucking the life out of me. Not only me but my girl as well. So we elected to do what every god fearing Christian would do. Dig deeper. We became involved in more Christian missions as a couple and lit ourselves alight for Jesus. Soon we moved to a fundamentalist evangelical church called ‘Harvest’. This church was all music bells and whistles.

Soon after being there our relationship finally dissolved. First girlfriend, 18 month relationship. Hurt badly loosing that security. To make it worse, in around 2-3 weeks she started dating a friend of mine, and the ex-boyfriend of her sister. This was a shocker.

I dug even deeper into Christian life, yet this time I discovered a book on psychology. A book called “the road less travelled” by author Scott Peck. This book really hit my reasoning on my topics and caused me to think. I started to understand why I did the things I did. There was a section on religion in this book. I read it like the forbidden fruit. I read how religion had caused huge physiological problems in peoples lives. They’d healed only by leaving religion. My bible said those people had to go to hell, yet I could not justify that. This was the first chink in my Christian Armour tm.

With such doubt in my mind I began reading more Christian apologetics to try and find and reasonable answer to my moral question. Yet the books were so drab and dry compared to those free thinkers (btw: Scott Peck is no longer a free thinker, very fundamentalist Christian now). I found a book called Honest to Jesus written by the Jesus Seminars. This started me questioning the whole bible story. Everything I knew, my security blanket, everything I had believed. So I went through a period, a painful scary period where I would ask Christians, pastors and websites for answers to the dangerous questions I was asking. I was only ever mocked and told to hold on and that God will come through in the end.

That end came. Once I started reading through history from a secular point of view. I could not sit in church anymore. There was nothing there, I could finally see how hollow it all was. Nothing, at all. No good at all.

So there I was, alone, yet alive. It was like being born again, literally. I knew so vary little of the world. I began reading philosophy. My favourite book being “Sophie’s World” by Jostein Gaarder. This gave me a base, something I was use to. Yet I continued to read. Another great book by the same author is “The Solitaire Mystery”. This opened my mind to wonder and philosophise for myself.

My mind became free, I was suddenly in awe of life and was thrilled to be living it. I worked on my physical condition, becoming very fit, started doing things what were declared ‘evil’ by the church, such as practicing yoga and later on Tantra. Also, my results from study went through to distinctions. Reasoning was simple and I began to trust myself.

My friends are all still fundamentalist Christians, that is the curse of living in a place like Sunshine Coast, Australia, yet, thanks to my free ability to reason (bye bye faith) and the books I had read. I could survive the onslaught condemnation and resounds when someone vocal in a church leaves. (as Dave, the webmaster would know)

I’d like to end with an analogy.
Christianity is like being inside an egg, there is a world around you but you don’t know it. Also an egg is quite strong from the outside, yet from the inside it is weak. Sooner or later some of us hatch.

Thank you Dave for making this website and everyone who contributes! I’ve been visiting and reading the posts and archives for many months now. Thank you so very sincerely, you’ve saved us from being isolated. See you on the web boards soon!

Willem
On the outside, looking out


Sex: Male
City: Sunshine Coast
State: Queensland
Country: Australia
Became a Christian: Aprox 14
Ceased being a Christian: 19 years
Labels before: Baptist (probably non-denominational)
Labels now: Freethinker Humanist & Athiest in regards to Bible God
Why I joined: Fear and basic human instinct to save one's hide
Why I left: Knowledge (biblegod is so immoral)