My Journey Out of Christianity

(This story also appears as one of my first blog posts. I also put it here because my blogs are piling up- new viewers can see who I am easier this way. This was written before I realized I was bisexual.)

I cannot say that I had all bad experiences as a Christian. In fact, it was much the opposite: I had many wonderful experiences involving intense emotion and self reflection. I believed very strongly in what I was taught, and found great purpose in fulfilling what I believed to be my “destiny”. I was comforted in the belief that my soul was secure from the threatening abyss of Hell. I found joy in serving others, and trying to save them from hell. I heard stories of miraculous healings and answers to prayer, and even saw a few of them myself.

But contrary to what I once assumed, these experiences are not limited to Christianity. Modern psychology has tracked these exact reactions in other groups, both religious and non-religious. Science has proven that these experiences are caused by our brains, and they can be recreated in a number of entirely non-spiritual ways, including electroshock, meditation, and certain types of drugs

Science tells us that the power of the human mind is still vastly unknown to us, but what we do know is quite amazing. Simply believing something hard enough can often make things happen in our own bodies. For example, there have been documented cases of women wanting to be pregnant so badly that their bodies started showing symptoms of pregnancy, such as weight gain, morning sickness, and milk production. No baby existed- and yet their bodies responded to the belief of the mind. Many people experience “sympathy pain” when a loved one experiences it, and still others begin experiencing symptoms of diseases because they heard them described and believe they have it. It is widely speculated that these miraculous “healings” may simply be a result of the mind’s power over the body. But whether the cause is spiritual or physical, Christianity is not the only source of these healings. Many cults, meditation, and self help groups have similar stories to tell.

Personal experience is not solid enough to base a belief system on. Our interpretations of our personal experiences are not always accurate.

My journey away from Christianity started with a few nagging questions that I refused to acknowledge for several years. I had seen discrepancies in the Bible about God’s character, and of how the church viewed and served God. But it was not “spiritual” to question these things: It was only proper to question things that did not threaten the pillars of Christianity. It was acceptable for me to question whether movies were good or bad, but it was taboo to question whether homosexuality was sinful or if the Bible was as accurate as I had been taught. “There are some things you just don’t question.” That is the response I received when I dared to mention one of my questions. I was then advised to keep these questions to myself, since they would confuse and lead astray other Christians.

The final stage of my departure from Christianity was triggered by one of the election issues of 2012. The state of Maine was voting on whether or not to make gay marriage legal there. I saw countless posts on both sides- but none were so arrogant and selfish as those posted by Christians. It reminded me of the many times I had seen Christians shun or hurt homosexuals, and I became aware of new atrocities. At first my belief was simple: I believe it is sinful, but that doesn’t give me the right to use the legal system to force others to live as I see fit. It also bothered me that this one sin was being treated as worse than other sins, even though the Bible is clear that all sin is the same.

Then I began to actually listen to the other side for the first time, and evidence was presented that made me doubt the traditional interpretation of the Bible in regards to homosexuality. I was shocked at how little evidence there was to support such a massive movement against the gay community. I started researching church history, and I was appalled to discover that the church once also supported racism, slavery, and the belief that women were less than men. Given the stained history of the church when confronted with social issues, I began to doubt the traditional interpretation even more.

By now my mind was wide open- I was suddenly seeing the world without the filters of religion for the first time in my life. I was seeing every issue differently; I was not afraid to question things anymore. I finally tackled the two big ones I had never allowed myself to consider: Was the Bible truly infallible, and was God real at all?

I have no idea what it is like to be homosexual. However, in some very small way I think I can relate to a gay person who comes out of the closet for the first time. Although the civilized world is largely accepting of non-religious beliefs, my circles were not. Most of my friends were very passionate evangelicals whose reaction to my new beliefs was far from pleasant. I was coming out of the closet- I was throwing aside my old beliefs and embracing new ones. And in my circles, that was not ok.

I hate that I lived in fear for so long- both in fear of questioning and then in fear of my Christian friends finding out. It is unfair that I did not feel the freedom to be myself during the first part of my journey. I have seen what happens to those who “fall away”- instead of acceptance and love, they are met with tears, manipulation, debates, and sometimes the loss of relationships altogether. I experienced this myself. But I’m done with fearing their reactions. I am “out of the closet”; I’ve lost friends and relationships have been damaged by my new beliefs, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. The people in my life who truly love me will love me no matter what I believe. I have seen who my true friends are, and discovered which of my friends had based their friendship with me on our mutual beliefs- and nothing more.

