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Kids, Husband & Family - Help :(


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Like many others, it is difficult for me to post here. However, I am in great need of encouragement. I will try to keep my story brief, though I'm not sure how possible that will be. 

 

Here is the basic history: 

Raised fundamentalist/evangelical. Loving, but dysfunctional household affected by a parent with mental illness. Attended a Christian Lutheran elementary school and college. I still have fond memories of caring people who taught me of a loving God and making the world a better place. In my dysfunctional family, faith was a great comfort growing up.

 

I met my husband in college. Religious conflicts were nonexistent. We were raised with very similar upbringings. I love him very much; he is a wonderful person and lives his faith in commendable ways which can't be said of all Christians. He's not especially legalistic (emphasis on grace and a loving God) and pretty accepting of people. We've been married for 8 amazing years and have two young children now in early elementary school. 

 

As a child, I had some of the common questions, but was reassured and gently reminded of the devil's workings to deceive us. However, I grew up to be a deep thinker, intellectual, and questioner, with too many interests to count...astronomy, psychology, science, biology, anthropology, sociology, the arts, travel.  Shortly after we married after college, I started to wonder more about other religions. Countries that are more secular intrigued and baffled me. Fast-forward a few years and two beautiful children (now about 3 years ago) and things I read in the Bible just started seeming...off. As I've read in many others' stories, I just shelved the uncertainties for awhile. (Amazingly, but understandably, I can only guess that this is what many religious folks do for various reasons.)

 

But a few months ago, the doubt and questions took hold of me. As so many others have described, the analogies of tugging at a fraying straying or unplugging from the matrix apply so aptly. Unfortunately, I have mild to moderate episodes of OCD (the doubter's disease) and this exacerbates the problem (fear, questioning, compulsive researching) severely. The hours upon hours I have spent reading every side of the argument, every apologetics book, every athiest's story, every athiest-turned-Christian story, every fact about evolution, the history of religion, ancient civilization have frankly become extremely unhealthy, but I can't stop.

 

That said, our particular branch of Lutheranism holds strongly to young earth creationism. I've read the science and the evidence speaks for itself. Could science be wrong on some things? Are there a lot of things we don't know? Sure, but the bible, at least taken literally, is definitely not a reasonable alternative. And science is always willing to adjust to new data. Contrary to popular religious opinion, there is not (usually) an agenda among mainstream scientists. The grand canyon, cosmology, astronomy (the distance light travels to get here), fossils, carbon dating, tree rings, genetics, DNA, lack of evidence for a worldwide flood, are all pretty compelling. 

 

Then there are all of the ancient peoples who lived around 4000BC in the other parts of the world, each with their own religion. Are the Native Americans all going to hell just because they were born when and where they were?? A term that resonates with me is this idea of a "cosmic lottery." I was just lucky (or unlucky) enough to be born into a 20th century conservative American evangelical tradition?? 

 

I am in the deepest of lows right now in this process and it is extremely depressing. I have begun to deal with the idea that this is all there is. In some ways, progressive, emergent Christianity has some draws (the idea of "following Jesus" as an example of love, humility, selflessness and not necessarily taking the Bible literally), although I feel differently every single day. Every morning I wake up depressed that I have unplugged from the Matrix and everyone else is still plugged in and feel like they might have it better off. After all, a vast majority of the world believes in a higher power and in some ways it is said to benefit our brains (the concept of a loving God at least, not a vengeful one). I also still have nostalgic and good memories of the traditions, values founded on the more positive aspects/morals of Christianity, and a longing for that certainty and stability. 

 

But none of this is the kicker. This is not why I am here looking for help. That reason is my family. My husband is a principal at a Christian school (teaching a young earth, no less). My kids now go to school there. They bring home worksheets about Old Testament stories, some I feel inappropriate for their age (or period). I think my kids starting school was one of many triggers to my questioning.

 

I have come out to my husband. It has NOT been easy. I have tried to reason and rationalize with him, but of course so has he. We've started with general conversations where I tell him I'm just not sure, that I can't accept Christians who say with certainty anyone is going to hell (he at least doesn't push this point...he's not a Universalist by any means, but he "leaves it in God's hands"). But since it has gone on and especially since we've had conversations about our kids, things repeatedly go downhill quickly. 

 

To brag on him, however, he does amazing things for the students at this school. He is a phenomenal teacher and an all-around good and likable person who the students admire and look up to. Many of his students have come to the school because they were bullied elsewhere or the parents felt like "just a number" in the public school. Some of the kids have really tough lives...abuse, parents in jail, depression...and he really makes a positive difference in their lives. He is NOT the "Bible-touting" judgmental type and is pretty accepting of people. I married him after all. However, he is VERY stubborn and set in very deep-seated beliefs (I've been there, so I truly do understand) all rooted in a large, strong, loving family (think Brady Bunch type) with multiple generations "in the ministry." Ironically, he never intended or wanted to enter the Christian education system/ministry. He thought it was often hypocritical and legalistic and has always had some issues with pastors and the church. However, a series of unusual steps in our lives led to where we are now...him teaching/being principal at this Christian school (you know, all part of God's will). His grandpa was a pastor and he witnessed him have a religious near-death experience before he died. So. All this said, there are many, many layers to his belief. 

 

He still loves me. I still love him. He wants to raise our kids strongly in their faith. I understand why completely, yet I struggle with this idea. I'm having a lot of difficulty with the notion of "pretending" and going along with the Christian upbringing. But at this point, I would have to say I probably have more respect/empathy for my husband's position and beliefs than he does of mine. He doesn't want me hurting their faith. But I at the very least want my kids to be open to the discoveries of science and not terrified of asking questions and not to one day go through this existential terror that I am going through right now. I hate the idea of my kids worrying one day (IF I'm able to be honest with them) that I'm going to hell. That alone just gives me anxiety. 

