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GuyGone last won the day on January 19 2016

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About GuyGone

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    Why we lose faith. And books, lots of books.
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    Pastor who had doubts that I couldn't reconcile.

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  • Still have any Gods? If so, who or what?
    Wish it was true

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  1. Yep, I underlined, then I liked bibles with wide margins for notes. But I filled one up, so I got a journaling Bible. Filled that up. Even now, when I go to a group with my wife, I see the shallowness of some of the people in the class - these are people who have been in the church for years, but I suspect they haven't opened their Bibles much. Or at least, they haven't thought much about what they really believe and the implications of it. Not stupid people, just people who go by what they are told and what they feel, people who "believe the Bible" but haven't read it enough to know what is really there. But I don't rock the boat.
  2. I'm a little late to this party, but here's a suggestion: I don't know how similar the beliefs are in your current church to the one you originally attended, but you might suggest to your wife that you want to find a church with less controlling, less objectionable beliefs. It's not a total solution, it's definitely a compromise, but it might make going to church with her a little easier. You'd have to be able to articulate what specifically is a problem, not something vague. I still go to church with my wife. She's hoping I'm just in a phase. Which I would be, if God ever actually showed up or demonstrated something unambiguous. Hasn't happened yet. And I used to be a pastor. But my point is that if she will agree to a church that is less controlling or guilt-inducing, it will making going easier. Or maybe you can attend just the small group meetings for the friendship. I go with my wife to a small group and the folks there are nice. It's purely a social thing for me. Well, and it keeps the church thing from causing a rift with my wife. Which is the important thing. Now, if she said she wanted us to go on a missions trip, that would be something different. But neither of us has been much into that, even when I was an ordained pastor. The church we go to now is kind of "lightweight", theologically, and that suits me fine. No guilting, short services, and we have some friends who go there. We often go out to dinner with them after church. You can be a committed Christian and still not like emotional manipulation, controlling tactics, and poor reasoning. I certainly tried to avoid those things when I was a pastor. So it is legitimate for your wife (and you) to attend a church that is reasonable, without her feeling like she is leaving the Christian fold. Of course, she may not believe that. And by "reasonable" I don't mean you have to agree with them, just that they treat people decently without the mind games. They still are going to believe what they believe, and it will be different from what you believe, but how they treat you and other people who attend can be different from how people are treated where you attend now. I know in your mind the best solution is probably for your wife to agree and abandon church with you. But, as I've said on these pages a few times, you didn't get to your conclusions instantly. Most of us took a long time to get there and even if your wife is starting to see the discrepancies, you can't expect her to get there any faster than you did. And it may take longer, most of us who were in church for a long time take a long time to get out. There is too much emotional, time, and personal investment to just walk away instantly.
  3. This might or might not be a good suggestion. But as an ex-pastor, I've done my share of marriage guidance. Some people will use religion to justify what they really want. That is, they follow the "rules" but selectively. It isn't just religious people who do this, although for this forum those are the ones we're interested in. The Bible clearly says (Ephesians 5) that wives are to respect their husbands. It's not optional based on agreement or disagreement. In Titus 2 there is an expectation that women love their husbands - older women are instructed to teach younger women how to do that. Ephesians 5 also instructs husbands to love their wives, so it's not one-sided. 1 Corinthians 7 says that a believer married to an unbeliever should stay in the marriage unless the unbeliever wants out. And it isn't supposed to be done grudgingly. So what if you were to mention those verses and say that it seems those things are missing from your marriage and you'd like to know how you might get them back. And if she's willing to do so. And if not, why those verses can be ignored. You'd have to be really careful not to be whacking her over the head with the Bible. But it's a legitimate question if asked the right way. The basic question is what's broken and how is it mended without forcing you to be something you're not. Obviously it's a longer conversation than what I've presented here.
