10/21/2014 | Share this article: View CommentsBy recent ex-convert ~
It was in the same year consequently that my mom told me during Christmas while attending some holiday function with a Santa visiting that my mom conveyed that Santa was not real thus distinguishing the difference between reality and fiction in my world.
The one thing my parents had a hard time handling with me, is that I was naturally inquisitive about everything, I loved the stars, I had a phenomenal imagination, albeit I was also extremely gullible but pestered them constantly with questions. I realize now that I longed for the truth which caused me to take Christianity very seriously because if true it should be true and stand against anything untrue. I took the most literal view of the bible and looked for evidence of it everywhere I went (confirmation bias anyone)? No, it was important that if I believed it was true it should play out in everyday life. Life should support the bible if true.
My dad was a studious studier of the bible and could argue against other religions very affectively especially against Mormon and Jehovah’s witnesses. He led quite a few to Christianity. The one thing I do appreciate is that he gave me a passion for the bible while that may sound odd coming from an ex Christian but it laid the foundation for me leaving the faith that I so fervently believed. I had read the bible almost four times through by the time I was eight years old starting off with a picture bible then progressing to a new international version. By the time I was 20, I probably had read through at least 30x (I might be exaggerating but I knew the bible better than most of my comrades).
Having read through the bible so many times I had come across so many contradictions that I could not explain. For the time being they kept in the back of my mind rank in file; always trusting that the holy spirit would make it plain (bad logic anyone).
At 18, after facing a deep depression which I’ll explain later I was invited to another church other than my parent’s church which I had stopped attending for about six months. There was a fiery preacher from Australia (not the hell kind) who preached some message that caused me to rededicate my life to jesus that night and get planted in that church for about 12 years. I took berean bible courses where I was introduced to apologetics and my dad gave me a lot of history on the Christian church with all the knowledge of the Nicea meeting, add to the fact I had found a good community of people who loved me almost as much as my family. The one problem though was the church was part of the third wave movement; my gawd, it’s hard to think that my pastor was best friends with Rodney Howard Brown at one time and Sarah Palin(I’m from Alaska where everyone really does know everyone else) sat 8 seats away from where I ran the sound board (yeah I took over as the church sound man at 24 years of age; my dad had been a worship leader/member most of his life and he had even been asked to play piano for President Reagan one year – he still is a phenomenal pianist. Being part of this church movement caused a rift between my dad and I because I thought I knew the bible better than my dad, ugh, big mistake – he pointed out the theological errors with faith movement. We got into the occasional heated argument, nevertheless, my parents supported me being there because I did learn to really care for others and my parents say how many times I encouraged them during some difficult years they experienced.
When you take a literal view of the bible you can believe in talking asses, floating ax heads, walking on water... My journey out of faith came because of 3 reasons (lack of answered prayer, god was no where during my depression/planned suicide, and the faulty logic of Christians/bible when compared to science and rational thought.
I’ll start off with the depression/planned suicide because that was the catalyst. When I was five, I was very curious about the human body. I French-kissed a girl that my mom took care of…no joke I was five years old. Unfortunately made the mistake of touching another girl in the wrong part of her body, when my mom found out she freaked out unbeknownst to me she had been abused by her father. I can clearly remember the day my dad walked out, it was sunny day in the spring in our little yard in the trailer park, he looked at me and said “you’re mother wishes you had never been born!” my happy childhood had just been imprinted with shame. My parents would ask me over the weeks to come if I had touched any other girls which I would reply no unless I felt they didn’t believe me which I would lie to appease them and thus get spanked for something I didn’t do. Carry forward four years, my parents thought it was god’s will to move to New York where my uncle was. Actually, I think my dad just wanted to be around his brother and best friends who all attended the same church. Alaska to New York for me = culture shock.