 

Of course, my husband is worried about that too. He has more reason to convert me than I do him. Of course, one of the main (perhaps selfish) reasons I wish he could move toward my line of thinking is so I wouldn't be out here alone on this island. But, arguably from his perspective, he has a lot more to lose than I do. As you might guess, our entire life (family, friends, schoolmates) revolves around this conservative/fundie church & school. My real-life support system outside of this bubble is not very extensive. Even my college friends and facebook network consists of people with similar religious backgrounds.

 

My husband wants me to talk to another pastor who referenced an apologetics book (one of the less convincing ones I've read actually). My values and my love for my family hasn't changed, but my confidence in the Bible has and it is tearing me apart inside. I'm crying nearly every day and because of the OCD tendencies, these thoughts and anxieties (especially about the future of my family) consume me. Of course I've got those worries like what if I'm wrong...I'll never be sure of anything again...but I'm mostly terrified of the stories I read about people getting divorced after one spouse deconverted. Up until now, we have been a LOVING and HAPPY family. I still want that more than anything. I don't know where intellectual integrity falls on the spectrum of my wants/needs, but it's not like I can just plug back into the Matrix even if I wanted to. It's like Pandora's box -- or the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. (Obviously I am Eve in this scenario.) To my husband, the solution is me coming back...this depression and angst in his mind is an obvious direct result of my rejection of God. I want to hope there is some kind of middle ground, but I'm not sure. 

 

But I LOVE my kids and there has to be some kind of a solution or hope for our future. Thanks for reading. Encouragement welcomed. 

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There is a middle ground.  I came out to my wife over a year ago.  I don't go to church.  Our kids go to church a couple of times each year.  I do not try to deconvert my wife.  Once in a while she wants to talk about religion but she doesn't try to convert me.  We both influence the children slightly but we accept that the children will make up their own minds.

 

I wish you the best of luck.  The hardest part will be getting over the propaganda about ex-Christians.  If your husband gives you the chance he will see that you are basically the same person you were before except without the religion.  Most people who leave Christianity don't change much except they feel less guilt and fear.

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Man, I honestly wish I could give you a big hug. Your story is so similar to mine. Like freaky similar. Much the same upbringing, and I struggle with extreme anxiety issues, so I totally get the obsessive need to figure it all out and the inability to stop thinking about it. I sit here, night after night, researching and reading/watching, even when I know it's unhealthy and overkill. I have always had an insatiable need to know things, and when I get on a track I sometimes feel like I'm not in charge of the train any longer, I'm just along for the ride.

 

I recently came out to my husband as well, and it didn't go that great. We have 4 kids and I'm having a lot of the same problems that you've described. My husband is pushing to put them into private Christian school, but I recently told him that I wasn't okay with that (it didn't go well). The feeling of loving your husband, yet being terrified about what the future is going to look like now that you've opened up this box is exactly where I'm at. I can't see him ever deconverting, and yet I can't see myself living a "lie" forever either, so I'm at an impasse for now.

 

I wish I had some answers for you, but all I know right now is to keep searching and asking questions. Don't let yourself be shamed/talked into accepting something you know is not true. You have a right to be happy and live an honest life. I dont know what that will look like for you (or me for that matter), but it's possible and you deserve it.

 

Thank you for being brave enough to write out your story. Stick around and listen to what there is to be said here. There's a lot of people who have walked through this and come out the other side relatively okay. *hugs*

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Hello and welcome. Sounds like you are afraid about what keeping your intellectual integrity will do to your family. This is a fairly common fear, and you have lots of people who have been where you are.

 

You have a few things going for you: you already know what YOU want. Many ex-Christians have to figure that part out. Also, it sounds like you are married to a good guy. He is afraid right now, and this too is common. It will probably pass when he sees that you are still a good person and that you have no desire to leave. But he has compassion and that will go a long way. When you feel like you are sure about what you believe (or don't believe), perhaps after reading books he suggests or talking to a pastor or whatever, you two will need to figure out how to do life together. I say together because it sounds like you are pretty confident that he loves you too.

 

One thing that is important to keep in mind is that both of you will need to keep respect for the other person paramount, and that means neither of you will do things like try to convert the other person or belittle the other's beliefs. Both of you will be going through a sort of grief process too, saying goodbye to the life you had envisioned together. Be sensitive to each other's grief and know that there are a range of emotions associated with grief, most of them not pretty. This is natural and it will pass. How long it will take varies. But even in your grief together you can voice your commitment to making a new life together. Yes, there will be a lot of awkwardness, especially with his job. Both of you can work out how to best handle that awkwardness; the important thing is knowing that though your beliefs might be different now you still support the other person.

 

As far as the kids go, focus on values that you both agree on. I would guess based on hour description of him that he would want your kids to be strong minded and critical thinkers. Find ways to teach them that. Commit yourself to teaching them how to think instead of what to think. They will start coming around on their own. If changing schools is not an option, involve them in extra curricular activities that are more neutral, like book clubs at the library or camps at the museum. Let them know that they can ask you or their dad anything and believe anything and you both will still love them. Commit to being honest with each other about any conversations you might have with the kids because this will all fall apart if one of you finds out the other is secretly telling the kids stuff.

 

It might help to see a neutral therapist too. My wife is still a believer and she took this all pretty hard when I first deconverted. Seeing a neutral third party was very helpful for us to work out our feelings and plan for the future. It was often helpful to be reminded that we didn't have to have everything planned right NOW. We had as much time as we needed to figure it all out.

 

You might keep an eye out for a book coming out soon by an author named Dale McGowan called In Faith and In Doubt. It dives into research on religious/atheist marriages to see what is helpful and what isn't.