  4. I think the community aspect is one thing that makes the church attractive. Since people don't join bowling leagues or elk's lodges anymore (not much, anyway), the Sunday services and small group gatherings at most churches make a place to have closer relationships with people. You can have relationships with coworkers, but there is usually a barrier of some sort because it's work-related. We've been inviting friends over for dinner at our house about once a month. Groups of 4 to 10. No Bible study, of course (I don't plan to lead one of those again, although I've considered leading a "life study" of some sort). It's exactly like the Bible studies we used to have, but without the Bible part. Last time we did it, the women drifted over to the living room, us guys stayed in the dining room. The women were sure having a lot of fun, from the sound of it. I think that connection is a big piece of what people miss when they leave church. The thing is that most of the people we've invited are connected via past or present churches, but nobody insists on having a Bible-based theme. But we can still have some interesting life discussions.
  5. Since I'm technically still a pastor (until the end of the year, when my credentials expire), I still get the denominational emails and mailings. I just got one that was a story about how life brings storms but if we submit to God, we come out better. I'm seeing (or noticing) more and more the themes that what God does is all emotion. I even herd someone say from a pulpit recently that God's dealings with us are "at the heart level". In other words, don't expect anything tangible, except better feelings about your situation. A lot of Christians feel that it is God who gets them through the tough spots in life. I mentioned on another thread that I have a friend who is dealing with a life-threatening illness and depends on God to get them through the days. Maybe if he really thinks he doesn't have what it takes inside to make it through this, it's beneficial to think there is a God who is helping. I wonder what would happen if we could communicate to people that what they need is inside them and inside the people (spouses, etc.) who are their support system. I will say that, as you point out, the community aspects of church and all things related is a big draw. If you are dealing with a difficult situation, it's probably better to think people are praying for you than to think nobody cares. I know, we can go into all kinds of discussion about how useless it is and how prayer can be used as a substitute for actually doing something, I'm just looking at that one facet of it.
  6. I know I'm a little late to this party, but the predestination thing has always bothered me. The churches I've attended/pastored in didn't believe in predestination. But why do those who do believe in it think badly of someone who leaves the faith? Seems like they should just be saying "Hey, it's God's will, who are we to judge?". It's almost like they don't really believe it.
  7. I understand the responses. If you read my original post over on the extimony page (I'm sure you all have nothing else to do), I originally wrote my ebook because I felt that I went through the process alone and there were other people who felt the same way - I wrote it for them (and maybe for me too, a little). I didn't tell my wife the extent of it until the book was finished and I gave her a copy. And, like a lot of you, I didn't know if her reaction would be horror, disgust, I-want-a-divorce (although I was pretty sure it wouldn't go there) or something more accepting. So I'm not denying that it's hard to express that because you don't know how others will react. My only objection is to those who feel a need to confront (for lack of a better word) those who disagree. The in-your-face attitude is more objectionable than the atheism itself. I've thought about how I'll handle my friend who is dealing with the medical issue. When it's all done, if he survives, I'm sure we'll all have dinner. He'll tell us how faithful God was through this entire thing. I have three choices. First is to ignore it, and that's a viable option because his belief in God doesn't hurt me. Second is to tell him that there is no God so get over it (or some nicer version of the same thing). The third is to tell him that it wasn't God that got him through it, it was his supportive wife, his competent doctors, and his own internal ability to face and cope with adversity. In other words, if he wants to think it was God, that's fine, but God is unnecessary because he had everything he needed. I'm leaning toward the third one. Because it's "for" not "against", it's about making him better, not making him worse. Building him up instead of tearing his faith down. I get the issues of living a lie or even just a non-stated truth that everyone assumes isn't true. I've done it. I still do it; my friend that I referred to thinks I'm still a Christian. My wife is a person who needs to know, and I finally told her (well, I gave her the book to read). My friend - it's not so important whether he knows, although if he asks I'll tell him.
