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Escape In Progress... Advice?


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Greetings everyone,

 

First, I would like to thank you all for being part of such a wonderful site. For years now I knew deep down that Christianity wasn't for me, but I always felt I didn't have an option due to the social pressures in my family. I finally decided that a an difficult truth is better than a convenient lie. Your site was a big help in building up the courage to do that.

 

About two weeks ago I started by telling my wife that I no loner wanted to attend services. I tried to keep it simple, just said that church wasn't my thing. Of course, she wanted better reasons. I will still very frightened of coming out and saying "because it's all based on the Bible, and I can't believe the Bible can be accurate with so many flaws", so I simply said that I didn't think the church knew everything, and that it didn't make me feel anything.

 

Yesterday, I finally fully admitted why I didn't want to go anymore in a long letter. My wife's response wasn't anger, thankfully, but she wants me to send me letter to her pastor. She still somewhat thinks I'm "rebelling" or "angry" at God in some way. She knows she has no rebuttals for my arguments, so she thinks the pastor can provide me answers.

 

I'm uncomfortable with this idea. It's not that I worry he will convince me to come back. Of that, I'm certain he won't. However, I obviously don't think my letter would be powerful enough to convince an ordained minister to leave the faith. As I see it, giving him this letter, and the discussion that will follow will result in an impass after much uncomfortable discussion. currently, the pastor knows I no longer want to attend, but all he knows is that I don't want to be a part of the Reformed Episcopal church. He doesn't know that I think the Bible is BS.

 

What do you "experts" advise? Should I go through with sending the letter and risk possible kick-back? Or should I put my foot down about the futility of it all?

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As far as I'm concerned, what you believe or don't believe is none of the pastor's business. If you don't want to send the letter, then don't. It won't convince him of anything, and it can only lead to him wanting to talk to you to try to bring you back to the faith, so what's the point in sending it?

 

And welcome to Ex-C!

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silentnight, Welcome! Mo matter what the argument is going on about the bible....it just simply stops for me in the first 3 chapters of Genesis. Adam, Eve and the talking snake. I don't have to go one step further. the whole bible falls apart right there. The house of 'talkng snakes' cards.. comes tumbling down and it need not go any further. Always remember, the whole 'story' begins there!

 

I am so glad you are here. Keep posting with us.

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The letter to your wife makes sense because you probably do owe her an explanation, and presumably felt you could explain your reasons better in writing. But writing to the pastor probably would lead to the uncomfortable discussion you predict. Opening a dialogue would just prolong the awkwardness.

 

If you must write a letter, I would just keep it brief, something along the lines of, "thanks for everything, but I've decided to cease attending your church." If your wife chooses to go into more detail with him that's her choice, but a long explanation would invite a response/argument, and what would be the point?

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Welcome to ExC, silentknight. I'm glad you saw the truth and have left the religion behind in your own life.

 

Your situation is a difficult one, but you are not alone in it. Since you have been reading the posts on ExC, you undoubtedly know that many people have gone through the same thing as you are now. Many on here began their marriages while they and their spouse were both Christians and then one of the couple discovers that Christianity is untrue. The one who leaves Christianity finally tells his/her spouse and, for many, the trouble really begins, though it sounds like your wife took it better than some Christian spouses take the news. It is not uncommon for the Christian spouse to want the deconverted spouse to seek counsel from the pastor because most Christians don't even read their Bibles and are, themselves, ill-equipped to deal with the many questions that you have dealt with in coming to the conclusions as you have.

 

Your question is specifically whether you should send your letter to the pastor. It is, of course, up to you to decide and in making that decision you will undoubtedly take many things into account. Here are some things I can tell you. Get it completely out of your mind that you will ever convince the pastor of anything. That should not even be a consideration, especially if the pastor is well-educated and most especially if he/she attended a good theological seminary because he/she learned of many of the problems with the Bible in the theological seminary.

 

The pastor will not provide you with satisfying answers to your questions. Rather, he/she will most probably give you the "pat" answers which have little substance.