 

Good luck, let us know however we can help. It seems bleak now, but you will get through this.

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Welcome to the forums. smile.png

 

Here are some random ideas:

 

(1) You've got to pretend to believe the things being taught if your husband is the principal. If the principal's kids started questioning these beliefs in school then that would be a difficult situation for your husband.

 

(2) Most likely as your kids get older they will naturally soften these beliefs or give up Christianity altogether.

 

(3) Probably in time your husband will change his beliefs.

 

So my advice is to pretend to be a Christian for now and let things take their course. Maybe that is bad advice, but there it is smile.png

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I know exactly what you are feeling and where you are! Your story matches mine, to a t. Married 6 years, two young kids, both of us from fundamentalist backgrounds, loving and positive Christian upbringing, loved being involved in church, comforted by the idea of a loving god, believed it with all my heart, lead my friends to Jesus, etc, etc. My wife's only solution is me coming back, but as you said, it is not possible. I know too much now. I simply cannot believe it any more. The "what if I'm wrong" stuff will subside. You'll start to realize that the same confidence and comfort you had as a Christian, ultimately came from within yourself, and you'll find it again. I am also comforted by the idea that if there is a loving god, there is no way he would send me to hell for honest skepticism. Not logically possible or an all loving god to send anyone to eternal fire for simply not believing the correct thing. The thought of "this is all there is" or the fear of death should not bother you. As Mark Twain said, "I was dead for a billion years before I was born, and it didn't bother me one bit." If anything, our mortality should be an encouragement to make the most of life. Love it and live it while you can. As for how to raise your kids, I feel your pain. I'm in that dilemma now with my wife. We have both agreed that neither one of us can control what they think, that we both want to teach them how to think. They'll have their own opinions and beliefs regardless of how we try to shelter them. That said, I don't want them disproportionately influenced. My wife and I are okay for now, but we have had many fights over it. There is more mutual respect now than there was at first, so I'm hopeful we can work everything out. She is a great wife and mother, and not very legalistic either. But she did feel betrayed when I came out to here. She was and is hurt. I hate that she's hurt. I tread as gently as I can, but I cannot be dishonest with myself about this. Take one day at a time. Be honest and respectful at the same time, and everything will work out fine no matter what happens.

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Oh, I wanted to echo what Dr.No said, maybe a way to work through some of the feelings/issues would be to find a therapist? Have you been diagnosed with OCD?  I've found that initially my deconversion really exacerbated my anxiety and I had to adjust my meds. I've since readjusted them and am doing okay (mostly), but it may be worth it to get some professional help on that front. If you can find a therapist that is knowledgeable about people leaving religion and the turmoil it can bring you might find some relief there. There's a secular therapist site that might have someone in your area.

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     To be perfectly honest, I don't feel qualified to respond to your topic...  However, I have been through what you are going through at least on a personal level (with the exception of having to deal with a Christian spouse).  I was raised the son of a very popular and well respected minister (who's name I will not mention for personal reasons).  I am very fortunate to have a woman in my life who decided to leave Christianity behind with me.  Her support and friendship have been empowering to say the least.  I can only tell you that you are not on the wrong path.  The choice to embrace your intellect, heart, logic, and common sense is one that you will not regret in the long run.  Unfortunately, This does not guarantee that things will not be hard on you... 

 

     On a more positive note, I know for a fact that there are many people who frequent this site who will be more than willing to lend their time, advice, and friendship to you when you need it (including myself). :-)  Hang in there.  You are not alone.  Nothing in this world is worth the complete betrayal of your heart and mind - after all, it is these very things that make you everything that you are. :-)

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Welcome to the forums.

I strongly identify with your value on personal relationships. I am married 21 years, and while my daughter is now 19, issues have still come up since my deconversion.

I would say, don't pretend to be what you're not. I'm afraid, looking back now, the evangelicals helped me deconvert because they dog-sniffed inauthenticity of belief, and kept asking me what I believed about a lot of things. This will only make for cognitive dissonance for you.

Also, this need to research is, I believe, a very important stage. I never saw this as unhealthy. You are deprogramming. Knowledge is what will get you out of where you are.

i admit, during the process, I had some kinds of longing for a pastor or authority figure to tell me I wasn't going to Hell. Except, I never really went to pastors before then. It took learning about where Hell came from and continuing to deconstruct the myth before I realized what was going on.

Perhaps it may be helpful for you, to stop thinking of "Is this all there is?" and start exploring all that there is. You and I and many of us ex-Christians were raised being taught the world is really small, finite, broken, corrupt, going to be destroyed. So it's hard to get into the whole idea of how BIG the universe is. The cosmology of Christianity is really small, compared to what we understand now.

None of that makes any practical sense in terms of relationships, except that it will help settle you in your own mind.

Also consider that your husband may have a couple challenges with deconverting. He works for a Christian organization. It's been said that you can't get someone to know something, if their salary depends on them not knowing it.

Second, he may not be a natural-born questioner. I really related to what you said about that. My livelihood is software engineering. My wife, a Christian, is an educator working with disadvantaged teen moms and their kids. She finds my way of processing things stressful at times.

I think it's because it doesn't fit with how her mind works. That doesn't mean people like her, or maybe your husband, are less intelligent. Not at all. It's just a way of looking at things.

And we all know deconversion is the result of a lot of things, not the least of which are the nagging questions we never could resolve. Some people don't have those questions, or they don't prioritize them for whatever reason.

Finding community is hard. You're at a church now, and that always is tough. I had a really tough time during my deconversion. Perhaps you can find a meetup in your area that you can meet with when the kids are at school over lunch near where you work, or something. Most cities have nontheist / humanist meetups. I know words trigger reactions.

