No, I’m not gay. But I use the term “coming out” because I feel I have a secret that I’ve been afraid to tell and now it the time to tell. I hope you’ll listen till the end. I’m going to write and publish and not read or correct anything. Stream of consciousness. This needs out of my head.
But out with it!
I am no longer a Christian.
Meaning, no, I no longer believe that Jesus died to save me from my sins.
But it is so much more than that. I don’t really believe in sins or that I needed to be saved. Let me share my journey.
First – I know some of you may not want to read this. If you are a christian you might be appalled and I understand that. If you can’t read this that’s ok but please in the comments,
If you are going to pray for me, thank you. I got to where I am through much prayer and I believe prayer can only help so please do.
If you are going to pray for me in an ironic, snarky way then I suggest you check you willingness to be Christ-like.
If you want to argue with my points that is more than welcome but please be respectful of my journey and I’ll be respectful of yours.
So, to start with this has not been easy. I’ve been going to church since I was born. 3 days a week minimum as a child. I was baptized at 12 when I had a dream that I died and went to hell.
I am very lucky to have been born with an abundance of faith. I know many people struggle with this but I just believed. I had no problem reconciling things I didn’t understand or couldn’t answer. I had faith. I still do. I thank any higher power that may be (and/or my genetic predisposition) for the innate faith I was born with.
It has been very hard to be a christian as an adult. I see so much hate perpetrated by the “church”. I’ve said for years that I think the Catholic church (not Catholic people) is a work of Satan. To believe you are doing good and yet be doing so much bad is a huge triumph of evil.
For years I’ve had to apologize for being a christian. Like, “I’m a christian but not the crazy, hateful kind you see on tv.”
Or, “I’m a christian AND I’m pro-choice, pro-marriage equality, I believe the earth is 4.5 billion years old, I believe in evolution,…” and so on. I had to separate myself from the horrible connotations of “christian.”
But that was ok. My religion was between me and my God. It didn’t bother me that I had to apologize for christians everywhere or that some christians hated me (I was once called a eugenicist for my abortion beliefs). I never felt conflicted about my belief in God or Jesus because I never believed the Bible to be inerrant. I believe it was written by men and in a context and that neither of those things can be ignored.
I had no problem seeing the old testament as a history lesson not dogma. I also had no problem seeing the new testament as written for first century Jews (with some books for Gentiles). Purple meant you were a whore. My God in Heaven doesn’t hate the color purple. Etc.
It got stickier when I thought about feminism, the place of women in the church bothered me. I went to a very conservative church. Women were not allowed to lead songs or say scriptures or do anything else from the pulpit. Women also couldn’t serve in church meetings. I wondered often, as my church (we didn’t have any instruments) struggled through another off-key hymn, why God would give me musical ability but not want me to use it in his worship?
The answer at the time was God put it there to tempt me. I thought that made him sound like a dick.
No problem, when I went to college there were plenty of churches that didn’t take things so literally. I could teach, sing, read and be valuable to the Lord in church.
I went to a church I loved but then they started a “pray the gay away” ministry which hurt my soul. I couldn’t go there anymore. I found another church. And another.
I eventually decided there were no churches (near me at least) that taught the love of Jesus as he presented it on the Sermon on the Mount. My religion was still in my heart. I still believed but I’d have to practice alone.
Then I had kids.
Oh this is where it gets really hard. I’m crying writing this. I prayed SO FUCKING HARD for these kids of mine. I mean you can’t even imagine. I prayed with every thought in my head, every spare moment. During my IVF cycle I did meditation and yoga for an hour everyday and the whole practice was a prayer. I said, “please Dear God in Heaven give me a child. I will raise that child to love the Lord.”
When I got the first pregnancy test positive I fell to my knees – literally, I know people say that – and thanked God through tears once again promising to pray for my child every day that they would be good christians filled with love.
By this time my religion was down to “the words in red”. Paul was a misogynist of the ninth degree. His writing of the epistles were so steeped in 1st century crap and his own prejudices that they didn’t mesh at all for me with what Jesus is reported to have said in red.
Having the blessing of kids finally brought me closer to my faith. I read my bible daily, had some great devotional apps on my iphone, and meditated and prayed for myself to be the best mother possible and to pay back the kindness of the grant funders by making my kids the best they could be.
I sent my daughter to bible school this summer (free child care!!) and I was just glowing with the idea that my daughter was going to learn to love church and God.
