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I Need Some Non-Christian Feedback/Advice


austinrohm
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I was thinking of doing some fancy or clever title, but I might as well say it like it is: I would love some non-Christian feedback. More specifically, I want to give a brief overview of where I am at, and the mental torture that I have endured since deconverting. I would like to have advice on what other people think they might do if they were in my situation. 

 

I deconverted around 2 years ago from Christianity. Before I deconverted, I was VERY active in my local Baptist church: I was the song leader, Youth Group Leader, and would go pass out gospel tracks every week. I would even teach adult Sunday School from time to time.

 

Two main things that currently cause mental torture:

1. My wife still being a strong Christian

2. The Church I go to

 

1. My wife still being a strong Christian.

During my deconversion process, I would subtly approach my wife about some of the issues I was discovering with the Bible and faith. We would go over the issues together, and have lengthy conversations regarding the truthfulness of the Bible and Christianity. However, once I fully deconverted, I tried to gently reason with my wife as to why I was having a really hard time believing in Jesus any longer, and used Socratic dialogue to have her come to her own conclusions as to why faith is an unreasonable process to obtain truth. In all of this, I did not tell her about my complete deconversion- only that I was having strong doubts.

 

Despite my best efforts to have my wife understand why I was having trouble believing the Bible, I realized that I do not think my wife will ever leave Christianity- She just sees it as a faze I am going through. At one point, she said: "The kids are starting to get older, and will be asking questions; so you need to figure out how to make Christianity true to you sooner than later." This one cut deep because I felt like this undermined all my research, logic, and concerns- as if I could just snap my fingers and make myself believe again, but I just can't do that! 

 

At that point, I realized that I had some thinking to do. What was the most important thing in my life? When I was a Christian, the answer would be a hearty, "Well GOD of course!!" But now that I think God is not real, the most important thing in my life is my wife, and there is not even a close second place. I realized that mixed faith marriages are usually very strained, and many end in divorce. So I kinda just went back to faking it externally. 

 

This is extreme mental torture for me because I cannot stand performing false emotions, and lying. But it is a sacrifice I am willing to make to keep my marriage strong. However, this is not sustainable long term. My kids are starting to grow up, and I will be expected to "lead them to the Lord," which I feel is straight-up indoctrination. Also, I really DO NOT want my kids to have this religion and Church stunt their critical thinking and emotional development. If I avoid subjecting my children to the poisonous and harmful lies of Christianity, there will be no real way to explain this away to my wife, and the game will be up. I just feel like it is a matter of when, not if, for my wife to understand my position of complete disbelief- I know I cannot keep up the charade forever. So I am just trying to find out the best way to handle this and slowly fade out of the Christian life; advice would be appreciated! 

 

2. The Church I go to

The previous situation with my wife is even more complex because of the church I go to. My wife's dad is the pastor of a small, Independent Baptist Church, whose beliefs and practices are eerily close to fulfilling all the criteria of the BITE cult model. I see this church as one of the main reasons why my wife is still a strong Christian. It seems that any small progress that is made with my wife seeing the flaws in Christianity are regressed when we go to church.

 

There is constant fearmongering about the main purpose to be a parent is to save your kid from the fiery pits of hell by inundating the poor children with verses and prayer to "save" them. If your kid doesn't get saved, you have failed as a parent. There is constant preaching on how to beat your children. Most messages include guilt trips about not passing out enough gospel tracks or not witnessing enough. The pastor routinely warns the congregation not to use their critical thinking skills with Christianity.

 

It is SOOOOO hard sitting through these messages. For this reason I still teach the kids class. I can hear the collective groans of many atheists reading this, but hear me out! Not only do I avoid subjecting myself to the indoctrinations sessions by teaching kids class, but I can remove the kids from the rantings of the preacher as well! Hopefully I can shelter the kid's impressionable minds from threats of Hell and constant guilt trips about sin by removing them from the main service (It is a small church- I am the only option for Kids Class). When I do Kids Class, I will take them outdoors and let them simply play for most of the time, then will do a lesson with no references to God. I will mainly do lessons on respect, keeping your word, honor, dignity, self-worth, critical thinking, and attempt to infuse as much secular thought as I can. 

 

But this is not sustainable... I constantly get asked by the preacher (My wife's dad) if any of the kids got Saved during class and what I taught on. I still have to sit through Wednesday night services too, and will get asked how my faith is all the time. This is not sustainable. I really, REALLY want to find a way to escape this cult-like church (and church altogether one day), but I know my wife's dad has really got in her head- I think he was super controlling with his kids growing up, and she is still under his influence every week. He has full control of her thinking, which bothers me so much! I think the first step in my dilemma is to somehow leave that church; that will hopefully stop the constant weekly indoctrination sessions for my wife and kids.  But... it will cause a rift in the family dynamic between my wife and her family. I am just not sure how to proceed. Will I ever escape this mental torture? I am so tired of playing pretend, and just want to come out as an atheist- but just wonder if there is any possible way to do it without straining my wife's relationship. Sometimes I feel like I am just being to scared, and don't have the balls to just say how I feel.

