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Goodbye Jesus

Letter To My Parents


ResistibleGrace

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Hi all,

 

After lurking around for some time I've decided to post my story over here. English is not my first language, so I'm sure I'll make one or two mistakes along the way :grin: I'm not sure whether I'm in the right forum or not, but here it is anyway:

 

I a 19-year-old student, still living with my parents. I was raised in a pretty fundamentalist christian family. Our church is of a calvinist/reformed denomination, so there isn't much talk of demons or apocalyps, but there is predestination, hell and limited atonement (but of course god is perfectly loving and just, they say).

 

I've never really believed most of it, I think. I already had a lot of questions when I was 13 or 14 years old. But, rather than asking these questions to my parents, to our pastor or to anyone else, I kept them to myself. In our family there's a pretty strong 'don't ask, don't tell' mentality when it comes to christianity, so my parents don't really know what my beliefs are up till now. Some of my friends do, although I haven't really had any long discussions with them.

 

I know I cannot keep this a secret to my parents for much longer, so I have to come out the closet basically. As I am more comfortable with writing things down, rather than telling them bluntly, I've written a letter and I'm planning on reading it out to them. Before I come out of the closet though, I could definately use some advice of a few seasoned ex-christians over here :grin: I really have no idea how my parents will react to it. They could completely accept all my views and respect me for it, but they might as well kick me out of the house. So here is the letter (and yes, I really translated all of it into English :HaHa: ):

 

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Dear mom and dad,

 

After a long period of hesitation I've decided to write you this letter. I wasn't sure whether or not I should share this story with you, but I've reached the conclusion that it's inevitable. Over the past few months and years I've developed an opinion I feel I have to share with you, even though I never openly talked about it with you. With hindsight I maybe should have handled it differently, but I want to correct that now.

I realize that what I'm going to tell you will probably not be easy for you, which is also one of the reasons for the trepidation I had. However, I think it would be unfair if I, as a son, wouldn't be completely open to you. This letter is therefore first and foremost an effort to be honest with you. I hope you will at least be able to appreciate that.

 

It is remarkable about our relationship as parents and son and maybe also about our family that precisely one of the most important elements, if not the most important, is hardly talked about. I mean, of course, the christian belief. I realize that I have to take a big part of the blame for this; I'd much rather study on my own that arguing about it with you. However, I have now reached a point at which I can no longer keep my convictions to myself.

Of course I am 19 years old already. When I was a lot younger, I wasn't really interested in the christian belief. Of course, I went to church - as I still do - , sunday school, a christian school etcetera. But I didn't really think about it. As I grew up, I started to ask myself a lot of questions, like: what do I really believe? And why do I believe that? I think these are normal questions for someone who is growning up and is starting to have his own opinions.

More and more I tried to look for answers to these important questions. I started to read the bible a lot more, but I didn't find the answers I was looking for. Now is the time I have to share the outcome of this search with you.

 

One of the questions I first asked myself, was this: why am I not a muslim, or a hindu? If I would have been born in Iran, would I've been a muslim now? Or a hindu, had I been born in India by chance? How could I say, then, that my belief is the only right one? These thoughts led me to the following question: if Allah, Zeus, Wodan and Ra all don't exist, why does my - or: our - god exist then? I could only come to one conclusion: there is no reason at all not to put our god in that list as well. I realised that god didn't make man in his image, but man made god in his image.

It is clear that for this reason, I cannot take the bible as god's word any longer, from the beginning to the end. It has no more authority than the quran, the writings of the hindus, the Greeks or any other book.

 

Apart from this question about the truth and the evidence for god, I had to find out that christianity paints a picture of a ruthless, heartless, human-like god: a god who avenges, a god who punishes, a god who will not forgive sins for all eternity. A god you must love compulsory, but even that is not enough. For it is written: "And the king saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen" (Matthew 22:12-14) and: "whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire" (Revelation 20:15). Or, as Spurgeon says: "You and I can never imagine all the depths of hell. Shut out from us by a black veil of darkness, we cannot tell the horrors of that dismal dungeon of lost souls. Happily, the wailings of the damned have never startled us, for a thousand tempests were but a maidens whisper, compared with one wail of a damned spirit. It is not possible for us to see the tortures of those souls who dwell eternally within an anguish that knows no alleviation. These eyes would become sightless balls of darkness if they were permitted for an instant to look into that ghastly shrine of torment. Hell is horrible, for we may say of it, eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive the horrors which God hath prepared for them that hate him" (from the sermon 'the sympathy of the two worlds').

This is no gospel, this is no glad tidings. These horrible, shocking, or, should I say, blasphemous words I can no longer hear without resistance.

