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My Own Deconversion Story


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Hey people, I apologize for such a long post for my first, but I joined here because I needed to get this off my chest. I wrote this for my friends and family, so it may sound a bit familiar! Giving up Christianity was one of the hardest things I've done in my life, as I had to acknowledge the futility and pain that it had caused me.

 

Anyway, here goes!

 

For those of you who know me and have known the fire and zeal for which I preached and argued for the gospel, this may come as some kind of shock. I didn't just wake up one morning and decide to turn my back on my beliefs, like most things in life, it has been a slow and gradual process, filled with pain, heartache and not some degree of trepidation. 

 

This is in no way an attempt to challenge the views of those of you who hold religious faith, it is simply a means for me to take stock of the past year and stop pretending to be something I'm not. A 'coming out', if you will. I'm not here to refute any doctrine, argue about creationism or attempt to disprove anything, I'll leave that to those better educated than myself.

 

The journey

 

My journey as a Christian has not been without it's ups and downs. When I first became a Christian in year 10 at High School, it was for less than pure motives. I really liked a girl who went to church. Given the recent separation and divorce of my parents, i was looking for some meaning in my life. The church gave me some meaning, and allowed me to spend time with the girl. As time progressed, I got more and more involved with the church. I started to read the bible furiously, I prayed regularly and very soon, I very sincerely prayed the prayer of repentance and asked Jesus for salvation. I knew that I, like all before me was a sinner, and that only Jesus could forgive me and heal my broken heart and put me in right standing with my Father. I attended a bible study with a group of sincere people that I loved and my faith grew. They mentored me and helped me find my way in this new world of faith and gave me support and friendship.

 

Very quickly I got wrapped up in the 'Jesus Freak' culture and set out to save my high school. I preached every chance I got. To my friends, to my teachers and debated with people daily. The divide between myself and my non-Christian friends got larger and larger. I was too concerned with larger things. My studies and my friendships suffered. I felt persecuted for my faith. In retrospect, I think I was persecuted more for being so outspoken and pushing it on people. But that's another story!

 

I had several opportunities to preach at our church on occasions, and i loved it! The people of the congregation were 'awed' by my wisdom and youthful perspective, they enjoyed my passionate and well researched messages. I'd found my calling.

 

It wasn't long after that that, after much prayer and discussion with my peers, that I decided that I wanted to pursue my calling in the ministry. I prayed earnestly and the door was opened when some good friends offered to pay may tuition fees.

 

My first thoughts of discourse in the church came when I approached the conservative minister about my ideas.

 

She appealed to me not to attend the seminary of my denomination, as she was worried that I'd leave the place a skeptical non-believer. Instead she recommended I attend a Pentecostal college where I would be with many other people of my age and enthusiasm. I was shocked, but felt God spoke through her, and I went.

 

Not too long after that, I witnessed my first church split. God had opened the door for me to leave and find a new church.

 

]I joined the local Assemblies of God.

 

My time at college was harrowing to say the least. The study was difficult and the daily church attendance draining, but still I excelled, my thirst for knowledge growing daily. I gained few friends at college, as I was quite shy and my weight made me feel awkward socially. The more I learned, the more I wanted to learn.

 

I found new friends at the churches youth group. People who shared my belief and my music!

 

At college,there were two subjects that were a real struggle for me. One was 'prosperity' and the other was church history. Due to the more conservative church that I'd come from, I found the Pentecostal prosperity doctrine to be foolish, verging on 'magic'. It seemed like a way to trick God into giving us the things we wanted. If I 'sew' this money, God will 'give' me this thing. I know that's not quite it, but that's how I perceived it.

 

Church history was very troubling to me. For the first time I was confronted with the awful truth of the history of the church. I read about the crusades and the martyrs. The schisms and the reformations. I was disheartened about our history, but my faith was always restored with the old thought.. 'His ways are greater than our ways..'

 

One thing that struck me was something that our saintly old teacher said regarding Genesis. She said that we should study genesis well, as it was "...the hinge-pin of Christianity... With no original sin, there was no need for a saviour. The journey started by Adam was completed by the second Adam, Jesus." This was the first time I'd had my faith directly challenged. I'd always thought Genesis was an allegory, but I hadn't considered how important it was to the need for Christ. No original sin, no saviour. I believed in Jesus, therefore Genesis must be true! 

 

I decided at this time that I'd never question the bible and I would accept it at face value.

 

After the first year, it was time to pay for the next years tuition. My father had promised to pay for it. I was so excited, again God had answered my prayers and opened the door for another year of study. This all changed at the start of the new term when I found out that my tuition hadn't been paid and the college needed the money for me to recommence. I inquired with them about my Dad's payment and they said they'd received none. I called dad and he said they'd hit some hard times. I was crushed.

 

I walked from the office, grabbed my bag and left. In felt like my dreams had been shattered. I blamed God.