Then she came home with a CD of songs. She loved them. They were cute. Then I listened.
“Be Good and God will bless you”
“Trust God and always do the right thing”
“Jesus died to save us from our sins”
“Our sins can be covered by Jesus’ blood so they no longer make our lives dirty”
Right/Wrong? Sin? Dirty?
I didn’t like what she was learning. It wasn’t any different from what I learned. But I *heard* it as if for the first time and it made me shut down and ignore the feeling for a few months.
Then one day during meditation my heart just opened up to it. I let the thought in and dwelled on it. I realized, really realized, for the first time some things about christianity.
The whole premise is that we, humans, are sinners. We are naturally bad people. The world is a bad place. We need a savior. We need divine, unearned intervention to even think about being good. And even then, even with the sacrifice of a diety, we are still not good enough for God. Only grace saves us. The world isn’t to be embraced and loved it is to be survived. Every day of a christians life is getting through so one day we can be in Heaven with God.
We are told that our impulses are sinful and we will only have morality if we follow God’s laws. If you have something you want to do like sing in church, be gay, etc. then God is putting that in your path as an agony – to help you understand Christ more and be more like him. Damnit, he kind of is a dick.
I know I’m offending anyone who still believes when I say that. But I’m really not being flippant. I just know that the God I feel in my heart is not that God. You know there are people who think masturbation is sinful? So this God put a button on my body that says “press to feel good” but it was just a test. A temptation. That is just asshole-ish.
This horrible realization that I didn’t really believe in the christian god anymore sat in my stomach like acid for months. I didn’t want to dwell on it or think about it because it made me sick.
Then one day I said it out loud to my sister. It was like a weight was lifted. It was suddenly quite clear and simple in my mind. I do not believe in the christian god. I don’t believe I am a sinner and that I need Jesus.
Things snowballed quickly after that. It wasn’t easy. It was like losing a long time friend. Praying to Jesus was my comfort. Suddenly I was without comfort.
Worse, I knew that coming out would bring hate my way. I also knew that it would negate anything I had ever written for those people who would now see me as “fallen”. My voice as a “liberal” christian would mean nothing now.
It has taken me many weeks to come to the point where I can tell the world. And I had to tell. I live my life out loud on this thing called the web. I can’t pretend to be something I’m not. You all deserve to know.
So what am I?
It is hard to be label-less after years of being a christian. I only know two atheists well, my sister and Bill Maher. Both have a similar atheisim that doesn’t really work for me. They strongly believe that there is no god. I don’t really know if there is a god. They are also vehemently anti-religion. I am not. I consider myself a deeply spiritual person.
I know my children are miracles and that appreciation for art and love are not simply biological. I believe we are inherently good. So good. The word is beautiful and we are beautiful too. I feel sad to say that religion makes us much uglier than our true selves.
I’m also not a naturalist – this terms is for people who believe only what exists in nature is real. I believe in the unbelievable. I believe in magic if you will. I guess I would have called them miracles. I believe in the power of prayer.
I’m a scientist by my college degree but I’ve never been a slave of logic and the scientific process. I believe in evoultion and the big bang but I also believe there are things beyond belief that logic alone can not understand. I don’t care the “studies” say vitamin E doesn’t do x,y,z. I’ve seen it for myself. I don’t want to be a zealot for science any more than I want to be one for religion.
I’ve studied Buddhism for several years and I love the precepts. Meditation has been life changing for me. I believe in the love and kindness of the Dalai Lama is a true and pure religion. I don’t know if I can label myself as Buddhist.
I’m currently trying to understand my new life. I still pray but not to a specific God. Perhaps I’m just putting my intentions out there?
I still believe in the wonder of the universe putting certain people in my path right when I need them. I always felt like God gave me just what I needed. Like, I needed to be home raising my kids so he gave me an asshole boss. Now, how do I label that? I’m not sure. I still feel great wonder in how things work and I really don’t believe it is random.
So, there you go. I’m not sure what I am.
I was so scared at first to let go of my tether of christianity. Then I realized I wasn’t letting go of anything. My path through christiantiy brought me here. I haven’t left the path I’m just continuing where it took me. I didn’t fall out of christianity through disuse but fell into this new arena through study and prayer. How can I stop listening to my inner strength now?
Thanks, if you took the time to read this. I have much love and respect for you regardless of your chosen religion or what path you are on. Or if you don’t believe at all. I admire anyone who takes the time to contemplate such things as this.