 

I absolutely don't want to pretent that I have an answer to every question. There are lots of things we know very little about. But I do know this: I prefer reasonable thinking, science and a critical mindset to blind faith. That is, after all, one of the basics of the christian faith: "blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed" (John 20:29). Paul knew very well that his message was madness to the Greek philosophers, yet this madness is the absolute and final truth, the only chance to get salvation.

Last sunday we heard the same message again: it was a total contempt for all science; "agnostic philosophy", as the pastor called it, is the work of the devil. The biggest virtue is blind faith; doubt is a sign of a weak belief, a sin. Reasoning itself is forbidden.

For me, this criticism of christianity is so strong, so overwhelming, that I cannot and will not call myself a christian any more.

 

I realize very well that these thoughts are a complete breach with all that I have been told for the last nineteen years. Such a breach can no longer be without consequences. I think it is very clear that I don't feel myself at home in church any longer. How difficult this decision may be, I will have to say goodbye to the church. I will not be able to do a confirmation of a christian belief that isn't my belief. It is inevitable; I have reached an age at which I have to take my own decisions and that is what I will do.

With this I hope I have made somewhat clear how I think about god, the bible and christianity, but I think you will still have lots of questions. Therefore, I will try to take away a few misconceptions that might arise.

 

Firstly, I want to make clear that there is no way back for me. It was no easy decision I made swiftly. I really tried to think about these matters seriously. I have definitively left christianity behind and I cannot choose to believe again, just as I actually did not choose to belief to let the christian belief go. It was to me simply an inevitable conclusion.

I also want to share with you the convictions I do have. I think this is the only life we have and I have to live my life as well as I can. I think that, without christianity, there is objective good and evil in this world and I have to pursue the good as much as I can. I think there are lots of beautiful things that make life worth living: little, daily things, but also the enourmous freedom I have as a member of Western society - unlike so many others, art, music, culture, science, etcetera. I realise I live in an enourmous amount of wealth, while there are so many people in this world who are so much worse off than I am. A better world starts within yourself: a simple sentence, but a very noble goal.

 

Furthermore, I want to make it clear that I absolutely do not blame you for anything. That would be nonsensical. I could not think of any more love parents than you. I am convinced that you want the best for me and you tried to raise me with the best intentions, with the idea that the christian faith is the best for me. I deeply appreciate that.

Even though I don't really know what your reaction is going to be, I can imagine that this is a very difficult message for you. Therefore, I don't want to say in a cheap way: this is me, this is my opinion and you just have to respect that. I fully understand that, by baptizing me, you promised to raise me in the christian tradition and I am now heading in the opposite direction. You are the parents, I am the son, I live in your house. I hope my rejection of christianity will not lead to conflicts between us, or have a negative effect on our relationship as father, mother and son. That is absolutely not my intention.

But, above all, I want you to understand this: I am still the same son you have known for the last nineteen years. How important this decision might seem to be, my personality has not changed at all. I am still a hard worker, a inquisitive student, a calm boy with my own characteristics, my own humour, my own interests and my own shortcomings. But most importantly: I am still your loving son.

 

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I guess I didn't really try the gentle approach after all, it's pretty much 'in their faces'. But I don't want to sneak my way out of christianity, even though I probably could. I want to be honest, at last.

 

What do you think? Any comment is very much appreciated!

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If they could admire it the way I do, they would be very proud.

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Great letter, IMO. Although it is straightforward, I don't think it is as "in your face" as you fear. I hope that however you choose to tell them, it goes well.

 

Respectfully,

Franciscan Monkey

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It is a great letter as is. You said English was not your first language, and I don't mean to be presumptuous, but I have some suggestions regarding spelling and grammar. Please disregard if you don't feel changes are in your best interest.

 

A god you must love compulsory

I recommend: A god you must love compulsorily.

just as I actually did not choose to belief to let the christian belief go

I recommend: just as I actually did not choose to let the Christian belief go

I could not think of any more love parents than you

I recommend: I could not imagine any more loving parents than you.

 

Finally, a suggestion about confrontation (others may well disagree with my approach):

 

this is my opinion and you just have to respect that

Might be better as: this is my opinion and I [fervently] hope that you will respect that

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Hi Shyone, thanks for your recommendations! I'm not going to use the English version of this letter for my parents, but it's always helpful to improve my English anyway.

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Hi Shyone, thanks for your recommendations! I'm not going to use the English version of this letter for my parents, but it's always helpful to improve my English anyway.

I kind of thought you might not use the English version, and I thank you for translating it for our benefit. It is beautiful as is.

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