what it’s like quitting christianity

I’ve said before, I don’t identify as Christian anymore, and I don’t believe in the Bible. I’m not sure what I believe about some things still, but I know I’m not a Christian and I thought i would share a few more specifics of  leaving my faith.
I was saved at age 5 (or four?) on September third. I grew up grateful and loving Jesus, and full of zeal. I wanted to live a radical life. I even cowrote a magazine with my now-husband.
But I’ve always had some questions. As I got older, I tried a different variety of Christianity. I tried many. When I was younger I was afraid of losing my faith and going to hell. Despite believing the bible was true I’ve never been sure I could be sure I was saved – I was afraid of losing it and going to hell. Then I discovered Calvinism – which helped me with it’s always-saved doctrine. There were still issues, but I accepted John Piper’s answers to my questions even as I was upset believing that the majority of the world was predestined to Hell. I was not sure HOW a good God could do that, but the Bible said God was Good and that settled it.

I lived in a tension of questioning and believing; I was advised to put questions ‘too big’ for me on hold, and instead say like the disciples, ‘Lord, you have the words of life, where else could I go?’

I did. For years I did. Until, things just didn’t add up any more. Too many people were ‘filled with the Holy Spirit’, but unkind, judgmental, even abusive. Too much sexual and spiritual abuse in the church. Too many Christians rejoicing at ‘god’s will’ during a tragedy. Too little of God when I called out. Too little love for homosexuals or pro-choicers. Too little understanding for those who interpreted scriptures differently.

I wondered if the words were really the words of life.
I left our old church. (Wordlessly, I regret that. I never meant to hurt anyone but I probably did. I was waiting for my husband to talk to the pastor before I talked about anything, because I was still clinging to bits of patriarchy at the time and didn’t want to speak out of turn, as a woman.)
I tried to find something left to cling too, some reason I could be confident that the Bible was trustworthy, God was real, and Jesus existed and loved me.
But there were too many discrepancies in the scripture I was taught was infallible, too many spiritual experiences by the non-christian, too little evidence the gospels were real – all things causing me to let go.

I wanted them to be real. I wanted to be loved by an Almighty God. After all, I’d spent my whole life trying to please Him by obedience, and being taught that Christianity was the one true path.
Of course, I didn’t want to believe the whole world was going to hell except the ones who believe in Jesus. I was taught it had to be true and that’s why we had to be missionaries. But i felt, like others have said, that we were saving people *from god*. Finally that became a bigger issue to me.
I read Rob Bell. I became confident that if God is real and really Love, then there’s no hell like the hell I was taught.
I studied evolution and Genesis and concluded that if God is real, He managed creation rather than created everything in 6 days like in the creation myth.

But still, the IF.
I read and thought and studied and – I didn’t pray any more. I didn’t feel right praying.
I tried to cling. I really wanted to believe. For a few months I read books from different perspectives of Christianity like crazy.  Crazy Love. Love Wins. Disappointment with God by Philip Yancey. The Ragamuffin Gospel (a friend suggested I turn it into a paper wreath, but it was pretty good). Knowing God. Jesus Without Religion. something or nother by AW Tozer.
Oh, and The Bible.
Drank them like water, only the water tasted funny and left me dry.

Then I studied other religions and found that parts of the Bible sound like other myths. Not like anything especially breathed by the Almighty.
In exhaustion and desperation, I decided to stop for awhile. I figured that if it were really true and I was hunting for truth, I’d come back to it, and I read some books by athiests.
And… I don’t know. I don’t want a world with no God, no redemption, but for all my fighting I just can’t make myself believe something i don’t, simply because it’d be nice to have a loving God up there caring.
I am an agnostic. I’ve changed my mind on Christianity, maybe forever, maybe not. I think there’s a chance there’s some benevolent force or being out there, but after investigating, I don’t think I have a reason to believe it’s the God of the Bible.
I sometimes wonder if there’s something no one really understands, and all the religious writings out there are simply humanity’s attempts to understand it. Or maybe there’s nothing, and we just want there to be.

I can’t make myself believe something I don’t believe, that I don’t feel is worth believing.

I felt bereft, for awhile. sometimes I still do.
I lost a great deal, in leaving Christianity. The respect of other good Christian friends, the one thing I have in common with practically everyone I know, the confidence of knowing I had the truth no matter what, even the knowledge that i was fulfilling my parents hopes for me.

