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Ex Christian, But Not Without Faith


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Like many others here, I was raised in my faith.

 

I went to Wednesday night services, sang in the Choir, attended Sunday School, Sunday Service, Evening Service and did visitations. Every year I went to camp with the church group. Even though I faithfully attended services, I always had questions. Questions that many are never willing to admit to having. I was born-again.

 

~If God is a loving and forgiving God, why would He send people to hell?

~How could it be possible for me to have found the one true religion out of all of them?

~Everyone says their religion is the one, how do I know that Christianity is the one that will keep me from hell?

~What if someone never hears the name of Jesus, how could they go to Heaven?

~What if I didn't really accept him into my heart right?

~What if I haven't been baptized right?

~If God is love, then love is perfect, then why does it matter WHO you love, even the same sex?

 

The list goes on. It became an obsession for me. I NEEDED to know the truth. I tried to talk to my mother, but she had an extremely short fuse and demanded that I never question her, and especially not the Bible.

 

When I was 17, I felt moved (and to this day, still believe that I was definitely moved) to visit a family of missionaries in Guyana, South America. So, I did. I stayed with the family for 2 months, ministering, teaching music, doing plays and productions... but most importantly, learning about missionaries.

 

I know that not all are like this, but this was my experience and it made me really open my eyes.

 

The family lived in a 4,000 square foot home and a maid, which was still cheaper in US dollars than an apartment in the states, but it seemed like living excessively to me. At one point I asked why, their response was that people in a 3rd world country want to be rich and they are more attracted to a God if they believe the God will make them rich. Therefore they needed to keep up appearances of money - which they had plenty of.

 

There were other more down to earth missionaries there, so I know that wasn't neccessarily a commonplace thing, but it did get me to thinking a bit more.

 

Right before my 18th birthday, I was raped by a man I was tutoring ESL. I was a virgin and extremely shocked and confused, for obvious reasons. There was close to a monsoon that day, and I couldn't see 2 feet in front of me to drive, so stupidly I went into his apartment with him. At the time I was dating a boy I'd grown up with. We were childhood sweethearts. Their home was close by so I drove there and told them what had happened. My boyfriend withdrew, and subsequently broke up with me, but more shocking was his dad's response. He reminded me that in the Bible, if a woman was raped in the city and didn't scream, she was an adulterer and deserved to be stoned.

 

He reminded me that the local laws don't allow for that type of thing, so they would skip that part. I THINK he was joking at this point, but the entire experience was so disturbing that I left. I was homeschooled with them, I went to church with them, I was raised with them.

 

I never went back to protestant church after that.

 

At first I was mad at God. Then I was mad at people. Then I decided God must not exist. Eventually I eased back into my faith but never returned to a protestant church.

 

Many years have passed. 12 to be exact. I never stopped searching, because I still felt like God did exist, but the way I knew him just didn't make any sense. My husband and I tried out a church called Unity, and I started studying Buddhism (Ajahn Brahm, be be precise), and the combination of a husband that was willing to question with me (He was raised Catholic) and the fact that I never gave up, lead me to where I am today.

 

Today I believe that religions are simply different cultures trying to understand the same thing. I also believe that the human mind could never fathom the complexity of a diety, much less put him into a book. I believe that Jesus may or may not have existed, and if he did exist, he was misunderstood and just wanted to help people.

 

What's more, is that reincarnation may exist. Buddha might exist. We might simply cease to exist when we die. Our spirits might collectively BE god. Mother nature might be god. Who knows.

 

I do know that I believe, and that's cool, although I don't know what the nature of God is, nor do I think any human mind could honestly understand. But more importantly than that I now know that it doesn't matter if I don't believe 'the right thing,' that a non-loving father wouldn't kill his child for stealing a candy bar, so why would a loving creator, that would be above the human traits such as vindictiveness, jealousy or anger, torture and punish people for eternity for a momentary mistake?

 

He wouldn't.

 

Whatever the nature of God, if he exists, certainly isn't the horridness that religions have given him, and it doesn't matter if we believe in him or not, all he would want for us is love and happiness, not the torture of wondering if we were going to hell.

 

The moment it all clicked, it wasn't pretty. I felt betrayed and lied to. I felt like I'd lost my entire identity. I sobbed for hours.

 

And then, I finally felt like I found the truth I had been looking for.

 

I now consider myself an Antitheist.

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Hi izzytheterri, enjoyed your story. It's interesting to read the different ways that people go when they break free from fundamentalism. You may enjoy the ex-Christian spirituality forum that's here. Welcome to Ex-C.