 

I never really prayed for anything for myself after that day. I felt that God was too busy to hear me.

 

I found little solace from the church I'd been attending and even had them question as to whether I 'had' been called by God. Others suggested that I hadn't been tithing, which had caused this. Not one of them offered to help, even though 'others' at the church had their tuition paid in full. I guess I just wasn't close enough to the Pastor and his sons.

 

Suffice it to say, my faith took a sharp decline.

 

I toiled on for many years at that Church, I tried time and time again to use my skills in some kind of leadership capacity. I was told by one of the pastors that I'd have more opportunities if I lost weight. It seemed to be a big stumbling block, the stage, it seemed was for good looking people only.

 

I made a bad enemy with the son of the senior pastor and I couldn't sit there and watch innocent people hurt by teachings such as 'get over your problems.. Winning souls is all that matters'. I spoke out time and time again, and was ultimately told that he'd ensure that I was never given an opportunity to have a position in our movement ever. And he'd ensure that his father, the head of the movement would agree.

 

This was the end of my dream of entering the ministry. And was the first time I ever questioned whether or not God had lead me there in then first place.

 

If I was wrong about this, was I wrong the other times I heard his voice?

 

I could spend another 20 pages discussing the intolerable cruelty that I witnessed and experienced in that church, but I couldn't leave. My friends all went there, as did my wife and mother. It was home. It was dysfunctional, but it was still home.

 

Many times over the next years I attempted to relight the fire in me, but each time it was extinguished by people in the church. Ultimately, disillusioned I took to just sitting there. I stood when required, sang when required and left straight after the end.

 

We got involved with an outreach service and my wife and I joined willingly. The pastor was a tyrant, but he played on my faith, promising me a place in his new church. The main church had a different idea and this was crushed by the pastors son after a week.

 

I never questioned God, I accepted this was all his will and that I just had to accept it. Gradually my enthusiasm and faith faded to the point that I didn't feel at home there any more.

 

Eventually the service broke down and my wife and I took the opportunity to leave.

 

We meant to go to a new church, but burned out, the desire was weak.

 

Skipping forward to last year, my father passed away. The single worst event in my life to date. He'd never been what you would call a model dad, but he was the only one I had. I was asked to do the eulogy and for the first time had to look at his life. I started to understand what made him tick. I saw the trials he went through, the issues and the pain. I knew that he wasn't a Christian, but I kept the thought of him being in hell at the back of my mind.

 

I pondered this for a while. Had I lived the life he did, I probably wouldn't have become a Christian either. I mean, had my situation been different, maybe I wouldn't have had the opportunity. Other questions arose.

 

How could he be condemned to the fires of hell for being born into the wrong family? 

How could someone born in a non-Christian country be condemned for not accepting Christ?

How could someone who'd been raised praising their own God give him up for ours?

 

The more I looked into it, the more troubling it was. 

 

Christians couldn't decide who was right within themselves. No matter the denomination you were in, at least 2/3 of the others thought you'd not met the requirements for salvation. Let's not discuss other religions! The other 4/5th of the world thought all Christians are wrong!

 

Who was right? I started to question my beliefs

 

I decided to follow my beliefs through logically. If i was a Christian, what did that mean? 

 

I started to really look at the bible. With my questions, I looked at it afresh. 

 

What I found was a book filled with contradictions, bigotry, cruelty, fear, murder, rape and deceit. Each page painted a picture of a primitive world, a jealous and malicious God and a set of unliveable guidelines. 

 

I mean why was God so obsessed with offerings not containing yeast? 

What made a woman unclean because of her natural cycle?

Were homosexuals doomed for the way they find love? 

Were couples doomed for failing to keep themselves 'pure'? 

Why would a god who commanded man not to murder, tell the Israelites to butcher men, women and children in subsequent books? 

Why did God allow the trials of poor Job? 

Why wasn't 'believe the bible' a commandment or 'don't molest children?'? 

Has anyone ever read Ezekiel 23?? 

Who was Jesus really? 

Why were so many of the bible stories exact copies of ones of other religions? 

Why were so many of the words of Jesus the same as that of Buddha? 

Why had their been so many crucified saviour who rose from the dead? Yes, that's right he wasn't the first.

And Genesis? The so-called hinge pin was so filled with holes and superstition that I was amazed anyone believed it at all

 

If their was no fall, what need was their for a saviour?

 

After several months I put the book down in disgust. This wasn't the inspired word of God, it was a barbaric account written by barbaric men. It contradicted itself and science. 

 

For a long time, as my dear wife will attest, I felt very alone. My faith was crumbling around me because of my questions. The book that I'd felt my life was dedicated to felt alien and hollow, and worse than that, it felt inhuman.