My wife's first response was, "I didn't mary an atheist!" That wasn't so much her lashing out, as a trigger response to a word the churches have demonized. The same goes for many in terms of the word humanist. They think that means Soviet Spy or Enemy of the State. No Christian apologist I have read has ever read and given fair argument to humanists like Bertrand Russell or David Hume.

So find a way to tell your husband about the meetup using words that won't trigger a response.

I'm all for full  disclosure to my wife, and have tried to take deliberate steps to communicate things in such a way that don't trigger responses. I know words like 'liberal' can send some people (not my wife) through the moon. Christian apologetics has created a set of trigger responses in people to make them respond to certain words and concepts, without knowing why they even reacted that way.

I do disclose where I'm going, even told Her about this site. But I do choose my words carefully, remembering how I might have seen it as a Christian, in particular as the most fiery kind that I was in my early days.

I know we have triggers that affect us. But Christians who are still in, have triggers that affect them also. They don't even know it.

The "I didn't marry an atheist!" comment? She said she was surprised she'd said that, and apologized. But in a way, She hadn't: all the programming we all have had said that.

I try to remember this.

Anyway, you're on the right track, both to disclose and to care about relationships. If you didn't disclose, here's what might have happened: The dog-sniffing in evangelical church would have asked you about your belief about a politician or a doctrine, and when you didn't give a ready answer, they would persist. Then you would get defensive, and explain away your position, perhaps.

That's what happened for years with me. Only ibnstead of looking things square in the face, I kept shelving things, or reading apologetics to try and make myself believe it all.

I reread the book 1984 about 10 years ago now. It was very instructive on thought control. In particular, when an apologist for the state was in the cafeteria with the main protagonist, and the apologist prompted for proper orthodox responses, the protagonist not doing the best job of being convincing.

You are far far better off having faced it early, and disclosed it. Hard to picture now. But otherwise, you will sit in church for years, be prompted by dog-sniffing orthodox Christians looking to make sure everybody confirms what they believe, and you won't measure up. You don't need that, and even your husband, who might have otherwise gotten upset, doesn't need that.

You don't want ten more years of "Why do you think that?" and "Don't u think that's wrong?" type discussions.

Now you can make your way. I know this isn't the most fuzzy response. I'm still processing a lot of this. I've only been out for a couple of months, unlike many on here. I personally identify with your struggle, respect your intellectual honesty and your desire to maintain relationships.

It's really hard when your partner is invested inside a church community, involved in ministry, or in some other way connected to the "inner circle."

I will say this, though: I'm convinced the churches are full of deconverting people. Gay people often talk about gays they know living the straight life? I was a Christian who knew a lot of fellow doubters, people who when away from their believing spouses and the elders of the church, we would confide in each other a little bit. It wouldn't surprise me if a couple people I knew at an assemblies of God church are now atheists, as it might not surprise them to find out that I am.

I know many ex-C's are not atheist, I wasn't drawing an assumption. I only know my own leanings and those of people I was around.

And, as I look back, some of the most fire-breathing fervent kind, that I thought were so sure of everything? I think now for some, at least, it's a flimsy defense system they must keep up, lest they experience the same doubts we have.

What you're going through is normal for a compassionate human being with a rational mind.

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Big Hugs and Welcome to Ex-C!   There are lots of us "unequally-yoked" people here, so you are in excellent company!  tongue.png   

 

This thread may be of interest to you:

 

http://www.ex-christian.net/topic/60988-resources-for-unequally-yoked-marriages/#.U6x3MPldWSo

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Big Hugs from me also and Welcome to Ex-C Murkywater! I am so sorry for the dilemma that religion can bring to a relationship. It's heartbreaking. We've got hundreds of these stories on Ex-c. Go into the testimonies section and you will see that you are so far from being alone. There are some wonderful reply's.

 

Basically, I am in the mind frame after a long time devonverting on Ex-c that you have two choices. One is to take your time with all of this and work your way thought it slowing as you piece the puzzle together...or...come right out and be who you are now. The latter might cause a huge dilemma in your relationship, so I would advise you to go slow until you gain the confidence on which way you might go. You will be OK. Just continue to be the loving person you always were. The family will be terrified that you are going to have a complete change of personality. It's real good to show them that this will not make you a different person. The only thing that has changed is your beliefs in religion. In time, it will definitely change your world view, but for now...just go real slow.

 

I'm so glad you're here with us although I'm never happy to hear these sad stories. 

 

*hug*

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Welcome to the forums. smile.png

 

Here are some random ideas:

 

(1) You've got to pretend to believe the things being taught if your husband is the principal. If the principal's kids started questioning these beliefs in school then that would be a difficult situation for your husband.

 

(2) Most likely as your kids get older they will naturally soften these beliefs or give up Christianity altogether.

 

(3) Probably in time your husband will change his beliefs.

 

So my advice is to pretend to be a Christian for now and let things take their course. Maybe that is bad advice, but there it is smile.png

 

This really seems like bad advice all around.

 

Lying is never the answer. If you think it is try being lied to be almost everyone you know to "save" you the trouble or pain.

 

Pain I can deal with, liars make me sad.

 

 

To the OP:

 

You don't have to lie to get out from underneath this no matter how much of a lie was being told to you. I am not saying go out of your way to stick it in peoples faces or your husbands, that won't make it easier. Maybe just avoid it for a time and talk about it less with him if it is possible. There really is no fast solution to this other than time to see what will happen. Don't give up. I know from reading other stories here it takes most people some time to deal with this when their life changes. In the end though the only thing changing here is you accepting life as it actually is rather than being weighted down by a lie that was hurting you.

 

You are a better person for seeing through it. Patience will hopefully win the day for you.