 

If your wife is a true believer, your going to see the pastor will probably not be satisfying to her since the pastor will most probably not convince you of anything. I do not know her, of course, but based on what many people report on ExC, once she sees that the meeting with the pastor was not productive, she may resort to emotional manipulation. Such manipulation is very common regardless of the gender of the Christian spouse. After all, in the mind of the true believer, your eternal soul is at stake and so if it takes emotional manipulation to convince you to return to the faith, keeping you out of hell justifies the manipulation.

 

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to your question. On the whole, I recommend that you not send the letter to the pastor and avoid a meeting since it will not be worthwhile. However, if for whatever reason you decide to do it, then I recommend that you not send the letter, but agree to a face-to-face meeting (assuming it is for the sake of keeping the peace in the family) with your wife not present. Then at that meeting, keep whatever you say very general, listen politely to the pastor and then politely leave.

 

I hope it all works out for you.

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Welcome to Ex-C :)

 

If you don't want to send the letter, don't. When you were a christian, this man was a "spiritual authority" over your life. But you're not a christian anymore. So what authority does he have over you now? About as much as your neighbour's dog.

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Greetings everyone,

 

First, I would like to thank you all for being part of such a wonderful site. For years now I knew deep down that Christianity wasn't for me, but I always felt I didn't have an option due to the social pressures in my family. I finally decided that a an difficult truth is better than a convenient lie. Your site was a big help in building up the courage to do that.

 

About two weeks ago I started by telling my wife that I no loner wanted to attend services. I tried to keep it simple, just said that church wasn't my thing. Of course, she wanted better reasons. I will still very frightened of coming out and saying "because it's all based on the Bible, and I can't believe the Bible can be accurate with so many flaws", so I simply said that I didn't think the church knew everything, and that it didn't make me feel anything.

 

Yesterday, I finally fully admitted why I didn't want to go anymore in a long letter. My wife's response wasn't anger, thankfully, but she wants me to send me letter to her pastor. She still somewhat thinks I'm "rebelling" or "angry" at God in some way. She knows she has no rebuttals for my arguments, so she thinks the pastor can provide me answers.

 

I'm uncomfortable with this idea. It's not that I worry he will convince me to come back. Of that, I'm certain he won't. However, I obviously don't think my letter would be powerful enough to convince an ordained minister to leave the faith. As I see it, giving him this letter, and the discussion that will follow will result in an impass after much uncomfortable discussion. currently, the pastor knows I no longer want to attend, but all he knows is that I don't want to be a part of the Reformed Episcopal church. He doesn't know that I think the Bible is BS.

 

What do you "experts" advise? Should I go through with sending the letter and risk possible kick-back? Or should I put my foot down about the futility of it all?

I am assuming to semi make things okay with your wife, she at least wants you to run your feelings by your pastor first. Why not ask her to send a letter, or talk to him in person, instead? It seems it is HER peace of mind here, so SHE needs to seek it. Your explanation of how you feel won't ever be good enough because in reality, this all about HER comfort, not yours.

 

I think having her spell out her understanding of YOUR change of mind would be a healthy way to address what she is worried about. SHE thinks you are rebelling, you think you are not. FEELING one way is totally different than PERCEIVING another. And let her find comfort with her pastor's advice. You really don't have anything on your conscience you need aired out about your decision.

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Thank you for the answers, and the greetings. It's definitely good to have a place I can go to filled with like minds. :)

 

Luckily my wife isn't a "hardcore" christian. She's one of those that believes the convenient moral choices that mesh with her own, and believes that this is somehow ok, because the pastor says so. (I'm not trying to belittle her, but written out it sounds bad). This is much better, in my opinion, than a hardcore literalist.

 

I'm thinking I will simply explain to her that I do not think sending my letter to the minister will accomplish anything.

 

A little more background on me personally - I never gave religion much thought as a child. My father died when I was 2 or 3, and I barely remember him at all. My mother has always been religious, but very soft spoken. Besides encouraging us to go to church with her, there was very little religious domination when I was young.