 

Then I watched a series on YouTube that I should've watched a long time ago. It was a testimony of deconversion by a guy calling himself evid3nc3. Look it up. His testimony was similar to mine. It was painful and above all, it showed me that I was not the only one who'd asked the questions I did. This is one of the best resources on the subject ever.

 

What followed was some serious research, some serious questions and the support of a very loving wife. Read 'Some Mistakes of Moses' by Robert Ingersoll Green. Ouch! Not much has changed in the world in 150 years.

 

So here it goes.

 

I cant live under the facade any longer that I'm a Christian.

 

I know many of you will simply say that I have 'unforgiveness' to the Church, and that's probably true. It's hurt far more people than it's helped, and I wouldn't be alone feeling that way.

 

Other will then say that I haven't understood the scientific basis of the bible, and to that I would say that after reading countless books, articles and papers, I can say that while I don't understand all the science, I put more faith in a view that has some evidence than a view that has none.

 

Some will probably say that I was probably not a Christian to begin with. Maybe you're right, but the people around me would probably argue to my defence. I mean come on, I was baptized a catholic, saved, baptized and mentored in a conservative church, dedicated my heart and was baptized in the holy spirit in a pentecostal church. I'd say i covered my bases.

 

Perhaps you think that I've taken the bible too literally. Well, yes, I have. That's what we're supposed to do. Isn't it the inerrant word of God? I disagree on that, I hold no more faith in it then I do in 'The Belgariad by David Eddings'. Both are masterful stories that inspired me throughout the years. But both are pure fantasy in my opinion.

 

I don't feel that this is a phase, and I don't feel that Christianity is something that I can easily pick up again. It's like trying to put a bubble back together after it's burst.

 

Letting go of my religious bigotry was one if the best parts of all this. I see people in a new light, I don't look down on people for their beliefs, religious views, sexual orientation or race. Everyone is trying to do the best they can. I'm no longer afraid of the judgement of God, no longer filtering all my thoughts through what I think I should be feeling. I don't condemn homosexuals or look badly on people who fail at marriage. Or people who choose not to at all.

 

I've become more learned, and have a better appreciation for the natural world and the beauty of he heavens. I stand in awe of the universe and her beautiful symphony of movement, evolution and natural laws.

 

I don't fear demons under rocks or in the music I listen to and for the first time, I'm starting to think about what I truly believe politically.

 

I feel at peace. No turmoil, no doubts, no fear. Well, only a few fears.

 

Could I be wrong? For sure, but right now I can honestly say that in light of the lack of evidence, i must conclude that I'm not. Could hell be a real place? Possibly, but if I'm condemned there for questioning what I believe and looking at the evidence of our absent God, then so be it. Better to have lived free and honest than doubting and full of guilt.

 

I don't really know how to end this, but to say that I'm still the same person, I'm just wearing a different badge. I'm sure some of you may see me differently, but frankly, thats your loss, not mine.  I don't believe the same things you do, but I respect you enough not to try to convert you to my way of thinking unless asked. If you think I'm completely wrong, that's okay. It's your choice, and this is mine.

 

Aaron 

  

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Welcome to Ex-Christian Aaron!

 

You will find plenty of kind supportive friends on this board. How fortunate for you that you have the support of your wife in this issue. Some people on this forum go through difficult times when their spouse remains a fundie Christian.

 

AND ... there is thread relating to "Some mistakes of Moses" on the board here. Interesting reading. Also some You Tube takes of evid3nc3 have also featured recently in these forums.

 

Once again, welcome and congratulations for walking out in to the light. You have the rest of your life to find fulfillment and enjoyment!

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Welcome Aaron, and congratulations on seeing through the veil of deceit and lies. I can promise you that your life will get better from now, because you get to weigh and make all your decisions and take responsibility for your own life. You also, now get the opportunity to experience this fantastic ride known as life rather than putting it aside for a mythical heaven after you die. I have found that heaven and hell both exist - right here on Earth. You've experienced hell, and I hope you get to experience heaven.

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I really think I'm going to like it here. ;) yes, my wife is great, she's on a similar journey but is stuck in the 'wanting it to be true, but not believing it' stage. I'm going to send her here too for some extra reading. I really appreciate the encouragement!

 

Thanks brother Josh, blue elephant and scifichick for being the first ones to comment, I really needed to hear that other people understand right now!

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Aaron, I really enjoyed your story, how the emotional problems led you to the intellectual problems of Christianity. Welcome to Ex-C!

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Welcome Aaron! I admire you for your courage to be honest with yourself, your friends, and your family. So many people have the same questions as you (and I) have but are too afraid to research. As blue elephant stated, it must be very helpful that your wife is so understanding and you're not going through this alone.

 

Once you step outside of Christianity, you really see it for what it truly is.

 

Glad to have you here. :)

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Hey. Appreciated your story. I find a lot of similarities between both of our deconversion processes. Hope you find continual inspiration and conviction to for being true to yourself.

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