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Letter to a Christian Parent

By Slander ~

To my loving, Christian parent,

I did not stop believing because you didn’t live a ‘vibrant’ faith as an example for me.

I saw how your belief in god helped you through those dark times—how you praised him during the good and bad. I know what it means to have a relationship with god because you showed me—it isn’t some wishy-washy thing—it’s very serious and I understand that, that’s why I can’t just ‘play the part’ and pretend to believe something I don’t. I can’t go to church and bow my head in prayer to a god I don’t believe in and take communion—that would make a mockery of something that is very serious to you. I refuse to be one of those people, and I know you wouldn’t want me to be.

I did not stop believing because someone who claimed to be a Christian hurt me in some way or another.

Yes, I have been hurt by Christians in the past—and agnostics and atheists and those with a very different opinion on what a Christian life looked like. We are all human, we make mistakes—Christians included. Do not assume that I am not able to separate the human error from the supernatural being that is your god.

I did not stop believing because I went to public school.

Public school, private school, or home school—it does not matter, the conclusions I came to were not swayed by how or what I was taught in schooling. Parents’ beliefs influence children much more than a biology or music teacher’s beliefs.

I did not stop believing because the church I/we went to didn’t have enough flashy lights or modern music.

It wasn’t the church—please understand this. The church would have made no difference. I had friends, I fit in at youth group, I felt the church was welcoming and wanted to help me deepen my faith. I adored my youth pastor and felt comfortable going to them with any faith-related questions I had.

I did not stop believing because I slowly ‘drifted’ and got involved in other stuff.

On the contrary—when you look back and you see how I stopped going to church/doing devotions/etc. and you assume I must have just gotten interested in other things—I most likely had already at least started down my path of non-believing. These things were a result of my lack of faith, not the cause.

I did not stop believing because of evolution.

I hear you and your friends talk, I have read the articles on the Christian websites—I know this is a big one. I don’t know any other way to say this, but evolution simply isn’t a big deal. Many Christians believe that god created the world and that evolution was the tool he used, or that he created it in seven literal days but made it look much older, or whatever the most current theory is. The point is, if it was about evolution, I wouldn’t be writing this letter. Many people have either reconciled it with their faith, and I would have to. Yes, I believe the world came to be through a very long process that took billions of years, but no, learning about evolution did not spark my non-belief.

I did not stop believing because I have a gay uncle.

Again a hot topic issue in church and on the news but overall miniscule in my journey. People of older generations love to talk about it and bash people over the head about homosexual behavior, people of younger generations try really hard not to talk about it and either still believe it is unacceptable and completely wrong but believe in ‘truth in love’ or they have come to the conclusion that Christianity and homosexuality are compatible. Whatever the belief, if this had been the main issue for me, I could have found some way to reconcile it with my faith.

I did not stop believing because my spouse/significant other is a non-believer.

I most likely came to these conclusions before ever meeting the person I am with. I know it may come as a shock to you, but the reason I came out to you only after being with this person is not because we were originally ‘unequally yoked’ and they convinced me the bible was wrong. The reason I chose this time to come out to you is because I’m tired of hearing about being with a non-Christian or lying about their faith. This person in no way affected my belief. Please don’t blame or hate them.

I did not stop believing because I wanted to.

I am struggling to find the right words to say here, and honestly it is probably something better done in person. I guess what I want to say is that it hurts when I hear people talk about someone deserting god or their faith. It hurts because for me and many I know—that is simply not how it happened. We didn’t just wake up one day and decide to throw in the towel. It was years—years of trying and wanting and seeking god and all that comes with it, and in the end, after all the long nights and tearful prayers, we realized there was nothing there. No one was talking back. After all the logistics and biblical flaws that we had struggled to address, there was nothing. It was like the faith vanished into thin air. I didn’t throw away my faith and give up on it—the faith left me. I know what you’re thinking—bologna sandwich, god doesn’t give up on people who seek him, you must not have been looking in the right places. I’ve heard it. I’ve heard all of it, and I’ve tried all of it. So please—please don’t tell me to try again. Don’t tell me I wasn’t doing it right. This is not something I was looking to do, in fact it is the exact opposite.

I do not know the future, there is of course the chance that I will start believing again at some point, but just like the journey that led me to my non-belief, the journey that will lead me to belief will not be influenced by something you do or don’t do. All this being said, there are some things that I must be blunt about. This is not a phase; do not treat it as one. I am not rebelling; do not treat me as such. I promise if you ignore what I have shared with you or make me feel guilty, unwelcome, or scared, you will lose me altogether. Your reaction to what I have told you will determine the role that you will play in my life.

I have now shared with you the reasons that I did not stop believing--I hope you will take the time to listen to why I did stop believing. Meet me for coffee, plan a phone date to talk, or write me an email. I promise that I want to hear from you about this. I love you so much and I know that you are hurting right now. I did not do this to upset you or worry you—I need you to know that. I am not responsible for your feelings about all of this but as your child, I care about you and want to help you work through this. Have you considered joining a support group for parents who have children who have left? I know you may not be ready to talk about this at church—I understand. What about looking for people with the same situation online? Whatever you decide, know that I am here for you. I can’t guarantee that talking about this will be easy, but I really want to be open with you so that we can have an honest relationship despite our different beliefs. You are my parent and I still value your opinion and seek your guidance.

Love Always,

Your non-believing child.