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Thank you all so much. 

 

So things have been a *little* better the last few days. I am getting over the fears I had when I first posted about the future of my family and marriage. I am convinced we will be fine. We have overcome a lot of crap together in our marriage and relationship over the last 10 years (obviously I think this tops the list), but love overcomes all right? 

 

I've been repeating to him that my love (or anyone else's) is genuine regardless of religious beliefs. I think that's slowly getting across. 

 

There are obviously big challenges to be faced, but I am trying, trying, trying to live in the present and not dwell on those worries for the future. 

 

One kind of unexpected thing is this eye-opening feeling that I've made some pretty big personal discoveries (having now gotten through some of the grief, shock, etc.). For example, the "novel" idea that the earth is estimated to have been around for 4.5 billion years is making me even more in awe of the fact that we are here to even contemplate that very fact. It's also giving me a different perspective on other animals and our relationship with them on this planet. I've been wanting to discuss some of this with my husband, because frankly, I'm just amazed at some of these things. Sometimes it goes well, sometimes not, but I think we are becoming more respectful and less forceful of our own viewpoints in these conversations. (And if the conversation heads south, I drop it.) I'm trying not to press the issue though and taking a break from some of the religious conversations. 

 

But I've had a few good moments. 

 

Example: I took the kids to the library the other day. Before leaving, I playfully made the joke to my husband with a smile that "maybe I would get them some books on dinosaurs." His annoyance quickly gave to a smile and kiss goodbye.

 

For whatever reason, the young earth creationism is just a sticking point for me. If I could get past that alone, I just feel like that would be such a triumph. So I'm not sure how to go forward with that with the kids at all. In this area, I guess fostering an appreciation for science and critical thinking skills is at least one thing I can do. 

 

A few specific responses to those who replied --

 

bfuddled, thank you. Sounds like we are on a similar path. Recently, I have had a few days that give me hope. You are so right on that the compulsive researching is like getting on a train and I'm just along for the ride. I feel like I've read almost everything I can read. I'm still reading (now that my kids are a little older part of me is enjoying this neglected pastime), but I'm trying to find a balance and to wean myself off the daily compulsive research for reassurance. For OCDers, one of the best things we can do is face/accept uncertainty and the causes of anxiety head-on until they no longer so much power. (I did email a psychiatrist I saw in the past when I had terrible postpartum and I'm hoping she can offer help. I feel like she will be 10x more helpful than any pastor or therapist.) 

 

DrNo, your post was also very helpful. I saw that book on Amazon about "In Faith and In Doubt" and am awaiting it eagerly. I also really appreciated what you had to say about supporting the other person even if your beliefs are different and being honest when it comes to the kids.  

 

As of right now, there is definitely not an immediate option of my husband quitting this job or my kids not going to a Christian school. And honestly, I think I'm fine with that. I still feel like there is value in some of what they learn as well. We have a unique relationship and friendships with their teachers that we wouldn't have it a public school and this is hugely advantageous when it comes to the kids' education. And there are also a LOT of great things about your husband being the principal of a small school where your kids attend. 

 

HOWEVER, I'm still at a loss on my role in it all. I still want to be involved in it for the simple reason it's huge a part of my family's life. And as I just mentioned, there are a lot of good things I still want and appreciate about our lives the way they are now. 

 

Margee - liked what you had to say about going slow. That definitely seems like the best approach right now. I care about my husband and my kids deeply, so I'm taking it one day at a time. 

 

As long as my husband is employed there though, causing waves would NOT bode well for any of us for all kinds of reasons. To be completely honest, I still want to go to church to be there for my kids, keep them occupied/distracted, keep connections with the school, family, community, etc. I am having open conversations about what is said in church and about religion with my husband and I think as our kids get older that will set a good example for them. (He has the same values about teaching them to be open and would not say thinking critically is a bad thing.)  

 

I also just don't exactly see the need to torture family and friends with concern for me (or torture myself further). So I guess as long as I'm relatively able to be open and honest with my husband, then for now I'm fine with going along with it all, at least for now. Does that make any sense or can anyone relate to that?? I am hopeful that it might be possible to retain or focus on some of the good despite the fact that I now view it in a different light...seeing the good, the rich history, some symbolic meaning, etc. I've read some comforting threads from athiests that have found open church communities that are affirming/supportive of them attending regardless of belief. Are there any threads from others here who have continued in some of the traditions/practices or kept up with a church community for their spouse or kids' sake? 

 

I know for a lot of people here this isn't something they want or need -- especially if they have had more negative experiences with Christianity than I have. I get that. But I also know there are others like me who still see some good in it. (I found a few threads about people who have tried emergent churches/unitarian universalist, etc.)

 

All that said, there's also a somewhat weird dynamic at play. My husband and I actually both have a strong dislike for this church. Too conservative, role of women, legalistic pastor, etc., etc. The church is dying, but the school (again, with my husband as principal) is exploding with growth - mainly because he's an all-around likable guy and knows his stuff when it comes to education. He runs the school as separately as he can from the church. He's open, kind and non-judgmental and he cares about the students AND their families, and he's worked hard to build a staff that feels the same way. He goes WAY out of his way to help the school families with everything under the sun. But for the last several years (even before my crisis), we have had an ongoing struggle with how to reconcile our strong dislike for the church with the fact that he loves his job at this school. (For the record, it's the type of church school that requires him (us) to be members there.) 

 

I'm not sure what all of this means for our future, but I can only hope that will work out in our favor. However, for the moment, leaving this place isn't an option (unless he quits, finds another job, we move, etc.)

