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Been Out Of This Religion Thing For A Couple Of Months Now: Early Observations


Inqui
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First, a bit about myself:

*Born into a good religious home.

*I spent (most of) my formative years around penetecostals, (open) bretheren and seventh day adventists.

*I've always found religion somehow unsatisfying. For the most part I felt like it was my fault having not experienced the Holy Spirit or anything for myself and I know that's a fairly normal thing to be thinking and a fairly detestable doctrine to feed kids.

*I'm in second year at university.

*My first year was a big catalyst for my transition from thinking of God as everything good in the world to thinking of religiosos as basically Stockholm Syndrome sufferers.

*Funny story: I chanced upon this site while looking for a specific article on reasons to hate the New England Patriots. Who knew.

 

I never made it a secret that religion made me who I am, and it's something I maintain to this day. If I hadn't been taught that money isn't the be-all and end-all of life, I wouldn't have given $40 to two drunk women stranded in town and needing a taxi to get home. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be so quick to assume the best of people, forgiveness wouldn't seem like such an option and while I can keep going I think it's best I stop listing off my traits I feel I owe to religion lest you, the good reader, drift off.

 

Of course, what I've also realised is that pretty much everything I've been taught by my parents, peers and teachers (99% of whom being Christian until last year) is religiously-based. Now that I've thrown off Christianity, more or less committing the unforgivable sin in doing so, this has left me feeling a bit weird as it seems I have rather a lot to re-learn.

 

For the most part, I've decided to be very selective about who I tell about my new decision. I've told a few people who have gone through something similar and/or I expect to have a reasonable understanding of things. I don't want to cause any unnecessary conflicts with the people I grew up with, despite temptation to let fly on someone when religious topics arise, so my philosophy is to keep a "don't ask don't tell" kind of attitude, only responding when asked and to try and not become as obnoxious as many Christians can be.

 

Despite having moved out, I've spent a small amount of time with my family and a few old friends recently and already I feel estranged. Anecdotes include catching up with my (very conservative) grandparents and hearing them talk about how "they're not sure if they want gays in parliament" or watching a movie with a friend and a few people he knows. In the movie a female character strips down to her underwear and the guy's (Christian) dad called out "Boys, look away!" I felt tempted to point out that I've seen women wearing less in the flesh, but felt it wise to not say anything. Still, I felt very different to the rest of the group.

 

Telling my parents is another battle altogether. On the one hand, what they don't know can't hurt, and I suspect I'd deal them a lot of hurt if I told them I think God's an asshole. Obviously I mean the world to them and I remember them saying in passing a couple of years back that their dying wish would be to know that myself and my siblings are all on good terms with God. But on the other, I feel like I imagine a closet homosexual would. I'm holding onto a fairly big secret and I feel like I'm not being true to anyone in hiding what I've become.

 

As to how I think they'd react, they've raised me with very much a "your choices, your consequences" kind of philosophy and I doubt they'd deny me as their child. To be in that kind of position must be absolutely vile. In fact, my dad (who is still a Christian who loves the Lord and all) is one of the people who got me looking for my own answers with his personal quest found that the doctrine of hell sounds like a sack of shit. I'd feel comfortable talking to him privately as he and I are very similar in a lot of ways and I think he'd understand, but I still go back to that previous paragraph.

 

When I dug out my Bible today, for the first time in a while, to check a few passages quoted here on Ex-C, I saw the personalised message my parents wrote to me on the cover. It was a Christmas present in 2003, so I was 12 at the time.

We hope and pray that this bible will help you on your journey to know God, and His plans and direction for your life.

You are a searcher for the truth and have a very sincere desire for His truth. My prayer for you is that you never give up, and keep your heart turned toward God, who is the Author of all truth, and the rewarder of those yo who diligently seek Him.

Reading that 8 years later, and I honestly teared up a bit. Say what you want about how misguided they are or how many times they used the word "truth", but that to me looks like a sincere piece of text (particularly that last sentence). Reading it again, and looking at where I am now, I'm not sure how I feel. Perhaps I feel I've failed or disappointed them. Or perhaps it's similar to those earlier feelings of estrangement, but felt more deeply. Or something. I dunno.

