Sent in by Melinda
It has been a hard six months for me since the beginning of my questioning. I started college as a devout Christian, knowing the warnings of other Christians about the secularism of college and the dangers of the information I might receive in classes. After ending a ten month relationship in which my self confidence stooped to an all time low, and my life had been centered around the ex-significant other, I let go and moved towards some of my new friends in college who happened to have more open minds than I did. I became comfortable talking about topics I "should have" felt guilty about and listened to some of their opinions with interest. Not too long later, I met a guy through one of my friends and we hit it off. It was the first healthy relationship I had ever had, in which we were compatible with each other and both felt comfortable, like we had both finally found someone who fit us. The relationship started out wonderfully, until my parents found out that he was a Wiccan.
Even till this very day, 90% of the people I mention Wicca to assume it's some dark, demonic, cultic religion, somewhere along the lines of Satan worshiping, or they think my boyfriend worships trees and roles himself around in his own dung to connect with mother nature. The crude and rude stereotypes of his beliefs, which in their true form are nothing close to what people assume, have shown me that even "open minded" people choose to be ignorant for the sake of prejudice.
The first prejudice I encountered was in my family when he and I first began dating. I was perfectly fine with dating a Wiccan, with no intent to change him, only to understand him, and he understood my Christian views at the time. We made compromises for each other. He came to church with me and made the efforts a decent man should towards my family. My mother was nice as was my father, on the surface, but when I was alone in the house with my mother, she accused me of not caring for my boyfriend's soul by not setting a good example. She interrogated me and forcefully asked if I really intended for us to marry someday, if it happened to work out, how would we raise our children. It says it's wrong in the bible, that I was responsible for his soul, that I was being careless and dense, and the verbal abuse piled on for the first month and a half.
Eventually I had a panic attack from numerous stresses in my life and contacted some of my Christian friends which I had been pushing away because of their beliefs on the matter of my dating a Wiccan. I went to my bible study leader and cried my heart out and explained the entire situation. She told me that my boyfriend had manipulated me, that the panic attack was probably the holy spirit convicting me, and that I should break up with him. With much pain, and a great deal of reluctance, I squeezed her hand and broke up with him over the phone.
After that I spent two weeks in utter pain, wondering why a god that was supposed to be merciful would take away something so positive in my life. Admittedly, my search started when I decided I would go back to my relationship with my boyfriend and find the answers in the faith as to why there were successful interfaith marriages, why there were Christians who interpreted the unequally yoked verse differently, and then from there my questions grew.
Why were there so many different opinions on the bible? Who was right? If salvation was so simple and easy, why were there so many interpretations of how to be saved, how to stay saved, and the very meaning of salvation? Why were there Mormons who don't believe in Christ's divinity and believe as fervently and feel as touched as someone who is "truly saved by believing on Christ." Why were there successful interfaith marriages if it was so clearly a no-no? Why would god go against his own will by "blessing" marriages with two different faiths? Who goes to hell? Do mentally challenged people or unborn babies go to hell? Why are there happy and fulfilled atheists? Why were there liberal Christians?
And my research brought me to many more questions. I found my answers in the logic of rationality rather than the idea of faith. I found out a bittersweet truth: beliefs and ideas are simply that, beliefs and ideas, and they don't decide the truth.
I eventually found out that growing up in a Christian household with older, conservative parents, and me as the only child, I had been protected from the reality of the outside world. I remember being told to investigate the Christian faith when I believed, but never to investigate too far. I was supposed to "test the word of god" and yet stay inside the box of belief. Well, I have learned since then that this is a milder form of brain washing. I have learned that religion is simply a harmless collection of ideas, and no matter what I have been taught, the only reason I believed it was because I was afraid. The only reason I struggle now with reality is because I am still somewhat afraid. But I have pushed through the hardest part and continue to move on. I'm moving out in a month to get out of my parents' Christianity saturated home and start my own life with the influence of a diversity of beliefs, ideas, and information at my fingertips rather than a closed-minded church.
I have found that good and bad are decided by a society's individual moral code. I have found that there is no absolute and that there can be stability in a world with not very many absolutes. I have learned that the human phenomenons of love and morality and compassion are simply products of evolution and beautiful mother nature.
I live a much freer life. However, during this reality check I know I must allow myself time to heal. It is no easy process to suddenly see the ugly truth of something that once was a kind of best friend. The rug has been pulled out from under me, but knowing there are many more others out there who think like me is a great comfort.
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)