sent in by Jonathan
Well, after 19 years as a christian, I'm starting to take my baby steps into a brave new world.
I've spent my life going to church every Sunday. Since about the age of 12 I've been playing the piano in church, and in the last several years I've been actively leading the worship time. I have led youth bible studies in the past, and all in all been a pretty convicted believer.
However throughout my life I've struggled with issues of not being able to overcome "temptation" and "sin". I'm a pretty lazy person, to the point of being completely selfish in my behaviour and not considering the needs of others. No matter how hard I prayed for God to transform me through his Holy Spirit, I've never been able to overcome this personality trait.
I was married in December 2001 to a girl I met at Church. Our marriage has been a sad story, where basically I was such a slob, unable to get myself organised enough to contribute to the work needed in the upkeep of a home, that my wife ended up completely resenting me. We have a son who is about to turn 1 year old.
Well, as of new year's eve my wife and I are now separated. She got to the point where she was completely depressed, and had shut off from me emotionally. I kept trying to change, praying to God for help, but alas - no help from on high was forthcoming. We had sought counselling from a Christian counselling organisation - needless to say the counselling hasn't worked (although in fairness they were very professional and spiritual matters never entered into the counselling process - it was purely psychological).
The whole event has made me question my faith in a way I've never had to do before. I've suddenly realised the mind games that the church plays in order to keep you there. If you're going through tough times and there's no God up in heaven sending you a miracle, despite your constant prayers and faith, then the church has an answer for that. It's either "your faith wasn't strong enough" or "God is testing you - stand firm!". That logic is flawed. If God is such an all-powerful benevolent being, and if I'm one of his "lost sheep", then why isn't he coming to get me? Why isn't he rescuing me from my situation?
The other thing that happened recently is that my mother went through a pretty traumatic stroke. She's since lost the ability to speak properly. A part of her brain has died and it's unlikely she'll ever return to how she was before the stroke. My mother is a person who loved (and still loves) God dearly.
Of course, the other response is "God wants you to do things for yourself". Which is just another way of saying we need to get on with our lives as if God doesn't exist.
They throw the story of Job at you (which isn't even a historical event, just a story written by some Jewish scholars) to tell you "hey, if Job could go through all that and still believe in God then you can too!". It's all tricks and lies, mind games to make you stay.
It just makes infinitely more sense to conclude that the reason I've had no answer to my prayers is that there is nobody listening. It makes no sense to persevere in my faith. I might as well be talking to a wall.
I've come to a profound and life-changing realisation. This might seem a little odd to say, but I now know that I am my body.
I am my body.
What does this mean? I am not a soul hanging around in a piece of meat waiting to die so I can experience bliss. I am simply the piece of meat walking around. What I used to think of as a "soul" is just electrical activity in my brain. When a part of your brain dies (as happened to my mother), does that mean she's lost a part of her soul? No, but she has lost a part of herself. Why? Because she is her brain - she is her body. When we die, when that electrical activity in the brain ceases, our conscious self ceases to exist.
So I'm taking life by the horns and living this life now. No more "pie in the sky". I'm living for today. Nobody's going to fix my faults except for myself.
The hardest part will be telling my family. They are very very strong church-goers. I'm still a member of the church, and they're still expecting me to turn up this Sunday and lead the worship. I know that when I tell my dad of my decision, he will be absolutely heartbroken, and that will just kill me because I love my dad so much. I still don't know how to break it to him. The thought of his reaction is just too much to bear.
Became a Christian: 7
Ceased being a Christian: 26
Labels before: Baptist
Labels now: Agnostic
Why I joined: My Father was a pastor, bought the whole needing salvation story.
Why I left: Realised that the whole premise of Christianity is flawed, and without reason