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Trapped in deconversion, yet free in thought.

By Matt ~

I suppose the moral or point of any testimonial is invalid without a background into the main event in question, and the events that led to it's dismantling. In my case, it was the acceptance of what I felt to be the answer to 'life, the universe, and everything.' My coming into Christianity was not a grand event like you would find at a Pentecostal church. I didn't spasm in uncontrollable numinous convulsions, or burst into fits of tears at the thought of my state of worthlessness before a deity and the magnitude of his grace. For me, it was almost a building block approach of 'logic' mixed with some emotion. In short, I began to reason that life was far too complex to simply be a result of time and chance. For me, evolution was too far fetched, and I felt that such claims as 'irreducible complexity' held scientific weight. This led me to reason that some supernatural or intelligent being must exist. I then followed that premise that if such a being did exist, then it must have some interest or purpose for the nature that it created. My conclusion that the Christian god was such a being was a result of some minor reading, youthful ignorance, and.... the 'Left Behind' series. Silly, yes, I know. Many Christians of the fundamental ilk can point to the exact date and time of their 'salvation'. For me, I know the context, but cannot be that accurate. But the end of a multi-year conversion culminated in a baptism in January of '05.

My girlfriend (now wife) at that time was a devout Christian, and we led a fairly normal Christian life, but the daily happenstances of life kept us from truly getting engaged in a church. It wasn't until we had our first child that we felt convicted to get involved in a local church. In what, at that time, I felt was some form of divine guidance, an outreach group from a local Baptist church was in our neighborhood was handing out invites as we were packing into our car to go out boating for the weekend with my in-laws. We felt that this was the answer we were looking for. The next week we went to the church, and were instantly greeted by a very cheerful pastor and his wife. They were our age, had a child the same age as ours, and were overall very pleasant people. The church was equally as welcoming. Skip forward 3 years. We became more and more involved and increasingly devout. The pastor, whom I count to be a close friend of mine, approached us and asked if we would launch a teen group. He also asked if I would become a trustee in the church (we don't have elders or deacons, just trustees). Here begins the seeds of doubt.

I have not had the courage to tell my wife of my new found worldview. She has become increasingly devout. The news would absolutely devastate her. Just prior to his asking this of me, he gave a sermon on salvation and faith. What I found was that the biblical arguments were seemingly circular in this matter. We're told that all who call on the name of the Lord shall be saved on one hand, yet in another, not all who say Lord will be saved. Whoever believes in him shall not face death, yet receive everlasting life; But, narrow is the way (to me, this implies an effort of work, not just faith). There's more to it than that, but for sake of space, I'm simplifying. This bothered me for quite a while, but had not really shaken the foundations of my faith. The true quake for me was when I decided that I must prepare myself for questions from the teens, all of which attend public schools. How was I to answer evolutionary claims with the biblical account of creation? I felt compelled to research and be able to back up biblical accounts with science. I won't digress with the results I found, because it seems an easy inference from the fact I'm at this site to figure out what happened.

So where am I at now? I still teach the teens, I still carry out trustee duties, and I still languish at church three times a week. Why? I have not had the courage to tell my wife of my new found worldview. She has become increasingly devout. The news would absolutely devastate her. Our child attends a Baptist private elementary school, which my wife is trying to teach at. The pastor, whom I do consider a close friend, is overworked at the church. For me to come out would obviously mean the end of my ability to teach the teens, which would fall into his already overworked lap. Many of the young teens look up to me as a good Christian role model (many have no male role models in their lives), and it will undoubtedly have a negative effect. In essence, I am trapped by guilt. I cannot live a lie of this magnitude, yet, for the sake of others I feel that I cannot 'come out'.

I'm not sure where I go from here, but I know that to live like this for much longer will certainly take years off of my life. I must say that it is venues like this site that allow the venting of these experiences that de-converts have. In reality, most people are either religiously indifferent or believers of some form, and don't care to hear the quibbling of a new-found skeptic. So, thank you for the space to express!


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