 

I know there is no "one right way" to go about this, but I would LOVE some good non-Christian advice! Those of you who deconverted before your spouse, did that put a strain on your marriage? If your partner did eventually join you as an ex-Christian, how did you navigate any repercussions from upset family members accusing you of "leading them astray?" Those of you who were less fortunate, and your coming out cause the separation of you and your spouse/partner; was it worth being honest about your beliefs? Any would be greatly appreciated! 

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You are in a rather tough spot.  Speaking and living your truth will cause harm to your family.  Pretending to be Christian (to avoid that harm to others) harms you.

If your adult family members (wife, parents, siblings, etc.) were to all gain acknowledgement, tolerance, and respect for your beliefs, things could work out well, including for your children (they would learn there are choices among many other things).

 

Some folks here have spoken and lived their truth in Christian surroundings, suffered and worked through the resulting hostility, admonishment and rejection from family members, yet many or most of Christians eventually learned to tolerate and respect the situation and made it work.  Some other folks here, again speaking and living their truth, ended up in divorce with rather ugly (and infantile) hate and disdain from the Christians.

I'm sorry I can't give you any meaningful advice or suggestions.

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Wow, you are in a tough situation.  I'm glad I took a job our of state and away from wife's and my parents.  Even from out of state they put the guilt trip on me about the kids.  I was lucky my wife accepted my choice even though she didn't like it, and we did NOT get the kids caught in a religious fight.  They were older and leaving home at the time and we did not pressure them in either direction.    (both eventually left church)

 

We have people here who have worked out situations and kept their marriage together.  I'm sure they can give you some suggestions.  But you need to understand that in a Christian world, many people, related or not, church members or not, will regard you as a second class citizen.  It gets lonely at times, but if you are like me, you can't go on faking it forever.  Hang in there!!  I'm pressed for time now, but will write more later.

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Wow. I echo what Weezer said : you are in a tough spot.

Personally, I don't think its fair to ask anyone to be someone they're not  - as a conditon of love. You might want to start with some (secular) marriage counseling. The reality is. . .all people change in ways that are sometimes more dramatic than others over time. So . . .sooner or later, in order to make this work,  your wife needs to accept you - without agreeing with you - and you need to be able to do the same with her. (Much easier said than done, of course). Next step is to make compromises with the kids. But in the end there are subtle ways to counter the brainwashing and if you point them to the right resources, when they're old enough, they'll figure it out. The internet,  afterall, is a huge weapon against ignorance.

 

Through all this, it might be helpful to validate your wife's feelings. She is likely devastasted, hurt, even terrified. You might try reassuring her that you are committed to making your marriage work,  but at the same time (unless you can stomach the continued pretense), let her know that your lack of belief is not a choice anymore than she "chooses" not to believe in Santa Claus.

 

I hope this doesn't sound like the answers (if there are any) are cut and dried. You obviously have a long, thorny road ahead of you. Just know that you're not alone.

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2 hours ago, austinrohm said:

I was thinking of doing some fancy or clever title, but I might as well say it like it is: I would love some non-Christian feedback. More specifically, I want to give a brief overview of where I am at, and the mental torture that I have endured since deconverting. I would like to have advice on what other people think they might do if they were in my situation. 

 

I deconverted around 2 years ago from Christianity. Before I deconverted, I was VERY active in my local Baptist church: I was the song leader, Youth Group Leader, and would go pass out gospel tracks every week. I would even teach adult Sunday School from time to time.

 

Two main things that currently cause mental torture:

1. My wife still being a strong Christian

2. The Church I go to

 

1. My wife still being a strong Christian.

During my deconversion process, I would subtly approach my wife about some of the issues I was discovering with the Bible and faith. We would go over the issues together, and have lengthy conversations regarding the truthfulness of the Bible and Christianity. However, once I fully deconverted, I tried to gently reason with my wife as to why I was having a really hard time believing in Jesus any longer, and used Socratic dialogue to have her come to her own conclusions as to why faith is an unreasonable process to obtain truth. In all of this, I did not tell her about my complete deconversion- only that I was having strong doubts.

 

Despite my best efforts to have my wife understand why I was having trouble believing the Bible, I realized that I do not think my wife will ever leave Christianity- She just sees it as a faze I am going through. At one point, she said: "The kids are starting to get older, and will be asking questions; so you need to figure out how to make Christianity true to you sooner than later." This one cut deep because I felt like this undermined all my research, logic, and concerns- as if I could just snap my fingers and make myself believe again, but I just can't do that! 