 

At a future time when it might be, he will still want to send the kids to a Christian school and I will still want to be involved in their school life. So I think that is just something I will have to deal with. I want to be honest with my kids as they get grow and get older, but again, I don't feel like causing a stir is necessary with people outside of our home. I'm a pretty reserved person. (I prefer not to talk a lot in general with people I'm not extremely comfortable with, let alone religion/politics.) I also am not ready to start tearing apart friendships and other relationships. So perhaps I will be fine continuing as things are for now at least. But again, would love to hear from anyone with personal experience in this area. 

 

Neverlandrut - have the same thought on how a loving, all-knowing God would have to understand my honest skepticism. :) 

 

Thank you all again. Happy 4th to those celebrating in the U.S. 

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Welcome.

 

I'm coming late into this so I won't say much - no point in multiplying words when virtually everything has been said.

 

Just to say I feel for you.  I'm married to a Christian wife with whom I have not discussed my current position, and have a son of 16 who has been brought up within a Christian church.

 

My wife and I have managed to reach a sort of unspoken accommodation whereby neither challenges the other, whilst my son is proving to be quite capable of forming his own opinions.

 

Take it slow and await the appropriate time before doing anything that is likely to have far reaching consequences is about the best advice, I suspect.

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Well, I went to church this morning with my family. After my post a couple days ago, I am starting to see how there's some wishful thinking there. I can still see good in the people, the experience, etc., but it's really hard going through those motions now seeing the church or religion from an "outside" perspective. 

 

I'm being honest with this about my husband and we had a good conversation yesterday. He's been reading the same things I have about "unequally yoked" relationships from the Christian's perspective. We are both totally committed to each other and our family and still love each other. 

 

We are being empathetic to the other and respective of each other's positions, but neither of us really has a solution. As I've already said, there are a lot of really great things about his job and this school. My kids are also young enough and I know it would be very hard for them (my oldest in particular) to change schools. They love it there. 

 

I still want to be able to go to church for him and my kids and support him because of his job. (Not going would just bring hellstorm for both of us and probably even our kids right now.) He understands why this is hard for me and also seems uncomfortable putting me in this position (although, having once held his position, I think it is easier for me to see where he's coming from rather than vice versa). 

 

So for now, I guess I am still resolved that need to keep going to church for our kids, our family, our school, our community, our friends, his job. Hopefully we can slowly work toward new understandings, ways of life, and maybe eventually a new community together. 

 

Any suggestions on making it through church right now? Like I said, I'm trying to see the good in it and perhaps reframe in my mind my relationship with this community (as my husband's job; my shared school with fellow parents...that kind of thing). Any other advice greatly appreciated. 

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To brag on him, however, he does amazing things for the students at this school. He is a phenomenal teacher and an all-around good and likable person who the students admire and look up to. Many of his students have come to the school because they were bullied elsewhere or the parents felt like "just a number" in the public school. Some of the kids have really tough lives...abuse, parents in jail, depression...and he really makes a positive difference in their lives. He is NOT the "Bible-touting" judgmental type and is pretty accepting of people. I married him after all. However, he is VERY stubborn and set in very deep-seated beliefs (I've been there, so I truly do understand) all rooted in a large, strong, loving family (think Brady Bunch type) with multiple generations "in the ministry." Ironically, he never intended or wanted to enter the Christian education system/ministry. He thought it was often hypocritical and legalistic and has always had some issues with pastors and the church. However, a series of unusual steps in our lives led to where we are now...him teaching/being principal at this Christian school (you know, all part of God's will). His grandpa was a pastor and he witnessed him have a religious near-death experience before he died. So. All this said, there are many, many layers to his belief. 

 

He still loves me. I still love him. He wants to raise our kids strongly in their faith. I understand why completely, yet I struggle with this idea. I'm having a lot of difficulty with the notion of "pretending" and going along with the Christian upbringing. But at this point, I would have to say I probably have more respect/empathy for my husband's position and beliefs than he does of mine. He doesn't want me hurting their faith. But I at the very least want my kids to be open to the discoveries of science and not terrified of asking questions and not to one day go through this existential terror that I am going through right now. I hate the idea of my kids worrying one day (IF I'm able to be honest with them) that I'm going to hell. That alone just gives me anxiety. 

 

Of course, my husband is worried about that too. He has more reason to convert me than I do him. Of course, one of the main (perhaps selfish) reasons I wish he could move toward my line of thinking is so I wouldn't be out here alone on this island. But, arguably from his perspective, he has a lot more to lose than I do. As you might guess, our entire life (family, friends, schoolmates) revolves around this conservative/fundie church & school. My real-life support system outside of this bubble is not very extensive. Even my college friends and facebook network consists of people with similar religious backgrounds.

 

My husband wants me to talk to another pastor who referenced an apologetics book (one of the less convincing ones I've read actually). My values and my love for my family hasn't changed, but my confidence in the Bible has and it is tearing me apart inside. I'm crying nearly every day and because of the OCD tendencies, these thoughts and anxieties (especially about the future of my family) consume me. Of course I've got those worries like what if I'm wrong...I'll never be sure of anything again...but I'm mostly terrified of the stories I read about people getting divorced after one spouse deconverted. Up until now, we have been a LOVING and HAPPY family. I still want that more than anything. I don't know where intellectual integrity falls on the spectrum of my wants/needs, but it's not like I can just plug back into the Matrix even if I wanted to. It's like Pandora's box -- or the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. (Obviously I am Eve in this scenario.) To my husband, the solution is me coming back...this depression and angst in his mind is an obvious direct result of my rejection of God. I want to hope there is some kind of middle ground, but I'm not sure. 

 

But I LOVE my kids and there has to be some kind of a solution or hope for our future. Thanks for reading. Encouragement welcomed. 

