My father was raised in a Deist household with fervent views against organized religion. When my Dad met my mother he started attending her evangelical church and became a devout believer. My cousins on my Dad’s side always made fun of me because of my devout Christian beliefs. I hated to be around them but on the other hand it felt good to be persecuted for my beliefs.
To make things worse, my younger sister became very chummy with my cousins and adopted their hatred of religion. Of course, she still went to church and pretended to believe. She sometimes made fun of my devotion to Christianity. When she started college though, she started hanging out with some secular humanists and her attacks became more constant.
I used to happily think about the shock my sister and cousins would experience when they died and found out that Christianity was true after all. Then they would suffer for their rejection of the truth and their persecution of me.
After Thanksgiving dinner at my Dad’s parents’ house - my mother grudgingly agreed to have dinner at their house every other year – my cousins once again started picking on me. One said out loud for my benefit that the Christian religion was founded on an act of fornication. Mary and Joseph fooled around and then insisted that it was God’s child to get out of trouble. I was furious.
A few days later, I told a good friend of mine who was studying to be a pastor about this. He was very interested in studying the history of the Bible. He told me that my cousins were completely wrong. In fact, he said the virgin birth was first mentioned by Matthew. He was trying to prove to the Jews that Jesus was in fact their promised Messiah. So, he went to the OT to find prophecies relating to the promised Messiah and then made it seem that Jesus had fulfilled those prophecies. Matthew used a Greek translation of the OT, which mentioned a virgin giving birth to the Messiah. The original Hebrew actually said young woman.
(Isaiah 7:14 (Contemporary English Version)
14But the LORD will still give you proof. A virgin [a] is pregnant; she will have a son and will name him Immanuel. [b]
Isaiah 7:14 virgin: Or "young woman." In this context the difficult Hebrew word did not imply a virgin birth. However, in the Greek translation made about 200 (B.C. )and used by the early Christians, the word parthenos had a double meaning. While the translator took it to mean "young woman," Matthew understood it to mean "virgin" and quoted the passage (Matthew 1.23) because it was the appropriate description of Mary, the mother of Jesus.)
I was really shocked by his candor because he was a very devout Christian. He then made some comment about Matthew doing the wrong thing for the right reason. I was confused and asked if that meant the virgin birth never occurred. My friend responded that Mary gave birth to God’s son. The actual circumstances were not relevant.
I then asked why church officials and Bible scholars who are aware of this mistranslation did not make it openly known to all believers (the above footnote is an exception). He replied that some people may not have enough faith to withstand the knowledge that some aspects of the Gospels were fabricated. I said then that the Bible must not be 100% the word of God. My friend replied that yes it is because God guided Matthew to write what he wrote.
Well, my faith was not strong enough to withstand this fabrication. I found it troubling that a major part of Christian belief was a shoddy attempt to convince Jews that Jesus fulfilled OT prophecy when in fact he had not. What else was a fabrication? I had always ignored the obvious contradictions in the Gospels and the Epistles (especially Paul saying you are saved by faith alone and good works don’t count and Peter saying faith without good works is useless) but now I openly questioned.
In my anger, I approached my parents without any thought of consequences. My mother and I got into a raging argument but my Dad remained quiet. That night he came to visit me and told me he had lost his faith several years before but that he pretended to believe for the sake of keeping the family together. He and my mother separated a few days later. My sister and I are also estranged from my mother because she chose her religion over us.
I have explored Deism a little but I mostly don’t bother with religion anymore.