An illogical religion

Sent in by Jenny

Hello Readers…ex-Christians, Christians, and others. My name is Jenny. I am a 23 year-old ex-Christian agnostic who has lived her whole life in the densely religious region of West Tennessee.

As a Christian I never wrote a testimony, and this is my first attempt to write an anti-testimony. So bear with me, as this may not be eloquently written.

Well, in order to be an Ex-Christian, I must have been a Christian at one point, right? Let me briefly explain my Christian years. I don't remember having an epiphany in my childhood or early teen years when I was 'saved' by being overcome with the Holy Spirit. I never prayed, "Hallelujah! I'm saved! I turn my life over to you now, Lord!" Needless to say many people think they feel a spirit washing over them or moving through them and this leads them to conversion. There were several times in my Christian years when I was moved to tears or had mini-epiphanies about certain scriptures and such. Like an, "OH! I get it now!" I, at the time, attributed those instances to the Holy Spirit speaking to me.

However, I wasn't saved-thru-epiphany. I was more saved-thru-rearing. I was raised in a Christian home. My mom made a promise to the Christian god that she would raise my brother and I to love him. My parents are truly wonderful people, and there is very little I would change about my childhood. Yet they are, like the rest of my family, Christian. So, my parents made 'him' a part of my life. We attended church regularly as Cumberland Presbyterians. I was in the youth team, choir, and bell choir of my church and I also participated in a praise team at a local Baptist church. My religion was something that I was proud of and thankful for. I'm still thankful for it because my journey through de-conversion has been a life-changing and eye-opening experience in which I'm taking great pleasure. I feel that if I had always been a non-believer, I wouldn't have the same sense of liberty that I do now.

Now, as many of you know, some Christians believe in "Once saved, always saved." I wasn't taught that, yet I have already encountered Christians who believe I was never saved. But, I will say this: I truly loved Jesus Christ and wanted to live my life for him. There was not one day that went by that I didn't think of him, and most days I was thinking of ways to make my relationship with him better. That's what I lived for. I was convinced that the rest of my life would be spent striving to be a better Christian and spread the word of God. I contemplated being a missionary instead of going to college. I thought I had made the greatest decision of all… to live for God!

How does a young Christian girl such as this become an agnostic? Well, many of you know exactly how it happens because you have lived through something very similar. I recognized myself as an agnostic in March of 2006, but I have to backtrack to give the details of my full de-conversion.

I first doubted when something hit me one day in Sunday school. I was roughly 14 when I raised my hand, "So, what about Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, and other people of other religions? The people that are good people and truly believe in their own religion. Will God send them to Hell just because they got it wrong?" I got my answer, and I didn't like it.

From that point on I began feeling as if I had just found out some deep dark secret of a good friend of mine, which made it hard for me to face him. I was confused. Ever since I could understand English I had been told that Jesus loved me and that I knew that because the Bible told me so. I had been told that God was good, awesome, merciful, and all knowing and loving.

But I could not and still cannot believe with logic or faith that a truly good deity would send anyone to a fiery hell to spend eternity with an evil fallen angel. I even told my mom once. "I don't even think Hitler should go to Hell." She looked at me in semi-horror. "What?" She asked. I shrugged and said, "As soon as he died in the early 1940s, if 'judgment day' truly exists, then he would know from that point on what a horrible person he had been. The shock of what an evil life he'd lived should be enough punishment. Why does God need to make him suffer eternally?" This conversation quickly angered and frustrated my mother and then, even more quickly, ended.

However, even though the conversation ended with my mother, my inner struggle with Christianity had just begun. After I realized that according to my church's and family's interpretation of the Bible, all good and devout religious non-Christians would go to hell, I began seeing my 'god' as selfish instead of loving. I became very angry with him. My deity created a world full of people for the sole purpose of loving him. It wouldn't be selfish, in my eyes, except for the fact that he "sends" us to hell if we don't do it. I mean, he weighed the odds. Eternity of essential solitude with no one to love me but heavenly bodies of angels…or human beings with the free will to choose me or an eternity of pain and suffering. How is this all-loving?

Even so, once I became distant from the Christian god, it took years for my de-conversion epiphany to hit. Even though I was angry, disappointed, and confused, I didn't doubt that the Christian god was the one true god until my revelation in 2006.