 

In saying that, I don't think I'm wrong in moving on. One of the guys I said I feel I can relate to gave up on Christianity and said that his big self-esteem issues he'd been having disappeared almost immediately. After all, that's what Christianity is: knowing how worthless you are compared to God's infinite love. Thinking about it that way I'm surprised depression rates aren't much higher among Christians, but I guess they're holding on in the hopes there's something bigger. I'm also fairly excited about discovering life's answers for myself, rather than sticking with a doctrine that claims to have everything already.

 

It's been a fairly long journey from being that straight-edge kid with a genuine desire to do great things for God to thinking religion is a misguided load of rubbish. From those first seeds and the nagging questions, it took about two years to make this solid declaration to myself that I'm no longer religious. Some of the big things I've wrestled with include properly accepting that our lives are completely meaningless and that us on Earth could be destroyed at any instant and all of mankind's accomplishments would be lost forever (this one was harder than I thought it would be); the realisation that an eternity of worshipping God sounds pretty overrated, and of course feeling like a blasphemer of the highest order; that the Bible isn't the divine word of God; or that "the world" isn't such a bad place and has plenty of cool people, cool ideas and cool things to find out on your own.

 

And of course, Christmas is coming up. That means having to live with my grandparents prattling on about how the world has fallen (or how society isn't what it used to be) for a day, having to rebound my aunty's inevitable inquest into how liberal university has made me with ambiguous answers, having to spend time with my family without causing a fuss about my impending damnation. Humbug. I've actually thought about stealing one of my parents' cars and heading to a local drinking hole to see if they're screening the NFL on that day.

 

And I'm heading back to my home city for the summer and inevitably catching up with old friends. I feel I can hold my own in a debate if I need to, but again, I know I'm different to the rest of my classmates now and I'm not sure it's really worth alienating myself (outing myself as "having gone the way of the world") in the name of some good honest transparency.

 

Anyway, here my rambling ends, and looking over it I wrote about twice as much as I intended. If you read through all that, congratulations, you have a longer attention span than I and I appreciate you taking the time out of your day to listen when you could be doing other things (porn no doubt). If you didn't read through it all, fair enough. I won't take offence as I did write an awful lot and I don't expect you to be all that interested in someone on the other side of the world.

 

I'm not here to garner sympathy or anything and I'm not posting to try and get answers to anything. It just feels therapeutic to write all this stuff down. Of course, if anyone does have any parting wisdom or something they feel they should add, I won't start screaming to get you out of my thread.smile.png

 

Lastly, sorry if this is in the wrong area or something. Take my apology and the sacrifice of my eldest daughter in penance.

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First of all, I just wanted to say how great I think it is that you have managed to leave religion behind at the age that you have. I'm 26, and it was only recently that I was finally able to walk away from all that garbage. My deconversion was a very long process, too. You've saved yourself years of living with guilt and condemnation, and you'll be able to spend your 20's focusing instead on the things you should be- studying, having fun, making mistakes, and learning from them. You're free now to do what you want with your life, without worrying about whether even your career is God's will and purpose for your life.

 

Your life is not meaningless now. In fact, I have found more meaning within my own life now, since leaving the fold. I have found more energy to commit to the things I am truly passionate about, without waiting for God to intervene. If anything, leaving christianity was the most empowering thing I have ever done, because I am now free to be myself, warts and all. Of course, I still have some hang-ups, which I am working through. But they are a mere fraction of the hang-ups I used to have. I am excited about life and all its possibilities for me now. And I find it really ironic that I behave in a more ethical and moral manner than when I was a christian, simply because I answer to myself now, and I have to be more honest with myself.

