This past weekend, I drove an hour to my hometown and crammed in as many friends and family as I possibly could. It was a good day. One of my friends, a woman I have written about before, is a devout Christian and is completely unaware of my deconversion. She is the one person who I thought, "If there really is a God, she is the one He would tell about my doubts and she will come and talk to me about it." I wanted that. Desperately. And yet, every time we talked, even when I dropped the occasional hint, nothing. Now, for me, our friendship certainly doesn't hinge on us believing the same thing. We've had some quite serious debates in the past concerning homosexuality, Calvinism, Evolution, and God's purpose. She is one of the few people in my life who has ever been swayed by my arguments, because she does genuinely listen. She isn't a Calvinist anymore, for an example. I do feel a certain amount of guilt for not telling her and yet, I also know how she has treated other atheists in the past.
Which is why I shouldn't have been surprised when we were discussing an old photo we had both been tagged in and she said randomly, "You know Jackie is a pretty militant atheist now. So weird because she seemed like such a strong Christian. It's just so sad." And I had one of those moments, the same ones I have when I am around my mom or my sister-in-law, where I think, I am never going to tell you I am an atheist. It isn't because what she said was so horrible, it was the deep sadness in her voice. As if Jackie had died. And to her, she has. I know that is how Christians feel about non-believers. That you are lost and going to hell and if you are a friend or family member, that is supposed to be incredibly sad. Of course, who I am as a person and my own character don't matter, not when your eternal soul is at stake.
My dad, strangely enough, has told me that he believes that if you have ever said the sinner's prayer, anytime in your life, God forgives your sins: past, present and future. Which means that you can't lose your salvation, even if you turn your back on God. God still sees you as his child. God knows you are going to sin and doesn't require you to continually beg for forgiveness just in case you die soon. This is actually very interesting theology and not one I have heard from very many Evangelical Christians. I like it only because it removes any sadness or fear if someone should go astray. You aren't praying for your atheist child's eternal soul because they became a Christian when they were ten. Of course, I don't actually think that I need eternal salvation, but it does make it easier for a now non-believing person's family and friends.
At this point, I'm pretty sure that unless I tell my friend I am an atheist, she will never know. There certainly isn't a god out there who is whispering secrets in her ear, which could mean a lot of things, but for me it is just another affirmation that there is no one out there.
This is a personal, but secret, blog archiving my deconversion from a Christian to a non-believer.