This weekend, as I was cleaning the house, I began warbling, as I do. I have always been a singer, so it is fairly normal to hear me singing or humming in the car, shower, around the house, and even at work. My husband, hearing what I was singing asked me why I was singing a Christian song if I was no longer a Christian. "I will probably always sing these songs," I replied. "They are a piece of me and my childhood."
I think of it like this: I like to sing nursery rhymes too. My particular favorites are the one about the Kookaburra in a gum tree and Jack and Jill. I sing them to my nephews and niece. Just because I sing them though doesn't mean that I believe there were real children named Jack and Jill or that a Kookaburra will laugh at me in a gum tree. The songs are nice, I like the melody, and I see them as a shared history passed down from my mother and her mother before her. Amazing Grace and even modern Christian worship songs hold the same place in my heart. They are the songs of my childhood. I sing them when I feel comfortable or when I am happy, not because I believe in them, but because they remind me of happy times. To remove them would be like trying to extract certain words from my vocabulary.
Also, some of the stories behind the hymns and songs really are inspirational. I can't prescribe to Christianity, but am glad that a man named John Newton found faith and turned away from the slave trade. Not only that, but he spoke out against it, based on his newfound faith. There is something beautiful in that. Same goes for Horatio Spafford, Joseph Scriven, and Andrew Perronet. I understand the history behind these songs and appreciate their beauty as works of art.
Modern Christian music is a little different in that I feel like most artists and musicians get sucked into that giant record label machine that is more about money than producing anything of substance. I felt this way even as a teenager and haven't listened to Christian radio in well over a decade. The songs are usually didactic, un-theologically sound (if that matters to you), poorly written, and what my husband refers to as "Christian sex songs". To clarify, these are songs that sound like they could be sung to your lover before heading for the bedroom (or while in the bedroom), they just add the word Jesus, Lord, or God in there so you know who we are making love to...errr...worshiping. Every now and then a good one comes out, but often the good ones aren't the ones we like to sing in church. Instead we sing over and over, like some horrible chant, about how God "takes my breath away" or "brings the fire" or "how all things work together for his good." These songs get stuck in my head the way a bad Britney Spears song does and I desperately turn on Pandora in hopes that something, anything, will replace it. There are good ones to be sure, but usually I like them because they sound different, are more intricate than modern worship songs, and take a certain level of skill from the musicians and singers to play.
I will probably always sing these songs. It may make my husband uncomfortable, but they are a part of me and some of them are quite beautiful. I may not be worshiping a God when I am singing them, but I am singing with all my heart.
One of the things I am learning as I begin to tell people about my deconversion is that there aren't many of us who reject religion completely. Sure, my friend E hasn't gone to church in thirty years, doesn't agree with the tenants of the faith she was raised in, and even seems uncomfortable when people talk about religion, but she still believes in God. Or S, who was raised Catholic, has all the above marks as E and is a lesbian to boot, but still calls herself a Catholic. In fact, I am beginning to understand why so many men on OKCupid (when I was still dating) would check the box saying "Christian but not too serious about it." They are Christian in culture only, yet it was ingrained in them enough that even though they essentially live like a non-Christian, they can't turn their backs on it. As if, by still claiming it just a tiny bit, they will get past those pearly gates.
Of the seven people who know about me, only one of them is an atheist or agnostic. In fact, I have been wracking my brain to think of people I know who I can talk to who are atheist. I have looked into free thinker groups in my area, but that feels like going too far. Not because I don't believe those things, but because I think it would upset my husband. Say what you will, but this is the man I love and am choosing to spend my life with. His comfort is important to me. Mine is important to me too and so I walk a fine line between self-care and matrimonial harmony. I could sneak out behind his back, go to a meeting while saying that I am hanging out with a friend, but I don't think lying to your spouse is very loving and it will only create more strife and heartache in the end.
