Yesterday my husband and I were returning from our Thanksgiving vacation, if you can call it that. After reading a number of different articles about good ways to tell your spouse about deconversion, I have realized how very wrongly I handled the situation. This is my husband, the person I share almost everything with and when I started to experience doubts, instead of talking to him about it, I closed that part of myself off from him. Some of this was because when I said things like, "Would you have married me if I wasn't a Christian," his immediate and heartfelt response was No. He wouldn't have even dated me if I wasn't a Christian because he wanted to be married to a Christian, not an atheist. He also had a few unkind words to say about atheists and agnostics and was quick to criticize anyone who said anything disparaging about religion. I took all of that to mean that he would not only be unsupportive of this journey I was on, but would also see anything I said against religion (beyond the usual philisophical discussions) as bad. But the result was that when I did tell him he was hurt and angry and very very surprised. But I apologized. I apologized for not telling him from the beginning because I did drop a bomb on him and that wasn't fair. It made him question my integrity, my intentions, and our relationship.
This, of course, led down a very interesting path. Despite being a very logical person he has over the past few months fallen into many common Christian illogical fallacies. He tried the 'No True Scotsman' scenario, accusing me of not ever being a Christian and tricking him into marrying me. I know this was a knee-jerk reaction, but this wounded me deeply. I wasn't lying to him. Of course, I was a Christian when he married me. People change. I changed. Yesterday he told me that it is sad that the kind of faith I was raised in made me doubt like this. In other words, I was just not given the right flavor of Christianity. It matters little that he was raised in a very similar way with similar beliefs. If my mom wasn't such a "Christian mystic" (his words not mine), I would have been able to reach the same conclusion that he has.
As our conversation turned toward one particular topic, prayer, I was told that I couldn't understand the Bible anymore because I didn't believe in it. That my perspective was too skewed and I was mistranslating things based upon my new viewpoints. Even if my viewpoint on this particular subject has been the same for years, I am not not understanding it because i am not a Christian. We talked about how studies show no conclusive evidence that prayer works and that some studies even show a negative effect where intercessory prayer is concerned. This really upset him. He did not like the idea that prayers he has prayed for people could be making the situation worse. He rejected any studies I mentioned saying that they can be skewed. The fact that I don't have these studies memorized was also a strike against them and me. My information cannot be accurate because I can't tell him all the details of this one particular study that I read a few months ago. It was in a word--infuriating.
I have never been great at debating. It is not an enjoyable process for me and although I do know what I believe, based on mountains of evidence that I have seen, read, and studied, I cannot regurgitate that information on a whim. Since my own anecdotal evidence cannot be trusted as it is such a small sampling, I have to rely on data and research studies to provide a larger sample size. That data, coupled with personal experience, tells me that praying for things simply doesn't work. Perhaps as a meditative practice it has merits, but no one's life is going to be saved simply because you prayed in your bedroom one morning. What changes lives is action.
My husband and I have had this talk numerous times over the past four years. He doesn't believe in faith healing anymore than I do. Yet, now that I am no longer a believe, suddenly he is fighting for the merits of prayer. It got heated people. I told him (with tears in my eyes) how much it upsets me to think of all the times I prayed for something with the realization that it just doesn't work. That there is no one out there who can hear my prayers. That we are on our own. It is hard to think like that because believing that there is a reason for everything, a plan for cancer or whatever, is comforting. But I can't anymore. I wish I could believe, but there is no going back now. Not without some serious evidence.
He seemed to have understood this last bit. He understood that there was no going back now. What he didn't understand was that my reasons for not being a Christian really don't have much to do with prayer. It's a small thing really, pressed up against the backdrop of the Bible and all its bullshit. Really, if prayer was the only reason I was questioning God, I would probably still be a Christian.
This is a personal, but secret, blog archiving my deconversion from a Christian to a non-believer.