The revelation was this: I don't have to be a Christian. Previously, the two roads I had seen in front of me were 'faithful Christian' vs. 'doubting Christian.' Or 'good Christian' vs. 'bad Christian.' It never truly dawned on me that I could choose not to be a Christian at all! It had not yet dawned on me that maybe I wasn't misunderstanding the only true god, but that maybe the ‘only true god' was a myth!

I think this is because I had been immersed in the Christian dogma since birth. It's not something that's easily shaken off. I often compare it to trying to suddenly relate the color pink to boys and blue to girls instead of vice versa. Since birth our society/culture has ingrained in my mind that pinkgirls and blueboys. I don't have to believe that, but it would be nearly impossible for me to see it otherwise.

Well, since birth I have been taught Christianitythe only right path in life. That's not something you can suddenly change your mind on, which many of you understand. And unlearning this equation took me nearly six years. But now I see the equation as illogical. It is illogical, in my opinion, to put complete faith in something of which I cannot validate.

When I finally admitted to myself that I was no longer a Christian, I felt as if a huge weight had been lifted from me. I felt free and happier. I felt like a better person and still do.

I have become much less judgmental because I no longer hold people to the Christian god's standards. I now hold them to my own.

I am no longer living for 'God.' And though my life's foundation has crumbled…and it's not easy finding footing in a pile of rubble, I am much happier searching for a new footing than I ever was atop a 2000 year-old foundation of lies.

Although my de-conversion has been, on the whole, wonderful and life-changing…there has been some obvious pain involved.

My family, fiancé of six years, and best friend of 12 years are all Christians. The only fellow agnostics in my life are a few buddies from high school and my brother. I'm sure this is much more support than many ex-Christians have, so I feel lucky that I can share my beliefs with my brother and my high school buddies. Yet remaining a closet-agnostic from my parents and having such different beliefs from my fiancé and best friend is sometimes bothersome.

My fiancé and best friend, though saddened by my de-conversion, have been extremely supportive and have not once tried to proselytize to me. I really should never complain because I have read many comments and stories of ex-Christians who have very unsupportive people in their lives. But what I can't help but be bothered by is the knowledge that my fiancé and best friend see me as a conflicted girl, who has a hole in her heart where the Holy Spirit should be. Have they said this in these terms? No. But I know them. I was a Christian alongside them for a long time, and I know how they think of me. When I try to talk to them about my beliefs, they listen politely, but I know they aren't really hearing me. They think they are hearing a 'lost soul.'

But at least I know that I‘m not a lost soul. And I can't express enough how comforting I find this site. I don't know what belief system, if any, is right and what is wrong. I don't completely agree with atheists who believe there is no god and Jesus never existed. I don't agree with Christians who say that Jesus is Christ. Yet, I don't necessarily disagree with these people either. I just don't KNOW. I am undecided, open, unsure…without knowledge…agnostic. But regardless of the differences in beliefs I have with atheists, I feel that they are minor differences. And I feel completely at home at exchristian.net with my fellow non-believers.

So, as my closing anti-testimonial statement:

I am an Ex-Christian due to a lack of faith in an illogical religion that I, as of right now, have no logical reason to believe in.

22 comments:

muttmutt1978 said...

For me, I was 16 when i picked up a book on Taoism, and it was nine years after that i realized that book was at a christian camp for a reason, to encourage those who are unsure of christianity to deconvert. My reccomendation, since you havent married your fiancee' i wouldnt walk down the aisle with him, instead im sure theres someone else out there for you, I found my husband when i was bashing christians, about a year after i deconverted. Hes a Pagan, like I am, and im sure the Gods and Goddesses wanted us to be together.

jim earl said...

Hello Jenny and welcome to the real world. I can tell you this much: You are going to like your life more and more and will find true happiness comes from within, not religion.

I have a few things in common with you. For one, I don't have many personal friends that share my non-belief. I do have three sons and a daughter that were all raised in the church but who have all decided it is illogical to believe in religion. I am happy about this. I also live in the south and know full well that everyone is expected to be christian. I am considered an abnormality here but I am proud of it. I should also mention that I have been married for 25 years to my spouse who is still attending a local baptist church. She has many doubts but no courage to change her habits or think for herself.