I love my new life. It’s not perfect, but it’s mine- and it’s much better now that I am thinking for myself and no longer afraid of people’s opinions.

Thanks for reading my rambling thoughts.  🙂

-Lilly

7 thoughts on “My Journey Out of Christianity

  1. Lilly this story is inspirational. I myself have deconverted and have struggled with it more than I admitted. Stories of people who are brave enough to make the hard choice are important for those of us who still are struggling to be completely open about our atheism for fear of the hurt it will bring. When I deconverted I didn’t really know what was going on, some close to me was instrumental and helping actually admit I was an atheist. Since then I’ve told myself that I was still okay with the church despite change, but really some things do really bother me. We need people to say that it’s okay to be honest, so we don’t direct these feelings into other parts of our lives and hurt others like I did.
    Here’s to living honest. And thanks for listening to my rambling 🙂

  2. Hi Lily, you said “The final stage of my departure from Christianity was triggered by one of the election issues of 2012. The state of Maine was voting on whether or not to make gay marriage legal there. I saw countless posts on both sides- but none were so arrogant and selfish as those posted by Christians.”

    My question is what about black people that have been discriminated against for years, while whites justified it with the Bible? Yet, many of those black people remain fervent Christians, including MLK.

    You make a good point, but your mistake lies in ascribing the stained history of the Church to God Himself. Man has been known to corrupt every good thing he lays his hands on, including faith in God. It may interest you to know, that at the time, the so called “Church” was garnering this stained profile for itself, God’s true Church was being persecuted, and it’s true ministered were being murdered at the stakes by the so-called “Church”. Like the story of the black boy that sat outside the church during service because he was denied entry due to his race. God passed by and asked him, “what are you doing out here, why don’t go in?”. The boy answered, “they wouldn’t let me.” God said, “me too.” “Ive been trying to get in these many years, but they wouldn’t let me”.

    • I didn’t stop believing because of awful Christians. There are awful people in every belief system, including atheism; I’m not an idiot. That election incident was merely the catalyst that got me questioning things. I questioned their hatred of LGBTQ people, and then I started questioning other things too. I don’t believe in God anymore because I see no evidence for his existence. Period. If there was concrete proof he existed, I would acknowledge that he’s real just as I acknowledge that the Moon is real. Whether or not I would worship him, however, is a very different story. Not every authority figure is worthy of respect and obedience, even if they claim they are.

    • As for black Christians- if they want to follow a book that condones slavery even in the New Testament, that’s their choice.

      Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Colossians 3:22

      Of course modern Christians find ways to explain away this pesky verse. Convenient, isn’t it? Anything that modern Christians don’t think is morally right for us today gets explained away, and past Christians who believed that was God’s undeniable command are seen as ignorant- even though it’s still in the Bible.

  3. Why do you think you believed in God and thought serving him worth it in the first place? And do you believe being ostracized for holding new beliefs is better than the persecution Chriatians around the world and for ages past have experienced. Those Christians believed in a loving God who promised that although in the world we would experience trouble (because of its fallen state, not because God allowed or supports) that He has overcome the world and they find peace in Him, not in religious traditions, not in their present circumstances (including slavery and war and other troubles)…

    I do not judge your newfound beliefs I am just asking for an answer to the above questions.

    • To answer your questions:

      1. I used to believe in God and wanted to serve him because I did not have all the facts. I was also very fearful of ending up in Hell, so it took a long time for me to even consider any other point of view. Once I learned more in my in depth study of relevant history, science, anthropology, culture and so on, and got over my fear of Hell enough to evaluate all the evidence rationally, it stopped making sense to me.
      2. Nobody should EVER be persecuted or ostracized for their beliefs. Period. Christian, atheist, Muslim, Jew, pagan, agnostic, Hindu, and so on- I support the right of ALL of us to follow our own conscience regarding what we personally believe without being oppressed or bullied for it. The persecution of Christians overseas does not excuse me being ostracized here in the US and Canada. Also, Christians are not the only ones who have experienced centuries of oppression in different time periods and regions. Human intolerance of diversity is a problem that has been around since the beginning of human civilizations.

      Christians are free to find comfort in Jesus if they want, I have no problem with that. But I DO have a problem with the exclusionary and superiority attitudes that are so often imposed on non-believers. I DO have a problem with being mistreated and rejected just because I ended up believing differently than them.

No trolling, please! Genuine dialogue for the purpose of mutual understanding is appreciated; debates are not. General comments are welcome.

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