Make no mistake though. I want some atheist friends. I want someone else to discuss with religion with that isn't hidden behind a computer screen. I want someone to bounce ideas and questions off of, whose logical processes don't lead them on a boomerang trip to the Bible. I want someone to make me not feel crazy for not believing in a god. Even now, I keep "fleecing" God, saying, "Well, if you are really there and you still want me to believe in you, you need to do something that is downright miraculous. Heal my friend S from her stomach troubles. Something. Anything." And there is no answer, because there never has been an answer. It would be easy to slip back into faith, or at least some semblance of it, like a well-worn piece of clothing. It's comfortable. It's all I have ever known. But I also know that it would be pretend because those miracles everyone claims to have had almost always have happened to someone else. Besides, knowing what I know about science now, I doubt if I would be swayed by a so-called miracle anyway.
As of now, there are six people in my life who know of my deconversion. Today I told my best friend. Unlike other close friends and family or even my husband, I was not at all worried about telling him. In fact, I knew that of all the people he would probably be the most understanding and it wouldn't affect our friendship in any meaningful way. And so, with my husband sitting in the car, I let my best friend know all about it. The whys, the how longs, the whens. He was cool with it and even commented that in our seventeen year friendship he has always been amazed at my transformation as a person and it has always been for the better so he hopes hat this change will be the same. My husband was mostly silent and reitterated that he was still having a hard time with this. Sigh.
One of the interesting things about my non-religious revelations is how each person worries that I will become one of "those atheists." The stereotypical angry atheist who hates Christians and seeks to destroy all religion. It is the reason my husband has asked me to call myself agnostic, because to him being an atheist is just too much. There is too much negative associated with it. My best friend was also worried about this. Please don't become one of those people who mocks or ridicule my religion.
And so I had to explain to yet another person that I am not angry with Christians. There are some teachings that I think are wrong, but I thought they were wrong while I was still a believer. I do not see religion as a cancer on society although I do think that it can be used like a poison in unloving and uncaring hands. My aim is not to convert others to my cause nor do I want to be re-converted. Each person's spiritual and non-spiritual journey's are their own. I can no longer claim to believe in a God, but if you are so sure there is one then I concede that I could be wrong. However, I no longer see compelling evidence to believe that religion, particularly the Judeo-Christian-Muslim religions, are anything more than man-made. A way to explain the world around us and give us hope for an afterlife. If it makes you feel better to think that there is someone out their controlling your life and who will make all the bad things work out for good, then so be it. But do not become angry with me for not being able to believe something that feels so much like the story of Santa Clause. Yes, I do feel like I was lied to for a long time, but I also understand that it was done because everyone else believed in Santa Clause too. I am not angry at anyone, I just can't believe anymore.
The Duggars are in the news again for more sexual indiscretions on the part of their eldest son Josh. The Christians who supported them are either backing away slowly or making excuses. The critics are laughing their asses off and screaming "I told you so". I don't want to write about the Duggars though, but rather the pervasive problem of sex in the Church.
First, in order to understand how something like this could happen to a family that seem so "pure", one must understand the depths to which the church goes to when it comes to sexuality and sin. When I was a kid, my mother used to teach a class called True Love Waits. It was only for girls. I don't recall there being any such program for boys. "Everything about your life revolves around one issue and that issue is Lordship." Who is your Lord? The limits you put upon yourself sexually. These will all reflect the essential question in your life--Who is your Lord? The implication here is that by having sex outside of marriage, you are basically being a disobedient Christian girl. I believed this. Thoroughly. Unwavering. To believe anything else was to say that Jesus and God did not matter to me.
As part of this class, there were a lot of manipulation techniques utilized to encourage abstinence...as if disobeying God wasn't enough. The first were fear tactics, like describing the process of birth in the horrible of ways. They would describe all the terrible things that could happen, the complications, and then warn you that even have sex one time will probably lead to pregnancy. There may have even been some indication that God would give you a "messed up" child because of your disobedience, even though this goes against the Bible. What about birth control you ask? Well, in my conservative Christian circle, birth control was looked upon with extreme suspicion. Some believed that it was basically abortion while others believed that not allowed sperm to get to an egg was "spilling your seed upon the ground". Solution: Tell girls not to take birth control because by taking it you are basically saying that you are going to have sex. No birth control = babies. Therefore, you won't have sex. Because babies are very very scary remember.
