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Breaking Free From Religion


movingon
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hey everyone!

 

I just wanted to ask how you guys were able to break free from the christian mindset and bondage? often times, even though i find that i don't really believe anymore, i find myself conforming to the christian mindset and rules because that is the way i have lived for so many years. Therefore, when I break a "rule" I feel guilty even though whatever it was didn't hurt anyone else or whatever. As an example, physical boundaries or swearing or whatever. I feel guilty for things like that, but yet, is there anything actually wrong with them other than what the church tells us? I'm tired of living with guilt for stuff that i don't believe or even agree with anymore. So how do i break free?

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I think that to some degree you will never "Break Free from Religion" and it will always burden your mind and behavior.

 

This has two reasons, first because you were taught it at an early age and it has left such a deep impression on you. Suppose, for example that you moved to a foreign country and spoke only their language. You would stop using English entirely, but until the day you died, the English language would remain in your brain simply because you learned it at a young age and it left an impression on you. You might always feel guilt about arbitrary things like swear words, and you might always feel anxiety about "wages of sin." You might never be freed from the doctrines of the Trinity, the Incarnation, and the Atonement. You must accept this negative reality.

 

The second reason that you won't break free is that Christianity, while it contains so much that is unlikely, impossible, absurd and evil, also contains within it a lot which is true and absolute. When Christianity says that it is evil to betray your friends, that's because it actually is evil to betray your friends. You have a conscience which speaks to you, and much of what it tells you is also announced by Christianity. Thus, much of what you hold in your mind as "Christianity" cannot be jettisoned because it overlaps with what you know from reflection upon experience and from consultation with conscience. Take cursing, for example: Every culture has taboo words that are considered rude and vulgar. This is because certain words create hurt emotions: "Fuck you!" And other words make people think about things that are personal and embarrassing: "Shit!" It is not Christianity alone which tells you that you shouldn't use these words in polite or solemn company, it is also your conscience and your empathy for the feelings of those around you. That part of "Christianity" should not be rejected.

 

But if you want to do your best to wipe Christianity from your mind, perhaps the best way to do it is to substitute it with something else? That is what I have done. I didn't like Christianity because I thought it was false, damaging and cruel. So, as a means of removing it from my cognitive system, I replaced it with a religion that is probable, salutary, and benign. My new religion rewrites my cognitions and where Christianity once stood, another religion now stands. You are more likely to forget English if you learn a new language than if you simply try to forget English. For the record, my new religion is ancient Greek Paganism as interpretted by Socrates and Plato. Pathei Mathos!

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Excellent post Llwellyn. It was the same process for me. Christianity is always there, and I simply accept that it will be and find ways to live with it. I find that substitution works pretty well, if you can find a philosophy or another religion to occupy your mind and help you. With me it was the teachings of J. Krishnamurti and then Buddhism.

 

I think that the promises of Christianity are difficult to dislodge. For myself, the promise of a wonderful afterlife and of some higher being that loves and cares about you. Particularly if your experiences with your fellow human beings and your life on earth is not so great. Of course it isn't real, but when you discover that it is not real, that leaves a gigantic hole. I suppose it is different with everyone and each person must take a highly individual course to freedom. When I say freedom, I mean relative to the bondage of Christianity when you must believe the dogma. It isn't ever really complete freedom. A lot depends, I think, upon how much you were indoctrinated as a child and how seriously you took it.

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I started out by simply doing a couple of things differently. I look at Sundays as a sleep in day. I started smoking pot, which I had liked when I was younger but was scared I was going to be sent to hell for. I began to think of my life as MINE. I really took away many of the things I thought I HAD to do and started replacing them with things I WANT to do.

 

Some of the very things I used to carry guilt for, I now can embrace responsibly and on my terms, without fear of damnation. Free up your mind. Freddy

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movingon, for me personally, I spent time reading stuff on the internet. I would get into discussions on a message board (Skeptic's Annotated Bible) and read what they had to say (filtering out some of the attitudes and focusing on the actual arguments) as well as stuff they linked. I read the Bible from a skeptic's standpoint. I watched YouTube videos by skeptics. This stuff helped me reassess my views.

 

As far as physical boundaries, I was already a married man of several years, so I really didn't change my physical boundaries after deconverting.

 

As far as swearing, even when I was a christian I realized that the substance and attitude one has is of more importance than the words used to express it. Though I didn't use "swear words" myself, I would much rather be around someone in a good mood saying, "Hot damn!" than someone in a bad mood yelling and screaming without using swear words. After all, the bible doesn't specify any words that are off limits (apart from taking Yahweh's name in vain, of course), and even uses some words in the KJV that many christians consider swear words (such as "pisseth"). So after deconverting it really wasn't a leap for me to come to the point where "swear words" don't bother me at all (unless overdone to the point that it just seems downright tasteless, but even then it's not that it's necessarily bad). I try not to use them around people whom I know would be offended, but I don't concern myself with them too much otherwise.

 

All in all, just think about morality from a rational perspective. In other words, with any given issue, how does it affect others? If it will harm someone, then it would be reasonable to consider it a no-no. If it won't harm anyone (including yourself), then it's no big deal. If there is some other risk, such as with sex, then try to be reasonable with it, such as using protection and/or not going hogwild with a bunch of partners (not that that's necessarily wrong, but I would consider it unwise).

 

Anyway, there's my 2¢, for what it's worth.

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Thanks for the advice everyone :)

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hey everyone!

 

I just wanted to ask how you guys were able to break free from the christian mindset and bondage? often times, even though i find that i don't really believe anymore, i find myself conforming to the christian mindset and rules because that is the way i have lived for so many years. Therefore, when I break a "rule" I feel guilty even though whatever it was didn't hurt anyone else or whatever. As an example, physical boundaries or swearing or whatever. I feel guilty for things like that, but yet, is there anything actually wrong with them other than what the church tells us? I'm tired of living with guilt for stuff that i don't believe or even agree with anymore. So how do i break free?

 

I was the same way for awhile too. Despite renouncing my faith and seeing the truth, that there is no god, I still clung some of my old christian guilts. It took me awhile to stop being offended by things like pre-marital sex and homosexuality. Now I see nothing wrong with either, but it did take some time. You can't just throw away a life time of beliefs over night.

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I would simply say to give it time. When the guilt rises it's ugly head, reconfirm with yourself that it is not "good guilt" and why it is such. It won't stop the guilt (at least not right then) but eventually it will begin to get less and less until you don't notice it anymore.

 

Will it ever be completely gone? I have no idea - for me it's still there, but it's gone from something that stops me in my tracks to just a mild nagging at the back of my mind that is easily repressed by my "new" truths.

 

And there is such a thing as "good guilt" - it's what keeps us honest, trustworthy, etc. These are not bad traits just because they are christian traits - for me it was very useful to look at another religion (or a few) to find the "universalist" truths they all seem to have and realize that they are more than likely human truths as opposed to christian rules. Seperating being a good person from christian dogma was very important for me at least, and that process was very helpful.

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