I seem to have a similar story to many on here. I grew up in a Christian home, raised in a Southern Baptist church, and even after my family switched to a more laid-back church, I was forced into going to BSF, and had other very conservative ideas given to me.
|Getup Get God (Photo credit: prettywar-stl)|
As a teenager, I discovered these Christian kids in the church youth group were not only terrible friends, but not very good people either. I wondered how these people with the Holy Spirit in them could be so cruel and judgmental. I guess this is where I started to turn agnostic-there may be a god out there, but clearly He wasn't as invested in people as the preacher would have you think, and I hadn't felt "the spirit" in a very long time, so I didn't know where God fit in. It felt like God had abandoned me-I was having a terrible time at school, in my family and with my friends, even the ones that were supposed to follow God, and I didn't understand how a loving God I had tried to follow by reading the Bible and following what I was being told could set me back at every turn. My mom told me God was preparing me for something later, but I saw all the nonreligious (or bratty religious) kids having an easier time, at least in areas I was having trouble in. This didn't satisfy my rational thinking. I was also beginning to wonder why things like premarital sex, cussing and homosexuality were wrong, while strong judgement against those who were different ran rampant, while talking about love Sunday morning.
I also seriously questioned things I had been told, like a Christian can sin, but it was okay because they had God, whereas a non-Christian could do something good and it was still evil in God's eyes. Or how prayer is the best thing you could do, and telling someone you'll pray for them and then not is the worst thing you could do to them. The power of prayer was always lost on me. I also hated church leaders' preoccupation with sex, whether my friends or I were having it, and whether or not we would do it before marriage. No one ever told me how to avoid it or what made married sex so great. I still struggle some with my virginity not making a difference in my value as a person. Not to mention if I did ask questions, I'd get "read the Bible," "I just believe," or frustration at my constant questioning. Reading the Bible, boring as it was, didn't bring many answers, unless you count all those notes that made me want to strange whoever wrote them. I could go on and on about the things I found wrong, or emotional damage these things caused me, but there's not enough room on the internet.
The summer before my junior year of high school my family and I moved across the country to a much more liberal place. I had prayed in a last-ditch effort to have an easier time in school that year, so I thought maybe God was finally showing himself. The little church we went to there was better, but once again, the only people I had issues with (one or two this time, much more mild than before) were religious. I thought more and more, and had complete culture shock, and saw things from a completely different perspective. My senior year English class was full of philosophical musings-is life predestined, or all a fluke? Are you going to do something no matter what, or do you really have free will? My friends and I lost sleep figuring this out, and I thought, maybe, free will was a lie we told ourselves to make ourselves feel better. After all, if there's a god that had a will for everyone, how could we truly make our own choices? I couldn't yet comprehend everything being a fluke yet.
Now I'm 19 and in my first year of college. Moving out of my parents' has been great for me. I've been able to think about things, read book and articles online without fear of anyone seeing. I'm still agnostic, but leaning towards Atheism. It's such a relief to not have to please some being up there, and all the guilt I've had associated with it. Oh, and for what it's worth, I believe in free will now, because I think everything's chance. But I find this so much more comforting than having to figure out "God's will" for me, or otherwise be sinning. I got through my senior year and to college without a single prayer for guidance, and for the most part I'm really happy. All that praying growing up didn't do anything.
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