Then comes the used candle scenario. Did you know that anytime you have sex, it is like lighting a candle? Each time you light your handle it burns down more and more so that by the time you get married all you have left is a stump. And who wants to marry a stump? As someone who has now had sex, I think a better analogy would be that sex is like solar power, a consumable and renewable resource that can have cloudy days and run low some days, but can be just as awesome as it was last week as it is this week. Are there bad relationships and sexual encounters you should avoid? Sure. But that isn't what is being taught here. We aren't teaching girls how to guard their hearts and avoid abusive relationships. We are teaching them that any sexual congress is bad. Before marriage, of course.
Then there is the whole porn thing. I have a sister-in-law who adamantly believes that porn is adultery. I do not see it that way and I haven't in a long time. It started when I was a teenager. With the background that I had with sex education (virtually nothing), I was curious. I looked at porn. I found it interesting, enthralling, informative (probably in the wrong way), and tantalizing. Some of the things I saw, I knew would never happen to me if I married a "good Christian man". And so porn was that fantasy world that staved off my sexual urges. Don't get me wrong, Sex addiction and porn addiction are very real things. Numerous (non-religious) studies have been done stating that porn, on a base level, damages libido and can destroy sexual desires. It also gives people a very fake version of sex. A minor example: Men start expecting all women to be shaved because that is how most porn stars are. The churches solution though is to turn porn and sexual attraction in general, the desire to have sex, into a sin. Single and not getting any? Well, don't you dare turn on your computer. Or touch yourself. Of course, there is this double standard where it is expected that men will look at porn but not women. I never had anyone talk to me about me other than my parents, who were only asking because they suspected my brothers were looking at it. It is also assumed that men will masturbate, but young girls should not. I cannot tell you how many "good Christians girls" I know who have never touched themselves in any way. Or so they claim. I think they are lying.
Herein lies the problem. With a person's sexuality being tied in so closely with their spirituality and sin, it is no wonder that these people act out in negative ways. If you are never taught about sex other than don't do it, those children will begin to seek it out for themselves. If you are lucky, the child simply looks at some porn or reads a book on it. But what about people like the Duggar's who restrict any access to sexual education that the first time they are told about what to expect is probably on their wedding night. Perhaps they may have read a book on it. But there are those who will begin sneaking it, they act our their sexual tensions to the detriment of those around them, they are curious but their curiosity leads them to hurting others, they are sexually precocious. Then they get married and their inexperienced wife or husband is now completely out of their element. He doesn't even know what a clitoris is, let along how to stimulate it. She doesn't want to give a blow job because that feels dirty. In fact, everything feels dirty because all your life you have been told it is.
Christians love the phrase "everything is permissable in the marriage bed", which is supposed to mean that once you are married, anything goes. But it doesn't. See, sexuality can't be just turned on like a light switch. You don't say I do and then magically become a vixen in bed. Take it from this virgin bride. You are nervous. Your head is full of movie cliches and bad Christian advice. Perhaps you have some porn under your belt, perhaps not. No Christian tells you about positions or the fact that although having sex on a kitchen counter sounds fun, it won't work if the couple isn't the right height or has back trouble. The shower is too small for any kind of sexual encounter. There are nights when you will feel pressured into having sex and if you say no, he never wants to ask again because you had a weird freak out moment that one time.
In fact, the only thing Christians tell you to do, is don't do it. This isn't the worst advice, but it doesn't account for the fact that eventually, if you are a good Christian boy or girl, you will do it eventually.
