sent in by Todd
This is my first time ever writing into a forum of this nature. Believe me, I never thought-just a few years ago-that I would ever question the faith that I have, essentially, been weened on.
I'm in my mid 20's and for the first time I am, openly, challenging and becoming disillusioned with my religious beliefs.
Grant it, I still believe in an omniscient supreme being. For personal reasons having faith does help me. However, I am not sure that I believe in the judeo Christian god anymore.
The more I read, study, rationalize, and reason the more the religion of my youth(and ignorance)is slipping through my fingers.
I guess a little bit about myself is in order.
I grew was born and raised in Houston, Texas. As far back as I can remember I was in the Baptist church, every single Sunday. When I was a small child I used to think the gray haired minister shouting down from the pulpit was god.
Anyway, as a child it just seemed the natural thing to do. Everyone was in church and involved in some way shape or form. It was definitely a good place for me to take a nap as a small child. Other than that I really had no interest. It was just the thing to do(even my alcoholic father went to church)...
My mother is a very spiritual woman(something I respect about her, immensely), and she never shoved religion and church down my throat. Infact, she gave me the choice of whether or not I wanted to attend church. However, the church was still very much apart of my life where I was raised up.
When I got to my teens I went through the obligatory teen angst B.S. and etc. I was really depressed back then. Part of it had to do with the fact that I'm gay. Back then I tried my best to repress my sexual feelings and deny that I even had them. Growing up I was taught that it was wrong and an abomination before god.
My older brother even told me that he would be the first person to put a rifle to my head if I ever became a homosexual. So, needless to say, gay people are frowned upon by the good "christians' where I'm from...
Anyway, my depression deepened and culminated into a suicide attempt. Fortunately, It did not happen...
I started looking for a way, any way, that would stop me from being depressed. I had just graduated highschool(which was a living hell), and looking for somewhere to fit in.
Soon, my mother started intervening with the bible and telling me that I should accept Jesus into my life. I was offended by that. I was so indoctorinated with religion that I thought I was a bad person for not being "saved" already. infact, kids in church got baptized regularly just so their parents would be happy(and so they could play in the water)...
Anyway, I started reading the bible and I really believed everything it said. I also believed that if I prayed hard enough my homosexuality would cease and desist.
Ironically, the next few days we had a family get together and my brother asked me whether or not I was "ready when the trumpet blows..."
I said, "Why? I think I am a good person. I will goto heaven..." I mean why would I goto hell? At that point it felt like I was in a living hell...
Then he said, "It has nothing to do with how good you are! If you don't accept Jesus you will die and goto hell..." And he said it with this look of satisfaction and glee...
Anyway, I got scared. I started reading the bible and praying more and more. I was on a spiritual binge. That very Sunday I decided that I would get saved so I could goto heaven.
I made an announcement to the church that I believed(and I truly did), and at that point I was "saved." I often wonder if I was a deaf mute would I still be saved, seeing as I would not have been able to confess my belief with my mouth?
Well, after I was confirmed and joined church I felt this new sense of happiness. I always attributed it to the Holy Spirit coming into me...But now I wonder whether or not it was because I finally found somewhere that I felt I belong?
As time went on I was heavily active in church. I joined ministries, and even an adult bible class. I felt really proud of myself because I was 19-years-old and enrolled in a course full of people over 30.
By this point I was in that, "New overly evangelical phase." The one where you are so high on the love of Christ that you feel the need to share it with everyone? I cringe when I think of that period in hindsight. I was, literally, one of those people testifying to people and telling them to accept Jesus or there would be no going to heaven. Even my mother was telling me I was a bit over the top...
I didn't care. Plus, church allowed me to not focus so much on my homosexuality(even though it was still an issue).
