I was raised in a fundamentalist Christian church, graduated from an *extremely* fundamentalist college, and for several years "served" in full-time fundamentalist Christian ministry as a missionary wife overseas and then as a small country church pastor's wife in the U.S. More recently, I was a regular Sunday School teacher and a columnist for a national fundamentalist Christian magazine -- and yet I never felt at peace, and I always had questions (apparently too many and too critical for anyone's listening pleasure).
For the last six years, while still "in" the church, I have been searching for real answers -- answers that make sense and satisfy me. I've read and read, books and articles from all perspectives, and I came very close to leaving my childhood faith behind me several times, but always I pulled back from fear of the consequences that had been pummeled into me my whole life. Every person I know well is a Christian (and 99% are fundamentalists), and I understood that leaving the "faith" would mean my entire life would be thrown into chaos. The biggest deterrent was worrying about what the upheaval would mean for my kids.
So I forced myself to keep trying to believe in this God I no longer respected -- a god who sanctioned polygamy, infanticide, genocide, and sexism in the Old Testament, a god who neglected (or was unable?) to interfere in the sufferings of this world he had created and called good, a god who arbitrarily answered a few prayers while ignoring multitudes of others...
I went to church with my husband and children on Sunday mornings, and I stayed quiet (for the most part) when I disagreed with things the pastor preached or my husband said. But I refused to join the "accountability and fellowship" groups at our church, and I stopped reading my Bible. I'm not sure how much longer this farce would have lasted as it was very stressful for me. My husband knew I had some "issues" to resolve, but he refused to admit they were serious. He insisted everything could be easily settled if only I would "submit" to his leadership, put myself under the guidance and discipline of the church, and stop my constant reading of others' heretical and deceptive viewpoints. He believed (still does) that I have a proud, feminist spirit and that is why I could not find joy and peace in my Saviour,Jesus Christ, and the inspired, inerrant Word of God.
Then, almost two years ago, my youngest child was stillborn just before his due date. No reason could be found, but I was told by many Christians that "we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." (Rom. 8:28) That was the turning point in my journey. In many ways, it opened my eyes to reality. The last 23 months have been filled with deep soul-searching, wrenching depression, more reading (this time no longer afraid, as the worst has already happened), and ultimately, a major decision that has finally brought me the peace and calm I have been seeking.
I am relieved and happy to say that I am now an EX-Christian, no longer tied to the superstitious, anti-intellectual, sexist, judgmental stakes of any religion. I realize I have many choices to make in the near future. Some things will be tricky as I have been enmeshed in this life for a long time. My husband will never give up his faith or "compromise" it in any way. My older children are real thinkers (they must have absorbed some of my skepticism over the years), and I'm not worried about them at all. But I do need to tread carefully in regards to my younger kids... and I will.
Yet even with that on my mind, nothing can stop this overwhelming sense of freedom from pervading every cell of my body. To finally see the light of reason... to finally be true to my inner knowledge and feelings... to finally be done with Christianity.
Freedom at last.