Josh Duggar is a product of his strict upbringing. Although he makes his own choices, I am not the least bit surprised by the molestation charges nor am I surprised that he did (or was attempting to) cheat on his wife. He will not be the only one either. There are young men and women across these United States that have been so thoroughly indoctrinated into the Christian sex-cult that it ends up creating an environment where sex is unstable, secretive, shameful, and sometimes wrong. By trying to avoid the sin, it seems to breed sins that are far worse. Like molesting your sisters.
A common sentiment I see among Atheists is that those who label themselves agnostic are really just atheists who want the best of both worlds. Now, the way that I have always understood atheism is that atheists make the claim that there is no god and this is a fact unless religious people can prove otherwise, which they can't. An agnostic on the other hand admits to not knowing either way and is therefore in the middle.
Now, although I would lean more towards atheist, there are a few reasons why I am not willing to call myself an atheist:
1. I cannot say there is no god. Although I seriously doubt the existence of a all-knowing all-powerful omniscient Judeo-Christian god, I am not entirely convinced that there is nothing since I still wonder about things like ghosts and souls. While these things could be explained away by science, to me it feels like the same way in which Christians explain away inaccuracies of the Bible. They explain in a way that supports their own opinions or beliefs. That isn't fact.
2. Atheist is a bad word. My husband is very uncomfortable with the word atheist. Having been raised in an extremely right-wing conservative background, my husband and I both were told what atheists were and weren't. Devil worshippers, enemies of Christians, arrogant, belligerent, assholes whose sole mission in life is to take down Christians and the American church. Even though my husband is basically an Agnostic Christian, he cannot let those ideas go. When he listens to comedians like Tim Minchin and Ricky Gervais, what he is hearing is vitrol, anger, and arrogance...not humor. Now that I a non-believer, I hear the words of Richard Dawkins as reasoned and calm. This is not what my husband hears. Because this makes him so uncomfortable, it is better for the peace and sanity in my home, that I call myself agnostic.
3. Other Christians can swallow Agnostic better. I am a no-drama kind of person. I avoid arguments and do not seek out strife or turmoil. I also happen to have a LOT of Christian friends who will eventually find out about my non-belief. While calling myself an atheist may line up more with the facts I see before me, agnostic is safe as it provides a middle ground and doesn't have the aforementioned negativity associated with the term atheist. This may seem like a cop out to some, but then some of us don't want to get into arguments with our Aunt Sally and Elder Grant and Bishop Miller.
4. This is my personal spiritual journey and it is no one's business what I choose to label myself as. If I say I am agnostic, then you will just have to trust that I know what that means and that is the label I choose to slap on myself. If there was a way to do this deconversion thing and not have a label at all, I would, but I don't think that is possible in our religion-rich culture.
I have a good friend, we will call her Beth for the purposes of this post. Beth and I have known each other since we were in our early teens. Our friendship has survived growing up, moves in and out of state, long distances, her not getting along with my husband (it's better now), and family feuds (I cannot stand her younger brother). I will be her maid of honor in her upcoming wedding. The thing that has always been a staple of our friendship has been our mutual faith in God. The thing that I always appreciated about Beth was how open she was to listening to other viewpoints. When I told her that I disagreed with her and her church's Calvinist teachings, she listened intently and went away to do her own research. When I told her that I no longer believed in a literal six day interpretation of creation, she asked a ton of questions and went off to do her own research. Both of those conversations by the way, led to her also rejecting those beliefs just as I did.
There are marked differences between us though. Over the years, as I have questioned and eventually began rejecting many tenants of my faith, she has grown even more resolute. She now hosts a Bible study in her home, is very active in her church, she and her fiancee pray together on the regular. She is unapologetically sold out for Christ and I absolutely respect this about her.
Last night Beth and I talked on the phone for two hours, as we do. Numerous times the Bible and God came up. Since I am still in the closet with my agnostic ways, I talked about them with her. It wasn't hard. I know all the lingo, all the scripture versus. I have been friends with her for so long that I also know what she believes and what we don't agree on and have learned what issues to skirt. We talked about things like homosexuality, which she believes to be a sin and at this point I believe there isn't any such thing as sin. I carefully mentioned to her that I was getting very fed up with the American church and was planning on leaving my church in December. She completely understood my frustrations. She listened to me vent, asked questions about the things that bothered me, and came to the conclusion that I probably should take a break. She also thinks I should start a Bible Study but we aren't going to go there.
