I was a Presbyterian [from the Protestant Branch of Christianity]. I became an atheist because my entire belief system just sort-of "fell apart." Suddenly, nothing about Christianity made sense any more. And when I would attend a worship service, I would feel "detached."

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Nice to meet you all. My parents were baptized into the Church of Christ, a fundamentalist and conservative denomination that would never admit to being a denomination (because we were striving to be the "one True Church", lol!) I first read the Biblr at age 12 or so and fell in love; I had also seen many positive changes in my parents' marriage and in our family, so I was, so to speak, a 'convert'. The first ambition I remember having, at age 10 or 11, was to one day be a respected elder in the Lord's Church. I attended a Christian high school and then a Christian university where I minored in Bible, and served for two years as a missionary after completing my degree in psychology. As a young man I increasingly found my faith to be irrelevant and out of touch, but after all, "to whom else should we go?" (John 6:68)

At age 25, I moved from Montreal to Toronto to become part of a radical new and fast-growing movement (a.k.a. "cult") that offered me the chance to once again be on the cutting edge with God and deepen my purpose in life. I was there eight years and experienced some intense relationships and a group seriously living out their Christian faith, but also some abuses of spiritual power and deep disillusionment with my own ability to 'accurately' discern the will of God for my own life. At age 34 I returned to Montreal as part of a church planting and kept my doubts and cognitive dissonance tamped down for the most part. (To complicate matters further ... I was also struggling with same-sex oriented feelings and occasionally acting on them, which is another story for perhaps another forum). I married at 35, we adopted two kids, and basically the wheels of our Movement fell off when a former leader wrote a long and devastating letter naming systemic sins of the Movement that had never been so clearly exposed. Next came three years of transition, as my wife and I tried to become part of the solution as the church reorganized, and then the move to a new church in the Plymouth Brethren persuasion where we found a wiser and more mature leadership — but a lot of the old, tradition-bound beliefs and actions that had origianally driven me from the church of my youth. Gradually, it all coalesced — my doubts, disillusionment, sexual identity struggles and a nascent midlife crisis — and I basically stopped reading the Bible and praying, let go of any formal roles in the assembly (I used to teach and preach on occasion), then stopped taking communion, and finally, three years ago, a sexual crisis (I had a brief affair with a guy) provoked the need to completely reevaluate my life. It was a perfect storm of events, and I ended up confessing to most of the important people in my life (parents, brother and sister, best friends, key leaders in the church) that not only was I gay ... I had also somehow quit believing in God, and what Scripture said about the matter was no longer a sufficient source of motivation for change.

I am still in transition. My wife and I are trying to build the "good-enough life" (our sons are now 8 and 10 and I can seriously not imagine being happier not living with them even if I would then be free to pursue a same-sex relationship), I am still attending church with them and going through the motions — I don't want to tear the positive elements of the Christian faith away from them before being able to offer them a positive and constructive alternative — and I am trying to find some sort of community (or at least companionship) to help me make this very difficult and so-far sad transition. That's what led me here, and I hope I might be able to share this journey with all of you.

Thanks for listening, and I look forward to reading more of your stories as well.

That's a pretty incredible story, Darrell.  You were a missionary?   What organization were you with?  I was in YWAM for a while, and did a lot of missionary stuff for a lot of my 20s, so I can relate to that.

 

How is your wife doing with all the transitions?  Has she also lost her faith?  How did she react when you came out?

 

Hope you don't mind all the questions.

Hi Cristynfaye,

Don’t mind the questions at all! Like you say in your post, this deconversion thing can be pretty lonely: all of my best friends from my whole life have been believers, and I find it very hard to speak openly with all but one or two of them about my loss of faith. Like you, I’m hoping to connect with a community here that can approximate some of what I became accustomed to as a member of a spiritual family.

 

When I was 20, I trained with a team at Abilene Christian University to spend two years working as a missionary in Cameroun with the Church of Christ. The ten of us spent 8 months learning French. But then “rival missionaries” from within the country who heard that we planned to baptist active polygamists blocked our entry :-/ and myself and my best friend ended up coming to Quebec instead, where I worked for a year with a small francophone church. Ended up staying in Quebec, doing my graduate studies at a French university, and here I remain.

 

My wife totally transitioned out of our old church (= cult, The International Church of Christ a.k.a. The Boston Movement) before I did, but a believer she remains. I think she believes I can’t really be an atheist, that this must be due to the *other* crisis in my life. At present, I still attend church with her and our sons (which is often quite uncomfortable these days), although my four best friends in the church know I say I no longer believe in God. (Of course, they’re hoping I’ll repent).

 

Would love to connect with your husband as well: is he on here? I’d be interested in hearing the process he went through to shift his paradigm and perhaps hear what advice he could give me in my marriage to a strong believer.

—Darrell

Hi Darrell, 

 

I think my husband started to make a TA profile, but I don't think he's finished it.  I'm sure he will get around to it sooner or later-and I know he wont mind talking to you about his process/journey/whateverit'scalled.  

 

It's hard for those who are still christians to understand what it's like to lose your faith.  I hope you've been able to maintain some friendships with people who can accept you for who you are.

Hi everyone,

I guess I was just your ordinary evangelical non-denominational christian.  Towards the end, I was getting really interested in Eastern Orthodoxy, but I don't know if I ever would have fully committed.  Anyway, I wouldn't really call myself an atheist, I guess I'm more agnostic.  I don't think I'm ready to completely give up on the idea of God.  My husband is an atheist though, which is weird because he used to be the most devout christian I've ever met.  He started questioning things during college, because he has a degree in Bible history.  Then he totally lost his faith in his first year of seminary, right after we got married.  I was terrified, and thought I'd made some awful sin by marrying him when clearly he wasn't the person God had planned for me because now he's an atheist.  LOL....anyway, I started having doubts and questions after he started explaining his process and some of the things he'd learned in his studies.  I realized that I did marry exactly the right person, and now we're blissfully happy in our unbelief.  :D

 

I've been getting kind of discouraged lately because all of my friends have kind of drifted away.  No one really seems to understand how painful it is to lose your faith, and how lonely it can be.  So I'm really glad to find this community, and some people to connect with.  I think that's the thing I miss the most....the solidarity and support that you (are supposed to) have in church.

My last religion was messianic judaism. I really liked it because it tried to tie the two testaments together. I kept (loosely) kosher, observed the sabbath and the feasts. It was very exciting.

But...

My rabbi was a self-centered jackass. Between his "teachings" and the courses I was taking from First Fruits of Zion, I began to realize that they were telling me that everything I learned as a gentile christian was wrong.

So I decided to research the bible independently, decide what the truth was and findva church that most closely matched what I understood the true teachings of the bible to be. I started with Joseph because I figured that of the Genesis age characters, he was the one most likely to have actual proof of his existance.

It didn't take long before I began to reslize that there is no evidence that Joseph ever existed. Hmmm. Joseph? No. Moses? No. The exodus? No.

Now things really begin to unravel. If there is no Moses, there was no exodus; how could there be a "law"? And if there is no law, why would there be a need for a savior? So I started looking into the history of Jesus. Yep, nothing.

I knew that I presented holes like these to a muslim about the koran, I would expect him to renounce Islam (and embrace Christianity). So I knew that to be intellectually honest I must do the same.

So I did. I was aprehensive at first, but as time has passed (3 years now) I am positive that I did the right thing.

To any searching Christians how may be reading this: One of the things I was concerned about was God's disciplining me for rebellion. If you have those concerns, put your mind at ease. There is no god to "discipline" you.

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