 

I'm kind of in the same boat regarding the family. I have come out to just about everyone else, but I won't come out to my grandfather, or anyone who may dob on me to my grandfather (ie. my aunt). I just don't think it would accomplish much except to distress him, and he will be 91 next month. If it comes up, I'll be honest with him, but I don't wish to hurt him at this late stage in his life. he's always been so good to me :)

 

P.S.- I read it all- do I get a prize now? :P

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Welcome to ex-c Inqui.

 

The beauty of this site is that most here have gone through the same experience of being newly-deconverted.

 

Remember that thoughts are private and nothing is "out there" until you say or write it. You have to decide when it's worth the drama to "come clean" and when it's better to smile and move on.

 

Best wishes and we're here for ya.

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Welcome to Ex-C, Inqui! Good for you to wake up and get out of Christianity at a young age! I was 45 before I left Christianity after being one for most of my life. It's been seven years now since I left and it keeps getting better, I'm happy to say. Continue to enjoy your freedom!

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Yeah, I don't really have anything to add to what the others have said so far. But welcome to the club!

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I enjoyed reading your story. I notice a lot of parallels in your story to mine. While you were raised in a much more religious household than I was, you still seemed to kind of see through it from an early age (albeit without fully knowing or understanding till years later). Glad you made it out ok, and welcome to ex-c!

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Inqui - Thank you so much for sharing your story. I am so glad you joined us and I look forward to more of your posts!

We here at EX-c can relate to your story in many ways. You have found some friends who understand. Welcome! biggrin.png

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welcome to EX-C i can relate to your story in that i like so many here are still stuck in the religions grasp in life, when you first deconvert you are right it is like having to relearn your entire life but i say it is well worth it.

 

also purpose is simply a perception so your purpose is what you make of it, we dont haft to just assume we are meningless we can asume ourselves better.

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Thanks for sharing your story, Inqui. Good for you for getting out while in your early twenties. Like many others here I was quite a bit past that when I deconverted. Regardless, it's still a big step to take (and often a scary one!). Good point about Stockholm syndrome. I've wondered at the parallels also.

 

You truly have your whole life ahead of you. I wish you fortitude, wisdom, happiness, peace, and good decision making ability! smile.png

 

Peace.

Positivist

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First off, thanks for the welcome everyone. I've never been part of a forum that I identify with this much before, so it promises to be interesting. This looks like a nice place.

 

Good point about Stockholm syndrome. I've wondered at the parallels also.

Here's how I see it:

An armed gunman walks into a bank with people in it. He has them in a state where he can essentially do what he wants with them, and his argument is that because they are banking customers, they deserve to die. But because he is a loving person, he won't shoot anyone if they proclaim him as the greatest gunman the world has ever seen but woe betide those who deny him such a status!

 

There will be people that genuinely respect him and give him that status willingly. But most people who worship him will be doing so out of fear of being shot, whether or not they admit it.

 

Take the fact that is is hypothetical out of the equation for a minute. Any hostage that says their gunman is merciful (for giving them a 'second chance'), all-loving (for not killing them in the first place), and absolutely right that they deserve to die for being banking customers (I can't justify this) WILL be sent straight to therapy. I think even most Christians would admit that.

 

I've yet to road-test that one, but I ran it past an agnostic friend and now he wants to attend a Destiny Church meeting with me (basically the closest thing to the WBC we have here in NZ). If I were a Christian arguing with that, I'd argue that the gunman didn't send his son to die for the customers, and that the two parties have a different relationship to God and mankind (the gunman didn't create the customers, and the customers didn't rebel in the first place).

 

 

also purpose is simply a perception so your purpose is what you make of it, we dont haft to just assume we are meningless we can asume ourselves better

You have an excellent point (and one that I think I will be holding onto for future), but I think I may have worded myself poorly. With Christianity, I had the belief that I was part of a greater scheme of things, that this infinitely big being loved me and that even if I had an average life there was something awesome to look forwards to.

 

To leave, I had to wrestle with the idea that this is it, that we're basically alone in a harsh universe - just another small chapter that, while well-achieved, is just one in a sea of untold billions. Like a really good Twitter update. Has anyone else found this?

 

Then again, I think I'm too cynical for a 20-year-old.