 

At that point, I realized that I had some thinking to do. What was the most important thing in my life? When I was a Christian, the answer would be a hearty, "Well GOD of course!!" But now that I think God is not real, the most important thing in my life is my wife, and there is not even a close second place. I realized that mixed faith marriages are usually very strained, and many end in divorce. So I kinda just went back to faking it externally. 

 

This is extreme mental torture for me because I cannot stand performing false emotions, and lying. But it is a sacrifice I am willing to make to keep my marriage strong. However, this is not sustainable long term. My kids are starting to grow up, and I will be expected to "lead them to the Lord," which I feel is straight-up indoctrination. Also, I really DO NOT want my kids to have this religion and Church stunt their critical thinking and emotional development. If I avoid subjecting my children to the poisonous and harmful lies of Christianity, there will be no real way to explain this away to my wife, and the game will be up. I just feel like it is a matter of when, not if, for my wife to understand my position of complete disbelief- I know I cannot keep up the charade forever. So I am just trying to find out the best way to handle this and slowly fade out of the Christian life; advice would be appreciated! 

 

2. The Church I go to

The previous situation with my wife is even more complex because of the church I go to. My wife's dad is the pastor of a small, Independent Baptist Church, whose beliefs and practices are eerily close to fulfilling all the criteria of the BITE cult model. I see this church as one of the main reasons why my wife is still a strong Christian. It seems that any small progress that is made with my wife seeing the flaws in Christianity are regressed when we go to church.

 

There is constant fearmongering about the main purpose to be a parent is to save your kid from the fiery pits of hell by inundating the poor children with verses and prayer to "save" them. If your kid doesn't get saved, you have failed as a parent. There is constant preaching on how to beat your children. Most messages include guilt trips about not passing out enough gospel tracks or not witnessing enough. The pastor routinely warns the congregation not to use their critical thinking skills with Christianity.

 

It is SOOOOO hard sitting through these messages. For this reason I still teach the kids class. I can hear the collective groans of many atheists reading this, but hear me out! Not only do I avoid subjecting myself to the indoctrinations sessions by teaching kids class, but I can remove the kids from the rantings of the preacher as well! Hopefully I can shelter the kid's impressionable minds from threats of Hell and constant guilt trips about sin by removing them from the main service (It is a small church- I am the only option for Kids Class). When I do Kids Class, I will take them outdoors and let them simply play for most of the time, then will do a lesson with no references to God. I will mainly do lessons on respect, keeping your word, honor, dignity, self-worth, critical thinking, and attempt to infuse as much secular thought as I can. 

 

But this is not sustainable... I constantly get asked by the preacher (My wife's dad) if any of the kids got Saved during class and what I taught on. I still have to sit through Wednesday night services too, and will get asked how my faith is all the time. This is not sustainable. I really, REALLY want to find a way to escape this cult-like church (and church altogether one day), but I know my wife's dad has really got in her head- I think he was super controlling with his kids growing up, and she is still under his influence every week. He has full control of her thinking, which bothers me so much! I think the first step in my dilemma is to somehow leave that church; that will hopefully stop the constant weekly indoctrination sessions for my wife and kids.  But... it will cause a rift in the family dynamic between my wife and her family. I am just not sure how to proceed. Will I ever escape this mental torture? I am so tired of playing pretend, and just want to come out as an atheist- but just wonder if there is any possible way to do it without straining my wife's relationship. Sometimes I feel like I am just being to scared, and don't have the balls to just say how I feel.

 

I know there is no "one right way" to go about this, but I would LOVE some good non-Christian advice! Those of you who deconverted before your spouse, did that put a strain on your marriage? If your partner did eventually join you as an ex-Christian, how did you navigate any repercussions from upset family members accusing you of "leading them astray?" Those of you who were less fortunate, and your coming out cause the separation of you and your spouse/partner; was it worth being honest about your beliefs? Any would be greatly appreciated! 

 

Well, first of all. Welcome to ExC! Glad to have ya!! 🙂

 

      Brother, I have walked in your shoes and I wish I could give you some great news, but my marriage did end in divorce. But we are still together. We love each other. Don't wanna be with anyone else. But we are completely different spiritually. It causes stress. Especially since my kids deconverted as well. 

 

.     I tried to support her and go to church with her at times. But it just felt like such a waste of time. Great food tho. That's usually what will get me to church now. Tell me there is a dinner afterward lol. I don't get much home cooking. So I really do like the food and fellowship part afterward. 

 

  Your one up on me. I talked about everything I was seeing as I was seeing it. 

Blurted it all out and expected her to be like. Ah cool yeah. I see that.

 

thats not what happened lol.. She was raised in church, her grandfather was a very popular preacher in our area. Really good man. If there was a man I felt truly lived a Bible life. It was him.  So she had very strong indoctrinion. 

