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.
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)