Please note that I fully understand your commitment to religion, Jesus and the Bible and I mean you no disrespect. As I have said, for most of my life I was very much the same way. I took years for me to fully accept that Christianity is (in my opinion) very misguided and well, wrong.
Religion is a personal thing, and you have never once tried to push your beliefs on me, except for last night when you told me to have fun in hell. I just see you in this in-between place (where I once was) and I want you to hear my story. I have a lot of respect for you. You are very intelligent and I often find myself engaging in sophisticated conversation when we are together.
These are the 5 major questions that kept popping up in my head and would not go away.
1. Why are there so many different denominations, who all interpret the same book in various ways, and which one is right? If the Church of Christ-ers are right, then all Presbyterian, Methodist, Catholics (all whom love and worship the exact same god and Jesus from the exact same book) are wasting their time and going to hell. (Prime example: Galileo)
2. Hell! I had a hard time trying to accept that god (who is all powerful) and loves us would create humans (knowing some would not accept Jesus) and condemn them to hell. You would not condemn your children to an endless life of misery, no matter how bad they were. It is evil. So the all loving, compassionate god that I loved so much would send someone he created, that just wasn't a good enough Christian, to suffer for eternity????
3. How is it that god created millions of generations of humans across the planet (such as native American and African tribes) with no way for them to be told about Christ and be saved (years before missionaries arrived) just to exist in a life of sin and be sent to hell.
4. Why, if we are all made in the image of god, are women expected to be submissive? This is the verse I had the most trouble with when Jesus says that divorce is permissible when the wife is guilty of fornication. But what if the husband is unfaithful? Jesus doesn't seem to care about that.
Matthew 5:32 - But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.5. We are told to accept that Jesus existed based upon the Gospels of the Bible, yet the Gospels are so poorly written that a logical person is at best left to ponder if Jesus even existed. The Gospels are consistently contradictive, filled with mathematic errors and don't compliment each other on very important details. Why? Why? Why? Why is the holy book, which is inspired by god, full of so many mistakes?
I must have prayed for 2 years straight for god to show me a sign that the doubts in my mind were wrong. Leaving your faith and belief system behind is a very hard thing to do. Much like you, my entire family was very involved in church. I spent every Sunday of my life sitting next to my mom and grandmother in church. I could type for a week on all of my church activities and how involved I was. I loved my church family. I truly did. They were and are still some of the most kind, genuine people on the planet. When my step dad was dying with cancer, if it had not been for the love and support of the people from our church I do not know how my mom and I would have survived.
I even went to a very liberal Presbyterian church where drinking (in moderation) and dancing are allowed. I loved my pastor. He is a graduate from Princeton University, extremely smart and to this day we still correspond in writing and he takes the time to discuss each and every issue I present to him in my questioning Christianity and the existence of god.
In my quest to cling to my 'faith' I began to research Christianity in effort to ease my doubts and strengthen my faith. I began to study and read the bible, and then realized quickly, I knew very little about the book and religion I so avidly defended.
Not only was I rusty on the contents of the holy book, I knew very little of it's history or the history of Christianity all together. This I think is true for most Christians. I think the focus in church, youth group and Sunday school is on warm fuzzy verses (mostly in the New Testament) that deal with love and good works and Jesus' miracles. You even mention the New Testament last night.
I would agree that the New Testament paints are far more gracious picture of god, than the evil, spiteful god of the Old Testament. However, there are still some very disturbing issues presented in the New Testament.
You would think that Jesus and the New Testament would have a different view of slavery, but slavery is still approved of in the New Testament, as the following passages show.
Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ. (Ephesians 6:5 NLT)Christians who are slaves should give their masters full respect so that the name of God and his teaching will not be shamed. If your master is a Christian, that is no excuse for being disrespectful. You should work all the harder because you are helping another believer by your efforts. Teach these truths, Timothy, and encourage everyone to obey them. (1 Timothy 6:1-2 NLT)
In the following parable, Jesus clearly approves of beating slaves even if they didn't know they were doing anything wrong.
The servant will be severely punished, for though he knew his duty, he refused to do it. "But people who are not aware that they are doing wrong will be punished only lightly. Much is required from those to whom much is given, and much more is required from those to whom much more is given." (Luke 12:47-48 NLT)This list goes on and on. In my quest for answers I found more questions and more reason to be concerned. It has led me to this conclusion:
- Christianity is one of 100's religions used by humans to explain life.
- There is no god with whom I can have a personal relationship.
- We are all left to chance.
- Not believing in god does not make me a bad, evil or non-moral person. I do not have the urge to lie, steal, cheat on my husband, watch porn, or be "tempted" to do harmful things to my own body (such as smoking, hard drugs) or anyone else just because I do not believe in Jesus.
I feel more free and liberated than I have in my entire life. No more sins and guilt the next morning.
It was hard for my family to accept my new position and they still often question me.
That is my story. It is long. Sorry about that. But, I think you should entertain this idea. I think you are trapped between 2 worlds and I know how hard that can be. If I am way of base, I am apologize and I will never mention it again.
How old were you when you became a christian? 10
How old were you when you ceased being a christian? 24
What churches or organizations or labels have applied to you? Presbyterian
What labels, if any, would you apply to yourself now? Non-beleiver
Why did you become a christian? born into it
Why did you de-convert? Couldn't stop questioning.
email: swatts at leegov dot com