  8. I realize I'm the one who is out of step here, but Christians aren't all kooks and they don't control the culture, and nobody needs to walk on eggshells around them. They deserve the same decency that you would show to someone who is firmly convinced that their copper bracelet helps their arthritis. Nobody likes the person who has to go around proving everyone else wrong, regardless of the topic. I know someone who is a Christian and is dealing with a difficult and possibly fatal medical situation. They believe that God has things under control. They see events relating to medical procedures as God's timing for things. I'm not going to try to convince them to become an atheist by demanding that they agree with me that if God had it under control, why did they get sick in the first place? If belief in God makes it easier for them to get through this difficult time, and makes them fear death less, are any of us really obligated to argue with them about it? I know someone who won't buy Firestone tires because 15 or so years ago, they had a problem with catastrophic failure in one model of their tires. At this point, it's silly to base a purchase decision on that. But I don't argue with them about it. I think sometimes leaving faith makes us want to lash out at those still in it. We don't want to treat them as decently as we would the guy at the office who believes his comb-over really looks good. We don't have to hide who we are. But we don't have to smash it into other people's faces like a cream pie or treat them with disrespect. Being an atheist is one thing. Defining yourself as one, and making it the one thing that you want other people to recognize about you is, well, problematic.
  9. Any time you are letting go of a firmly held belief - especially one as important as God, who determines your eternal future - there is going to be a great sense of loss. In my book, I likened it to divorce. Even if the divorce is the best thing that can happen, there is usually a lot of emotional trauma to letting go. Unless the relationship was completely abusive or something. There are people here who seemed to disconnect easily. But most of us can't do that any more than we could walk away from a marriage with no emotional fallout. It takes time to replace that God-belief with something else. It's a journey, not an event, at least for those of us who found value in it. So it isn't a flaw in you that makes the process painful. If it wasn't painful, that would probably mean you never really took it seriously. I've used the analogy of walking out of a river; the further from shore you are and the deeper you are in the water, the longer it takes to wade out.
  10. I haven't understood why it's necessary to tell people that we're atheists. We've all heard of the stereotypical ex-smoker who wants to evangelize everyone about his new non-habit. But most non-smokers just don't smoke. I still go to church with my wife but I don't participate. At church, people assume you are a Christian, I don't find it necessary to announce that they are all wrong. I don't feel the need to be an atheist evangelist. I wonder, do we often want to tell everyone because we want to convince them? Are we afraid "what they'll think" (that we're a Christian)? Like most non-smokers, most atheists are just non-believers. They aren't trying to sell it to anyone. They just live as if God doesn't exist and go on about their lives. I'm sure some people feel a need to get back at someone, perhaps a strongly fundamentalist parent or something. And some feel like if they don't say something, everyone will assume they're something they aren't. New Christians sometimes evangelize, but that's because they want everyone to have what they have. Why do we need to? Most people don't make a point of telling the people around them their smoking status, sexual preferences, book preferences, whether they are an introvert or extrovert. Most of the time, people just let their actions speak unless the topic legitimately comes up in conversation. I have a relative who is vegetarian. That's a good thing to know because we want to pick restaurants that will accommodate them. I suppose the atheist equivalent would be if someone from your old church invites you to a men's (or women's) retreat or some other religious event. Then you could say "I don't go to those anymore" or the stronger "I just don't believe that stuff anymore". But that's different from making a point of bringing the subject up. Makes for an interesting question I guess; what circumstances really call for making a declaration of atheism as opposed to just being an atheist?
  11. Lyra: I've actually counseled someone in this situation, although 9 kids is an exaggeration (although I know someone with 8). In those situations, it's a difficult problem because the mom is concerned not just with herself but with the kids. If she leaves, will they be homeless? Living in a shelter someplace? How much risk does she take with their lives? And at that point, it's easy for the husband to hold his sole income contribution over her head. As in, she doesn't provide any of the financial input. Or "where would you go?" kind of questions. Sometimes the choice is to wait until the kids are grown and then take a risky leap. But then the kids see the wife as abandoning the husband, they don't recognize the other factors. To be fair, the church didn't advocate that kind of relationship; it came with them when they came to the church. The leadership (well, me and one other pastor) recognized the difficulty of the situation; we didn't make excuses for it. But we couldn't fix it, either. I would estimate that less than 10% (maybe less than 1%) of churches would actually advocate that kind of lopsided relationship. That said, my wife was perfectly fine staying home to raise the kids - she thought it was important and I was OK with it (but we weren't trying to live on a pastor's salary either - the pastoring I've done was always when I had another job to pay the bills). And we also both have college degrees. Women's shelters are not usually a long-term solution. Not long enough to get a degree, anyway. Usually they are just a place to get safe while you plan your next move - which is in like 90 days or less. A lot of shelters, maybe most of them, have more demand than supply, so they have to limit the stay. They will take kids, but the time limitation is the real problem. So a woman in that situation who plans to stay in a shelter basically has to plan on filing for divorce immediately and asking for support. But she has to find a lawyer who will do it pro bono or something. Or she has to find a friend or relative who will let her sleep on the sofa for a while. I still have a laminated card in my wallet with the numbers of the local women's shelters and other assistance organizations.
