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I’m hesitant to write this portion. I’ve lived in the fishbowl of being the pastors wife for so many years and it is ingrained in me to always worry what others will think and to always be a good example. I worry what if someone who knows me, someone from my church were to come to this site and find my story. I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to get out from under this weight of others opinions. My husband still desires to fill in for pulpit supply at churches and so I can’t run away from Christianity in a blaze of glory with a giant F you. I must watch myself. Also as I said in a response my family and friends are all still Christians and they receive a great deal of comfort and peace and hope from Christianity and I would never never want to take that away from them. I don’t speak negatively of god or the Bible to them. They all know I’m an atheist but I focus on what I described in the first part of my testimony, why I left, the fear I felt over hell and the peace I have found in no longer fearing I’ll go there. What I don’t talk about is how since leaving the faith I now find it all to be utter nonsense. From reading on this site and various other sources I now see Christianity and all other belief systems as a crutch people use because they can’t face the harshness and truth that life is completely random and there is no greater meaning or purpose, and there is nothing else after death. That is a hard thing to take and it’s not surprising that people look for something to believe because they want so desperately for there to be something more.  The entire premise of the Bible is so absurd and it’s clear that it was written within the confines of a flawed world. If god were perfect he would have made everything perfect. The writers of the Bible couldn’t sell that story, anyone could see that life isn’t perfect, they had to make up an elaborate plot to explain the reality of the evilness in the world. So they make this bad guy satan, but then again need another elaborate plot as to why the good guy god who made everything to begin with doesn’t seem to be able to control the bad guy. It’s so full of holes it’s ridiculous and laughable if it wasn’t so tragic. When you get down to it god is the ultimate bad guy of his own book, he created his own nemesis and gave him the power to destroy the rest of what he created. Clearly if there had actually been a real god he would have made everything perfect. The only plausible explanation is there never was any god and Bible had to have been written by men in a naturally evil world with a fanciful story to try to explain why there was so much evil. 
 

Anyway, all that to say, these are the things I don’t talk to people about. So back 7 or so years ago when I walked away out of plain old fear I had no idea what to do or where to go. I had told no one of my struggles over the past 30 years. I thought I’d just keep quiet and no one would ever need to know. After about 6 months I couldn’t handle it and I told a friend from church (all my friends were from church). Over the next few months I told a total of 3 friends. They encouraged me to continue seeking god. I diligently tried. I felt pressure to believe. They all loved me and were very worried that I was going to hell. I felt awful for putting them through that. I wanted to believe so they wouldn’t be worried about me and I felt it would make us all closer if I could truly share their belief. I felt a bit on the outside and my one friend in particular made me feel like Christians all share this special bond that I was now not part of. I tried very hard to believe again just to be part of the “family of god”. As years went on I eventually told my husband and 3 more friends and my children 2 years ago (they were 17 & 15 by then). I never told my parents although my in laws knew.  My daughter took it very well, it really bonded us. She has a lot of issues with stuff in the Bible and doesn’t agree with a lot of things. But she does still believe everything came from somewhere, she believes in some sort of creator. My son struggled in the beginning with fear of me going to hell, but at this point he is now 17 and not sure of things himself.  The fallout from the church has given him a very bad taste in his mouth about Christians and Christianity. As happens in churches there was talk, it turns out I trusted and opened up to a few I should not have trusted. I was feeling more and more trapped and caged and wanted to be out but at the same time I loved my church so much and wanted to stay there. In my perfect world what I wanted was to be able to freely and openly tell people that I wasn’t a believer but still attend church and sign the hymns and be part of it. I truly loved going to church. Of course this wasn’t really possible. As a few more people knew there were questions raised over if my husband was qualified to be a pastor if his wife didn’t believe. It was a small minority but small minorities can be vocal and and my husband decided to resign rather than cause any division in the church. He didn’t want anyone to feel that they needed to leave because they weren’t comfortable with him as the pastor. So he decided to leave. Unfortunately this came about very quickly and there was only 2 weeks between us first hearing that there were some people with problems with him staying and the day he stood and announced his resignation and we walked forever out of and away from the church, the home, the family I had been with since I was 3 years old. The vast majority had no idea at all and were made aware that I didn’t believe and that we were leaving all the same day in a matter of about 3 minutes as he read his letter to the congregation. 2 days prior we had met with my parents to tell them I didn’t believe, and that we were leaving. This was especially heartbreaking to my mom who had been attending church there for 40 years and had her entire network of friends there also. I felt incredibly guilty. My mom has been very supportive but I feel terrible for doing this to her. We told our parents not to come to church on Sunday because it would be very sad. I sat with my very best friend who has been my absolute rock and squeezed her hand so hard all through the service and through the end when my husband made his announcement. People were very kind and they cried and hugged me. My husband went straight to his office. I stood with my friend and said goodbye to everyone. The next day we cleaned out his office and turned in our keys. It’s been over 6 months and we’ve never been back and we won’t be back and now that the shock has worn off the reality sets in. If I were to die in a car accident I have no place to have a funeral, I have no people anymore. I do have my core friends (except the betrayer) and they have been very supportive. I feel very much guilt. My husband had to walk away from the church he has been in since he was a teenager and where he had worked as a pastor for 17 years. My father in law walked away from the church he had pastored for over 25 years (in case I didn’t mention it before my father in law became the pastor when I was a teen and that’s how I met my husband, then my husband was the assistant for several years before taking over as senior when his dad retired 4 years ago). I feel like I’ve destroyed both of their legacies and their lifes work. All because my mind just doesn’t work the way most people’s minds work. Anyway that’s my story. I do feel free now, I no longer feel trapped, but I wonder if it was too high a price to pay and I wonder if it was incredibly selfish of me to hurt others so I wouldn’t feel trapped. 