I would like to encourage you to continue on your journey. One word of caution: Make sure your future spouse and yourself are on the same page as far as religion goes. Marriage is hard enough when two people agree on major things. The fallout that can occur with the situation you're in should be looked into by each of you. My experience is that I have grown to dislike my situation very much. I long to have a partner that is on the same page with me as we grow older. However, I love my wife very much at the same time but we have this religious log in our way a lot of the time. Avoid that if possible.

At any rate, thanks for your testimony and stay here for much help in the future. I can't tell you how much this website has meant to me in my life.

Another thing is to search the internet for other sites that may be of help, and also to read books written by Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Dan Barker and others. You can find many sources right here. God is Imaginary, and Freefish.net are a couple of excellent websites to investigate.

Good luck to you in the future.

Anonymous said...

This is my first time commenting here, but I wanted to say congratulations, Jenny, and thank you for sharing that. My upbringing in the church was similar to yours. My doubts began maybe 18 months ago. It started with prayer, when it began to dawn on me that it was completely worthless either way, besides the fact that I felt like I was praying to Santa Claus. Then my faith really fell apart when I decided to research for myself and discovered that virtually every element in xtianity had already been established in pagan stories and religions. At 29, I'm now an atheist.
My husband is more agnostic, but we're pretty much on the same page for the most part. I haven't told my xtian family and friends yet. I would also caution you about marrying someone whose perspective is so radically different from yours. It might end up in heartbreak for both of you, not to mention a lot of bitterness.

I can totally relate to the new freedom you describe, being out from under that horrendous burden. It sounds trite, but it really is liberating. It's like the difference between suffocation and clear, easy breathing. It's no longer my problem to try to reconcile evil, pain, and suffering with a supposedly benevolent saviorgod. Among many other things.

Best wishes to you.

Andrea

freedy said...

Welcome Jenny,...and congatulations.

Ironic,I became a fundy nutcase at age 23.It lasted 20 freakin years,...what a waste!

Sarabhi (Jenny) said...

Jim Earl,

Hey, Jenny here. Thanks for your comment. We do seem to have a lot in common.

It's great that your children have become non-believers too. If they are still school-age kids, I hope that they are able to take what their Christian peers say with a grain of salt. Because, as a fellow southerner, I understand how early the bible-belt kids begin to proselytize to others.

I also appreciate your word of caution. My fiance and I are in the process of really discussing our situation. We want everything to be out on the table before we get married. My fiance, luckily, is very supportive of my decision...as much as a Xian can be supportive of a non-believer, that is. But I agree that we need to both really analyze our relationship and what marriage to each other will bring.

Again, thanks for the post. :)

-Jenny

Sarabhi (jenny) said...

Anonymous,

Thanks for your comment.

It's awesome that you and your husband are on the same page. My fiance and myself are not only on different pages, but also in totally different books. Yet, we remain very supportive of one another. As an agnostic, I can say to him, 'Well, maybe you're right.' And as a Xian, he says to me, 'I have faith everything will turn out okay.' He never proselytizes and I don't push my thoughts in his face. We still have discussions, but we manage to keep them from being heated. However, I appreciate your word of caution and I seriously do take it to heart.

Thanks again for the comment! :)

-Jenny

sarabhi (jenny) said...

Freedy,

Lol, try not to feel too bad for those 20 years as a nutcase. Afterall, if you'd never experienced insanity, you wouldn't realize how wonderful it is being outside the loony bin! ^_^

Thanks for the support. :)

-Jenny

freedy said...

Thanks!

freedy said...

I should have said,"Your welcome!"

Nvrgoingbk said...

WHen my husband and I met, we were both Christians, but over the course of our two year relationship (at the time), I began slowly learning more and more about the origins of the Christian beliefs and the history of the church. I began asking more and more questions, which was a major "stumbling block" to Nick. It tore us apart for two months. During those two months, without the concern of anyone else's "feelings", I was able to make the final step to walk away from Christianity.

Two months later, Nick called. He was still a christian, but I had to tell them the truth, regardless of the risk of turning him away. The opposite happened, actually. Nick denounced Christianity after allowing me to speak freely about all that I had learned and the absurdities of Christianity and the Bible. He had been questioning things himself, and couldn't argue with reason.