 

However, when I was in the 7th grade my mom married someone I can only sum up as a "religious psychopath". He was very kind when she first met him, and would talk a lot about God's and Jesus' love. At the time I wasn't a strong believer, but I also had no negative feelings towards religion.

 

Soon after they married, everything changed. My life became a constant witch hunt. I've always been a fan of fantasy. My step father would search my room for books, video games, board games... anything that had fantastical elements and burn it. I'd then get a 2 or 3 hour long lecture on why these things were evil. There were even times when I'd get punished because he had a dream that I was doing something wrong, or somehow in peril. He claimed that his normal dreams were in black and white, and that when he dreamed in color it was a message from god, and the he had to act on those dreams. Other times he'd tell me in graphic detail how my real father, whome I never knew, was an evil person. He'd tell me about how he sexually abused my mother with specifics, in order to shame me for being my father's son. Needless to say, my life from 14 to21 was hell.

 

After escaping his domination by going to an out of state college, I rationalized that my step father was a creep, but that didn't mean all religious people were. I still believed in some extent, though I never enjoyed church again. For the next 10 years (I'm almost 31 now) I struggled with wanting to distance myself from all religion, but wanting to fit in with the loving christians I met when I married my wife. I finally came to the conclusion that these loving christians would not abandon me for my lack of faith, especially when I could produce good reasons, and that lead to the situation above.

 

Deep down I have a fear that any christian can go insane like my step father... and that's really why I delayed so long to break from it completely. Psychological torture is not something I want to repeat.

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SilentKnight - the pastor doesn't own your soul (not that there's any evidence that a soul exists). What's it got to do with him anyway? If you don't want to attend church, then stop attending! Protect yourself emotionally and financially during your transition period.

 

From a personal POV if I had to write a letter to my wife and not be able to communicate to her using speech, this would be a sign that my marriage was on the rocks. Not saying this is necessarily true for you. Just an observation.

 

Enjoy the site. X

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SilentKnight - the pastor doesn't own your soul (not that there's any evidence that a soul exists). What's it got to do with him anyway? If you don't want to attend church, then stop attending! Protect yourself emotionally and financially during your transition period.

 

From a personal POV if I had to write a letter to my wife and not be able to communicate to her using speech, this would be a sign that my marriage was on the rocks. Not saying this is necessarily true for you. Just an observation.

 

Enjoy the site. X

 

I can commumincate with my wife, but I write better than I speak... to anyone. I'm much better with the written word, than the spoken. It wasn't because I feared to talk to her, but rather that I can fully formulate my thoughts in writing. She knows this, and knows when I write, rather than speak that I'm working through problems that are difficult for me.

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Hey silentknight,

 

Your step-father certainly sounds psychopathic to me. But it is not religion that led to him being that way. Psychopathy is a random condition some people are born with; it affects all races and walks of life indiscriminately. Religion was simply an effective vehicle of manipulation and control for your step father. And, like a classic psychopath, he suckered in your mum, and then when he had control, flipped the switch. They are very charming people when they want something.

 

I can imagine the hell you went through. My biological mother is a psychopath, and used religion in the same way. I have no contact with her. She is just too toxic to have in my life.

 

Peace :)

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Hey silentknight,

 

Your step-father certainly sounds psychopathic to me. But it is not religion that led to him being that way. Psychopathy is a random condition some people are born with; it affects all races and walks of life indiscriminately. Religion was simply an effective vehicle of manipulation and control for your step father. And, like a classic psychopath, he suckered in your mum, and then when he had control, flipped the switch. They are very charming people when they want something.

 

I can imagine the hell you went through. My biological mother is a psychopath, and used religion in the same way. I have no contact with her. She is just too toxic to have in my life.