  12. Why is it necessary to tell anyone? I think sometimes ex-Christians become like some ex-smokers - need to evangelize everyone around them. Why would you want to do it that way? For the shock value? To cause hurt? To get back at someone for something? Does it stem from anger of some kind? It might be worthwhile to examine why you feel it necessary to make it a point to tell your family. At work, most atheists don't go around to their coworkers, even the Christian ones, and make a point of telling them that they're wrong. People who do that are considered obnoxious in the work place. I don't think there are very many cases where it's necessary to drop a bombshell. But if it comes up in conversation, it's legitimate to say "I'm an atheist". Or to say "I have a problem with that story in the Bible because it conflicts with this one". Or "I don't believe what I used to believe about that." Or even "I can't trust a God who never seems to do anything." In other words, you can be honest without being deliberately antagonistic. I know I've listed a number of possible reasons such as anger to tell everyone, and none of them may apply. But the question of why it's necessary to make a point of challenging your family (as opposed to just letting it be part of normal conversations or something) is legitimate.
  13. In my experience, most churches are becoming less patriarchal or sexist or whatever you want to call it. It seems to me that most churches are glossing over or ignoring or "culturalizing" those passages in the Bible. And only the more devout Christians study the Bible for themselves; most know only the portions that are preached/taught. There are exceptions, of course. But I suspect most women are leaving because they just increasingly find the church irrelevant. And, yes, it's a problem for volunteerism in the church. Although I think a lot of churches also have issues with disengaged women - those who attend but don't volunteer.
  14. Dr Laura (anybody remember her?) said that you can't get love from the devil. The point being not that some people are like the devil but that some people don't have it in them to exhibit love or humility or grace or patience or whatever is missing. Like the devil, it just isn't in their nature. Whether it's caused by insecurity, too much "security" (actual arrogance), relational blindness, past hurts, innate personality, or whatever, you can't change it. You might be able to influence him, but you can't change him. You can wear yourself out expecting him to be something that he's not capable of being. I'm not saying he can't change. I'm saying that until he does, you shouldn't expect him to be what you want. You can only expect him to be what he is. Unfortunately, far too many people become pastors because they think it's a way to get automatic affirmation. It's an easy path to becoming an "executive" because it comes with some authority perks. You are God's man (or woman) until people figure out that you aren't. You are the holy man, and who wants to argue with God's holy man? You get a lot of respect and "followers" just because you have the title pastor. At one of our churches (I'm a former pastor), there were a couple of families who liked to hang out with us because we were pastors (and I wasn't even the senior pastor). For some people, it's a thing to be close to the person who is close to God or closer to authority, or something. And some pastors like to be looked up to in that way. Being a pastor, where being elevated comes more from the title, is easier than actually doing things to achieve that status. At least for a while, until people figure it out. I have a relative who changed jobs for years, usually more than once a year, and it was always someone else's fault. It's really hard to break through that because the person just can't take responsibility for their actions. As Dr Phil used to say, you can't deal with something until you put it on the table. I doubt dad is ready to put it on the table. And most narcissists have to lose something valuable to them before they will even consider it (and a lot of them won't do it even then).
  15. Why not donate it to a used Christian bookstore (or any used bookstore) that will have it? Someone will get a cheap Bible, you get rid of something you don't want. win-win.
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