Sent in by Gregg T
As a child I was often under the influence of my Mothers religious beliefs. She was a born again Christian and taught my sister and I from an early age that if we didn't accept Jesus as our saviour we would end up in hell.
As a child I loved Jesus and by the time I was in my late teens Christianity had become my refuge. Talking to Jesus and going to church felt good. It gave me hope, courage and strength. Most of the time I felt happy and optimistic about the future.
Amongst the happy times though I also experienced deep loneliness and pain. Growing up gay in a small, rural city wasn't easy. I didn't "act gay" though so no one ever really knew...until I came completely out in the local news paper when I was 19.
Shortly after coming out I moved to the big city and life took a dramatic, downward turn. I abandoned my Christian beliefs, left all the friends and family I had ever known and ended up in a far worse place. I was chronically unhappy and often felt despair.
When I was about 22 I threw myself back into Christianity thinking that the cause of my unhappiness was that I was no longer a practicing Christian. I started going back to church, and going to small group meetings, I began seeing Christian councilors in hopes of changing my sexual orientation. I even went to Bible college.
Ironically it was in Bible college that I lost my faith. It challenged to think about what it was that I believed. Eventually I found that I could no longer believe that what the Bible said was actually true.
While I was in Bible college I talked with a couple of Mormons about their faith. One of them told me that he came to Mormonism because he got good feelings reading The Book of Mormon. That those good feelings were proof that God wanted him to be a Mormon.
This had a profound effect on my faith. Coming from an evangelical background I was always told that Mormons were wrong. That they were a cult and had “crazy” beliefs. This coming from people who believe that Noah got all those animals on the ark. How could a Mormon have had the same religious experience when Mormons never knew the true God? I wasn’t about to write it off as demonic influences as my Mom might suggest it was.
But the experience made me realise that I had always used the good feelings that Christianity gave me as proof that my beliefs were true. Discovering that people of other, “incorrect” faiths had similar experiences forced me to go beyond my feelings to find proof that the Bible was literally true. And to date I have nothing. No proof whatsoever that any of it is true. I know that I would need an experience outside of myself in order to believe.
I’m 28 and life has improved dramatically over the last 2 years for me. I no longer live in the unhappiness and despair that I did in my early 20s and I’m quite glad that that period of my life is over. I've had a partner for a year and half, and although it is not without struggle...our relationship is growing and improving, even though at times it can seem painfully slow.
Despite all of my objection part of me still wishes from time to time that I could believe. That I could experience those good feelings again. But I also want to know the truth and I don’t want to commit myself to an idea or belief if I don’t have a solid reason to believe it in the first place. So unless something miraculous happens, I don’t believe I will ever be returning to the faith again, at least not the faith that I was raised to believe in.
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