I have always been the kind of person who likes to perfect things before I present them to the world. For example: I have played violin since I was eight, but rarely have played solos because I am never super confident that it sounds perfect. Of course, it will never be perfect and most people can't tell at all, yet I can't help myself. For some reason, this is how I have been treating my deconversion though.
Last night my husband, who is still struggling with this whole deconversion thing, justifiably said that he felt like this whole thing just came out of the blue. We have only known each other for just under four years so how did I do this complete about face concerning religion? Was I lying to him? Was I pretending to have a stronger faith than I actually had? Was it just an act? To all of these I answer no. I was a Christian when I met and married him. Did I have doubts? Sure. But I haven't met a Christian yet that didn't admit to having doubts. This was normal and so I didn't question those doubts. What I did think would happen was that if I just kept going to church and attending small groups, if I just kept volunteering and reading my Bible, that sooner or later I would hear the voice of God and all my doubts would be alleviated. Truth is, I still feel like that sometimes. Do you know how much easier this whole thing would be if God would just give me a sign and I could go back to believing again?
My husband does have a point though. Even in my deconversion, I don't really want to talk to people about it (particularly believers...and this includes him) because I want to make sure all my answers are perfect. I don't like confrontation or drama. I do not enjoy arguments or debates. At no point do I want to tell someone about my deconversion and it turn into an argument, debate, or angry tirade. I wouldn't put up with any of this as I see it as highly disrespectful. I also do not want to destroy anyone else's faith. As wrong as I feel that religion is, I also am keenly aware that there are some people out there that could not function if they believed there was no god. A friend of mine passed away last December and the only thing holding her sister together at this point is her assurance that she will see her sister again in heaven. Seriously, that's it. I highly suspect that if my friend's sister was an atheist she would probably have either checked herself into a mental health facility or killed herself. Her grief is that big.
I do and don't want to share with my husband all the interesting things I have found about the Bible, evolution, origin of the species, world religions, and religious anthropology because 1) he is smart enough to find this out on his own and 2) I don't want it to appear like I am trying to deconvert him. He assured me that he is confident in his faith (despite telling me differently fairly recently) and that there is nothing I could say that will turn him from God. Of course, one thing I wonder is whether my deconversion has sent him running in the opposite direction and made his faith more concrete in an effort to distance himself from my atheistic self.
Here is my second truth though. It is true that for the past year I have begun to pull back the curtain on my religion and I didn't tell him about it. I didn't tell him that I was rereading the Bible or why. I didn't tell him that by admitting that archaological evidence doesn't line up with Biblical text it threw the veracity of the Bible out the window for me. I didn't tell him that when I actually started to learn and understand evolution and the origin of the species that it made perfect sense, more sense than some illogical magic story about Adam and Eve. And to be fair I didn't tell him that it had been more than a decade since I "heard" from God. Years since I had actually genuinely prayed. I was a Christian, but I had already rejected so much of my religious upbringing (and so had he) that I thought it would be okay. After all, we were in agreement about same sex marriage, church membership, televangelists, prosperity doctrine, Christian chick lit, modern contemporary worship. It seemed like enough.
I desperately want to talk to him about this stuff. He is my closest confident. I want to tell him about King Odin and King David. I want to share with him that we humans were not created perfect even when we come out of the womb seemingly okay. That eyeball that is supposed to be perfection according to Christians is a mess biologically speaking. What I wouldn't give to sit down and listen to a lecture from Richard Dawkins without my husband getting all offended because Dawkins wasn't "nice". Usually not being nice refers to anytime an atheist says a Christian is wrong. Christians can tell people they have the only truth to everlasting life, but no one else can say they have truth. I am a new convert and I have learned so much over the past year and I have no one to share it with. I have told seven people about my deconversion and only one of them is an atheist. Two are "spiritual" and believe in some kind of God, but have a weird relationship with the Bible and Christianity. One has even suggested me getting my palm read, which is like trading one religion for another in my mind and I just won't go there. One person is my cousin who I know will keep my confidence and is not devoutly Christian, but does believe in a God. One is my husband. And then my best friend and his wife who have been beyond understanding, but also completely miffed. Other than my husband, I have not told anyone who I would consider to be a devout Christian. I admit that some of this is out of fear, some because this is a profoundly private thing I am doing, a bit because all of my current friendships and relationships are truly awesome and perfect, and mostly because I don't like drama. And I get the very distinct impression that my husband does not approve.
"Fuck 'em," he said. "Who cares about what they think?" My response? I do. I absolutely do care what my best friend thinks of me. Our friendship is incredibly important to me. Same with my parents and siblings. Same for a number of my other friendships. I absolutely care what they think because they are people that I love deeply and who love me in return. What is life without our friends and family? I only have this one life to live, why would I spend it making enemies of the people I love? I do want to live a life of integrity, but I also find it naive to think that you can go marching up to people, drop this bombshell on them and expect everything to be fine. My marriage is a prime example that this does not work well. So yeah, I think I am going to ease the people in my life into this. Next week is my last week at church. I'm not going to look for another one and I will be honest about that. Let them wrap their mind around the fact that I am quitting church and then we can pepper in the idea that I am having some doubts. They can think I am backslidden or whatever. Let's not just dump this on them because if my husband is an example of understanding, then the ones who don't understand are going to be nuts.
This is a personal, but secret, blog archiving my deconversion from a Christian to a non-believer.