From over 30 years in active Christianity, 2 times in Bible College studying to become a "Man of God" and 41 years of life-experience, here are my observations on Christianity and why I stopped going to Church. Please note: this is not an endorsement of Agnosticism or Atheism at all; these are just my personal reasons for not going anymore. After 30+ years "in the Faith", I am just tired and need "a break". None of these are designed to be offensive and I certainly hope no one is. Any Christians reading this, I honestly hope your experiences have been different; I’m sure they have and I wish you all the best. Maybe ministers reading this one and all the other ones on here, will learn from them and realize things that they can change in their Churches to make lives better for their parishioners. I don’t know. Hopefully, some good will come of this post.
This post is not to sway anyone’s faith at all or try to "change your mind", just how I feel and why I have stopped active participation in Church, for awhile.
Please note: I readily admit that I lifted a few of these off a post I saw on here many months ago. But, those points were so good and mirrored exactly how I felt; I had to add them to mine. I have tweaked them some, to reflect my experiences. To the original author, thanks for having mercy on me!
Here they are, in no particular order:
1. The church talks a lot about God's grace and love, but after being part of the institution for so long, I have realized that there is just as much love in church as there is in a bar or nightclub; it is all an illusion. You are loved just as long as you adhere to the church doctrine, theological belief system, dogma, and oh, by the way abstain from the big sins, sexual immorality being high on the list. When you decide to "go somewhere else" or leave, for pretty much any reason, you are forgotten by your "family" who "loved" you so much. This is true in even most of the better Churches. Don't even THINK about leaving the more cultlike ones.
2. I realized the meaning of the saying "hypocrisy enables people to keep their values". I found that church reeked of inauthenticity, and got sick and tired of hearing sweet sounding and simplistic testimonies over and over again. You know the ones like, "I was once a dirty rotten sinner, I found Jesus, and now I don't struggle with ______________ (insert big name sin here) anymore!" When I got to know people better, I realized that they were either lying or they had simply swapped sins or addictions.
3. Church has become a corporation very similar to corporate America. The product is Jesus, the pastor is the CEO, the tithing members are shareholders, and the blessings or prosperity or church growth is the dividend. There is practically nothing different between today's mega-churches and for-profit corporations, the only difference is that one purports to be non-profit because it is there to make your spiritual life better when it is actually using fear (of hell) as the primary tool to get you to obey and get in line. The non-profit part is REALLY annoying, as they get the benefit of Fire and Police services WITHOUT contributing any $$$ towards them. This one gets to me, too because while they build their grand buildings and temples, MILLIONS are starving. Forget the world, how about our OWN country! With the economic situation like it is right now, I shudder to think what may be on the horizon.
4. I simply got tired of the implied assumption that if you live by Christian principles, your life will be an oasis on earth and if you don't find this joy from the Christian life it is because YOU have either not repented of some sin or are not faithful in your obedience. I have seen many, MANY devout, good and loving people, who never questioned and lived moral lives, but who still suffered a lot, in some cases, greatly.
5. The merging of Christianity and politics. Each election cycle, we would get these fliers in church that come from groups like the Christian Coalition and others, that imply that if you vote for a Democrat, you are voting for a flaming liberal who hates America, hates the troops, kills babies by abortion, sacrifices children to Satan and wants to marry off homosexuals. Neither Party, in my opinion, has any monopoly on "values" and morals. In fact, the average politician today is corrupt off the scale and it is getting worse all the time. In my opinion, Christians need to organize their own party. That way, they can support their own candidates, have their own agenda and their own convention. Then, they can see if they can sell their ideas to the voters and get the support of voters of the other parties, as well as their own.
6. Christians cherry pick sins in the Bible to criticize opponents, while ignoring sins that they themselves struggle with. Certain sins are on the repulsive list, like any sexual immorality (especially homosexuality) and abortion, but then they totally ignore Bible verses that point to sins like gluttony (a big problem, especially here in the South), lust, pride, unforgiveness, jealousy, lying, hatred (which is equaled to murder in the Bible) and gossiping; no doubt the NUMBER ONE in the average "Church", (that I have seen). I also have seen and know of many, many cases where someone on the “staff” has “run off” with someone else’s Wife or Husband in the Church, which is completely despicable, in my opinion.
7. I was simply worn out from trying to adhere to all the principles; I had to come to the harsh conclusion that the very thing that was supposed to make my life better was making me more miserable. The illusion that one is completely immoral if one does not embrace contemporary Christianity is totally untrue. We are created "in Sin", but we have to apologize to the Creator for anything that we do wrong. Huh??? Also, no matter how hard you work, it is never good enough. You always feel guilty for not "doing enough for the Lord".
8. Denominational differences. How can God write the Bible, but so many different denominations exist? Don't they have the Holy Spirit helping them understand "the things of God?" In Churches that I have been in, fist-fights could break out over how to set up the floral arrangement, let alone any "big things".
9. "Pastoral Authority". This one I have seen devastate and destroy many, many lives, as the "Man of God" is always right and never makes a mistake, so what he says GOES. No matter how Hellish, maddening or insane. But he is a sinner too, right? How can he be "perfect?" He isn't and I have been a member of ones where a complete sociopath, on the same line as BTK or Gacy, (yes, I am serious and they claimed to "do it for you because I love you so much!"), were in charge and ruling people with an iron fist. In ANY other industry, even the madness of Wall Street, they would be fired and ran out of town on a rail, if not arrested.
10. Probably the biggest reason of all. Being a lifelong Baptist, this one hits home very hard. Please, view this site for more info. http://stopbaptistpredators.org/index.htm
How God can tolerate this, for so long in some cases, is beyond me.
After 30 years of this, whether God exists or not, I honestly don't know. Maybe he does, we just don't understand how to relate to him or something. I honestly think it comes down, just like I have always believed - Faith. Hopefully, there is nothing wrong with Faith in and of itself. Faith of course is not Science and can't be proven; it is individual and mine is at the weakest that it has ever been right now. Maybe it will come back stronger than ever one day. Or, simply dissolve away. I don't know what will happen.
I guess I am having "Spiritual Burnout". I have been through Burnouts in life before, but nothing has ever been like this. I don't know what I am anymore. An Agnostic, Deist or just someone who is burned out and needs a break; I honestly don't know anymore. Wait, I know, I’m “Backslid!” Of course! How stupid of me!!
Maybe I will go back to Church, maybe not. Time will tell I guess. I guess “God only knows” where I will end up. Hopefully, happy. The Depression I have had since childhood has been so bad for so long I don’t think I know what “normal” feels like anymore. Ironically, after all of this, it has lifted, a little.
I’ll post my story, eventually. But I am not a writer and it will take forever. It took me forever to write this little post.
Take care, everyone. Thanks for your time in this little corner of Cyberspace.