Of all my friends, Beth is the one person that I really don't want to tell that I am agnostic/atheist now. Why? Because I have also seen the dark side of Beth. The Beth who quit talking to a good friend because she was gay and her church told her not to. The Beth who couldn't help but gossip about our mutual friend who became an atheist, completely not understanding how he could have chosen that and blaming his girlfriend for his deconversion. They no longer are friends. I know that as good of friends as we are, the minute I become a non-believer, I also become a mission. A mission to return me to the fold. An item on a prayer checklist. Thinking of me will bring sadness not joy.
I have another good friend who is also an atheist. Never, in the entire time that I have known her, has she ever told me this directly. She knew how important my faith is to me and so she kept her mouth shut, listening to my religious ramblings. When I told her last month that I thought I was an atheist she said, "Oh no, that's terrible. What happened?" This reaction meant so much to me. It was a validation that what I am going through has been hard and unexpected. And so I want to have the same attitude towards my friends. They don't need to know all of my beliefs. I will listen to them when they talk about God. And if a day comes when they share with me their deconversion, I will say, "Oh no, that's terrible. What happened?" Beth may guess one day, but at this point I don't think she needs to know.
My husband is having a much harder time with my deconversion than I thought he would. Seeing as my husband already doesn't attend church, has many issues with the church, says things like "I don't think God cares about my job" and "I'm not sure I believe in divine healing", I mistakenly thought that this process would be easier. In my mind, he is only a few short steps from being agnostic himself and we have always agreed on almost all religious topics. In fact, to me, the only difference between now and four months ago is that he finally knows that I am agnostic.
But to him, this has rocked his world. A few years before I came along, my husband was dating a woman who was an atheist. He believed in the whole "do not be unequally yoked" and when the relationship went sour, decided not to try and fix it because this was probably what God wanted, even though he was desperately in love with her. Fast forward to me, the good Christian girl he married who kept trying to force him to come to church and talked about doing Bible studies together. This was, by the way, my attempt at salvaging my faith. I was sure that if I just kept going to church, kept being involved, kept reading my Bible, eventually I would have that amazing miracle moment that would squash all my doubts. It didn't happen. Somehow my husband was content with me being the "churchy" one out of the two of us. Even though I had many many doubts, that was okay as long as I called myself a Christian.
The real conundrum lies here though: If God orders your steps, then why would he "allow" you to marry somehow that he knew would eventually be an unbeliever. Why was it okay for him to marry me and not that other girl?
My heart dropped at this confession. Does he regret marrying me? Does he wish he had married her instead? If he is going to have an agnostic/atheist wife, would he rather have her?
I don't think this is what he is saying. He is saying: If God is real and all-knowing, then why did he let me marry someone that he knew I would be unequally yoked with? For him, this is a crisis in belief because he is now questioning whether God is telling him anything and if he isn't, does that mean he doesn't care or that he doesn't exist? It's a tough existential problem to have, something very similar to what led me to the place I am now.
I feel this desperate need to show him how much we are alike. "Look," I want to shout. "We agree on almost all the important philosophical issues. We both agree that we would never send our children to a private Christian school. We hate the manipulation in churches. We have a mutual loathing for mega churches and prosperity doctrine. Neither of us believes in young earth creationism. We both know where we are going with our careers, budget, finances, savings, family planning. We still have the same taste in movies, television, and comedians. (except for the Atheist comedians. He hates those.) I enjoy his company and he enjoys mine. We enjoy cooking together. I love going on trips with him. I like listening to him breathe as he falls asleep."
