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Why I Left Christianity

By Whitney N ~

Four years ago, I couldn’t have even dreamed of that being a title of something I would have written. But a little less than four years ago years my sweet husband sat me down with tears in his eyes and told me that he was having a major crisis of faith and that he wasn’t sure he believed in the Bible (or God for that matter) anymore. In a desperate attempt to help him “revive” his faith, I delved into all the research I could, only to come out on the other side with a weak, foggy defense for my own faith. Gradually, my faith dwindled and I became more and more convinced that I no longer believed in the God I thought I knew. What follows here is my attempt to explain how I personally came to that decision for my own life. My goal in writing this is not to convince anyone of my beliefs or lack thereof, but to share my story and maybe even offer hope to someone going through a similar struggle in their life.

First off, it might be important to understand my background a bit. I was raised in a Southern Baptist home, and we never missed church unless we were practically on our death beds. My parents weren’t perfect, but I really felt that they took their faith seriously and did their best to teach us the Bible and to walk in the ways of Christ in and out of church on Sundays. I met my husband at church when I was 11 and we started dating at 15. From the beginning, our relationship was grounded in our faith in Christ and his word and we took very seriously the call to purity. At 16, Brad felt led to ministry and began teaching in our youth group, while I helped to lead worship. We prayed together, had devotions together, and underwent Christian pre-marital counseling before we married at the age of 18 and 19 (getting married young allowed us to remain abstinent). As a young married couple, we led the middle school group in our church, tithed without fail and attended leadership workshops to prepare for our future in ministry. We were on fire. When I had my miscarriage after a stint of what I thought to be infertility, I was utterly devastated. Like, fell apart. I truly felt that the reason I didn’t end my own life was because God was there carrying me through. When we did have our babies, our sons were baptized, prayed over and taught the Bible through books, hymns, talks and memory verses every day. We prayed with them, spanked them, shepherded them and led them in weekly Family Worship.

We truly loved our God in the depths of our being.

And not in an obligatory, fear of damnation type of way. True joy spilled from our hearts and even during “dark nights of the soul”, peace was abundant.

So when we both lost our faith, first Brad and then myself, within a matter of weeks, it shook our little family to the core. We were a broken mess. I can only describe it as a matrix type nightmare, where everything you thought you knew and trusted and kept you safe turns out to be a hologram, and you realize you’ve really been by yourself the whole time. It’s a nightmare I never want to experience again.

Amazingly, the shock of it all eventually wore off and I began processing the information that led me out of my faith. So, if you know me and you’re curious about why I seemed to fall off the face of the Earth, or if you don’t know me but you came here with curiosities just the same, then this series is for you.

1- I Can No Longer Trust the Bible

Up until I was about 15, I took everything the Bible said literally and lived accordingly. There was a time in my teenage years that I really started having some serious questions, though:

How do we know what the Bible said actually happened? How can Jesus’ death two-thousand years ago cover my sins today? What historical evidence is there that proves the Bible?

I went through a few weeks where I felt in a funk, for the first time ever questioning my beliefs. I told my Dad who had me talk to my uncle who was a pastor, who encouraged me to read 1 John. He described this as the “knowing” book of the Bible… it reminds us of all that we know to be true. I remember even at the time that, although I appreciated his encouragement, it seemed a little silly to direct me to the Bible to answer my insecurities about the Bible. I did take his advice and read it, however, it did nothing to quell my doubts. How could the Bible prove itself? Brad, my boyfriend and “emerging” pastor himself did his best to give me proof that the Bible was true, but this still did nothing for my crisis of faith. It was only when I heard some historian on a Christian radio station in the car one night talk about how at some point, some where in the middle east, there was historical evidence found for the Bible. That was it. I didn’t need to know what it was, what else it could be or what it actually even “proved”. I just needed someone in authority to tell me yes, there is proof. So my faith instantly returned and I continued on with my happy, godly life.

Fast forward 12 years. Once again I was presented with questions I couldn’t answer, only this time I didn’t limit myself to only Christian answers. Over the past four years, these are the conclusions I have come to in my journey thus far:

Did you know that there is no archaeological proof of a mass exodus of millions of Jews? Or that they wandered in the desert for years? That there are two sets of Ten Commandments (but Christians only follow one)? That there’s no evidence of Joshua destroying Jericho, that the authors of the gospels are actually anonymous or that if compared side by side, the four accounts of Jesus’s death, burial and resurrection all include such contradictory details that they could never be harmonized?

I am not claiming to know all the answers to these questions, or to the other literally hundreds of inconsistencies and contradictions in the Bible, but I am saying that these are things I did NOT know before and now that they’ve been brought to my attention, I can’t “un-know” them… and this has led me to question everything the Bible says, where it came from and if I should be using it to instruct my life and raise my children.