 

I posted the whole ordeal on this site in the exchristian life forum. Its spread out over a few years. But I try to post anything pertinent related to my deconversion. I feel these experiences need to be documented somehow. And this seems to be a good place for that purpose. There were ups and downs and still are. She's my Ex wife and partner i guess. 

 

On the flip side. There is peace in not living a lie my friend. No matter what happens. Living a life that is fake isn't worth it. And as you said several times. "Not sustainable". I was hiding it from my parents but finally had to come clean. Now everyone knows I've lost my faith. I've even voiced a few of the reasons to my mom. But just small stuff she can easily chaulk up to "God's devine plan". My mom would be traumatized if she realized its all fake at this point. 

 

Your the only one that can figure out how to open up to your family. For me. I just hadn't been to or talked about church for so long she finally asked if I had found a church yet. I finally just told her that I hadn't and really have no use for it anymore. That id lost my faith and can't get it back. I let her interpret what that means. She's a once saved always saved believer. She knows I had a salvation experience. She saw me at the height of my zeal for the lord. She'll never think I'll go to hell, and I'm glad of that. 

 

I hope my experience helps. And I hope you can eventually live your life in truth. 

 

DB

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7 minutes ago, freshstart said:

Through all this, it might be helpful to validate your wife's feelings. She is likely devastasted, hurt, even terrified. You might try reassuring her that you are committed to making your marriage work, 

I second this. Your wife is also going through a lot of pain. But you do have to live your life too. Again. Only you can figure out how to tell your loved ones. You know them Best. But don't torture yourself living a lie. 

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9 minutes ago, DarkBishop said:

I second this. Your wife is also going through a lot of pain. But you do have to live your life too. Again. Only you can figure out how to tell your loved ones. You know them Best. But don't torture yourself living a lie. 

 

And I third this.  And will add that your parents, like mine, may feel they failed in some way.  I reassured them they didn't, and thanked them for raising me to to a responsible, curious and honest person.   My older brother blamed my choices on the liberal christian college I attended.  I assured them all that it was basically the curiosity and emphasis on education that my family had encouraged when we were kids that led me to eventually question the religion.  And through all you will be going through, and with all that you face, hold your head high and remember you are an adult, JUST LIKE THEM (elders, preachers, etc)  Don't let them put you in the role of a rebellious little boy.   They likely will try.

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I suppose the good news is that one day, there will be a tipping point and those who still believe will be on the fringe, and then eventually extinct.

We've seen this happen throughout history. The ancient Greeks stopped believing in what we now call Greek mythology, the medeival inquisitions ended, the Salem Witch hunt trials stopped, etc. Of course wherever this shift occurred there were often leaders who stood up to the religious nuttery.

 

Not to derail the conversation. . . Just noting that Christian (and likely all relgious) beliefs will be one less thing causing strife among partners, or humanity for that matter. You don't hear anyone bantering about whether Zeus is real. So. . . something to look forward to,  hopefully sooner than later.

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Your wife has the rather huge burden of being a PK (pastor's kid), so the expectations heaped on her have defined her life for her. She may not have been allowed to consider anything else, ANY other way of thinking and feeling, and has been cowed under authoritarian rule since day 1. I've known people that are very rule oriented and like it that way, and they tend to gravitate towards herding people (hence the term pastor, a sheep herder). I had one pastor that way and his kids had highly controlled lives, and everything was filtered and interpreted for them so they would continue to present the slick Business-Jesus-makes-everything-wonderful image their dad and mom had cultivated in Nazarene college. It was different from the fire and brimstone preachers in the lack of terror of hell used to control and manipulate, but the stern disapproval of anything "other" was constant with him. But add in Baptist hellfire and that taps into some deep emotional terrors planted in childhood. The fears are paper tigers, but speaking as one who was terrified of monsters when I was little, they seem as vicious and deadly as real tigers. Most who are raised in that purposefully-created terror tend to prefer the familiar fears and rules to any path that could lead them out. It's a cult, and exploits the same programming that we see all over the world in every religion and no-name cult. There has to be an inkling of actually wanting to know the truth, some glimmer of being willing to buck perceived authority and rules, some crumb of not buying the fairy tales as real history. I hope that is present in her and your kids. I hope you and they find a path out of this cult. 

 

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What I am about to say, I am not saying as a moderator speaking on behalf of this community.  I am speaking strictly for myself as a fellow ex-christian.

