Sent in by Stina
I grew up in church. I accepted Christ and was baptized at age 9 and went to a couple of different Baptist churches up until age 18. As a teenager, I felt that my church didn't offer the kind of support I wanted, so I was an avid reader of Brio magazine for girls (produced by Focus on the Family). I felt I was really a "true" Christian, whereas many people I knew seemed to claim to be Christians without believing the Bible was the inerrant Word of God.
At age 17 I went on a mission’s trip with Brio magazine to Brazil. I became friends with a girl who told me about Capernwray Hall, a Bible school in England. She was going to attend, and when I graduated from high school it seemed like the perfect plan for me also, since I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. It was just what I wanted: an incredibly supportive Christian environment with about 200 other 18-mid 20 year-olds, where my beliefs were reaffirmed.
My family began attending an Evangelical Lutheran Church while I away at school, so I also attended when I returned home. The theology was much more liberal than any church I'd ever attended. Homosexuality was not viewed as sin, there were no Bibles in the pews... I felt like I was going to one of those "dead" churches I'd heard about in my Capernwray lectures. But the people were (are) lovely and loving, and I still enjoy the relationships I built there. But I missed that supportive (and conservative) environment of Capernwray, so after attending community college for a couple of years, I sought to go back, this time to a school called Holsby Brunn in Sweden, another Bible school that is part of the Capernwray Missionary Fellowship of Torchbearers schools.
Again, it was just what I wanted and thought I needed. My beliefs were reaffirmed and rejuvenated and I met many other people my age with similar beliefs. When I went back home again I sought out a church that was more biblically sound than the Lutheran one I had been attending. I started going to a Southern Baptist Church around the same time I started attending university. And it wasn't long after this that I fell in love with an incredibly wonderful non-Christian man and my whole world fell apart.
First he converted to Christianity and we began dating. Then he told me he just couldn't force himself to believe in the Bible, and he hated some of what my church was teaching (women being subordinate to men, that homosexuality is sin, etc). I broke up with him. But I wanted to be with him so badly, and I couldn't understand why my faith in God should prevent me from being with such a great person.
I started to hate the exclusivity of my church, and I started questioning other aspects of my faith. I realized I couldn't believe in an eternal hell and also believe in a loving God. I decided I wanted to be with my boyfriend whether he was a Christian or not. This first incredibly deliberate act of disobedience to what I'd been taught my whole life was a turning point for me. I stopped attending the Southern Baptist church and eventually stopped attending church altogether (though I still visit my parents' Evangelical Lutheran church occasionally), and now I live with my boyfriend.
I'm reluctant to entirely give up the label "Christian" since it's been a part of me for so long, but I have no idea what it means to me anymore. I'm also a little reluctant to deeply examine exactly what I do believe, in case I really am no longer a Christian. If I'm not a Christian, what am I? What is the purpose of my life? These are the questions I need to dig into.
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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)