And these are the things I am going to have to remind him of as he continues to struggle with the idea that I no longer consider myself a Christian and his feelings around that. I am going to have to remind him every day that I am the same woman he fell in love with and it wasn't my faith that was the driving force in that process.
Over a decade ago I left my rather effervescent evangelical Vineyard church because all of the people my own age (college age) had left. I was lonely and since many of my friends had either gone off to college or left the church altogether, I sought out a church that had an active young adult program. I stumbled upon a church that had one of those fancy new Evangelical names like The Planet or The Edge. I was immediately struck by how friendly everyone was. Immediately, I was part of the group. Going out to eat, small groups, outings, girl's nights. There was so much to do and I was invited to all of it. There was no one that I didn't get along with.
Which is why it took me a good month and a half to really start noticing all the stuff that wasn't right about this church. There was the music. Animated, loud, with a brass section, and teenagers bobbing up and down at the front. But then I started to really look at the words on the screen and quit singing altogether because the lyrics were terrible. Not only were they theologically crazy, but also just terribly written. Is it just me? I wondered as I watched people with their hands raised and the teenagers and young adults up front jumping up and down in time to the music. Then I learned that the pastor actually recruited young people to go up front and jump up and down and made it their job to get other people to join them. So it was more like a game and not so much like worship. Of course, the whole thing felt like a giant concert, a show with flashy lights and fog machines and lacking any real substance. I put my feelers out, but as far as I could tell, everyone was completely hung ho over the music.
Side note, the pastor also would praise people for sitting on the front rows, but I later learned that he required anyone who was in a position in authority at the church to sit in the first 5 rows. It was a requirement, which made it all the more weird when he talked about how committed they were for sitting up front.
Then there was the preaching. The pastor was a celebrity in the church. He was charismatic, remembered everyone's names, and spoke with conviction. But what was he really saying though? I began to call the offering time, 'mini-money sermons' in which he would wax on poetic about how if you "test God in this" you will see blessings. He never went as far as to say God would give you money, but he did promise that your bills would somehow get paid. I began to notice other things too. Like how he bragged about their previous fundraising efforts. "We bought the more expensive cushier seats because we knew that would matter and God provided." As if God actually cared about your butt falling asleep in an hour long service. He boasted of the building fund they had raised, but also used this as a jumping off point to insist that the church raise even more. I was approached three times about not giving more money and was questioned as to why I didn't tithe via credit card. "I just don't want you knowing how much I am giving," I said reluctantly. Add to this the fact that the pastor had clearly had no seminary or theological training as he was constantly getting facts wrong, misquoting scripture, and sometimes just saying stuff that was downright wrong. I tried to schedule an appointment to talk with him once about one of his crazier sermons and ended up sitting in a room with the associate pastor. I was not happy. "You don't want to talk to me?" he asked gently. "No offense," I replied, "But you didn't preach the sermon on Sunday."
Then came the youth group services and the women's groups where gender roles were strictly enforced, whether the girls realized it or not. "Let's go on a women's retreat," they cooed at one women's Bible study. "We'll talk about God, get manis and pedis, and go shopping." ummm....what about the girl's who don't like shopping, I wondered aloud. They looked at me like I had three heads.The men's retreat of course had a wide range of activities for their weekend: a high-ropes course, whitewater rafting, fishing, hiking, a bonfire, and a movie. I decided not to spend my hard-earned money on a stereotypical ladies trip that I knew I would hate. A week before the retreat they announced that they had added some more activities: a high-ropes course, a movie, and hiking.
I was beginning to get peeved. I began openly asking questions about the churches money practices, the fact that we did absolutely no outreach beyond the church doors, and why the pastor of church had received absolutely no education in the thing he was doing. The replies were simple, "Stop being a malcontent. Our pastor is a man of integrity and the money is going to good places. We do outreach all the time. What do you think children's church is?