 

christianity is an extremely toxic and destructive religion.  I am not referring here to the inquisitions, crusades, witch hunts, genocides, and various other atrocities inspired by the christian religion.  Rather, I mean that, on a very personal level, christianity is both toxic and destructive.  In order to perpetuate itself, the christian religion persists in, and propagates, a collection of destructive thought patterns and toxic patterns of behavior.  The most obvious among these are guilt, fear, shame, self-righteousness and hypocrisy, coercion and manipulation, dishonesty, and self-sacrifice (by which I mean an ill-conceived and misguided sense of martyrdom).  These have manifested themselves in my own life primarily in the form of self-sabotage, which has included addiction, codependence, abusive/toxic relationships, egomania with low self-esteem, lack of self-respect, and oversensitivity (among others).  These behavioral patterns continued on well after my deconversion from the christian religion; because they stem from enfuckinated thought patterns that were learned, and developed, from early childhood.  I have, thankfully, in the last few years, adopted a philosophy and practice that is allowing me, albeit slowly and painstakingly, to overcome these tendencies through a combination of acceptance, letting go, and being present in the moment.

 

The subtle mechanism that, in my opinion, is the root cause of all of these destructive behavioral and thought patterns is the idea that square pegs can (and should) fit into round holes, whether by force, coercion, or the steady application of pressure.  Obviously, this demand for conformity extends beyond square pegs to include triangular, rhomboid, and oval-shaped pegs; and christians are master purveyors of the fake-it-til-you-make-it mentality.  How can such a simple, seemingly innocent idea be so destructive?  In its subtlety, this idea allows for false, unfair, and unrealistic expectations to be placed upon its adherents and unwitting victims alike.  Indeed, the idea itself stems from the false expectation that some other, outside force is going to come into one's life and make everything beautiful and nothing hurt.  In this case, initially, the expectation is that jesus will act as that outside force; but the further along one is in the religion, the more the church body, pastor, fellow christians, and so on bring social pressures geared toward ensuring conformity.

 

It was these exact unfair and unrealistic expectations, forced upon me from childhood, that led directly to the self-destructive patterns under which I (and many others, I am sorry to say) have suffered throughout much of my adult life.  As a child and young adult, I was not allowed to discover, explore, and develop my Self.  Instead, it was demanded that I live up to the Expectation.  Self was the missing piece in my life; and my own identity has long been a point of confusion and contention.  Essentially, in place of a Self, I was given an Expectation.  A child growing up under such conditions will eventually become an adult with limited (and often unhealthy) mechanisms to cope with the brokenness, disillusionment, social and mental anxiety, and general retardation of a life still lived under the shadow of other's expectations. Unfortunately, complications derived from external pressures cannot be solved by those same external pressures.  The hard truth is that nothing outside of one's Self can complete one's Self.  Neither jesus nor heroin is going to bring serenity; only through the difficult work of fixing what is broken within one's Self can do that.  And that work can only be done by one's Self.  Others may help; but the hand that plows the field asunder has to be one's own.  

 

Having lived for so long, lost so much, suffered so grievously from living under the expectations of others, I could not continue to do so upon leaving the religion.  It has been a long and arduous journey; and I have made a metric shit tonne of mistakes along the way  For me, though, being true to my Self is the only way I can prevent myself from  engaging in the toxic behaviors that have left such a swath of destruction in my wake throughout my adult life.  Of equal importance, being true to my Self is the only way to keep my Self from being injured by those same toxic behaviors and thought patterns.  This is why integrity has become one of the over-arching principles of my life.  By integrity, I mean "one-ness," wherein my thoughts, words, and actions all work together in balanced and harmonious concert with one another.  I cannot think one thing and say another; nor can I allow myself to act in a way that runs counter to my ideologies. 

 

Moreover, while I am perfectly within my rights to set healthy boundaries for others, I have come to recognize that I cannot always enforce said boundaries without encroaching on the autonomy of other Selves.  I can, however, set healthy boundaries for my Self; and, if others have a problem with boundaries I have set for my Self, then they are more than welcome to engage in self-fornicative activities.  I learned this the hard way with my mother.  Upon realizing that she was not going to respect any of the boundaries I tried to establish with her, irrespective of the consequences, I finally set a boundary on myself.  I simply forbade myself from ever entering her house again so long as she is alive.  In this way, she must always meet me on neutral ground, where we are both equals.  Protecting my Self from destructive behaviors and expectations from external sources is of as much importance as protecting my Self from internal toxicity, including self-imposed expectations that are not realistic.

 

Ultimately, I have no advice to offer you; nor would I offer it if I had any.  I do have my own experience, strength, and hope, which you're welcome to if you can find a use for any of it.  But this is a field you'll have to plow asunder by your own hand.  I don't envy you the situation; but I also know that the situations our decisions, thought processes, and behaviors get us into are situations that different decisions, thought processes, and behaviors can get us back out of again.  As I've often told my Self: "If you don't like the way you feel, think better thoughts, speak better words, do better deeds; and eventually you will start to feel better.  If you don't like feeling better, you can always go back to thinking the thoughts you used to think, speaking the words you used to speak, and doing the deeds you used to do; and eventually you will start feeling the way you used to feel."

 

Good luck. 

