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My Ex-Timony


Skepticaldude541
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When I first joined this board I hadn't left Christianity completely. I was still on the fence looking for answers. So I'd like to get out my story just for the sake of getting it out. I'll probably repeat things that I've said before but that doesn't matter.

 

I converted to Christianity about 3 or 4 years ago. It began when my mother and I moved from Beaverton, OR to where we are now. I had attended church a few times in Beaverton but I didn't give anything they said second thought. Honestly all I remember from that time (I was 10 or 11) is a lot of pain and emotional issues.

 

When we moved we moved in with my sister and her family. They were, and still are, Independent Fundamental Baptists. (You know Mr. Steve Anderson in Arizona? Ya, about 3 steps up from that level of crazy) My mother drug me to church with them and I remember being bored to tears. The speaker was always loud and excited and said things that made no sense. It wasn't until I got conned into going to church camp that I finally stopped ignoring Christianity.

 

A friend of mine I had made at this church would not stop pestering me about church camp. He went on about how "fun" it would be, etc. I eventually gave in and said I'd go. At this church camp I "got saved" and started "living for Jesus". (I was around 13 by this time) I remember the ignorant fervor I had. (Even as a Christian I saw myself as ignorant at the time of my conversion) I grasped at the structure that Christianity gave and built up my life around it. Over the short years I transitioned from unquestioning Fundy, to devout Bible thumper, to inquisitive Bible believer, and finally to a liberal reformed theology. (This was between the ages of 13 and 16!) I read the Bible through twice, knew many passages by heart, prayed daily, read daily, and tried my best to serve Jesus. I also felt that God would have me be a missionary to the nation of Israel.

 

If we go back to July 2008, that is when my life started changing. (Hold on, this might get corny) We were both 15 and met on the 4th of July. (She already attended the church I went to, I just hadn't noticed her until now) The friendship quickly took off and we helped each other through a lot of crap. (Fundy life isn't easy, especially with parents that don't care about you) A few months after meeting she said she felt God wanted her to go to Israel too. (I remember insisting that it wasn't just because we were falling in love, it was because God had a plan for us, etc.) So at that we both felt we were "meant for each other" and it opened the door to a relationship that otherwise would never have happened. We got lots of flak for being so "friendly" with each other but we didn't care. (A brief explanation, for this will be needed for later. Because we both believed it was evil for unmarried people to touch, kiss, etc. We had developed a way around it by saying we were "married before God" :shrug: )

 

Fast forward to June 2009. Me and this girl (Whom in my fundy mind I considered my "wife" but I'll refer to her as my girlfriend) have been through lots of shit. (Including a very dramatic attempt at suicide that I tried due to the fact that I felt worthless and that I could never "conquer my sins") I got a job at NWYC and left home for 6 weeks. I met a lot of open minded people here and it spurred towards a more liberal theology and "reason based faith". (Another parenthetical, I had always tried to base my beliefs on something after I left the "unquestioning fundie" stage, until my deconversion that thing was the Bible)

Me and my girlfriend wrote letters to each other which were, admittedly, rather... Graphic. (They were private Zues damnit!) After I returned there was church camp to be attended so I went with everyone else from my church. While at camp the last letter I had sent from NWYC arrived at my girlfriend's house and into the clutches of her mother. Her mother, out of curiosity, read it, and then the shit hit the fan. (Her parents had no idea that me and her had a relationship, especially to the extent that we did)

 

Me and my girlfriend were not allowed to talk to each other anywhere besides church. We were pissed about this and I was shattered. I was going to have to explain the content of those letters to her parents, and that meant explaining my theology. That meant explaining the whole, "married before God" thing. I thought if I could at least make a case from the Bible maybe, just maybe, they would let us be together again. However; doubts crept in. Like most beliefs based on the Bible I found that there were holes in my belief! Biblical marriage could be defined in a thousand ways! I felt so bad for sneaking around behind her parents back and so guilty for things that I had thought God told me were ok before. God had told me my relationship with her was right in the past, but now it seemed he was telling me it wasn't. What the hell?! I writhed in pain over this contradiction, I wanted to die, I couldn't take all this anymore. Everyone told me my relationship with my girlfriend was wrong but it had felt so right, even by what the Bible said.

 

The day came where I had to explain things to them. I told them what my girlfriend and I believed. They didn't give a damn. They wanted us separated until we could earn their trust back. We agreed. At this point I descended into a cloud of doubt and pain. I kept a shotgun in my closet in case I decided to act on my thoughts of suicide. I was still lost as to why I felt the way I did before and after the incident with the letters. Step by step I slipped away from Christianity. I questioned many things and tried to find answers. One day I stumbled across John W. Loftus' blog, "Debunking Christianity". The things posted mostly flew over my head but some points hit home. I was still in the boat of Christianity, but holes were popping up everywhere. From that blog I somehow wound up on the SAB and posted a few posts on my blog asking my Christian friends to explain some of the problems in the Bible. (At this point my Christianity had essentially vanished, I embraced skepticism and leaned towards atheism. I still wanted to try to reclaim my faith though.) From the SAB I found more problems at Dwindling In Unbelief. This was all in the space of about 5 or 6 weeks. The things that finalized my exodus from Christianity were reading "The God Delusion" and watching a series of videos made by the YouTube user holysinecure. At this point I considered myself and atheistic agnostic. Then I found Ex-Christian.net. I was still on the fence (in my mind, I didn't want to admit I had abandoned Christianity) and that along with the internet atheist community eventually brought me to where I am now.