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 The assembly and motivation of bible writers can be a tricky and hard to actually know. Maybe they were in visionary trances.

   If all other people were atheists or Muslims or Hindus etc and you converted to Christianity and they were heartbroken you would have thought of the words of Jesus -anyone who loves anyone in the world more than me is not fit to be my disciple. So Christianity encourages following your truth above all else. May you should keep that in mind, in general. They should appreciate you. In the words of an Orthodox bishop I think God appreciates honest atheism much more than fake faith.

  2. Why are they really suffering? What you did? That is really over responsability and quite grandiose thinking for that matter. They are their own persons who receive any stimulus differently and have sone agency over themselves. They are not babies. Their suffering comes also from their own ideas. You said their ideas bring them hope. It seems it does not bring them only hope. A big part of their suffering is their own responsability. Many Muslims suffer because America is not run by sharia law. What should US citizens do? 

     And again, Christianity is a religion of suffering. I mean why should they expect happines in this life? Where does Jesus promise that exactly? If they are Christians they should gladly bear any cross the Almighty sets on their shoulders. Destroying someone's temporal legacy should not be that much of a concern to you.

      Finally I think you falsely assume that false hope is better than nothing. False hope is the biggest block in real progress. Only by renouncing false hope can one find real hope. 

        Start working on discarding unwarranted blame. 

     I don't know what the truth really is bit I have little sympathy for requests to play along in someone else's fantasy world for their own illusory pleasures. At some point people have to go to the growing pains of finding out that other people are not their dolls. Otherwise you are encouraging malignant narcumissism.

 

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On 3/23/2021 at 11:34 AM, Seekingwhatisnext said:

. I feel like I’ve destroyed both of their legacies and their lifes work. All because my mind just doesn’t work the way most people’s minds work.

 

Greetings again @Seekingwhatisnext

 

You can't put all that on yourself. You cannot help who you are. It isn't your fault that you have a rationally sound mind that questions ridiculous fairytales. It is my opinion that mankind is on the precipice of an evolution toward rational thought. 

 

Atleast your family has survived. It sounds like you are greatly loved. Never be ashamed of who you are. I think your testimony is wonderful and I'm sure it will help many that come here questioning faith. Your in good company here. I look forward to seeing more posts and replies. 

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Your honesty, courage, and care about others is refreshing.   Your rational and logical brain is functioning very well.  It took incredible mental strength to do what you have done.  And I applaud you for being honest with your children.  And you are fortunate your family has not "abandoned" you.  

 

When you think about it, it is very sad that a very high percentage of people in our society are superstitious and don't even realize it because they (we) were born into it.  It has been around so long that it is assumed to be "truth".  And some are so afraid of "God", and of "abandonment", that they don't dare question whether he is real or not.  It takes a mentally/emotionally secure person to do a sincere search for truth regarding religion and God.  And you have done so.

 

I don't know where you live, but if you are looking for a "nitch", or something to call yourself, look into humanism.  There may be some groups you could meet with and find some emotional support.  On line is okay, but if you are like me, in person is much better.  Recovering from Religion site might help you find something. HANG IN THERE!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Seeking,

Wow, this all is so tough. I've been fortunate that, while I grew up in a fundamentalist church in a mainstream (but not Baptist) denomination, when I moved to another state and joined another church of the same denomination, it turned out to be a liberal church. My shift from fundamentalist to liberal wasn't a result of the liberal church (in fact, I was shocked at "liberal" elements, like a woman in the church saying she didn't attend a certain function because it was too "Bible-y"), but what has happened is that as I've left belief in God behind (which happened in my mid-50's), I've stayed active in my church, and am able to be transparent there that I am a Christ-follower who doesn't believe in God. I am involved in music ministry, and am an active volunteer. When I was asked to be a Deacon, I was transparent that I don't believe in God so can't pray with or for people, and felt that disqualified me, so couldn't serve as a deacon. No problem. 