 

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Like the professor said, everyone has to chose their own path.  But we can tell you what we did, and what the results have been.  I have used 2 basic approaches to "coming out" and here are the basic ideas. 

 

Depending on who you are talking with and whether you want a continuing relationship, the blunt approach of "I am agnostic now" makes it short and easy.  But using "agnostic" or "atheist" terms are usually a big turnoff for fundamentalist. You are automatically put into a "demon" pidgeon hole, if that is what you want.

 

For me the "easy let down" way seems to work better for those with whom you want a continuing relationship, and you don't want to get immediately pidgeon holed as a demon.  I usually start by telling them I was confused and prayed to find truth.  Then started a study into different denominations and why they belived as they do.  That led to studying how we got a bible that seems to confuse so many people, and that there had been inconsistancies I noticed in the Bible. (there is not room here to mention all of them) That led to how other religions and gods came into being, and I noticed that our God and religion was not the oldest, and was just one of many, and that did not seem logical if he was the one who created everything and was the only God.  After much study and prayer, my conclusion was that all religions and gods started as myths fabricated by humans. 

 

From there I tell them that Jesus teaching, that I believe he summed up with saying to love neighbor as self, seemed very logical, and actually a profound idea that would benefit all mankind if followed.  He was a very wise man, but I no longer have faith that he was divine.  (this is not the time to get into a discussion of whether he existed or not) And if they want more details about my study I would be glad to share it with them.  I have written up the process I went through to arrive at my conclusions, but only had 3 relatives take a copy when offered.  Only one "liberal" cousin actually read the whole thing, and he came back to tell me it was interesting, but he would stick with the church.  He, by the way is a wannabe preacher and takes every chance he can get to get up in the pulpit.  One of the other relatives never mentioned it again, and the other a few days later said they had not read it yet, but would when they got time.  That was years ago and they have never mentioned it.

 

But the point is that the easy let down approach seems to help maintain relationships, and the affirming of the love neighbor as self concept  seems to help assure them you have not decided to follow the devil.  I hope this helps.

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By the way.  I knew one guy who “came out” but still went to church with family on Sunday morning and sat there quietly.  And he occasionally came to other church functions with them.  He openly admitted  it was to keep peace in the family.  He and his wife decided to not get their daughters involved in religious arguments, but simply honestly answer any questions they asked and let them make up their own minds when they got older.  Their girls were preteen at that time and seemed well adjusted.   We didn’t know them well, but the whole family seemed happy at church functions.  This was the only situation i saw like this in the 40 years I went to church, and don’t know the outcome  because we later moved out of town.  I remember thinking at the time that it was the most civil situation i had seen in that kind of situation. Ha!  But I can’t help but think it got more sticky as the girls became teenagers. 

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2 hours ago, Weezer said:

By the way.  I knew one guy who “came out” but still went to church with family on Sunday morning and sat there quietly.  And he occasionally came to other church functions with them.  He openly admitted  it was to keep peace in the family.  He and his wife decided to not get their daughters involved in religious arguments, but simply honestly answer any questions they asked and let them make up their own minds when they got older.  Their girls were preteen at that time and seemed well adjusted.   We didn’t know them well, but the whole family seemed happy at church functions.  This was the only situation i saw like this in the 40 years I went to church, and don’t know the outcome  because we later moved out of town.  I remember thinking at the time that it was the most civil situation i had seen in that kind of situation. Ha!  But I can’t help but think it got more sticky as the girls became teenagers. 

That was almost 40 years ago and I just remembered another interesting tid bit regarding the situation.  At the time I was helping with the teenagers in the congregation and we were planning some kind of event.  That couple had volunteered to help supervise the kids, but I knew the elders usually  wanted only church members working with the kids. When I mentioned that he was not a church member, one elder said,  "That's okay.  He's not dangerous.  He's an agnostic."  I have always assumed he meant that agnostics were not as dangerous as atheists.

 

One other thing I thought of is your saying you thought most mixed marrages were very strained.  That is not always true, as I mentioned above.  And several of my relatives (mostly females) married nonchristians or peope from other denominations and had relatively normal families.  But in each case the nonchurch member remained quiet regarding religion.  

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On 9/22/2022 at 2:50 PM, austinrohm said:

I was thinking of doing some fancy or clever title, but I might as well say it like it is: I would love some non-Christian feedback. More specifically, I want to give a brief overview of where I am at, and the mental torture that I have endured since deconverting. I would like to have advice on what other people think they might do if they were in my situation. 

 

I deconverted around 2 years ago from Christianity. Before I deconverted, I was VERY active in my local Baptist church: I was the song leader, Youth Group Leader, and would go pass out gospel tracks every week. I would even teach adult Sunday School from time to time.

