First of all, I know this post is going to ruffle some feathers. I know it’s going to anger people, people that I love, and I just want to say before you read any further, that that is not what I want to do. It’s inevitable, however, and I still have to write this because it’s been making me feel awful.
Yes. I am not a Christian, not now, not anymore. And even as I write this, I am hoping that certain people I know will not find this and discover my awful truth.
It’s been going on a little over 3 years since I consciously decided that I could not accept the gospel. It was the summer before I left for Germany, and I spent it working at the campus library and having late nights with my best friend, Jeff.
Jeff, whom I have known since high school, is gay. And before you jump to conclusions, no, his “gayness” was not the single unraveling thread of my religious tapestry. However, spending a whole summer seeing him every day, merely made it easier for religion to take less of a presence in my life as I spent far less time with my Baptist Christian family.
And yes, it hurt me that my religion was used as a weapon to call him names, to ostracize him.
It hurt that I saw him use his sexuality like a shield, so that the sum amount of who he was a s a person could be summed up with, “he’s gay.”
And when I realized that I loved him regardless and wanted his happiness, there were certain things I couldn’t accept about the scripture. I think that this is a common experience for people of my generation. Everyone knows someone who is gay. They are our loved ones, and since they are “out,” how can you turn your back on them without turning away a part of your self?
This was also the summer that I started dating my awesome, wonderful boyfriend, Dana.
I was not a virgin when we started dating, but my sexual encounters before that had not been good experiences. They left me feeling unclean. I felt the shame of breaking all those vows I had sworn to God as an impressionable young girl- vows that promised my virginity until marriage. As if the whole sum of my worth could be amassed by my possession of an intact hymen. Yet still, I felt dirty, castoff and at the same time, longed to do the things that most people my age feel inclined to do. Not praying made me guilty, and praying made me angry.
Then I re-met Dana. We had known each other as kids, and had been around each other every now and again, but never had a friendship until that summer.
Suddenly a romance bloomed over pico de gallo, Eddie Izzard and mutual feminism.
And yes, things that are explicitly verboten in the Bible began, and I was smitten. If this was 1,000BC and in the neighborhood of burgeoning Israel, I would have been stoned.
Of course 3 years later I discovered that sinning in such a fashion resulted in neither lightning strikes nor a life of debauchery and early death. The only thing worse off is our waist lines from all the pico de gallo.
Again, was another loose thread.
I could have sex without ruining my life?
My hymen wasn’t the property of my future husband?
Having sex, or not having it stopped defining my worth as a person, and being liberated from that oppression, I began to take serious notice of things in the Bible which made life harder to be a woman. I tried to struggle with it, to reason and logic my way out of what was meant by “wives submit to your husbands,” but I could not. And if I could not accept that, how could I in full earnestness, only believe in parts of the Bible that were easy- and still call myself a Christian?
Then I left for Germany, and for 10 months I lived free of my family’s religious presence, free of Church, free of the Bible, with only myself to dictate how I should behave.
It was lonely, to suddenly be without the shadow of Christianity directing my path. I could not pray, or rather refused to pray, while I tried to dig myself out of the hole of everything that I thought I was, but apparently wasn’t. Germany made me flounder and question myself, I was miserable for nearly half of the entire time I spent there, yet finally, I pulled myself out of it. And I found that I didn’t need a God to pray to, to make it through my daily life.
However, even all of that is still not the whole story.
At this moment, I am writing this because of widespread Christian hypocrisy. Christians that boldly declare their love for Christ, and simultaneously live life in a contradiction of their beliefs. They passionately declare the love of Christ, and simultaneously despise people of his creation. They accuse others of being heathen, yet paraphrase their religious text because they couldn’t be bothered to read it.
I am writing this because of Christians who think that their beliefs speak for the rest of our country. Who think they are entitled to define our political climate because of their religious beliefs. Christians who think they are oppressed simply because non Christian people can live a non Christian life.
I am frustrated because there are people that I love who will not trust me as much, or think less of me if they ever find out about how I truly feel, even though I’m still the same person.
I am frustrated because well read, well educated people I love, are so indoctrinated by religion that they cannot see anything else besides it. I am frustrated because wonderful, smart, amazing women I love; submit to their hostile, ignorant husbands and let themselves be convinced that they are weak and must be protected. That above all, they must be pretty and desirable for their husbands while their achievements go unnoticed. I’m frustrated because I’m told what to think, but not how to think.
However, after explaining all of this, people I love will still try to sway my stance with “it’s not about religion, religion is bad, it’s about a personal relationship with Christ.” They try to convince me that I’ve grossly misinterpreted the Bible, that it’s just a phase, that I’ve been poisoned my liberals, that I’m too academic; I just need to pray and wait for Christ to clear my head.
Well here is my final problem. After studying the Bible, specifically the Old Testament, I find that the foundation for is a bit wonky. And I’m not talking about studying as in “oh one time I took a class,” or “I read the Bible this one time,” I mean I seriously took time to both read the Bible, consult with origin texts and scholarly journals, attend lectures by notable experts as well as take classes on various subjects on the Old Testament.
Now I realize that Christianity is largely based off of the New Testament, but yet Christians base a lot of their beliefs (ie: homosexuality) on verses of the Old Testament. In addition, they identify passages of the Old Testament as signifiers that truthefy the existence of Christ as the Messiah. However, I find there to be gross overestimation because people are specifically looking for there to be “signs.” On the other hand, they then completely ignore uncomfortable passages about genocide, slavery and rape by simply not addressing it at all. Then, if they do address it, they cherry-pick passages they are comfortable with and say to ignore the rest.
What kind of truth is something that can be picked apart and used only when it’s convenient?
So many different branches of Christianity all believing they are right. So many translations and careful use of diction to imply the implicit holy “will.”
People say that man is wicked and that they need Christ as a savior, but I do not believe that. I think once you say man is naturally wicked, then you excuse their behavior as inevitable and at the same time invent guilt to create a psychology the needs a savior.
I can’t do it. I don’t want to do it. I won’t do it.
I refuse to believe in Christ.
So for now, maybe I’m Buddhist, maybe I’m Hindu, maybe I’m an Atheist.
Still, no matter what I choose or what I don’t choose, it’s scary.
Here I am, the heretic witch coming out of the broom closet.