Hi all, I'm new here and just wanted to share my recent acceptance that there is no God and the fact i am no longer a christian. I guess part of the reason for me to share this here is to try and understand my self what i fully feel and think. I'm sure many of you have experienced it. It is an odd feeling when something you lived your life for and by. something that was your foundation for being here and how you lived your life. When something everyone around you lives by and judges you on it. When this is suddenly gone and you are just you nothing more it is a surreal feeling.
I guess i should start by painting a picture of how i originally came to christ ect.
I have been bought up as a christian from birth. I went to church every sunday and nearly all my friends and family were devout Christians. I went to a free church with modern worship where everyone would raise there hands, shake and fall over as they were 'touched by the holy spirit' I guess when you see this as a kid and blindly believe everything your told its no surprise you really do believe it. It all seemed so tangible and real.
Around 12-13 I found god for my self, this mainly happened through my love for music and i thought i could feel 'him' when i worshiped him. Funnily enough this 'feeling of god' would later be one of the many things that started my journey to athiesm. By 16 i was leading worship to a group of friends and really living the christian life so to speak. I was 100% sure and laughed at the stupid atheists who thought we weren't created. I would google arguments for god and built up a huge supply of ammo to defend my faiths and beliefs to people. And as alot of people don't understand the world or Christianity properly i often 'Won' the arguments. Again though not far around the corner this re search would eventually lead me to the real truth. I was praying for my friends and regularly go to meetings and groups to further increase my faith and live the life god wanted me to live. So by 17 my 'brainwashed' mind couldnt be more confident in god and that jesus had died for me. I was the type of christian that believed in god and evolution and didnt believe that all the bible was literal. E.G i didnt think adam and eve was true simply a way for us humans to understand creation more. i believed god put evolution into motion and didnt consider this an argument against god as you can easily believe in both. This also made it alot harder for athiests to argue against my god as for alot people creation ect is where the argument of GOD/NO GOD begins. This actually made my belief stronger as i believed in the logical bits but dismissed other bits of the bible as metaphors ect. I hope the above shows you how deeply i believed in it all ect.
Shortly after 17 i started to do things that most young adults do and went out partying ect. I started to explore my sexual attraction to women. This was the first time i had gone against my faith as of course i should not be having sex before marriage or anything more than kissing until then. Shortly after stepping over the mark a few times i went the whole way and lost my virginity. I thought i was going to feel horrid and hate my self for it and feel guilty as one could. Of course sex before marriage is often seen as the sins of all sins in a Christian society. But i felt no guilt even after praying to god to convict me and and make me feel bad so i could truly repent. But it never came i felt fine and this confused me. I didnt realise at the time but this was the moment the first seeds of doubt were planted. I was now 17 and a half. I was starting to play non christian music. I began to get these 'God feelings' when listening to normal music. And wanted raise my hands or jump for joy when playing normal music. Again this planted more seeds of doubt as normal music was giving me the same feelings as i got when playing worship music!?.
I got a part time job which meant i worked sundays so i stopped going to church at this point. over the next few months i got less into being a christian but still believed there was a god ect. At 18 i got a non christian girl friend and was warned by all of friends and family to be very careful because it would lead me down a slippery slope. However she was 100% fine with my faith and even said she would come to church with me if i wanted her too. I had a normal relationship and we slept with each other ect. again never felt any guilt or anything. For the next two years i would slip away further from my religion and live a normal life but always still believing in a god.
This brings me up to the past year. I hadn't really given much thought about god ect. My girlfriend asked if i still believed in god and with out thinking i said i'm not sure. I couldn't really believe those words had just came out of my mouth. This DID get me thinking so i started again to think about my faith again and google religion ect. However i was now doing this outside of my former 'Cuddly christian Bubble' and it didnt take long for me to figure out there was no god. and if there was i defo didnt want to bow down and worship him. I saw how the bible didnt stack up, how it constantly contradicted its self. That the logic of god makes no sense when you think about it properly. I couldn't accept my own defence of my faith anymore. And soon realised how just being told to have faith or its gods plan is ridiculous. I could write for ages on the reasons i no longer believe as i now have an even bigger ammo bank about why god is not real but that is for another time.
For the next few months i continued to re search and finally accepted i was an atheist now. I feel relieved and like i truly have been saved. The only person i have told is my girlfriend. I have not 'Come out' to my friends and family yet. They will all be devastated and try to re convert ect. And say all the things i use to say to people who had turned away from the lord. Im not truly sure how they will react? Im worried they might blame my girlfriend. My friends im not so worried about. But I love my parents and family. I have had an amazing upbringing. They have only ever done the best for me and provided me with all i need for my life. I guess i know they will be hurt, i know they wont be angry or anything but i still cant bring my self to tell them. They know i'm not as in to it as before but they have know idea i no longer believe.
So i am now 21 and happy i have realised the truth. I am still happily with girlfriend. But just need advice on the whole telling family ect...
Has any one else been through something similar? how did your devout christian family take the news ect?
Any replies would be greatly appreciated.
I have some degree of 'peace', just not the one I had been taught to find.
Many people in my network of friends seem to respect my views and otherwise good mind, but not all. I do not believe that honesty is served by flowery words or premature certainties.
I see 'truth' as a thing to grasp for, not one that will always be easily obtained. Contriving a 'truth', coercively demanding acceptance, and building megaliths to our 'certainties', might lead us from the 'true path' as a scientist.
As far as where to "hang your hat": I think atheism is extremely important at first, because it's the tool of rationality that can free a Christian from an irrational and damaging worldview. But I don't want to just identify as an atheist. I am trying to learn about secular humanism, and how to grow that way. I feel like the humanist description can grow to become much more important than 'atheist'. I don't believe god is real but I care much less about what you believe than about whether or not you are a good person.