 

A lot of people are hastened to become ex-Christians by being trapped in a physically/mentally abusive situation for years. It's much harder when someone is NOT in such a situation. You have to meet the crisis on purely intellectual grounds, and it's a lot less stressful to simply go with the flow, and keep your "doubts" to yourself, and play a pretend-game that everything is all right ... as long as you shut up. Which means everything is NOT all right. 

 

As usual, the concept of "hell" is the kicker. Question for your husband: if you had a neighbor who built a torture chamber underneath his house, and demanded that his wife and children worship him all day, every day, and never question anything he said, under threat of being thrown down in the torture chamber, where they will be tortured to death ... would your husband think of this person as a good neighbor? If not, then why does he worship an anthropomorphic version of the same? Shouldn't the Deity be held to a MUCH HIGHER moral standard, in fact, than even the most moral human being? And yet this "hell" concept brings the Deity down to the level of a psychopath. It is a sick fantasy invented by ancient religions to control people. Most importantly in this case, this sick fantasy was NOT a part of Judaism. There was/is no "fiery judgement" after death in Judaism. Read Ecclesiastes: everybody returns to dust in Sheol. NOTHING in the Old Testament supports the "hell"/"judgement" idea. It was mentioned by Plato in a couple of his dialogues and seeped into some popular Greek religions, from which the Christians appropriated it (along with a LOT of other non-Judaic ideas, such as theophagy, eating the body/drinking the blood of a god).  

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The young earth creationism aspect is really the most ridiculous aspect of modern Christianity. Even the Catholic Church abandoned that idea long ago. It is a really, really stupid idea, but quite frankly, "old earth creationism," where a "god" supposedly guided everything, is only slightly less stupid. This is all just mythological nonsense. Nothing supports it at all except human egos refusing to grow up and accept reality. 

 

The earth really is over 4 billion years old. The universe really is over 13 billion years old. The sun really is a third generation sun. There really are thousands of different planets and solar systems. Life on earth really did evolve naturally, with no "guiding hand" of a jealous sky daddy. Dinosaurs really did go extinct 60 million years ago. This is all irrefutable reality. It isn't scary at all, it's beautiful, BECAUSE WE LIVE AT TIME WHERE WE CAN COMPREHEND ALL THIS! But religion would like to throw all this hard-won knowledge away, destroy it all, and have everybody go back to the dark ages and stay ignorant as possible. WE ARE NOT GOING BACK! 

 

Sorry, I got a little worked up. 

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Just a thought here in regards to the kids: Try reading to them/with them. Science fiction, fantasy, graphic novels. Make learning fun for them. Encourage them to use their imaginations. That way they will never fear knowledge and will learn to think for themselves.

 

I can't speak to your situation, Murkywater. I'm not married and no kids. Losing my faith wasn't as difficult for me, mostly because my former church was more liberal than most. My disagreements were not YEC, or legalism, or literalism. I will say that YEC is a thoroughly discredited theory and has been for many decades. It's up there with an earth-centered universe and the flat earth theory as far as I'm concerned. Those who cling to such an outdated theory as YEC are truly deceiving themselves, wishing to live in a dangerous illusion.

 

I would recommend looking up Carl Sagan's the Cosmos or perhaps Neil deGrasse Tyson's version. Either one is good, although Tyson's a bit more relevant. Carl Sagan also wrote a book called "The Demon Haunted World" that might help to ease your conscience in regards to learning more about science and how to seperate fact from fantasy. There are many books out there, and many youtube channels and podcasts as well.

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This hits the nail on the head. I have every possible emotional motivation NOT to question and pretend all is well. This isolates me from everyone I know and love and has the potential to hurt them as well. A huge part of me wants to go back for obvious emotional reasons, but EVEN IF I COULD, I would end up having the exact same questions and going through this same painful process.

 

A lot of relationship advice says that both persons should be respectful and neither should be pushy or try to convert the other. Yet, this ends up equating to silence on my part and pretending everything is all right. That works out much better for my husband than it does for me. Unfortunately, our present circumstances seem to require this to live our day-to-day life in any sort of practical way. I feel like the conversation needs to continue, but these conversations end up being EXTREMELY painful for both of us.  I really have no idea if it's better to avoid these potential landmines or not. 

 

I've read all of the convincing arguments a million times over, so what I really want & need right now is to make this relationship work for my kids and my marriage.  He has just as many emotional reasons as I do -- along with more practical ones like his job -- not to change his mind. And I have been there, so I really do understand his position. I imagine for people or those with spouses who are more "casually" religious, this hurdle is not as large. 

 

I think a counselor could help us navigate these waters, but I'm really not sure where to start to find a secular/non-biased therapist. What I would really love is someone who is experienced in this exact issue. 

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 You have to meet the crisis on purely intellectual grounds, and it's a lot less stressful to simply go with the flow, and keep your "doubts" to yourself, and play a pretend-game that everything is all right ... as long as you shut up. Which means everything is NOT all right. 

 

 

Oops, looks like that last quote didn't take...hopefully it works this time. This is what I was saying hits the nail on the head. (How do I edit a post?)

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Any suggestions on making it through church right now? Like I said, I'm trying to see the good in it and perhaps reframe in my mind my relationship with this community (as my husband's job; my shared school with fellow parents...that kind of thing). Any other advice greatly appreciated. 

 

Depends on how you want to survive it.  My approach:

 

  1. Reduce participation to the point where it is practically no more than turning up for the bare minimum of meetings.
  2. Laugh at the stupidity of the ideas put forward.
  3. Speak as little as possible to the other churchgoers.
  4. Never get involved in discussions of religion with other churchgoers
  5. Leave a post here if I start getting angry over something.

 

I suspect that's not what you're aiming for, however.  The best I can think of for you is to try to see it as a social club with some weird rituals.

