I’ve been writing this article in my head for a long time now, and I feel that it’s time to put it onto paper and put it out into the world. Ever since Bridey’s piece on atheism, I’ve been thinking about how exactly I would phrase where I’m at on the God spectrum. But when I dug down really deep, I realized that I was most afraid of what my conservative friends and family, who read my posts, would do when they read this particularly incriminating piece. Would I be shunned? Would I be referred to as one of the proverbial lost sheep that is doomed to be eaten by the (hopefully also proverbial) wolves? Would I be sent evangelical tracts and other reading materials in the mail? But then I realized that I don’t care, because I am actively trying not to live in fear of what others will think about me—so that took care of that dilemma.
I haven’t been to church in more than two years now, which compared to the previous two decades of church-going, is quite the achievement. My family usually attended some sort of service or program at least twice a week at a Baptist church, and sometimes more depending on holidays. I went to church camp, I performed in church musicals, I attended and volunteered at VBS (where the kids drove me crazy), I went on church retreats, I did the prayer around the flagpole thing, I witnessed, I committed my life to Jesus several times (just to make sure), was baptized in a pool, and so much more. I performed in Judgment House, which in retrospect is one of the most freaky-ass-shit productions EVER—talk about scare tactics. But you see—all of these aspects were completely normal for my family and my life, and so I never questioned it. Until the past year, or so.
In the past year, I’ve been figuring out how to live in a way that feels best for me physically, mentally, and spiritually—which has not included religion, and has included liberalizing my beliefs and values. For better or for worse, this is where I am, and I’m at peace with that. This point might not be where I end up but it’s where I am right now. I was told my entire life that as long as I relied on God, I would eventually get through my depression, anxiety, and eating issues, and then go on to live a happy and Jesus-loving life. Much to my surprise, it has only been with my departure from religion that my mental and physical health have improved. Checkmate, religion.
I also have experienced, and witnessed, grotesque levels of hypocrisy from the institution of Christian religion. At the pinnacle of the Christian faith is the catch phrase: “What Would Jesus Do (WWJD).” But having my dad tell me that my eating disorder is punishment for sin in my life, and that holding grudges would cause cancer, hasn’t done much for strengthening my stock in religion. My mom has told my sister that if she had premarital sex, then God would destroy her relationships and make her miserable. Abortion clinic protesters are often from religious organizations, and they harass and make obscene poster boards trying to convince women walking in to not get an abortion because it’s supposedly murder. Anti-abortion films were shown during sermons at churches that I went to when I was younger, and they were traumatizing to watch. The LGBTQ population is shunned from the main Christian core, because it’s supposedly an abomination for anyone other than one man and one woman to have romantic relations. I was told explicitly and implicitly, when I was growing up, that I needed to be careful if I had friends that weren’t Christians because they could be a corruptive influence. Are all of these things that the Jesus, who befriended tax collectors, prostitutes, and thieves, would do? I don’t believe so, and thus the hypocrisy and rank corruption turned me away after seeing the same acts committed under the name of a benevolent God.
I don’t know what purpose horrific natural disasters, that kill hundreds and thousands of people, have for the Man Upstairs. Perhaps even worse, the rank cruelty that humanity wreaks upon itself, and other creatures, does not increase my faith one bit. If humanity is God’s prized creation then why does he allow such life to be so hellish? If Christians are taught to love everybody, then why are they being so damn cruel to the people that don’t agree with them? It doesn’t add up. Checkmate, God.
I’m currently dating a lovely atheist man, and I’m sure my Christian friends and family would be frankly appalled if they knew that I was blissfully walking down that path. They would blame my skepticism of the Christian faith on my relationship with him, because heaven forbid I come to this conclusion on my own. The cries of “ye shall not be unequally yoked” would come through the email and phone lines. But what’s important for them to know, is that I was already at this place before I started dating him. This sort of belief shift didn’t happen overnight, and it’s been a long time coming.
I’m sick and tired of the double-edged miserly sword of Christianity. I’m pro-choice, an LGBTQ ally, and I believe that sex workers should be treated fairly. I don’t believe that I’m going to hell and will be punished if I have premarital sex, and I don’t believe that my mental illness is a result of unresolved sin in my life. I’m in a serious relationship with an atheist man, and I can’t be happier, and I don’t believe I’m going to hell for making that decision. I am my own, unique, person and I’m creating my own beliefs apart from the, figurative, brainwashing I grew up with. Overall I’m more content now than I’ve ever been before, and I might be on my way to atheism. So, for the time being, I’ve decided I’m taking an indefinite break from God.
Oh, and how could she forget? She has three cats which she loves to bits and pieces.