 

I'm kind of in the same boat regarding the family. I have come out to just about everyone else, but I won't come out to my grandfather, or anyone who may dob on me to my grandfather (ie. my aunt). I just don't think it would accomplish much except to distress him, and he will be 91 next month. If it comes up, I'll be honest with him, but I don't wish to hurt him at this late stage in his life. he's always been so good to me

Let me know how that works out for you. Keep in touch.

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I want to say that I know how the "closet unbeliever" thing feels. I work for a church and my parents are devout and sincere in their beliefs. I don't want to hurt them, but I actually feel I'm hurt more by their whole belief system. I'm enduring it and though I'm trying to get out of this job and get another, my mom keeps doing the "You know, your father REALLY loves working with you" thing. It's as if she's trying to put a guilt trip on me.

 

I'll admit that while I've gotten rid of the whole stress over if there is a God and if he's judging my every move, I've gained the stress of trying to tolerate my parents since I can no longer relate to them. They aren't the kind that will disown me if I tell them, but I do feel they'll give me quite a bit of grief and "you'll go back to Jesus in the end" nonsense. So as long as I'm around them, that'll be hanging over me.

 

Even if there's less persecution these days against unbelievers, it's still a bit of a struggle. Hopefully I'll move to some Godless little country one day and never have to hear a word about Jesus ever again.

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I have led a charmed life in this regard. My deconversion was gradual, and I could always say, truthfully, that I quit attending church because my late wife's illness prevented us from being involved in any reliable way. That wasn't the whole reason, but it was good enough for family members who might wonder. By the time I woke up one morning and realized I would never go back, my parents and oldest brother were dead. My wife, when she was still alive, was okay with it even though she did not agree -- perhaps because she had bigger fish to fry anyway, trying to survive the daily grind of her existence. After she died, I "came out" to one of my surviving brothers, who I think really doesn't think very differently from me but just doesn't want to make the break official, and it was a non-event. The other brother senses what is going on and we have a "don't ask, don't tell" thing between us. We don't see each other but once every couple of years anyway.

 

I guess if I were young again and in your situation my decision would be greatly influenced by how much of my life force would have to go into remaining "closeted" vs facing the music. I wouldn't feel I owed anyone explanations about my personal beliefs and would normally just let the topic come up naturally and address it in a minimalist, non-confrontational fashion. Especially since at your age people may rationalize this is a "phase" you're going through, as long as you're not exhibiting wild changes in behavior or personality you may find that they won't react as badly as you might imagine anyway.

 

Regrettably no one can really advise you because there is no one "right" answer. It's one of those "it depends" situations.

 

You are clearly an intelligent, self-aware, articulate person, and I have no doubt you'll figure it out. Take it one day and person at a time. For your parents, in particular, I think if they know that you are centered and happy that will count for a lot.

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Quote

 

We hope and pray that this bible will help you on your journey to know God, and His plans and direction for your life.

You are a searcher for the truth and have a very sincere desire for His truth. My prayer for you is that you never give up, and keep your heart turned toward God, who is the Author of all truth, and the rewarder of those yo who diligently seek Him.

 

 

It is interesting that they consider this a 'search for truth' and that you are a 'seeker' when really they just want you to live your life their way for God. This is a fixed objective masquerading as open-ended freedom. "Search for truth as long as you end up a Christ-bot" We certainly don't have to do any 'searching' for truth when the pastor and churchies tell us how to think, eh? A search for truth is something for which you do not yet know the answer. Hence the search. Being a Christian does not require a search, just adopting other people's unoriginal ideas.

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To leave, I had to wrestle with the idea that this is it, that we're basically alone in a harsh universe - just another small chapter that, while well-achieved, is just one in a sea of untold billions. Like a really good Twitter update. Has anyone else found this?

 

Yes, me! LeslieLook.gif

 

Welcome Inqui. This is a good place to be as you walk through figuring things out and processing this new way of thinking/believing. I can't say it's always easy, but I will say that I'm finding a level of freedom I've never felt before. I wish you the same!

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