I open myself up to being told I was never a true christian. I’ve heard people speak of athiests and agnostics as people who want to be able to sin and who deny God to ‘follow after fleshly lusts’ and now that’s gonna be me (hint: it’s a lie).
I lose my part with the majority of Americans (over 70% identify as Christian)
I’m liable to be love bombed and ‘prayed for’ to return, whether I want it or not.
People are going to think I failed. Like I simply had it wrong all along or ‘lost’ my faith.
There are people who can reconcile heart, head, and faith in God. I understand that. Personally, I couldn’t. At least not right now.
For the sake of staying true to my heart and my head, I had to let it go.

…for now I camp in the space of questions, questions as infinite as the stars and I am full of questions and starlight.

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11 thoughts on “what it’s like quitting christianity

  1. erinrebecca

    I know how hard it was for me to ask tough questions and move to a different place on the spectrum of Christianity, so I can only imagine how difficult and scary it must be to walk away all together. You do a great job of articulating all of that in this post!

    Reply
  2. dustincadehilliard

    I’m from the group you just joined on FB, so I thought I’d read your blog. This was the post most related to how we “met” so I’ll comment here.

    Congrats. The hardest part of leaving Christianity is admitting to yourself that you have left. That took me years. Your family and church friends will eventually stop bothering you about it, and you won’t just be lost, you’ll be a lost cause. 😉 I promise it gets easier.

    One major piece of advice, do be scared to not know something. If you want to know it look it up (your hobby, right?) but not having an answer for everything is one of the best parts of being free from religion. Never feel guilty for doubting something either.

    Also, if you choose to battle religious people, remember that doubt is most likely their biggest fear too.

    DCH

    Reply
    1. lanamhobbs Post author

      hey Dustin, thanks for the comment, it’s good to ‘meet’ people who I am kind of like 🙂
      When i am fully out as an ex-christian to all my friends, the thing i am looking forward to least is being re-evangelized on a large scale. Like everyone i know in person is a christian, mostly ultraconservative christians (except today i went to the meetup so now i know athiests, yay!). Glad to know i’ll have ppl to laugh over it with.
      … i’m learning that doubt is my friend but i gotta say i miss the certainty and comfort of ‘knowing’ i was absolutely right about everything 😉
      thanks for the encouragement!
      ~Lana

      Reply
  3. Rivka Galilee

    Thank you for your honesty. And I want you to know you are right. You can’t make yourself believe something you don’t believe, that you don’t feel like is worth believing.

    Reply
  4. Lizzy

    I have walked a path similar to the one you’re on and I don’t envy you the feeling of loss on so many levels. It gets better, eventually. You learn to find new answers and sometimes just accept that “I don’t know” is also a pretty ok conclusion. You’ll lose some friends and other relationships will change, but in the end it will be worth it. I would dearly love to go back, but the truth is that I can’t possibly force myself to believe something that doesn’t make sense to me. I don’t want a world without redemption or hope for an afterlife, either but I find it’s still the world I live in. You can make it through this, just like the rest of us out here in formerly devout Christian territory. Many of us simply stop caring when people claim that we don’t know what Real Christianity is like or that we did it wrong or that we just need to read the Bible better.

    Reply
  5. Pingback: Why I call myself Agnostic (and not Atheist) | Lana Hobbs the Brave

  6. Alice

    I left our old church. (Wordlessly, I regret that. I never meant to hurt anyone but I probably did. I was waiting for my husband to talk to the pastor before I talked about anything, because I was still clinging to bits of patriarchy at the time and didn’t want to speak out of turn, as a woman.)

    Oh my goodness, me too. I’m bow blogging about my journey and I know some of them read there, so there’s that. It sounds like our journeys followed many of the same paths. The big IF is what got me in the end of it all.

    Reply
  7. Ashley

    We don’t seem to have very similar backgrounds in Christianity but there’s similarity in our stories of leaving the faith. Mine is documented in 7 parts on my old blog, the first post is here & you can dig for the others if you like (if you go to the main blog page, the series starts just one page back so they’re not hard to find).

    http://thirstybabies.blogspot.com/2012/08/turning-from-my-faith-introduction.html

    About to follow you in Twitter . . . I’m @sewsodef – we probably have mutual friends.

    Reply
  8. Pingback: Reasons I Questioned and Ultimately Left Christianity | Lana Hobbs the Brave

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