Out of the (agnostic) closet (and into the fire?)

This has been coming to a head and swirling around for some time and I just need to let it out now:

I. Don’t. Believe. In. God. Any. More.

For so many reasons.

One, I became a christian entirely out of fear. I was terrified of going to hell. I can’t mesh staying in a religion that preaches damnation, operates on fear, and then tells you, simultaneously, to not be afraid of nuthin – because perfect love casts out all fear. I can’t balance that paradox.

Pascals gamble is so so flawed. Pascals gamble is not a reason to become or remain a christian and when I realized that the only thing keeping me in christianity, was fear (and if it’s true I win everything, if it’s false I lose nothing, but if I’m wrong, I’m screwed – fear tactic 101), I realized that living completely in fear of everything, was stupid and not a way to live and certainly not a way any deity I’d want to follow would want me to live.

Two, I can’t take the non-answers, the cliches, the culture, the holier-than-thou, and the unacknowledged hate that pervades much of christianity. I KNOW not all christians are like that (duh), but the truth is – since I stopped living as though I had to be The Most Holy Human, I’ve become a better person. I’ve become more empathetic and compassionate and I can actually be myself – because I don’t have to repress all of the things that may or may not be heaven dealbreakers.

And I have to believe that a truly loving god would want that – not for the people he created to live in constant fear, to live not fully, or to live as shells to save face.

Three, a long time ago, I wrote about how christianity is about love. I feel very deeply that it’s what it should be about (more accurately, that’s what any religion should be about), but from discussions with other people (outside and inside the comment section) it’s clear that it’s not. Christianity is about sin, it’s about being worthless and trying to get better to be worthy of heaven even though you don’t have to do anything but believe to get your pass. The True Christians alter their lives and personalities and values completely to be the best christian they can be, worthy of heaven, because being a christian means you’ll want to change like that.

There are so many contradictory things within the message of christianity that I just can’t take anymore.

Jesus loves you as you are; you are broken and worthless and need to change to bring glory to god.
God loves us all equally; but if you're not straight you're going to hell.
Jesus elevated women; but SHUT THE FUCK UP AND STAY HOME AND HAVE NO PERSONHOOD SO SAITH GOD.
Men and women are equal; men must rule the women, and women must submit to the men, for the glory of god.

There are so many.

Four, I couldn’t deal with worshipping someone who cursed women with pain for half of their life (and then MANDATED them to have all the babies) and told men: hey, look out for the thorns on those roses, oh, and, it’ll be hot tomorrow. And people wonder why I have issues.

Five, so Jesus’ remains weren’t in the tomb (oh yeah, I’ve read ALL the apologetics books, and I went to apologetics camp, briefly practiced competing in apologetics), that actually proves very little. But what’s to say that the other gods aren’t real (the bible never says no other gods exist, just that this god is a jealous bitch and you better only like him)? All religions have things in common and all religions (for the most part) think that their way is The Only Way (TM) and  who’s to say? I can give you all the meaningless pat answers I learned as a teenager (which basically equates to: But it IS true), but those get old and don’t hold much weight – at least not for me, not for right now.

Lest you assume I jumped into deconversion haphazardly, let me assure you – no, I struggled with this for a long time. It’s HARD to leave christianity, it’s HARD to even be THOUGHT of as having LEFT christianity, it’s harder still to ADMIT to having left christianity because, by the time I hit publish on this, any semblance of normal relationships I had with other christians is going to go down the drain. They’ll tell me how easy it is to not believe, but it’s not true. It’s HARD and it’s hard knowing the fallout – knowing I will suddenly become a project, or a black sheep – knowing that the thread of personhood I had with them will be eradicated.

It’s HARD not having excuses for your behavior (because god), it’s HARD not having someone you can point to to get people to stop pestering you about your life (because god), it’s HARD suddenly not having a handy little good christian girl’s guide to life and living. It’s HARD having to own my decisions, my behavior and my path.

What’s nice, is not having a massive guilt complex every time I think someone may not share my faith, what’s nice is not having to not take bread with those people because they don’t match my version of christianity and may be corrupting influences, what’s nice is being autonomous and being me and not living in fear that if I am myself (the way god, apparently, made me) that I’ll be doomed to eternal torment.

But what about the afterlife? what about heaven and hell?

Honestly, I don’t really care. I want to love as many people as I can, and live as fully as I can while I’m here. If I do that, then I’ve lived a good life, I don’t care what happens next. I take comfort in the thought of nothingness (which I know, bothers a lot of people), I’m fine with the idea of just ceasing. If I’m wrong and I go to “hell”, well, hey, it was worth it to be able to live.

Comments are on, but if you start preaching at me, being concerned at me, or generally overreacting and being a dick, I’ll delete it. I know where to find all the answers you’ll try to give, and I’ve gone through them all. Nothing you can do or say is going to change anything – I have no qualms about your religion and I’m not going to try and de-convert you or stop you from talking about it, but don’t try and shove it down my throat.