Anyway, approximately two years later my whole Christian idealism came tumbling down. To make a long story short, my pastor, it turns out, was having an affair with my then 13-year-old niece. My older brother set up a video camera and caught them, in the act, in my brother's(not the brother who told me I was going to hell...My oldest one) house. Needless to say there was this huge controversy that tore the church apart. My Ex-Pastor is now a registered sex offender...But that doesn't matter. He has a new church with lots of members from the old one. Apparently child molestation doesn't matter to some folks...
Furthermore, around that time, I was being mentored by a co-pastor. I really and truly respected this man. He was like a surrogate father to me. I wanted to be like him...But when the controversy happened he abandoned me when I needed him the most. I haven't seen him since, but I don't really care to...
After all of that I felt lost, like I had nowhere to go. So automatically I ran to the first church that one of my christian college friends told me about. I got into the groove again, so to speak.
Well, by this time I was really starting to get BORED out of my mind with church. At first I thought it was satan trying to steer me towards the path of unrighteousness...I tried praying about it and getting past that entire doubt stage. I couldn't help it. I did not care for the pastor nor the congregation. Everyone was so stuck up and putting on heirs...It was pathetic.
And it was one Sunday where the pastor stood up before the congregation and told us to shun a church member. Apparently the woman left her husband(who--I soon found out--was beating the hell out of her and cheating on her), kids in tow and refused to reconcile with him. The Pastor said that if the husband wants to reconcile then the wife is a sinner for turning her back on him. He went onto say that if we see her we should not talk to her OR even acknowledge her existence. My mouth fell open and hit the floor. There was no way in hell I was going to do that.
That was the last time I darkened that door step, nearly two years ago...
Now, this past year(after the infamous presidential election)I have been really having doubts and ambivalence towards my beliefs.
My entire life I was taught that the bible was the true and literal word of god. I wasn't supposed to question anything, just believe everything. That has been my entire life.
However, after finally acknowledging and embracing my homosexuality I have had to face the fact that my religion does not accept me as I believe that the creator made me...
Who is to say that the god of the bible is the right god? There are religions all over the world. So are they all going to hell just because they are not into Christianity?
If god hates my sexuality so much then WHY am I like this?
I tried prayer, supression, repression, and EX-GAY conversion therapy which didn't work. This is a natural part of what I am...
Furthermore, all of the contradictions in the bible have been rubbing me the wrong way completely.
If God is so perfect and infallible then why couldn't he give us ONE religion and ONE clear cut path to the stair way to heaven?
The bible is like reading a great piece of literature that got sent through a paper shredder. True, it is a good read but so much does not make sense. It doesn't compute...
Furthermore, I often wonder whether or not self acceptance and self love helped me with my issues of self esteem. For the first time in my life I feel like a complete and whole person, just being who I am...Why would that be a sin?
Why should I have to struggle to hold back something that is inside me?
Well, like I said, I still believe in A god...But I am wondering if I am completely disinterested in organized religion...
The arrogance of believing that ONLY people of a certain faith and lifestyle are going to heaven sickens me.
Also they are using christian love as a means to keep gay people from having all the same civil liberties. I am a young black American, and I remember not too long ago when my people were held back because "It was ordained by god and the bible."
The bible was written by men. I could just as easily write my own scriptures and make them a bible...
And if heaven is this amusement park of a place then why do we as human beings leave it and come to Earth? Don't get me wrong I believe in an Afterlife, BUT, I don't see anything wrong with having a beautiful life on Earth either...
Well, I am at the point where I feel myself pulling away...But I am so afraid of going to hell. I know it sounds derranged, but my religious upbringing is so much apart of me that I feel two parts of myself battling each other. I guess I am having a hard time no longer being in my comfort zone. It is almost like I've been blind for a long time and now I see differently...
Why would a just and loving god punish me for who I am?
Sorry for being so longwinded, but this is what I have been going through.
I'm still in the process of figuring out if I am truly deconverting
Was: Southern Baptist and non denominational
Now: Spiritual but not religious...
Converted because: Because my brother told me I would miss the rapture and burn in hell.
De-converted because: Too many contradictions and unanswered questions in the bible.
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)