 

Two main things that currently cause mental torture:

1. My wife still being a strong Christian

2. The Church I go to

 

1. My wife still being a strong Christian.

During my deconversion process, I would subtly approach my wife about some of the issues I was discovering with the Bible and faith. We would go over the issues together, and have lengthy conversations regarding the truthfulness of the Bible and Christianity. However, once I fully deconverted, I tried to gently reason with my wife as to why I was having a really hard time believing in Jesus any longer, and used Socratic dialogue to have her come to her own conclusions as to why faith is an unreasonable process to obtain truth. In all of this, I did not tell her about my complete deconversion- only that I was having strong doubts.

 

Despite my best efforts to have my wife understand why I was having trouble believing the Bible, I realized that I do not think my wife will ever leave Christianity- She just sees it as a faze I am going through. At one point, she said: "The kids are starting to get older, and will be asking questions; so you need to figure out how to make Christianity true to you sooner than later." This one cut deep because I felt like this undermined all my research, logic, and concerns- as if I could just snap my fingers and make myself believe again, but I just can't do that! 

 

At that point, I realized that I had some thinking to do. What was the most important thing in my life? When I was a Christian, the answer would be a hearty, "Well GOD of course!!" But now that I think God is not real, the most important thing in my life is my wife, and there is not even a close second place. I realized that mixed faith marriages are usually very strained, and many end in divorce. So I kinda just went back to faking it externally. 

 

This is extreme mental torture for me because I cannot stand performing false emotions, and lying. But it is a sacrifice I am willing to make to keep my marriage strong. However, this is not sustainable long term. My kids are starting to grow up, and I will be expected to "lead them to the Lord," which I feel is straight-up indoctrination. Also, I really DO NOT want my kids to have this religion and Church stunt their critical thinking and emotional development. If I avoid subjecting my children to the poisonous and harmful lies of Christianity, there will be no real way to explain this away to my wife, and the game will be up. I just feel like it is a matter of when, not if, for my wife to understand my position of complete disbelief- I know I cannot keep up the charade forever. So I am just trying to find out the best way to handle this and slowly fade out of the Christian life; advice would be appreciated! 

 

2. The Church I go to

The previous situation with my wife is even more complex because of the church I go to. My wife's dad is the pastor of a small, Independent Baptist Church, whose beliefs and practices are eerily close to fulfilling all the criteria of the BITE cult model. I see this church as one of the main reasons why my wife is still a strong Christian. It seems that any small progress that is made with my wife seeing the flaws in Christianity are regressed when we go to church.

 

There is constant fearmongering about the main purpose to be a parent is to save your kid from the fiery pits of hell by inundating the poor children with verses and prayer to "save" them. If your kid doesn't get saved, you have failed as a parent. There is constant preaching on how to beat your children. Most messages include guilt trips about not passing out enough gospel tracks or not witnessing enough. The pastor routinely warns the congregation not to use their critical thinking skills with Christianity.

 

It is SOOOOO hard sitting through these messages. For this reason I still teach the kids class. I can hear the collective groans of many atheists reading this, but hear me out! Not only do I avoid subjecting myself to the indoctrinations sessions by teaching kids class, but I can remove the kids from the rantings of the preacher as well! Hopefully I can shelter the kid's impressionable minds from threats of Hell and constant guilt trips about sin by removing them from the main service (It is a small church- I am the only option for Kids Class). When I do Kids Class, I will take them outdoors and let them simply play for most of the time, then will do a lesson with no references to God. I will mainly do lessons on respect, keeping your word, honor, dignity, self-worth, critical thinking, and attempt to infuse as much secular thought as I can. 

 

But this is not sustainable... I constantly get asked by the preacher (My wife's dad) if any of the kids got Saved during class and what I taught on. I still have to sit through Wednesday night services too, and will get asked how my faith is all the time. This is not sustainable. I really, REALLY want to find a way to escape this cult-like church (and church altogether one day), but I know my wife's dad has really got in her head- I think he was super controlling with his kids growing up, and she is still under his influence every week. He has full control of her thinking, which bothers me so much! I think the first step in my dilemma is to somehow leave that church; that will hopefully stop the constant weekly indoctrination sessions for my wife and kids.  But... it will cause a rift in the family dynamic between my wife and her family. I am just not sure how to proceed. Will I ever escape this mental torture? I am so tired of playing pretend, and just want to come out as an atheist- but just wonder if there is any possible way to do it without straining my wife's relationship. Sometimes I feel like I am just being to scared, and don't have the balls to just say how I feel.

 

I know there is no "one right way" to go about this, but I would LOVE some good non-Christian advice! Those of you who deconverted before your spouse, did that put a strain on your marriage? If your partner did eventually join you as an ex-Christian, how did you navigate any repercussions from upset family members accusing you of "leading them astray?" Those of you who were less fortunate, and your coming out cause the separation of you and your spouse/partner; was it worth being honest about your beliefs? Any would be greatly appreciated! 