 

21 Replies to “Out of the (agnostic) closet (and into the fire?)”

  1. “They’ll tell me how easy it is to not believe, but it’s not true. It’s HARD and it’s hard knowing the fallout – knowing I will suddenly become a project, or a black sheep – knowing that the thread of personhood I had with them will be eradicated.” This is so dead-on. Thank you for sharing this. You give other people like me courage. 🙂

    1. agreed. And also the automatic label that if you’ve deconverted you “have rebellion in your heart”. It becomes an indefensible fallacy of circular reasoning. No, I’m not going through a rebellious phase, I just calmly and rationally realized I have been manipulated and spiritually abused all my life. It was heartbreaking to come to this admission, and I am no way just being rebellious. But getting defensive about the rebellious point only makes them more convinced that you are.
      It’s defeating.

  2. Ok, I can appreciate that. Actually, I’m happy for your decision. Compulsory, fear-based “religion” obviously isn’t good for anyone. I’ve been having some similar concerns myself recently. I’ve been a Christian thus far and I still believe in it. Over the past few years though, I’ve been reluctant and resentful of the time I spend at church events. (Three times a week adds up.) I’m down with building helpful interpersonal relationships and loving God/others, but I don’t want to just “play church.” More and more it feels like work, only my pay is more rules and more people telling me what to do. A large part of me wants to take a break, but since I still live with my faithful parents, that would lead to many tedious conversations. Anyway, I believe that the bottom line of Christianity and most other world religions can be summed up by Wheaton’s Law: Don’t be a dick. It seems that you’re still holding to that, only without all the extra rules and regulations formal religion involves. Who knows, maybe someday I’ll join you on the “love people, live fully” side of the fence…

  3. “Pascals gamble is not a reason to become or remain a christian and when I realized that the only thing keeping me in Christianity, was fear (and if it’s true I win everything, if it’s false I lose nothing, but if I’m wrong, I’m screwed – fear tactic 101), I realized that living completely in fear of everything, was stupid and not a way to live and certainly not a way any deity I’d want to follow would want me to live.”

    The tipping point for me was when I was done trying reading my way through the Bible for the first time with the perspective of a doubter/outsider. I realized that if it could be proven to me, beyond a doubt that the Bible was true and real, I would still rather burn in hell than spend my life worshiping the evil god that it depicted.

    1. Because, atheism is a little more arrogant or, I guess not arrogant, but confident than I’m comfortable with being. I’m open to the idea that a deity(or deities) *could* exist. I like the label because it’s feels more okay with just not knowing. It’s a neither as opposed to either, or.

      1. As a practical matter, I’m not sure it makes much difference whether you aren’t sure that God exists (and therefore live your life as if He doesn’t), or whether you believe that God doesn’t exist (and therefore live your life as if He doesn’t). There’s a point at which you aren’t really describing a meaningful difference so much as just nitpicking the terminology, if you see what I mean.

  4. This feels like my story exactly. I feel like I could have written this. Thank you for sharing and writing the things I am not brave enough to share with the world (yet).

  5. “But what’s to say that the other gods aren’t real (the bible never says no other gods exist, just that this god is a jealous bitch and you better only like him)?”

    yeah! And if there aren’t other gods, why is this one so paranoid? If all the other gods are is just idols- doesn’t he feel kind of silly for competing with carved rocks for attention?

    Either way- real or not- it doesn’t look good for YHWH’s mental health.

  6. Excellent article. I think you have conveyed the hidden thoughts of a great many Christians who are just afraid to take the plunge and tell their families, “I don’t believe.” There are reasons why religion is family based, but one reason I think is that it makes it very difficult to leave a religion because you also have to basically leave your family and friends. That’s tough. I went through much the same thought process as you, and for a time I identified as agnostic. I now think of myself as atheist, although that just means I don’t believe in a deity, no one can truly know one way or the other. Whatever you call it, it’s very nice to be free from religion and to be myself.

  7. This subject has been weighing on me for quiet a while as well. Welcome to the world of “I left Christianity”. It’s not an easily traveled road, but discovering your own truth is worth it. I commend your courage for posting this, even after you were fully aware of the consequences.

  8. You are incredibly brave. Welcome to the other side.

    Although you may or may not realize it yet, you have made possibly the best and healthiest decision you will ever make. You’ll take a lot of shit for your stance, and you’ve just added yourself to one of the world’s more persecuted minorities — but trust me, it’s SO fucking worth it. Today I barely recognize the man I was while I was Christian (or even as a newly-minted agnostic); sloughing off the dogma and conditioning piece by painstaking piece has enabled me to become a profoundly kinder and happier person over the years.

    Please feel free to look me up if you ever need support or resources related to skepticism — folks like us have to hang tough and hang tight. I’m from an insane Christianist homeschooling survival cult, too, so I can probably empathize with your situation better than most. Bottom line, though, is that you’ve done yourself a great service and the road ahead, while never smooth, always leads further in and further up.

  9. Welcome to the non-believer nation! It takes a lot of courage to come to this decision and even more so to do it in such a public manner. I fully understand what you mean about not believing being hard – I’ve often told my religous friends that I wish I could have faith, I think it would make life a lot easier but I’m just not built that way.

    Awesome blog post – can’t wait to see where this journey takes you 🙂

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