The manifesto of secular humanism speaks to my soul. The advancement of humanism is more important than stopping the spread of religion IMO.
Thanks for sharing. Keep on the quest, keep looking for truth, keep learning and trying to understand more. The quest for truth doesn't stop when you are 21; you should explore atheism and atheists and build up a deeper understanding, much as you once did with your Christianity. Other philosophies as well, if they pique your interest.
At this point, your parents will likely blame your girlfriend, and they will likely do exactly as you suggest in terms of pressuring you to change. That's pretty normal for caring families, and it can be stressful for your relationships. I'd say give it time. It's slightly easier when you're a bit older and have been out on your own longer, with more distance and maturity in their eyes.
One thing I would recommend when you do decide to 'come out' to your friends and family, is to remember where you came from. Imagine what your response might have been a few years ago had someone you loved confessed to you they no longer believed in god. Their concern is generally only BECAUSE they care. They might be hurt, or angry, or confused, but if they continue to try to re-convert the 'backslid christian' it is likely only because of the belief that you will not be with them in the Kingdom of heaven. When I was a christian I thought that if I saw someone drowning but did not help them when it was at my disposal to do so- then I was not the christian I believed myself to be-essentially I was a murderer. They may feel similarly.
I would also caution not to get into the debate on WHY you have lost your faith, at least not get into it to indepthly at the same time you 'come out'. It may be hard enough for loved ones to hear that you believe they are wrong, without attacking their entire belief structure directly. Save that for another time.
Here is a really great podcast on the subject.
Good Luck. :)
Your story is nearly identical to mine, with just a few minor changes in the details. I grew up in a very religious home. Every single person I knew was a Christian and was looked down upon for being anything less than a practicing Christian. Both my father and grandfather were Baptist pastors and my mother played the piano for the Sunday morning worship. My sisters and I were the perfect pastor's kids. The bible-believing part was mandatory when I was younger, but as I became a teenager, I changed my opinion on that. I was actually a young-world creationist until I was about 19, simply because I wasn't allowed to learn anything else. I had heard about evolution, but scoffed at the idea because "humans were obviously created by God". I joined the military right out of high school and got to step outside of my Christian bubble for a few years. Things changed. I saw people living perfectly normal lives without God. My best friend was an atheist, and I didn't even know it for almost a year. He was always talking about science and how awesome things were in the natural world and it made my head spin because none of it was making sense when looked at in a biblical context. By the beginning of 2013, I had become agnostic about the possibility of there being a God, which was a major shock to hear myself say (same as your story). November of last year was when I told my mom and dad and sisters that I was an atheist. My mom was shocked and confused. My dad secretly told me that he also questioned certain things like the validity of the bible and why certain things just don't add up in the Christian perspective. My sisters were about as shocked as my mom, but they were a little more understanding. I will finally be able to see my family next week for the first time in a year and a half, and I am nervous as fuck to talk face-to-face about it with them. Its not IF the conversation will come up, its WHEN. I want them to see my perspective so badly, it hurts. They don't really have to accept it for themselves, just understand why. My mom has wept over where she went wrong in my upbringing for me to question my faith. To be honest, telling them my thoughts was the greatest and most freeing thing that I have ever done. My family is very close and we don't really keep secrets from each other, so when I was debating on when I should tell them, it was difficult for me. I had to tell them. My wife is still a Christian and we talk about it a lot, but she shuts me up often because its too much for her to handle.
I shared my story because I can relate a lot with you. I highly encourage you to tell your family. You will feel a million times better. Your family will deal with the information as they will, and sometimes unpredictably (as with my dad). Some of them might also be questioning their faith and not telling anyone either.
This is how the conversation would have gone with my family........
Me, "Guys, I am no longer christian........"
Any family member "OK, whatever. We are eating vegetable satay tonight, will fruit be ok for desert ?"
Me, "Ohh lovely, fruit will be fine"
In other words I never cease to be amazed at how much trouble you guys in the US get over your personal choices in religion or sexuality, it must be awful. Here I have never met anyone who gives the furry crack of a rat's rear end if you are in or out of a religion.
I must admit when I told my parents at 16 I was lesbian my dad was really ticked off, but only because that meant he lost a 200 Euro bet with my mother.
However you go about it Toby my best wishes to you - at the end of the day you have one life so enjoy it and live it for yourself (and keep enjoying the sex - guilt free).
Judith vd R.
I never cease to be amazed at how much trouble you guys in the US get over your personal choices in religion or sexuality, it must be awful. Here I have never met anyone who gives the furry crack of a rat's rear end if you are in or out of a religion.
You have a lot to be proud of:
The Netherlands is one of the most secular countries in Western Europe, with only 39% being religiously affiliated (31% for those aged under 35), and fewer than 5.6% visiting church regularly (meaning once or more per month) in 2010. Religion is in the Netherlands generally considered a personal matter which is not supposed to be propagated in public. (Source)
I look forward to the day when irreligious in the US are the majority. It could happen in the next 20 years. Until then, I'll just have to admire the sensible Netherlands.
That sounds completely unreal to me as coming out about my sexual orientation and atheism was not a minor experience. My mom cringes every time she here's me say "I'm an atheist" even though I very rarely bring it up because I know she hates it. As far as my orientation is concerned, no one in my immediate family ever asks about the kind of interests I have in people or try to support me in these aspects of my life. We have polar opposite views on many things and it has left me feeling isolated since I'm surrounded by them constantly. Sometimes, things feel so fake because I always put on a happy face when inside I really feel depressed and severely alone.
Funniest coming out story ever.
Lots of families aren't like yours though. :)