I grew up in an extremely conservative Evangelical family. My mother’s first question whenever I told her I was dating someone new was, “Are they a Christian?” As if my over-insitutionalized brainwashed self would EVER have considered dating anything else. I was a virgin on my wedding day, have probably said forty curse words in my entire life, have never been drunk, never smoked weed (or done any other drugs), never been in a club. Church is where I make the majority of my friends, although I work very very hard to make friends outside of it. Admittedly, I have always struggled with making friends so the fact that I am largely unsuccessful with this is no surprise. This has been my life for three decades.
And I have been questioning it since I was a teenager. It started out with small things. I loved Egyptian history, but found that if we added up the amount of years that the Egyptian Empire existed, plus the 2000 since Christ’s death, there was a serious problem with young earth creationism. My parent’s way of addressing this was to take me to Ken Ham talks and read an entire book on Genesis. This only increased my doubt and led me down the path of intelligent design. Because evidence.
Over the years the doubts have grown. Once I allowed myself to believe in evolution, to look at evidence rather than faith, to see religion as a man-made construct, my “faith” began to dissolve. And I have told no one this. Although my husband has a lot of issues with the church as a whole, he still considers himself a Christian. Every now and then I test him, playing a funny Tim Minchin atheist video to see what he thinks of it (“I think we are going to hell for laughing at that,” he says half joking.) or mentioning a news article concerning a topic that goes against our mutual conservative upbringing. I think my husband would completely understand, but he, like me, still struggles with the balance between faith and science and would be disappointed in my lack of faith. If I told him I didn’t want to go to church anymore, he would understand, but if I told him I didn’t believe in God anymore, not so much.
The people who would really not understand though are all my friends and family. I have seen firsthand what happens when a person comes out as atheist to my particular subset of friends. Firstly, everyone acts like it is no big deal, they still love you anyway. For the first few weeks or months, it is all good. But behind your back they are “praying for you” and begin avoiding you because they think that their job when around you is to try and re-convert you. If they are hard-line Calvinists they may believe that you were never a Christian to begin with and were just lying to them the whole time you were with them. If you are lucky, they believe that you just haven’t gotten the right “flavor” of God. You just need to experience a miracle or emotionally-driven faith moment and all will be right with the world.
You cannot be rational with these people. I know this because I have been there. I would watch a documentary and would roll my eyes and tune out anything that contradicted what my faith taught me. Experience tells me that my mother, who believes God talks to her on a daily basis, will never understand someone who doesn’t believe in a God or at the very least questions the development of religion. My Dad would be utterly disappointed and devastated, but would never say a word about it. My brother and sister-in-law would gossip about it to anyone who cared to listen. They already tell people how “much more liberal” I have become.
And so I have made the choice to not come out. I refuse to harbor any ill-will towards Christians. It doesn’t make me angry that I would continue to fellowship with people who believe in a God that I seriously question the existence of. I know how to speak Christian-eze and as an adult, I have also learned how to walk out of the room when people talk about stuff I disagree with. I will admit that there are times, at small group or when talking to certain people, where it is difficult to bite my tongue. We are planning to move in a few months and I am going to use the move as an excuse to leave my church. I’m not sure if I will be seeking a replacement, but know that if I don’t, I will not hear the end of it.
At this point in my life, I see nothing to be gained from coming out and a lot to lose by doing so. It doesn’t hurt me to keep it a secret and I still enjoy the company of my friends and family. I would like to make some more friends who are a bit more like minded who I could confide in, but am okay with my journey of non-faith being my own thing.
This is a personal, but secret, blog archiving my deconversion from a Christian to a non-believer.