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The young earth creationism aspect is really the most ridiculous aspect of modern Christianity. Even the Catholic Church abandoned that idea long ago. It is a really, really stupid idea, but quite frankly, "old earth creationism," where a "god" supposedly guided everything, is only slightly less stupid. This is all just mythological nonsense. Nothing supports it at all except human egos refusing to grow up and accept reality. 

 

The earth really is over 4 billion years old. The universe really is over 13 billion years old. The sun really is a third generation sun. There really are thousands of different planets and solar systems. Life on earth really did evolve naturally, with no "guiding hand" of a jealous sky daddy. Dinosaurs really did go extinct 60 million years ago. This is all irrefutable reality. It isn't scary at all, it's beautiful, BECAUSE WE LIVE AT TIME WHERE WE CAN COMPREHEND ALL THIS! But religion would like to throw all this hard-won knowledge away, destroy it all, and have everybody go back to the dark ages and stay ignorant as possible. WE ARE NOT GOING BACK! 

 

Sorry, I got a little worked up. 

 I wanted to add and clarify here that when I say YEC is a sticking point for me, I mean it's really hard for me that this is what my husband believes and wants to teach my kids for the reasons you mentioned. I have read interesting statistics on acceptance of evolution in the U.S. and sociological hypotheses on why this is. The fundamentalist protestant evangelical branches in the U.S. that remain rooted in Creationism are somewhat unique in espousing counterarguments that attempt to utilize science to promote the idea of a young earth (e.g., the flood wiped out the dinosaurs). 

 

I empathize with those who lament the effects this has on society, although definitely not wanting to take the conversation in that direction. :) I know my husband believes this because it's what both he and I were taught and it's really kind of essential to that worldview and the concept of original sin. We had a biology professor in college who published work on intelligent design and how science begins with materialist presuppositions, so I get it and I don't hold it against him.

 

But I'm really not thrilled that I'm the one who started reading the science behind evolutionary theory (including research and study from the last decade since then) and he's not particularly eager to read or give any credit to its claims. 

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Again with the quote not working, sorry!

 

Ellinas, on 07 Jul 2014 - 12:13 PM, said:  The best I can think of for you is to try to see it as a social club with some weird rituals.

 

--> This sounds almost exactly like the way some colleagues of mine were just describing the Catholic church smile.png

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This hits the nail on the head. I have every possible emotional motivation NOT to question and pretend all is well. This isolates me from everyone I know and love and has the potential to hurt them as well. A huge part of me wants to go back for obvious emotional reasons, but EVEN IF I COULD, I would end up having the exact same questions and going through this same painful process.

 

A lot of relationship advice says that both persons should be respectful and neither should be pushy or try to convert the other. Yet, this ends up equating to silence on my part and pretending everything is all right. That works out much better for my husband than it does for me. Unfortunately, our present circumstances seem to require this to live our day-to-day life in any sort of practical way. I feel like the conversation needs to continue, but these conversations end up being EXTREMELY painful for both of us.  I really have no idea if it's better to avoid these potential landmines or not. 

 

I've read all of the convincing arguments a million times over, so what I really want & need right now is to make this relationship work for my kids and my marriage.  He has just as many emotional reasons as I do -- along with more practical ones like his job -- not to change his mind. And I have been there, so I really do understand his position. I imagine for people or those with spouses who are more "casually" religious, this hurdle is not as large. 

 

I think a counselor could help us navigate these waters, but I'm really not sure where to start to find a secular/non-biased therapist. What I would really love is someone who is experienced in this exact issue. 

 

 

Try searching for "marriage counselor" + city/area you live in. Look through several. Call or email to find out if they counsel from a faith-based perspective if you are not sure. Most faith-based services will say as such on their webpage or when asked. In the area where I live, it is difficult to find non-biased, non-faith based services, which is why I ended up seeing a Christian therapist. Not that it was a bad choice, mind you. Not all Christian therapists are bad. However, you probably won't find one who is going to be supportive of unequal yoking, especially that of a well-known Christian couple in the community. I would seek a therapist who lived outside of the area where you live and your husband works. For example, if you live in a southern suburb, seek one in the northern suburbs or one who offers counseling via Skype.

 

I don't know if anyone can make a relationship work, truthfully. Just breathe and go one day at a time. Obviously you love your husband very much and he loves you, or else the relationship would already be over. Some marriages do end over issues of faith. Marriages end over other things too.

 

Once you find a therapist, I would keep the conversations about faith confined to the therapy sessions. Or here on ex-c. It's not ideal, but it is probably the best way to deal for now.

 

Perhaps you and your family can attend another church on the side. A more liberal, non-YEC church? Or even a conservative church with more young families? I don't know the details of your husband's contract, but I highly doubt that they own him to the point where he and his family cannot attend another church 1-2 times a month. There may be churches in your area that hold Saturday night, Sunday evening or Wednesday evening services that your family could attend without conflicting with your required attendance at the school-affiliated church. If push comes to shove, you could say that they offer more opportunities for the kids or something like that. I know that you don't personally agree with what is taught in Christian churches, but it may be a decent compromise for now. Plus it would give you an opportunity to meet some new people, which may be a very good thing.

 

I think the tendency is to think that we are always alone in our struggles, but that is not the case. Many of us here at ex-c find refuge here because we have no one to turn to in our daily lives. Others have been fortunate to have family, friends, colleagues or hobbies to turn to for solace. It is hard when everyone you know is in the church. I do know that. I cut off all of my former friends and most of my family when I became a Christian. I damaged most of my personal relationships and a year out, I'm still repairing them. Some will never be mended and I accept that.

 

Just take a deep breath and do some research. You will figure this out and if you ever have questions or need to vent, ex-c forums are a good place to do that safely. :)

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