If he had not been willing to hear me out, and if he hadn't loved me as much as he does, and hadn't trusted my knowledge, there is NO WAY we would still be together with me being pregnant now. Nick was ON FIRE for Christ and would never have been with a woman who did not love God as much as he did. The two months apart is actually what allowed us the freedom to stop torturing each other and to "work out our own salvation"; the conclusion being that we both realized we weren't in need of "salvation".

I hope that you and your fiancee' have enough in common that your relationship will overcome this major difference. Your fiancee doesn't seem a strict fundamentalist though, so you guys have that in your favor.

You needn't have apologized for your essay. It was well written and thought-provoking.

Anonymous said...

Jenny, I'm glad to see you and your fiance are so open and honest with each other. No one has mentioned it but I am thinking about the questions and differences that would arise around child-rearing if you have children. If mom KNOWS death is the end and dad KNOWS there is an afterlife, I'm thinking that could make for some confused kids. That is only ONE area in which the two of you potentially disagree on the most fundamental level.

Then there are also the issues of education and entertainment. It may be possible to make decisions and agreements on that at this time. However, we don't know what the world will be like by the time your kids are in school or teenagers. My thinking is that there may be situations where your convictions and his convictions oppose each other if you aren't in the same book. That would obligate one of you to see your own child doing or learning things that you genuinely believe are harmful.

Those are some of my thoughts.

Anonymous said...

Hey Jenny! Great anti-testimony! Yes, as Morpheus said to Neo after his "awakening": Welcome to the real world.

Glad to have you as a friend!

John

sarabhi (jenny) said...

Nvrgoingbk,

Thanks :)

I'm glad you posted b/c what you said makes me hopeful about my fiance and I. I don't know if I could stand being physically away from him for 2 months b/c we are always together when we have free time. We just have so much fun together. But, you have given me an idea to take a couple of weeks/months to study Xianity and Skepticism on our own. Then get together with our newfound knowledge and discuss everything. My fiance tells me all the time how brilliant he thinks I am and I know he values my thoughts and opinions. If he can just step out of the Xian bubble long enough to look at it as a skeptic, there may be hope for him. :)

And you're right. He isn't a fundamentalist...anymore. When we first met, he definately was. But, I was more liberal. He slowly began to agree with me more and more on topics such as homosexuality and such. It was sort of a thing of him not having been subjected to liberal Xian thinking before. His parents are fundies.

Well, anyways, thanks so much for your comment and compliments. It means a lot!

-Jenny

sarabhi (jenny) said...

Rubysera,

Thanks for your comments.

My fiance and I don't really want children right now, but I am well aware of the fact that that could change. I've thought about it a lot. About how we would raise them. My fiance has said that he would want to take them to church and teach them his views of the bible, but that he also wants me to be honest with our children. He supports me telling them my views and thoughts as well.

So, I am thankful for that. However, I realize that his support won't erase the inevitable problems that will arise. I do think that my fiance and I are open and honest enough with each other that we will be able to tackle each problem as it comes.

You mentioned education and entertainment. We both love the same music and movies. And he is studying to be a history teacher. So, he is well aware of the valid arguments for stuff like evolution. That sort of thing doesn't scare him too much. Which is a plus.

But you make some great points. And I'm glad you posted b/c my fiance and I need to be very open with one another and realize the road-blocks we will come to in the near future.

jfraysse said...

Hi Jenny: Welcome! Your anti-testimony was very well written!

Cleve to those good things that your heart has always told you were right. These define who you are as a human being. They are your foundations and, I suspect from reading your post, they are very good ones indeed!

Many of the teachings of Jesus and the life lessons that can be gleaned from the Bible are very useful but can also be found in other cultures and philosophies as you have pointed out. I think it is possible that the congruency of these teachings across many cultures may be the strongest evidence of “God’s Presence” in the affairs of the human species. There are also many modern writings that ask the question, “Can atheists be ethical?” And the answer is a resounding, Yes! I suggest you Google this topic. I like the Atheist 10 Commandments too: http://www.ethicalatheist.com/docs/ten_commandments.html

Hang in there, Jen, and I hope you and your man can work this out between you!