 

Welcome to Ex-Christ austinrohm, You will get plenty of good advice here IMO, because nearly all of us are ex-christians.

I see your predicament as somewhat unique. I have had two wives and both were Christian, but neither rarely went to church. We rarely ever talked religion, and really all they could get out of me was that I thought the belief in religion was ridiculous. In time I told them I was an atheist. When asked I would go to church, I liked to sing and mingle with religious folk, which I still do. But in time they realized that I don't believe. I also never had a hard time in Christianity, it simply became a joke to me upon studying it and other religions.

 

As for my adult children, unless they asked, I never talked to them about religion. As adults none of them go to church, or very rarely. Two believe in Christianity generally, and one is a pure atheist like I am. So you don't have to talk to your kids unless they ask, then say as little as possible about your own beliefs. If asked when they are older, you could simply say you don't believe, as I did. If asked why, simply say with a smile that you don't like to talk about it.

 

Have a good day and think of religion as just false beliefs that you no longer have to be involved with unless you want to. I have never met a person who knew the intellectual flaws of God and Bible belief, that ever went back to it.

 

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Pantheory: I can relate to the 'joke' bit. I think it may be my increasing way of dealing with it. Yet, it's serious, isn't it, when you think about the damage that Christianity does?

Austinrohm: My wife and I are happily married (60 years). I have been happy to go to church with her in the past although she cannot now mobilise. We sort of watch church on zoom, although she often goes to sleep and I often read a book. We don't talk Christianity although she knows my position (in part) - it's not an issue.

So, for us, being 'unequally yoked' works just fine.

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6 hours ago, nontheistpilgrim said:

Pantheory: I can relate to the 'joke' bit. I think it may be my increasing way of dealing with it. Yet, it's serious, isn't it, when you think about the damage that Christianity does?

Austinrohm: My wife and I are happily married (60 years). I have been happy to go to church with her in the past although she cannot now mobilise. We sort of watch church on zoom, although she often goes to sleep and I often read a book. We don't talk Christianity although she knows my position (in part) - it's not an issue.

So, for us, being 'unequally yoked' works just fine.

 

Yeah, concerning damage, there are a number of people here who think that religion has done damage to their lives. I have been told as a metaphor, that I only went in ankle deep concerning religion and never dove in head first like a "born again."  But still I did go to church, pray, and tried to be a good Christian. I had the advantage that some uncles, aunts, grandparents, were of different Christian religions so I heard arguments as a kid against aspects of religion.

 

At that time I heard assertions that this or that bible story was allegory, told to explain a moral point and not to be taken literally. After also studying science, I had a eureka moment when I realized that all religions were pure BS,  I viewed religion thereafter as something not to be taken seriously,  no different than Greek Mythology.

 

cheers :)

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I haven't been married and didn't deconvert all the way to atheism, but since you're asking for advice I'll give you mine for what it's worth......guardedly, for as Gildor Inglorion said to Frodo Baggins, ".....advice is a dangerous gift, even from the wise to the wise."

 

You might want to consider Weezer's "easy let down" approach with a somewhat different take. Your wife isn't ready for a head-on collision with the flaws in Christianity, so it might make it easier for her to get some preparation. It's been said that you have to get to someone through their religion rather than through yours, so you might start with her on her own ground: the "Old Testament".
 

Her Baptist belief, I assume, is connected to the belief that Moses was a real prophet sent to give God's commandments to the Israelites. In the Christian Bible Jesus claims to be supported by Moses, but there are numerous places where Jesus's teaching is in flat-out conflict with Moses. I get a lot of my critiques of Christianity from Jewish anti-missionary sites like jewsforjudaism.org. That might help ease your wife into a more clear understanding of Christianity's shortcomings.

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@austinrohm that is a very high commitment church from the way you describe it.  I would be very anxious in a setting like that because there is no way for a non-believer to take a quiet corner and just be there to support their believing spouse.

It sounds like your wife is still hopeful that you will return to becoming a committed believer too.  It might be kinder to give her a clear answer and tell her that you don’t believe anymore and cannot attend the church any longer in pretence.  

 

She will be really upset I am sure but her faith and her children’s faith cannot be built on what you do.  She has to develop her own independent faith and a sense of self respect that is not based on your standing.  No one gets married with an absolute assurance that their spouses will always believe or that life will be perfect.  Reassure her that you are committed to the marriage but won’t be pretending you are someone you are not, including to the children.  At least she already knows that you have doubts and will not be totally blindsided.

 

Hopefully, things will eventually settle down again once she comes to terms with the  disappointment.  Honestly, the anxiety of not believing anymore but not yet out is worse than the fallout when you take the courage to step away.  I hope that your marriage will survive this difficult time.  It’s unfortunately possible that it won’t.  

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