[I wrote this page in December of 2010. I’ve more recently written a post (February 2014) that you’ll also want to read right after this one: What Led Me to Leave Christianity?]
First off, let me say that I did not leave Christianity due to Christians. The Christians I have been privileged to know have been wonderful, sincere and nothing but supportive of me. There were some in particular who made themselves available to me as I went through this intensely difficult struggle with my faith. They were available night and day and did not condemn me in any way. I have nothing but respect for Christians themselves. My journey out of Christianity was an intellectual one. I just could no longer accept the authority of the Bible as a perfect and true book and I could no longer accept the basic message of the faith.
Before I continue, let me direct you to someone who had a similar intellectual deconversion. After I read the book I felt like he had explained a lot of the same journey I had taken, but much better than I could. It is a full online book but you can skip around to the parts that interest you.
Why I Believed by Kenneth W. Daniels
Anyway – onto my story. My experience into and then out of Christianity is bookmarked by two deaths. The first was the suicide of my 21 year old brother when I was only 10 years old. His death forced me to think about some tough issues like life, death, God … and what happens to us when we die. Around the same time I was invited to a Jr.High group at a church where one of my good friends attended. Wow! They had all the answers to the questions I’d been grappling with. I’d believed in God up to this point, but now I found out that wasn’t enough. I was going to hell unless I accepted Jesus as my personal Saviour. What 10 year old would turn Jesus down when presented with those options? I gladly jumped in and took the plunge. For the next 20 years I lived a happy Christian life, never wavering in my beliefs. Well – maybe that isn’t completely true. LIke many Christians, my views mellowed over time. Did God really send people to hell just for not being Christians? The God of love I’d been taught about wouldn’t really do that would He? I certainly hoped not, but at least I was safe. Besides, maybe hell wasn’t eternal torment but just a separation from God that unbelievers willingly chose.
In case anyone is wondering how committed and sincere a Christian I was, let me reassure you that I was. I was a stay-at-home mom of five who chose to homeschool her children so she could raise them as proper Christians, untarnished by the secular school system. After six years of homeschooling it became too much for me so I enrolled them in public school, still committed as ever to raising them to be model Christians. I read Christian books, prayed, followed the Bible’s teachings (or at least what I was taught were the Bible’s teachings), marked up my Bible like crazy while I read, listened to Christian music …. the list goes on. I was completely convinced I was following the truth.
The second death, which ultimately led to my exit from Christianity, was that of my father-in-law. After battling cancer for many years he passed away in November of 2008. Little did I know what an impact his death would have on my life. I immediately started questioning all the big questions. Did my father-in-law go to hell? How do we know what happens when people die? How do we know the Bible is a perfect book? How do we even know it’s true at all? I remember one of the first books I read was “How Jesus Became Christian” by Barrie Wilson. It rocked my world. Maybe the Christianity I’d been following wasn’t what I’d been taught. I started reading everything I could find on Christianity. I desperately needed reassurance that it was all true. My whole world was being shaken. Everything I’d believed about the universe was up for questioning and I didn’t like where it was leading me. By Christmas Eve of 2008 I was a complete mess. I believed I had committed an unpardonable sin (Mark 3:28-29; Hebrews 6:4-6) by rejecting Christ and I was condemned to hell with no chance of redemption.
What followed was a two year journey out of Christianity. I often wondered how everyone could go about their lives and not obsess about all the big life questions. I certainly couldn’t. I was barely functional. I lived with the fear of hell every day and yet I couldn’t go back in time either. My whole world had been shattered and I was left with trying to pick up the pieces.
I’m finally at a place of peace as an atheist. I have carefully thought through my position on issues of faith. My views on Christianity are now made from the outside. This video sums up my views of Christianity:
I was thinking the other day about what has or hasn’t changed in my life since leaving Christianity. Here is a short list:
STAYED THE SAME:
My love for my family and others. I still behave morally even without a belief in god. I still love my kids up one side and down the other. I still love my husband and appreciate what an amazing man he is (he stuck with me through all of this with unwavering support). I still appreciate all the good things in my life and love enjoying nature and the universe.
My views on the meaning of life. My views on the afterlife. My views on morality, homosexuality, sex. My acceptance of myself and others – I don’t have to constantly feel like I’m not living up to god’s expectations. I have fewer reasons to judge others because I don’t have to view them in light of the Bible. I see suffering differently now.
As much as we want answers to the big questions in life I don’t think a god, if he exists, has chosen to communicate them to us. Watch this short video: God or Nothing? If he does exist I don’t think he is dependant on our believing in him. But what if I’m wrong? Good question. I have two answers to that. One is found here:
My other answer is what if Christians are wrong about the god of Islam? Or any other god that people have believed in. How do they know they have the right god?
“We are all atheists about most of the gods humanity has ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further.” Richard Dawkins
You may also we wondering what it would take to convince me that Christianity is true. Here is a link.
That’s my story. If you want more details about why I felt I had to leave Christianity, check out some of my other pages. You can access my blog through several options on the right side of the screen: you can click on one of my recent posts, search through the archives, or choose a category that interests you.
[People seem to read my story and see only sadness and tragedy. Please see the Atheist Life page or the Atheist Life category on my blog for insight into what my life is like post Christianity.]
Oct 15, 2011: Here’s a link to one of my posts that gives some insight into why I became a Christian in the first place and what made it so difficult to get out:
February 2014: If you want to hear more about my story, you’ll definitely want to read this post: What Led Me to Leave Christianity?