This was month three. I was about to move away though and so I stayed for a few more weeks in order to avoid rocking the boat. I left and no one thought anything of it. She moved away. Of course, she won't go to church here. I'm going to be honest though, at this point I was thoroughly convinced that I had made some lifelong friends. I was sure of it. While I worked on my Bachelor's degree, these friends came and visited me. When I came home to visit we always had a party. I went on vacation with one of the families. Became friends with one girl's brother who lived near me.
Then I moved home. I had had a few years to think it over, more life experience, and went to an amazing church up North and I simply couldn't go back. That was the end. My "friends" fell into two categories: 1) Those who knew what my issues were with the church (because they asked) and were such fanboys of either the church, the pastor, or both that they would no longer speak to me OR 2) Those that just assumed that I still lived up North (even though we were Facebook friends) because I couldn't possibly move back and not go to church with them. When I run into the first set, they usually pretend not to see or recognize me. Weirdly enough, they do bump into my family and will say things like, "Tell her I said hi." Call me yourself...you still have my phone number. This hurt me deeply and has made me wary of making new friends. "Sooo," says set number 2 when I bump into them, "Still living up north huh?" Umm....no. And I haven't for, let's see, 8 years now. They always look a bit startled by this, but quickly move on.
What does all this mean about my deconversion process? I would say that this was the first time I attended a church where I not only was catching the theological problems of the Bible, but was also becoming aware of the constant manipulation that exists in many churches. I got a bit or a reprieve from that when I moved away because the church I went to up north really was one of those mythological ones where they are genuine in their call to action, actively worked in their community, shepherded by pastors who were open and honest, and full of people who wanted to make a difference in their communities with no God strings attached. But I see it every week when I go to church, to the point that I actively avoid the sermon. Sometimes this means writing in my journal instead of taking notes and sometimes it means skipping church altogether. These days, I pretty much only attend church on the days that I am volunteering. I can't stand it anymore. I can't stand to listen to a man who tries to convince his captive audience that if they want to have a better relationship with God they will not only come to church themselves, but they will bring their friends. I cringe at sermons where the pastor talks about ISIS and his solution to the problem is that we should just pray because what else can we do? I don't know, volunteer with an interfaith ministry? Or find ways to serve alongside the Muslim community to dispell myths and encourage community? Every song feels like a mindless chant. And the fact that I do not feel comfortable in my church to speak out against the modest culture that promotes body shaming or to speak up for the LGBTQ community is telling.
I'm tired of the bullshit. I'm tired of the manipulation. I'm tired of feeling bullied by believers to be for and against what they are for and against. Most of all, I'm sick of churches doing nothing week after week, huddling within their walls on their cushioned seats, more worried about raising funds and electric guitars then they are about the hungry and sick sitting right outside their doors. Hurray for the ones that are doing it right and shame on the ones who aren't.
Last night I went to worship practice. We laughed, talked, picked out songs, and we sounded awesome. I played with the worship leader's children and recruited one to help write blog posts for another not-secret blog that I also run. I shared pictures of my dad's craftmanship with my fellow musicians. I hugged the worship pastor's wife and made plans to have lunch with her on Friday. And for 2 hours I forgot that I was lying to them, letting them believe that I am still a Christian and still worshipping in the way they are. For two hours these were just my friends, doing what we do every Monday night.
And then I got in my car and got a bit teary-eyed. When I leave the church would these people still be my friends? Would they abandon me if they knew that I no longer considered myself a believer? Would they be angry with me for keeping this from them? What will happen four months when I announce that I will no longer be singing, no longer coming to church? Will they just assume I am looking for another church or will it be obvious that this is a clean break?
For the record, my husband doesn't even come to church with me. He has such a problem with organized religion, although still professing to be a Christian, that he refuses to attend. So it is I, the agnostic, who attends church by myself. I look forward to the day when I am free of this, but wish there was a way to do these kinds of things without losing the friends in the process. Experience has taught me that these friendships, however real they feel now, are just friendships out of convenience and nothing more. And yet I still feel sad about it.
This is a personal, but secret, blog archiving my deconversion from a Christian to a non-believer.