 

My suicidal tendencies vanished with the belief in heaven. My depression vanished with the realization that I am not a worthless sinner and things that I do by normal human nature aren't evil. I am now an atheist and proud of it.

 

(I do hope this was somewhat coherent. It made sense when I typed it.)

 

My blog.

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Thanks for sharing your story. Thanks also for the links, a couple of which I wasn't familiar with and bookmarked for future reference. Hopefully things work out with your girlfriend and families.

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Do you think it's coincidence that your suicidal tendencies and belief in heaven left together, or is there a more direct connection to you? If the latter, could you describe what the connection is?

 

I can imagine being suicidal over a lot of things, including the trouble you and your girlfriend have had (still a silly reason to commit suicide, but it's hard to tell when your young). Did your relationship with her change in some way? (forgive me if I missed that from your ex-timony).

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Do you think it's coincidence that your suicidal tendencies and belief in heaven left together, or is there a more direct connection to you? If the latter, could you describe what the connection is?

 

I can imagine being suicidal over a lot of things, including the trouble you and your girlfriend have had (still a silly reason to commit suicide, but it's hard to tell when your young). Did your relationship with her change in some way? (forgive me if I missed that from your ex-timony).

 

Belief in heaven allowed me to justify the idea of suicide in the first place. I otherwise would have rejected it since I only have one life to live. No matter what happens it's better to live it than to not live it. I think it was a very direct connection. It was an enabling force.

 

Oh my suicidal thoughts were never about relationship issues. It was always about not being good enough. I was never good enough for God, never thought I'd amount to anything, never could have enough faith, never could control myself, etc. It was all in my head, I would beat myself up and punish myself mentally sometimes. Anything to inhibit the flesh.

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Belief in heaven allowed me to justify the idea of suicide in the first place. I otherwise would have rejected it since I only have one life to live. No matter what happens it's better to live it than to not live it. I think it was a very direct connection. It was an enabling force.

 

Oh my suicidal thoughts were never about relationship issues. It was always about not being good enough. I was never good enough for God, never thought I'd amount to anything, never could have enough faith, never could control myself, etc. It was all in my head, I would beat myself up and punish myself mentally sometimes. Anything to inhibit the flesh.

Ok, I understand now. But what if you had been taught that suicide precluded heaven and meant a direct route to hell? That's the "approach" of some religions/denominations/sects so that their members won't start killing themselves to get to the "good stuff" prematurely.

 

Oh, and beating yourself up and punishing yourself mentally is ok. Suicide is always the wrong answer.

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Your post really reminded me of my high school deconversion life (except my boyfriend/ now husband was never a christian). I was extremely suicidal as a young teen, more in that I wished for death than that I made personal attempts. I was taught that suicide was a short cut to hell you see. I actually prayed that I would die because it felt like if I continued to live I would just get farther and farther from god so best to end the meaningless game of life early you know? I had a lot of other side issues as well. But I know what you mean when you say you and your girl felt/ feel meant for eachother. Teenage love can be quite real, powerful and lasting, but often times isn't. Only time will tell for sure, but don't let older people get you down. When you say you two feel married now - I know exactly what you mean. We felt married many years before we got it legalized. When you do get married, it doesn't have to feel like such a big deal and nothing has to change. Commitment doesn't have to have anything to do with either religion or a legal document.

 

I went to a church camp 2 years. One in which I was trying to still find god (near the beginning of my relationship with my boyfriend). It sort of worked in that way that year, but the people were nice and the 'fellowship' seemed sincere. The next year I was fully non-christian, my roomates were total shallow bitches and everything was so obviously fake and idiotic it made me want to puke. So I'd advise not going to church camps anymore unless you want to do a social experiment or something.

 

I remember you talking before about your girlfriend having doubts as well. How does she feel now? Girls can have it rough because the religion does have a detrimental effect on our ability to trust ourselves and be secure in our opinions. I turned to Wicca/ paganism after deconverting because I needed to rebuild my female role and self worth. Heh, I am still a stay at home mom and housewife but not your traditional kind. Anyway, just thought it could help her to look into it, even just from an educational standpoint. I know I never even thought about my body/ feelings/ emotions (feminity in general) as anything but a trial to overcome and a curse until I reworked my mind. I mean, you have been hearing about how evil your minds/ bodies feelings of lust are, and how sexual pleasure is sin outside of their defined terms - its hard to overcome. Even after intellectually I knew it wasn't evil, it took time to really convince the rest of me that it was okay - that it was good in fact! I deconverted around the age 16, it still took until I was 18 before I had actual 'intercourse'. X-tianity is such a mind fuck when it comes to sex...

 

Anyway, hope things continue to go well. Being a teenager can really suck and it will take a while to really work your way out of it, but it gets better. Much better. Not only the control you gain, but just having a fully functioning brain is wonderful. Enjoy what strange freedoms you have, embrace your feelings and your reason and good luck to you and your girl. I love seeing young people in love :HappyCry:

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How does she feel now?

 

I think trying to figure things out is stressing her out. She started out trying to explore her doubts but it was a bit much for her. I think she is 1 or 2 steps away from deism honestly. I think she'll really start questioning in earnest with time. I decided a while back to just let her figure things out in time and guide her a bit.

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