Sent in by A Bit Lonely
I'm the only child of Christian Parents. I was born into it. From a very early age I attended church, had a children's bible, children's devotional books.
All through my childhood I believed in Jesus. I believed in his love for me and felt he had picked me personally as one of the chosen saved. I felt honored and grateful. I would get choked up thinking about how some one could love me so much as to die on a cross for me. I was home-schooled along with a few other Christian friends, quite sheltered. I really thought I knew the truth, because that was all that was ever pumped into my head, over and over. I felt sure I knew things my secular neighbors and relatives did not. I prayed for them to know God. I'd wish I were in heaven all ready, so I wouldn't have to grow up and spend so much time on earth. I hardly gave hell a second thought.
The only time in childhood I remember questioning whether Christianity was true, I was about seven. I was in Vacation Bible School, and the adults were re-enacting an Old Testament scene. I just remember thinking, "I don't really know if this is true. I'm just being told it is. How do I know this is true, honestly?" I felt uneasy and when I ran into the Bible School teacher in the bathroom, I asked her how we KNOW. She told me we have to have FAITH, Christianity was based on faith. I nodded, but I didn't feel my question was answered.
When I was twelve, I started attending private school. I still attended church, but my faith was harder to keep with so many secular influences on my life. In order to fit in, I started cursing, laughing at dirty jokes, would gossip about others to take negative attention away from myself. I definitely didn't witness to any one at school because I knew it would make me a laughingstock. I felt ashamed of my God and didn't live by His rules at all. At night the guilt would come and I would pray "God, please forgive me, I'm sorry." over and over, trying to feel that same God connection as only a year before. I felt empty.
At fourteen, I went back to home-schooling, and re-found my faith. It was easy enough since my only social outlet was high-school youth group. I thought the seniors were so accepting and mature compared with the mean-spirited, judgmental kids I'd just been in school with. With relief, I delved back into "purity". I even threw away my Greenday "Dookie" album because I thought it was sinful.
The same year, I began to really question Old Testament passages where God slays men, women and children for disobeying him. It was so inconsistent with the teachings of Jesus' unconditional love, yet supposedly they are the same God. I became deeply disturbed and angered by the idea of Hell. For the first time, I became afraid of going there, and afraid for my fellow humans. I questioned God's goodness, but I still believed in him. Hell seemed as real to me as this world, and for one entire week, I spent all my time awake with tears pouring from my eyes, grief-stricken over the fact that this God I'd grown up with was such a cruel, misunderstanding bully. I would pray, "God, I hate you, but I don't want to. Please help." I felt no response. I was deeply depressed and wished I'd never been born, because I saw so much beauty and goodness in ALL life, but Hell made all Non-Christian existence pointless. I felt isolated from Christians and Non-Christians both because neither understood my misery.
Since I couldn't live in such misery, I decided to simply ignore Christianity. I wasn't that I didn't still believe; it was that I couldn't live in a functional way while still believing in Hell. I didn't understand Christians anymore for being able to do just that. I told myself that I would just have to think about Christianity later in life; for now it was killing me. So I took a break. I stopped praying. I began making up excuses to skip church and at age 15 told my parents I didn't believe anymore, and after that they treated me as an adult who they wouldn't force to get up for church. I felt sad over losing this faith, losing this world I'd grown up. It all seemed so empty.
At sixteen, I began attending community college and exposure to secular life once again was unbelievably refreshing. I LOVED it. The old Hell fear would pop up every now and again, but I'd push it away, and eventually, I came to realize there are many different organized religions that tell you they are THE way, yet no one knows. Sweet relief.
I LOVE my parents; they are wonderful people. I wish them happiness, love, and peace. I wish they could understand me.
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)