I've talked a bit on this site about how it was difficult to leave Christianity. I did it this year, after it seemed not to provide answers to real life questions and closed me off to people and relationships and friends who didn't believe or think the way I did as a Christian.
The immediate feeling was relief -- this freedom from having to tell people how they should live; freedom from people telling me how I should live my life; freedom to build relationships based on friendship, common interests and intellectual connection. I also found that there is a moral basis to life -- to respecting others, to caring about people w/o Christianity. Surprise! I learned to respect other people's beliefs and religions.
The flip side was that I felt lost without God -- and I had tied the belief in God to Christianity so closely, it didn't seem like I could get back to believing in God w/o going back to Christianity -- and I sure didn't want to do that! But yes, I guess I really crave an ethical structure -- not to tell me what to do (that's in my heart) but to give me meaning. I don't want to neglect or ignore the spiritual part of life. I want to have ritual and something that connects me to the world in some deeper way.
Maybe this is an artificial thing or a sign of weakness, but it is something that I've missed. Also, a big issue that I had in my Christianity was the sexual one. I mean, I didn't have sex because I wanted to wait until marriage. But that just didn't fit with my age and what I was ready for as an adult. I mean this was an issue that most churches deal with wholly inadequately. Perhaps in Bible times it was reasonable to talk about abstinence when you got married at 13, but we're staying single longer, sex is a natural desire, and I know of very few people who don't say one thing at Church and "cheat" in other ways with their girlfriends/boyfriends anyway.
(There are those who are lucky -- they often have a network of family and friends who arrange relationships for them; but if you're not in the in crowd, or your parents don't know another Christian family whose daughters are all of eligible age, or you're not the right race, or you've had other things to do in life than wait around for a relationship, or you just haven't met the right person, tough luck; you're stuck with push-ups and cold showers!) What a mess. And I've been to Bible studies where all the guys do is talk about having masturbated and feeling guilty about it. No healthy masculinity there -- it was good to leave that environment. When I left Christianity, I began to have sex -- and it was great! But I didn't know what to think about it -- what are the boundaries?
Do I want to have sex with every woman I meet or date? Do I wait until I really love someone? How do you kiss? (This is REALLY embarrassing, if you don't know by the age of 29) It was just a little much to handle all at once. (By the way, I felt like Christianity really kept me from figuring out how to handle these things in any balanced/honest sort of way -- I wish I had figured it all out when everyone else did --ages 13 - 25). To tell you the truth, I want family and just one relationship and some type of way to transmit traditions, and values and spiritual strength to the children I hope to have once I figure this stuff out.
I suppose that I've been a bit wild at times, as I try to figure out what to do with my sexuality -- but deep down, I don't think that is something I want either. So I guess I'm writing this to say that I'm glad that I left Christianity -- but I miss God. I hope that I can find God and find order and values and ritual while leaving everything that has been so hurtful about Christianity behind.
Became a Christian: 5
How old were you when you ceased being a christian? 29
What churches or organizations or labels have applied to you? Evangelical, Protestant
What labels, if any, would you apply to yourself now? Searching
Why did you become a christian? Fear of Hell
Why did you de-convert? Constant Fear is Unhealthy
Online Reading List
- An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish by Bertrand Russell (1943)
- Bible Teaching and Religious Practice by Mark Twain
- God is Imaginary
- Is there an Artificial God? by Douglas Adams (1998)
- Skeptics Annotated Bible
- The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine (1795)
- Which Way? by Robert Ingersoll (1884).
- Why I Am Not A Christian by Bertrand Russell (1927)