I’ve had well-meaning friends tell me that much of the Bible is allegory and shouldn’t be taken literally. Sure, I’ll give them that for some of the Bible. But when all of Genesis turns into a metaphor (because it becomes impossible to believe otherwise once the questions begin to arise), then what’s to say the rest of the Bible should be taken literally? Going down that path eventually reduces the Bible to nothing more than an inspirational book of folklore, and that’s just not something I can honestly allow to dictate my life anymore. If I can’t trust without a doubt that it’s the true, inspired work of an almighty God then I can no longer live accordingly to it and still remain true to myself.

2. Evolution

So when we both lost our faith, within a matter of weeks, it shook our little family to the core. We were a broken mess.Other than a very brief mention of it on spotty occasions during my career in the public school system, I was never taught anything about evolution. Whenever it was mentioned, I dismissed it as an “atheist” thing and felt sorry for those people that unknowingly trusted “hardened scientists” that dedicated their entire lives to turning people against God.

I am not a scientific person at all, and to be quite honest it basically bores me to tears. With that said, after my security in the Bible came crumbling down, and I was forced for the first time in my life to look outside of the Bible for answers of our origins, I was absolutely shocked at how much sense evolution made.

Here are some things I came across in my research:

There is evidence that whales actually used to be land animals, with vestigial traits (a small remnant of something, i.e. a pelvis in this case) and fossils to prove it.

All mammals have the same basic hand and forearm structure; even the flippers of whales and seals have the same five-fingered structure.

Chimpanzees have 48 chromosomes while humans have 46; there’s evidence that perhaps at some point our chromosome #2 was fused together giving us one less pair- interesting since we have 98% shared DNA with chimpanzees.

Penicillin has become largely useless because bacteria is becoming resistant to it, begging the question that evolution is happening before our eyes as bacterium which happened to have a mutation that protects itself against the antibiotic will be able to have more offspring than its counterparts in an environment where the antibiotic is present.

All of these random, proven facts were things I had never heard before as a Christian, but once Pandora’s Box was opened and I began learning more, I realized how much sense evolution made. Yes, it really does seem like a stretch that something came from nothing and that all of a sudden there was a big “boom” and over billions of years things evolved into life as we know it. But taking an honest step back and looking at the creation story of the Bible, it seems just as extreme. So either way, for lack of a better word, something miraculous occurred… only evolution has evidence.

3. My own personal relationship with God

Even as a kid I always felt exceptionally “close” to God. I asked Jesus into my heart (a familiar term amongst Baptists) when I was four years old and took my “walk with the Lord” very seriously. I led my friend Shannon to Jesus in my bedroom when we were in the fourth grade. I devoutly read my Bible, counseled my friends, and constantly focused on how to be a godly woman; one who rests in the peace and joy and acceptance of Jesus.

My biggest way of living in that acceptance was prayer. I prayed all the time. When I woke, in the shower, while driving, with my husband, with my kids, with friends over the phone: Lord please help us do your will in this; please forgive me for this; help me have wisdom in this area. Keep us safe as we travel here. And I didn’t feel that these prayers went to empty ears, either. I felt that they were heard, considered and adored as a Father loves to converse with his daughter. My prayer life was abundant and full. It truly was a relationship. Or so I thought.

So it’s no surprise that when my husband expressed his deep, sorrowful struggle with believing God (much less the Bible) was real at all, I instantly prayed.
God help us. 
I prayed for my husband:
Change his heart, let him see the truth again. 
 I pleaded for my children:
Don’t let them be led astray by this. 
I prayed for myself:
Give me the wisdom and the words and the strength to be a beacon of truth to my husband. 
 And I prayed. And I prayed some more. And I pleaded. I sobbed on my knees, begging for help, begging for peace. And I did this for months. Tirelessly. The worst part of the entire experience wasn’t the doubts or discovering that all I had ever known was actually a litany of half-truths. No, the worst part by far was the silence. The utter, unmistakable silence that followed every one of my petitions for salvation. There would be no peace; no joy; no help in the morning. The only thing that followed in the aftermath of the first confession of doubt was flooding isolation and distinct, blinding silence.

So that’s it. That’s how a girl like me can go from earnestly seeking a real, living God on a daily basis to who I am now- a girl that earnestly seeks to fill this world with more love and peace and leave it a more beautiful place than when I got here, but doing it without the attachment and loyalty to the God I once believed existed.

For those of you that know me, I hope this clears the air that I haven’t lost my mind or am living in deep, exhaustive sin, but that I am actually very happy (maybe more happy than I’ve ever been) and am loving this journey that I’m on as I learn about myself in a whole new way. And for those of you that may be on a comparable path, I encourage you to press on. Continue to discover what you believe and why. Do it with your whole being, striving to be a more loving, accepting and gentler you than you ever could have pictured before.


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