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I was once a minister/missionary

By Lilly Black ~

I was raised in a Pentecostal home, with loving parents and a wonderful brother. They raised me as a Christian. I attended Bible college, where I met the man who is now my husband. After graduation, we went to Europe for a few months with a missions team to do street preaching and other ministry, during which time we became engaged. We came back and moved to his hometown after our marriage, which is far away from my hometown.

Neither of us attend church now, and we do not consider ourselves Christians anymore. We went from preaching on the streets to not wanting anything to do with God or the church. Quite a change... it feels like it happened suddenly, but it was actually a very gradual process.

Our first year of marriage we were on staff at a church where the board felt it more beneficial to talk about us behind our backs in their meetings then to mentor or help us be better leaders. We left after a year and considered attending my husband's old church, but that summer was very difficult for him with his health (he is a cancer survivor and has residual health problems) and finances were very bad so we didn't attend anywhere for the summer. We really needed help... we had to ask family for financial help to avoid losing our apartment. At the end of that summer we received a letter accusing us of leaving the church. The pastor had never once called to see what was going on.

I have been bothered by the Christian church's treatment of gay people for a very long time. Growing up I saw several of my friends come out of the closet, and they were shunned horribly by everyone else we grew up with. They told me years later that I was the only one who never stopped talking to them or being their friend. I used to think it was a sin, but I never hated gay people or treated them any differently. But finally I dared to question whether it was really a sin or not. Apparently this is taboo in Christian circles: you can question whether Twilight is bad or not, but you can't question something like homosexuality. The reaction to my question really bothered me. Although I was not shunned or hated, the reaction was clearly one of shock and disbelief- and certainly not an open mind.

That made me start to question other things, too. I started questioning whether the Bible was accurate, if it could be trusted. I revisited portions of scripture that I had not allowed myself to dwell on before- passages that describe genocide and rape at the command of this God I had been serving. I had always made excuses for these passages- explained them away, found cultural information that made it seem less horrible, etc. But the facts didn't change.

I revisited the concept of hell through fresh eyes and saw the awfulness of it for the first time. What kind of father would give his child an ultimatum like that? I used to teach that people chose to go to hell by ignoring God; God didn't send them there and didn't want them there. But is it truly free will if there is a gun pointed at my head? "Sure, you can CHOOSE not to give me your money. But if you don't, I'll shoot you." That isn't a choice. That is forcing someone to do what you want.

I questioned whether God was real or not; I questioned what my faith was truly based on.

My conclusion: the God of the Bible is not the god that Christians worship. He is not consistent, he is not good, he is not against the killing of children so he cannot be against abortion. He is not against slavery or rape, and he let millions of people go to hell because he decided to show himself to only one culture (Jews); he created strict laws that people must obey to be "saved", without sharing these laws to all cultures equally so everyone had a chance at salvation. He is not worthy of any kind of worship in my mind. If there is a god, I don't think he's the god of the Bible. At least I hope not... for I don't wish to serve that god any longer.

I am now facing a lifetime of disagreeing with my parents- something I have never done before now. I have now joined the ranks of those who will have prayer vigils organized for them, "discussions" (debates) waged with me about my new beliefs, and well meaning people looking down on me because I was a minister (I of all people should know better, after all.) I have not yet made my new beliefs known to my family and Christian friends, but I know it cannot stay a secret forever. Eventually I will get tired of sounding religious to avoid confrontation. Since I live 12 hours away from my family and most of my Christian friends, this has been doable thus far since I don't see them in church and mostly keep in touch via Facebook.

In the meantime, I am seeking out new friends; people that do not post cliche Christianeze statuses or go on and on about how "God helped me find my car keys! Praise the Lord!" or post about how sinful being gay is and how marriage must be one man and one woman (ignoring the rampant polygamy in the Bible). I am finding new friends who, unlike my Christian circles, won't care what I believe or question, but will just enjoy me for ME. People that won't have a cow if I re-post something with a swear in it- because apparently that is a grievous sin. -_- People that won't be shocked and start a debate when I "like" a gay pride page to support my lesbian friends who have been so persecuted by the church.

Ironically, my gay and atheist friends have been the most supportive of me. They are the only ones I have been truly honest with because I know these declarations will not scare them. They have loved me and been there for me. My husband had these questions long before I did, so thankfully we are on the same page. I created a new Facebook profile with only the few people I really trust- there I can post what I want and say what I feel without fear.

I am no longer a Christian- and although certain parts of my life royally suck right now, I have never felt more free. I only hope that when the word does get out, that I will be able to handle the repercussions with grace and not vent all this frustration and anger at them personally.

Thank you for reading... I wish you all the best of luck.