While we were looking for a place to live, my dad took an offer from the senior pastor to live in their downstairs apartment. The pastor had two children, a daughter and a 3 or four year old son. One day the boy asks me if I want to play doctor while we were playing out in the camper that was on the property. I said sure. When the pastor found out, my dad spanked me with a 2x4, the next month was a living hell for me and my family. I could not go to the bathroom by myself and the church parents kept their kids away from me like I was the devil incarnate. I was nine years old. My dad’s best friends turned on him. The question I ask myself to this day is who taught the kid the game doctor.
The next four years in New York were hell; I was small for my age and had been held back a grade which all added to me feeling like shit and worthless. I made very few friends. The only bright side is that my parents joined a small church of people who really cared for my family more than just lip service. I struggled with identity for years, always longing to be loved, and accepted which I never found until I went to Juneau Christian Center (the church mentioned above) but even going there I always felt one relationship was lacking and that was what I imagined a wife would take care of so I fervently prayed to god for a spouse. I regrettably asked a friend of mine to marry me at the age of 20 where I had fasted for six days; which I get to laugh about now. One of the pastors in my church gave me pretty sound advice which was to get the girls perspective before I popped the question which of course I conveniently ignored trusting the inner voice of the holy ghost. Wow, the things we do with blind belief.
Needless to say god never answered the prayer for marriage so as the years went by I became more and more depressed because I saw the majority of friends get married, have kids, and the works. People would give me all the regular bullshit; it’s not god’s time, he has the perfect one, the perfect timing, just trust him, yada yada. It got to the point, where I needed to leave Alaska, I had grown pretty disillusioned with church because I can recall praying in the gym/sanctuary and remembering that it was just silence – no one and nothing there but me and my thoughts. This was the beginning of my doubts.
When you take a literal view of the bible you can believe in talking asses, floating ax heads, walking on water (hell, I took a boat across the sea of galilee) because hey god is omnipowerful. Nothing should be too hard for him so why was it so hard for him to bring a woman into my life like apparently he had done for all my other friends, why was I the exception? Hopefully, you can see where I’m going with this.
I moved to Seattle and attended city church for a while, but I wrestled with unanswered prayer. An opening came at my job where I would only have to work 3 days a week which would give me time to work on my passion for concept design but it required me to work Sundays and just by coincidence the church canceled Saturday night services and moved the Sunday evening services to 4 pm leaving me without a church home. During this time, I told my self, here is a good chance to test god on a practical level. I was praying for 5 things, if he answered those I could believe. During this time however I was also really dealing with 30 years of a shame mentality which internally I hated myself so it got to the point where I began to plan my suicide, I had pulled up a map of the Washington area, I began researching the best hand pistols, and the best way to pull the trigger to ensure death. The day I was going to buy the gun I think I called my dad or he called me but by the end of the conversation I promised him that I would get some help so I got ahold of a Christian counseling service that I had heard about through city church.
My therapist/counselor was ok. It was good to have someone listen to me and provide some constructive feedback. He recommended a secular (I laugh now because the term is a joke to me) book called feeling good which was the reason for my progression out of depression and allowed me to reframe all my experiences. He had asked me if he could pray with me and for the first time I said no. If god wouldn’t answer my prayers for me I sure as hell didn’t want him answering someone else’s prayers for me. I remember we got on the subject of pain and he said well maybe that’s something you can study and for the first time I thought why the hell would I study the issue of suffering, if there is an eternal god out there who supposedly loves me and wants a relationship with me he should get off his fucking ass and do something. I realized that jesus had nothing to do with my recovery so I began to research the church history and bible history. I wanted to understand that if god isn’t there in a practical way something’s wrong with Christianity especially with all the claims it makes regarding human life. As I was researching, I noticed that when Christians argue with atheists or agnostics or Ex Christians on forums and what not their answers were stupid.
Don’t get me started on Christian apologetic logic which maybe I can write on at a later time. Needless to say I’ve rejected what I firmly held onto for years. In the next year I’ll have to let my parents know but I need to take it slow because it will shock them and I care for our relationship but I also care that I’m authentic with my life so here’s the beginning of my exit money while I’m listening to Letters to God Pt 2 by Angels & Airwaves – I think ex Christians will love the song even if they don’t like the music style.
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