 

Peace smile.png

 

Yeah, rationally I know this, but it's hard to break from my fear of confronting religious people. When I spent 7 years of my life being punished for 1 wrong word, It instilled the instinct in me to just keep my mouth shut and avoid confrontation. Something I still fight with today.

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people leave churches all the time. Unless you were close friends with the pastor you don't owe him anything.

 

The church we go to is small. When we started going it was probably only 40 or so people. It's since grown to around 100 regular attendees, but the minister knows my Wife's family well. I wouldn't call him a "friend", but I also wasn't a faceless nameless member of the congregation to him.

 

I sent him a note last week saying I wouldn't be attending any longer, but kept my reasons vague.

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As most have already advised but I'll put it bluntly - you don't owe the 'pastor' shit! All they are, anyway, are brown nosers for a god. Anything you write will be twisted around in some way and worse, he'll 'share' some of the things in a homily to teach his flock how not to stray. Sorry if I might be off course here but I literally despise most of them. They've set themselves up to be some kind of biblical experts who know everything there is to know regarding spirituality when the opposite is often true. You open up their closets and the fucking skeletons come flying out.

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As most have already advised but I'll put it bluntly - you don't owe the 'pastor' shit! All they are, anyway, are brown nosers for a god. Anything you write will be twisted around in some way and worse, he'll 'share' some of the things in a homily to teach his flock how not to stray. Sorry if I might be off course here but I literally despise most of them. They've set themselves up to be some kind of biblical experts who know everything there is to know regarding spirituality when the opposite is often true. You open up their closets and the fucking skeletons come flying out.

 

That has been exactly my fear. Thanks.

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once you have decided to reject the religion,any perceived obligations or duties towards the representatives or institutions of said religion are null and void. Once you remove the fog of faith, it is empty, like a shoe box with no Nikes. You owe no-one anything, if your wife wishes to contact the pastor, that's her business, but you've moved on. It's kinda like thinking you still owe the manager at the Quickie Mart anything when you quit that job ten years ago and now work as a systems analyst for a major corporation.... Fuck 'em. No explanations, no questions to debate, it's done, see ya later there pastor, it's been a slice. "Sorry, I'm not into all that stuff anymore but good luck"

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the perception of obligation, of explanation, AFTER deconversion, seems to be something that many here have some difficulties overcoming. Indoctrination is very difficult to eliminate after many long years inside the crazy crooked house of religion. This perception is based on residual guilt and some falsely applied shame at leaving. This is an illusion!!!!!

you agreed a long time ago to be a participant in a religious group on a voluntary basis. You decided that immersion in the group was something you wanted to do. This involved being in some fictional (as we now see it) sense, under submission to a pastor, deacons etc etc. When you decided that participaction in this religious group is of no further use to you, the "authority" (which is specious, artificial and based on nothing to begin with but the edicts of an old book) lost all of it's weight. The Emperor has no clothes. Do not attribute any more to this edifice of lies than you must. You are free to do as you please, and furthermore, you are free to be FREEEEE, in a real sense, your duties and obligations just evaporated in a puff of reasonable smoke. There is no hold over you, there is no requirement for you to have to offer any explanations, because the pastor and all of his minions are actually the managerial staff at the Quikie Mart. It's over, there friend, you were free in the nanosecond that the idea popped into your head that the bible isn't the word of cod and that jeebus didn't rise from any grave. The bubble is burst, the facade has cracked from top to bottom, and once again, the emperor has nothing on.

Now go an be free and laugh at requests for explanations. you have better things to do with your time than bollocks around with theological debates about cods that don't exist.

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being an avid reader of all things fantastic, I can't imagine what your teenage life could have been like with your stepfather burning your books. I feel for you friend, that's simply appalling.

The more I read of the testimonies of those who have lived within the bible belt, the more terrifying it seems to be to me. I honestly am shocked at a lot of the tales I read here from the southern states. I am thankful I spent my Xtian years in the Pacific Northwest rather than the south, the level of intimidation and community pressure seems far greater. The Xtians are NOT in the majority up here. Food for thought for those trapped deep in the bible belt, consider a move to the rather more secular Pacific NW! Lovely scenery, weather is mild and the churches don't tend to chase you as much when you leave lol...