 

I say all this to let you know that you can still be a Christ follower and part of a church. I love working together to make a worship service. I love the music. I love the community. And, I love a lot about the Bible and Jesus. But, as a non-believing follower, I get to choose, and I can be transparent. If a sermon isn't working for me, I can read my novel or duck out to the bathroom. I had a meeting with the pastor, and, in fact, she suggested I do this.

 

"Liberal" was the dirtiest of dirty words in the fundamentalist church of my youth. In my present church, "Liberal" describes the love we share, following the openness of Jesus (whether man or god) to *EVERYONE.* Literally *all are welcome*, non-believers and ex-believers, along with believers.

 

Your ex-church is not, IMO, a Jesus-following church, because Jesus loved and accepted all people, including non-believers and sexual minorities, who wanted to follow him. "Follow" did not mean "believe he is God" or "be saved." He was a man. A rabbi. Following was about doing. Your ex-church is coercive. Only those who say what must be said can be there. I'm sure there are many like you who don't say their truths because they are afraid that, like you, they will be shunned. I know that this is the tradition you grew up in (and mine was similar), but it is very toxic and quite the opposite of what it means to follow Jesus.

 

I am still following today. I hope you can find joy in following what you want to follow, what is in your heart, and if that leads you to a liberal church, to follow your heart there.

 

BTW, you might enjoy the book How Jesus Became God (https://www.amazon.com/How-Jesus-Became-God-Exaltation/dp/0061778184). Awesome book. And, Peter Enns is great, too.

 

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1 hour ago, Follower said:

 

 

Your ex-church is not, IMO, a Jesus-following church, because Jesus loved and accepted all people, including non-believers and sexual minorities, who wanted to follow him. "Follow" did not mean "believe he is God" or "be saved." He was a man. A rabbi. Following was about doing. Your ex-church is coercive. Only those who say what must be said can be there. I'm sure there are many like you who don't say their truths because they are afraid that, like you, they will be shunned. I know that this is the tradition you grew up in (and mine was similar), but it is very toxic and quite the opposite of what it means to follow Jesus.

 

I am still following today. I hope you can find joy in following what you want to follow, what is in your heart, and if that leads you to a liberal church, to follow your heart there.

 

 

 

Well, the IMO is very important. Because your opinion seems to be to be at odds with the majority as in the billions of people who call themselves Christians. And if Jesus was really a Jewish rabbi, then he would have followed the Old Testament, and the Old Testament is kind of clear about non believers and about what is right and what is wrong sexuality.

         The Jesus you are talking about seems like an embodiment of modern, as in 2020, liberal secular values. Which, if we go by the historical documents, he most probably was not. That does not mean it is right, or wrong, just at odds with the Biblie and many early Christian traditions. But , then again, being at odds with the Bible and Christian tradition was never an obstacle before :))), as people were and are experts in selective reading and intepretation and omission, now and 2000 years ago. I mean If you ask a an Orthodox Jew, the whole New Testament is at odds with the Torah :))

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@Seekingwhatisnext Thank you so much for sharing that part of the story. It seems to me that you've internalized a strong sense of responsibility over casual acts of abandonment and betrayal that your church enacted on your and your family. I want you to know that you didn't do anything wrong and that it's in fact the others who have wronged YOU. I read your testimony and all I see is someone who saw through the BS of their belief system, but nonetheless loves and supported the community and the people, and willfully offered that support despite differences in perspective. The rejection came from THEM, not you. The feeling is probably so deep that my casual rebuttal won't really help, but I just wanted to get it out there. 

 

Believe in yourself. Trust yourself. There is a way to build communities and relationships without a need for delusions, fantasies, and the implied threats embedded in them. I think you know this, which is why you stood up for your non-belief (in Xianity), and I think it's incredibly brave and honorable that you did so. The world needs more people like you.

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1 hour ago, Myrkhoos said:

your opinion seems to be to be at odds with the majority as in the billions of people who call themselves Christians. And if Jesus was really a Jewish rabbi, then he would have followed the Old Testament, and the Old Testament is kind of clear about non believers and about what is right and what is wrong sexuality.

 

My response to the first part of this is, exactly, "so what," as all of those folks don't understand what the bible really is. In my liberal community there isn't enforcement of orthodoxy. The bible is understood as a human-created library of documents. Everyone is understood as being on a spiritual journey. Yes, we can pick and choose. And, that's what makes sense, since this was all invented by people in the first place.