Sarabhi (jenny) said...

Jfraysse,

Thanks for all your comments. I suffer from insomnia a lot, and am now awake at 4am. Your post really cheered me up just now! :)

I really like what you had to say about foundations being what you've always known to be right.

Your comment on evidence of God's Presence makes me wonder if you are perhaps an agnostic theist? That is what I first classified myself as, but now I'm not so sure. I do believe in the supernatural b/c I have some personal reasons for believing in 'ghosts,' but I don't know if I believe in gods/goddesses or just spirits/ghosts/etc.

Thanks for the link. Just checked out the 10 Atheist "suggestions" and they're awesome. I totally agree with every one of them. :)

Again, thanks so much for your words of encouragement! ^_^

-Sarabhi

xrayman said...

Hey Jenny,
By using the term eloquently written, your letter is automaticly eloquently written.

Welcome to the club. I am an ex-tepid Christain. I read myself compelely out of God belief in March of 06. My subconscious would never allow me to be a fundy. It always had this crazy way of saying "BULLSHIT," when ever I got down and tried to accept Jesus, but I did profess a God belief for my first 42 years. It feels so good to be free because sometimes when you are a wishy washy Christian as I once was, you sometimes fear the hell fire more because you are just not into it enough to please Gawd.

I was destined to be an atheist because i was married in a courthouse, because we wanted a quickie due to the pregnancy. Do you plan a church wedding? May I ask if you two are, well you know. My wife professes God belief, but never mentions it. She couldn't care less of my deconversion so long as I do what she tells me. I think I am molding my 17 year old son into a fine young non believer. I tell him he is welcome to take the car to church on Sunday, and then I will corner him with a little atheist logic. Hopefully I can get my wife to see the light. I am sure in due time because of my big mouth it will happen. Keep coming back Jenny !!!!

sarabhi (jenny) said...

X-ray Man,

Thanks for all your comments :)

I see we have a few things in common. I felt the same as you with the whole fear of hell b/c I wasn't "on fire" like other Xians. I felt like something was wrong with me. But, I don't think anyone caught on that I felt that way b/c all Xians feel like something is wrong with them, right? Lol..

But, I have agreed to have a Xian wedding with my fiance. I know a preacher, personally, who is very toned down. He's a family friend, and I'd actually like for him to conduct it. I sort of see it as if we were any other bi-religious couple getting married. Like a Jew and a Buddhist getting married with a primarily Jewish wedding.

Anyways, thanks again for the comments :)

-Sarabhi

xrayman said...

Say it ain't so Jenny. A church wedding? Actually one of the coolest weddings I've ever been to was an outdoor affair officiated by a boat captain. I work with a guy who is the class clown of our department(and not religious) who sent away for an online "Be and ordained minister cirtificate," for $39.95 and actually legally married a friend of his. It was pretty darn funny that he pulled it off. No seriously you do what you have to do to keep the peace in your relationship. I will be wierd making promises to an imaginary being.

I do want to share a conversation with a coworker I had the other day. She is Catholic and we often butt heads about religion or lack there of, but it's all in good fun. She said to me, "Bill I know you really belive in God but you just won't admit it to me." I replied with, "No Becky actully when I professed to believe in God I really didn't but wouldn't admit it to anyone."

sarabhi (jenny) said...

X-Ray Man,

Yeah, it will definately be weird making promises to an imaginary being, but, I said Xian wedding not 'church' wedding. Lol, I really don't wanna get married in a church. Blagh! Depressing... So, we're thinking of an outdoor wedding oficiated by a pastor. Like, on the beach or a lake or just out near some pretty trees. :)

Well, thanks again; I like your story of your Catholic coworker, lol. Good answer!

-Jenny

JT Dear lawd I'm finally Free said...

Great reading Jenny! It's just an easy "out" for christians to sit back and say well you were never saved! They just can't handle the truth that we came to our fucking senses about christianity and threw it back up! What abunch of phoneys!

Dano said...

Not to worry Jenny! A guy can be told that sex is the filthiest of sins and it will just cause him to be more aroused. He wont be troubled with the "Not tonight honey I've got a headache thing"

I think religion has screwed up more marriages than it ever held together!
Dano (celibaptistagnostic)

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