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Selfish Preservation

By Lizabeth ~

I currently have the cold and am in bed. I have, therefore, taken this opportunity to finally tell my story.

I have been lurking around this website ever since I became an ex-Christian which was about 5 months ago. I find it hard to believe that it has been so long. At the same time I find it hard to believe how much I have changed in such a short period of time.

I am from a lovely Caribbean island which is a predominantly Christian country. I attended church from before I can even remember. I loved the idea of God. I did not, however, love my church. I did not like how I could predict what would come next in the church service as it followed the Book of Common Prayer. I also felt out of place at Sunday School. Perhaps I was a little bit stuck up but I thought that all the other children there were only present because their parents or grandparents forced them to go. I got a sense that they hated being there. I, on the other hand,liked hearing to know more about God and how to please him. This was all before about age 10.

When I was about 11 I doubted Christianity. I had my own little private rebellion against it. I, however, still attended church as it was expected.

Then when I was 15, I was so disappointed by not being chosen to attend a leadership conference in New York that some of my friends were chosen to attend. I cried out to God that I was tired of not getting what I want and that I wanted to have the most important thing in my life (which was him). Ha!

I can now see that the reason for me turning to God was because I was selfish. I still am selfish and I am not ashamed of it anymore. I thought that by siding with God he would give me whatever I wanted. That was the basis of our relationship! My wishlist! I only understand that now that I'm not a Christian anymore. How could I have been so blind?

When I became a 'born-again Christian' I realised that I wanted a new church. I was baptised and raised as an Anglican. When I hit puberty, women at church started telling me things like my skirt wasn't long enough, I couldn't wear spaghetti-strap dresses and that I "cocked" my ass back to make it more conspicuous! I was about 13-14, my hips were big, and all of my dresses were hand-me-downs from a relative.

Furthermore, older women in the church were wearing styles like mine but I didn't see them being harassed about it.

I left for a Pentecostal church. I loved it -(most of it anyways). It was more upbeat and no one told me off about my clothes.

Fast-forward a few years and I did well enough in my exams that by age 18 I got a scholarship that paid for my first degree at any university of my choice. I chose to study medicine in England.

I came to this country realising how different it was to home especially in the religion department. I had discussions with my atheist/ agnostic housemates about Christianity. Their questions were good! I was scared. I joined the university's Christian Union and the first church I could find which reminded me of my old one. I got baptised in -7 degrees Celsius, snowing England. I just wanted to find a safe place in a country that was so unlike my own.

My boyfriend and I met at the Christian Union at university. In retrospect I find this quite hilarious. I'm black. He's white. After a few dates I told my parents about him. They were shocked. They could not understand why I would want a relationship with a British white boy.

I think I was more shocked than they were. I was definitely hurt! I knew my mother would dislike it. She has always been vocal about her wishes for me not to be with a non-Black man. But my father? He has acquaintances who are white (while my mother doesn't)and I didn't expect him to react the way he did. He asked me if I was attracted to my boyfriend! What an odd question to ask!

Anyways, because of my parents I broke up with this guy. I really really liked him, but you know what the Bible says:

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.”
- Ephesians 6: 1 -3

We still liked each other so we would still talk. We deleted each others mobile numbers and then we would talk on Facebook. We unfriended each other on Facebook and then we would talk on Skype. We deleted each other on Skype and then we would send each other mail in the post. The more I insisted that we should stop because I wanted to obey God, the more heartbroken I felt about the loss of what I thought would be a great relationship.

After a few 'break-ups' we inevitably got back together. And this is how it started. The sexual attraction that we had for each other got the better of us. No, we did not have sex but we frottaged. I had never even heard of this concept until we decided to search online for what we were doing.

I felt awful! Jesus was not proud of me. God could not love me anymore. I needed to break up with my boyfriend. And I did. I wanted to love God again with all of my heart and soul as the bible said:

He answered: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"
Luke 10: 27 (NIV)

We went through numerous break-ups due to us being from different worlds and most importantly because God did not want us to do the whole dry sex thing. But we always ended up back together.

This was the start of the unraveling of the Christian myth. I could not possibly judge those 'fornicators' who were having premarital sex when I was almost doing the same.

Then there was the homosexual thing. In my country, practising homosexuality is against the law. The only gay friend I had back home was trying to hide it in Christianity. In England, I have so many gay friends. How can it be wrong for them to love the people of the same sex in that way?

Also I now have so many friends who are not Christians. They are so nice and caring. Why would God possibly send them to hell unless he was a sick bastard?

So a few months ago, I told God that he was precisely that - a sick bastard! And that there was no way in hell (no pun intended) that he was going to be sending all of my lovely friends to a lake of fire and brimstone because they chose not to follow him. He would have to step through me first.

Now I know that if there was such a thing as an omnipotent God that I wouldn't be able to stop him from doing a thing. However, my feelings were so strong that I realised that I wasn't a Christian anymore.

What a sobering thought.

The hardest part was to stop praying.

I have only told my boyfriend and one other friend who is agnostic. My boyfriend was a Christian at the time but since I told him about my deconversion he has thought things through and has decided that he is not a Christian anymore either. I am very glad that I am not going through this alone but with someone who understands what my beliefs used to be.

All of my close family and friends back home are Christian. My parents still don't know that I'm seeing the same white guy. I plan on telling them soon as it's been about two years of secrecy.

I feel as though such a big portion of my life is a secret - my boyfriend and my disbelief in any God.

I don't think I'll ever be able to tell my parents about it. Not for now at least. I feel as though I have to prove to them that I can be a nice, caring member of society while still not being a Christian. This will take me years to prove as I want there to be no doubt in their mind that the daughter they used to know has the same personality.

My mother has an inkling of the truth. When I went back home she begged me to teach at Vacation Bible School like I did last year. When I told her no she asked me to pray about it. When I said I did (which of course I did not) we had a big hour-long discussion about my reasons! It would have been a good time to tell her that I was no longer a Christian but I choose to wait. I also went to church less often and did not initiate devotions with her as I usually would. I fear that when my parents visit me in England this Christmas that they will find out.

So I have these questions for the ex-Christian community:

1. How long did it take for you to tell your parents?

I'm 20 years old and in my 3rd year of med school. I don't think they see me as a woman yet and that's part of the reason for me waiting.

2. When you told your Christian friends, were they understanding?

I imagine that my British ones will be, but the ones from back home might just tell everyone and shun me.

3. Do you think its wise for me to go to my old church with my parents on Christmas day considering that I haven't been there in 5 months? Or should I go to another one?

I'm thinking that they'll want to see the one I used to regularly attend but I don't want people to be surprised to see me after so long.

Thank you so much for reading this. It was more lengthy than I had intended. Perhaps I will write other posts in the future (and hopefully when I'm not sick!)

I look forward to hearing your suggestions.