 

And, to the second part, this is what made Jesus so radical. This is what caused Jesus to be rejected by his religious community. He did not follow the Old Testament. He taught a message of love and inclusion (see woman at the well, eating with tax collectors, his interactions with lepers, disobeying the Sabbath laws, and many many other examples). This doesn't make him God, but this makes him, in my view, worthy of following as a teacher who had helpful things to say.

 

There are Christians who use the bible to dominate, exclude, etc., and who ostracize others for being honest about what they think about god. They use the bible to decide who is "us" (who we love and include) and who is "them" (who we claim to "love", yet ostracize. This is disgusting. These toxic beliefs and behaviors do not describe all Christians, and most of the liberal church, including those who do an don't believe in god, reject such beliefs and practices.

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6 hours ago, Follower said:

 

 This doesn't make him God, but this makes him, in my view, worthy of following as a teacher who had helpful things to say.

 

 

I agree with you.  Have you read IN DEFENSE OF JESUS on page 2 of this testimonial section?

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8 hours ago, Follower said:

 

My response to the first part of this is, exactly, "so what," as all of those folks don't understand what the bible really is. In my liberal community there isn't enforcement of orthodoxy. The bible is understood as a human-created library of documents. 

 

And, to the second part, this is what made Jesus so radical. This is what caused Jesus to be rejected by his religious community. He did not follow the Old Testament. He taught a message of love and inclusion (see woman at the well, eating with tax collectors, his interactions with lepers, disobeying the Sabbath laws, and many many other examples).

 

There are Christians who use the bible to dominate, exclude, etc., and who ostracize others for being honest about what they think about god. They use the bible to decide who is "us" (who we love and include) and who is "them" (who we claim to "love", yet ostracize. This is disgusting. These toxic beliefs and behaviors do not describe all Christians, and most of the liberal church, including those who do an don't believe in god, reject such beliefs and practices.

Again, this is your interpretation of the Bible and your Jesus. Ok. You basically created your own Bible and Jesus. I mean the idea that you could be part of the Church and not believe in God is ludicrous from the standpoint of most of the documents of early Christianity like NT and apostolic fathers. You could as well pray to dr Seuss or Frodo from the Lord of the Rings. And from someone who says they do not impose orthodoxy on people, you sure seem very sure of your opinions and that other people are dead wrong in the fundamentals :).

      But Jesus, in the Gospels, when accused of not following the Old Testament, almost always gave answers from the Old Testament. His whole shtick was that other people were not really respecting the Old Testament. He accuses of them of only respecting minor outer rituals while forgetting the meat and bones of the Law. He says not one iota of the Law will perish. He says I have not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it.

     In the NT the official reason for execution was not bk he talked about love which the OT talks about in lenghth in some cases but bk he commited the highest blasphemy, equating himself with God as the son of God - exactly what you reject- and by the Romans for causing civil unrest, which the romans did not like.

     And being a human documented. You do realise that Paul often says that he writes inspired by the Holy Spirit and that anyone preaching another Gospel should be rejected? 

       IMO, do as you like, worship a piece of worn out wood if that is your thing, but don't be so condescending as though onky you and your friends "really get" the Bible and Jesus and all other billions are just toxic ppl. I think that certainty is demonstrably wrong. One thing, I can suppose that you do dot know high level Hebrew, Aramaic, Ancient and Koine Greek, Latin, Coptic and ethiopic nor are you a scholar of late roman archeology and history. So why be sure what the Bible says and does?

      You just seem to have your own agenda and ram into Christianity, and what cannot be warped to your ends you throw out. But then, why bother? Why don't you just come out with your own thing and stoo hijacking other traditions ? To me, liberal Christianity is just secular humanism that likes the brand recognition of Christianity. But many people do that, from times past up to know, even from fascist points of view.

      In "YOUR christianity"  you is big while christianity is just the wrapping. That is ok as long as you are honest with people.

 

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PS, I do appreciate values like compassion and I am glad when others, like you, do too. :}

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    Btw, it is not for me to define what a Christian is or isn't. There have been thousands of sects, all throughout history, who claim to be , in some way, Christians. Some did not accept all known Scriptures. Some, like the Mormons, added new ones. Some, like Muslims regard him as prophet whose teaching has been corupted. Some new eclectic religions like Maniheism, or modern Cao dai  in Vietnam as a prophet along with others such Buddha, Lao tsi, etc. Some think he didn't exist at all, some he was the failed Messiah.

      So in a way, yes, who cares? Is right. My point was, maybe miscommunicated, that it is good to say clearly what one thinks to others. 

       I said demonstrably wrong. Maybe not. I was just casting a doubt on absolute certainty. But who knows, maybe the Mormons aren right. maybe you are. :) I teally am not in the position to evaluate at the moment. Hope all ppl are ok during these times.

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