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Hey Norton. I totally agree with you about not "owing" the church anything. If I was a single man I'd have jsut walked away without a word.

 

No, my concern is living with my still Christian wife. I'm trying to find the compromise that will allow us to continue our life together in harmony, but without me having to live a lie.

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Welcome, silentknight. I feel ya. Just be honest with your wife and try to work out a compromise when things come up that you are uncomfortable with. If you are past the point of a pastor having any chance of influencing your thinking tell her so. If she still thinks that you should engage, do what you feel is right. I hope that you two can grow closer through this rather than divided.

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Welcome silentknight!

 

You've definitely come to the right place. There are many on here who have xian spouses. There are many on here that (have dealt) are dealing with former pastors (including me).

 

Stick around and make some friends. We are glad you are here :)

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Welcome, welcome!

 

You don't owe anybody any explanations at all. There is absolutely nothing you could say that would do it anyway. Your wife won't be satisfied if you visit your ex-pastor a dozen times or write any number of "Dear John" letters to Jesus. If the end of any of those efforts isn't you going "oh my gosh I've been stupid, and yay I'm washed in the blood of Yahweh's vicious child-sacrifice to his own bloodlust!", don't expect her to be happy with whatever you did. I got accused of having a "closed heart" a few times by my fundie preacher Evil Ex as I decoupled from that toxic religion, purely because all the stuff he demanded I do to prove my case didn't produce the result HE wanted, which was my reconversion.

 

We are so lucky nowadays to have all these resources at our disposal. Back then, when I deconverted, all I had was the knowledge that the Bible's assurances were demonstrably false. There weren't a lot of books around about why Christianity was absolutely a false religion, nor any websites about skepticism (this was right when Netscape got invented!). You are lucky and fortunate enough to have reams of information--solid, objective, rational information--at your very fingertips. Avail yourself of it. If nothing else it will bolster your decision. But do not allow these other people to push you into the situation of having to prove their religion false. That is a shifting of burden of proof, and it will--I guarantee--happen a lot, and indeed already has with these unreasonable demands. Instead of offering you solid proof that a single one of Christianity's claims are real, they want you to write letters of resignation explaining yourself and attend meetings with people to talk you out of your rational decision. Demanding you jump through hoops is a shifting of that burden. Don't fall for it.

 

Especially coming from such a horrible home environment, I can see you feeling obligated to justify yourself, but you really don't have to. You're an adult. All you need to say is "No, thank you" to these demands, and continue to educate yourself. And love your wife. You know she's feeling really scared right now in a way; Christian women are taught that non-Christian men are beasts and she likely feels she didn't "sign up" for this. But if she loves you, she will see that you haven't changed from the wonderful man she married, and if she's a decent person, she knows in her heart of hearts that she'd far rather you be happy and live honestly than that you live a lie just to make someone else happy.

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Hey Norton. I totally agree with you about not "owing" the church anything. If I was a single man I'd have jsut walked away without a word.

 

No, my concern is living with my still Christian wife. I'm trying to find the compromise that will allow us to continue our life together in harmony, but without me having to live a lie.

 

Hello silentknight and welcome!

 

I don't know that I can add anything to the rest of the great advice that you've been given. Sometimes we already know what we need to do, or not do, but it's always good to get a 2nd opinion just to make sure we've got our heads on straight.

 

That compromise will likely change throughout your process of deconversion as well as you're wife's progress whether to deconvert, learn to accept yours, or possibly her own deconversion some day.

 

I'm sure you'll find a lot of support here as you travel this bumpy road.

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Thank you for the encouragement. All I can do is try my best to help my wife understand and have faith (haha) that she will come to understand. She's taken it well so far. She's obviously not happy about it, but she hasn't condemned me, or broken down into tears or anything. She's a strong woman. One of the reasons I love her so dearly.

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