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As a former missionary, I never had the big house, but I can attest to the fact that MOST missionaries enjoy a very comfortable lifestyle on someone else's dime, do far, far less work than they would ever do in a real job back home, and have almost zero accountability for any work they supposedly do. Although they would never admit it, it is often an extended vacation in an exotic locale that also requires them to travel to other exotic locales for networking/conferences, etc, all the while being hailed as christian superstars when they return home to raise support.

 

My favorite missionaries are the ones who do very little actual evangelism (sometimes they are active in "friendship-evangelism" where they never talk about Jesus but meet non-christian friends for coffee, tea, tennis, or shopping), but are instead called to prayer and "spiritual warfare" in satan's domain! Haha. When I worked in the muslim middle east where overt evangelism was illegal and would get you kicked out of the country, I was told by my team leader that just by living there, as a light in the darkness, I was making a difference and advancing the kingdom of god! Such a load of BS.

 

Every time I read a story like yours, about the reaction of your bf's father to your rape, I just about go homocidal. I think if i were you I would have stuck a knife in his heart right then and there. People who believe and spout such garbage as that really don't deserve to be alive, IMHO.

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Izzy, reading what happend to you as a teenager is just terrible, and once again reminds me why I left Christianity: how can "God" let terrible things happen to people, especially people who are "obeying" the religion and trying to be the best person they can be? More terrible is what your boyfriend's father said - what a sick man to say such a disgusting thing. I'm so glad I left Christianity. So many of the people are so mean-spirited and cruel I don't know why anyone would want to be a part of it.

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Today I believe that religions are simply different cultures trying to understand the same thing." That is a great way to put it. I'm sorry for what you had to go through to get where you are.

 

I too had an A-HA moment on a high school missions trip (domestic "inner city" trip). I was to lead the lesson for the kids that day, and then afterwards break off into small groups and basically explain the gospel and "save" as many as we could. I felt physically ill that entire day, but managed through the lesson. During the small groups I just couldn't do it, I remember looking into this kids face and he was so attentive, so hungry for truth, and deep down I was realizing i had no faith, and there was no way I could inflict this confusing religion on these poor kids. I just stopped mid sentence, told them we should pray, mumbled and moved on.

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Funny how so many people come up with the same type of questions about God and/or the bible and Christians never can answer them. When they can't answer, they say stuff like "it boils down to if you have faith". If it can't be independently verified it's Bull$#*%!....Why would a god have such a convoluted, bizzare way of knowing him that people 2000 years later are still arguing over which way to even worship him?

 

Thanks for your story!

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I really appreciate everyone's responses. It really is amazing to read of people's experiences, I feel blessed to have found this forum.

 

It occurred to me, after re-reading my testimony, that it sounded very tragic. And, I suppose in some ways it is, but I very much am thankful that those things that have happened and have been said. Even though in the moment, they were traumatic, I've grown to realize that I had less taken from me that day (my virginity, dignity and boyfriend) than I would have lost had I stayed on the same path I'd been traveling. I was very much in line to marry that boy, and it was such an amazing, AMAZING blessing to have the awakening.

 

Sometimes it takes being shaken VERY VERY hard to be able to wake up from a trance.

 

But now, I no longer live in constant fear, guilt and misery - wondering what will happen to me when I die. I found, and married, a man that loves me for me, has been open to religious discussions that have lead us on a different path in life, and who never once made fun of me when I still believed in Creationism, but instead let me find my own way.

 

We have a beautiful life together, none of which would have been possible if I hadn't been shaken out of the Christian hypnosis.

 

The only thing that honestly bothers me, is that not all people have my tenacity. Those words could easily send another girl over the edge. Literally. It pains me that anyone would offer such cruelty to anyone in such a moment of need, and I can't help but wonder how many other people have been severely damaged by "the word of God."

 

Aside from setting me free from Christianity, it also paved the way for my own spiritual journey which has been amazing and fulfilling and not at all painful.

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...religions are simply different cultures trying to understand the same thing.

Hello and welcome, Izzy!

 

Wow, what a journey you have had. I am so glad you have found peace and have a loving partner who believes in and loves you.

 

I am appalled at what your boyfriend's father said. It's stuff like that that shows that Christianity is poison to our innate compassion and common sense.

 

I love what you said about religions (in the quote above). That's a keeper. Basically, religion is not an end in itself, but a means. That really helps contextualize the phenomenon of religion!

 

Welcome to Ex-C!

 

Peace.

 

I

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