Becoming free from the conditional love of Christian friendships

February 7, 2009 at 2:35 pm 85 comments

This post is somewhat of an addendum to my previous post in which I discussed how I was beginning to realize just what being an “elite” Christian had done to my thinking. In this post I wanted to focus more closely on one area of my thinking that has truly been tainted or hurt by being a fundamentalist conservative Christian: how to be a friend.

Recently I was asking advice of a friend and was basically told to either submit to Biblical advice or get nothing. This hurt. Quite a bit. I thought that by even asking for advice I was trying to be a friend. But I realized that the advice from this person – and the associated love – was conditional: I needed to be or do something first in order to warrant a love that I felt I should receive either way. And this was from a friend who has taken almost no time at all to try and connect with the pain and suffering leaving the faith has brought me this last year. So while I am to listen to this person: they feel no need to listen to me at all.

Although I am obviously upset, this has got me to thinking: this is how everyone I knew acted. It is how I acted.

My friends and I were basically trained to feel uncomfortable around people whom we considered to be a potentially bad influence on us. I can’t express how frustrating this is now. Even until recently I found it hard to feel comfortable around certain non-Christians I knew because I consistently had my guard up, looking for areas of disagreement like a dog trying to pick a fight or looking for reasons to distrust them because they might unwittingly be a bad influence on me.

A good Christian can never be too careful about being a friend.

I can name church splits. Lots of them. I can name friendships that were severed – or extremely hurt – by doctrinal differences or slightly different interpretations of Scripture. This last Christmas some family members sent me a Christmas letter and in it they had this one simple sentence “We are sorry to hear about your decision to reject God.” I wanted to write back and just say “What the fuck? Are you kidding me? Do you have any clue how much pain I went through trying with all my heart to desperately defend the faith that you now hold up against me?” They included a letter, and as I began to read it I realized that they were starting by sharing the gospel. I threw the letter out without even reading it I was so hurt.

Why can’t Christians just love people?

I feel like the love of most of the Christians I knew had conditions attached to it. I will love you if you repent. I will love you if you agree with me on this doctrine. I will love you if are as spiritual as me. I will love you if you raise your standards of modesty. I will love you if you stop listening to that style of music. I will continue to be your friend as long as you are a good witnessing opportunity. I will reject your friendship if I feel that you are beginning to pull me down spiritually. I will only give advice if you are willing to submit to the Lord first. I will be your friend and love you so that the Lord can use me to change your life and heart.

Submit, damn it.

Change, damn it.

At school two years ago I can remember having the Invisible Children come to speak. Do you know what I did? I spoke out against them. They were wrong: they were wanting to save kids lives but they were wrong. Why? Because they were making the “social gospel” first before the “true gospel”. And they – oh horrors! – would hire people who were not Christians. I feel horrible about this now. What a jerk I was, thinking that I was doing as service to my fellow mankind by speaking out against a charity organization because they did not fit what I was told was the “true gospel”. Damn their intentions, they did not fit into my box. After all, the heart is deceitful above all else.

My “unsaved” friend ‘Taylor’ and I had this talk once when I was a Christian about a mutual friend named ‘Evan’. ‘Evan’ had become a Christian – or at least rededicated his life. ‘Evan’ and ‘Taylor’ used to hang out all the time, but all the sudden ‘Evan’ basically stopped being a friend cold turkey. I remember ‘Taylor expressing that he was confused and never found out why this happened. I think I knew and wanted to tell him but a small part of me was embarrassed.

I knew a pastor who once boasted about a witnessing opportunity he had. A broken woman came into his office distressed about her life situation. He boasted that he basically told her to repent or get lost. The problems were her own making and she needed to submit to Jesus Christ because that was her real problem. Her problem was her sin and until she recognized that there was nothing he could do.

The love of Christ is such good news!

An elder at a church I know just recently sent a defaming letter to another elder because this other elder was starting to think that maybe they were not being understanding enough.

And these were the people that we were supposed to look up to as examples of good Christian behavior. These were my mentors.

No wonder I had such a hard time ever feeling genuinely loved. Or genuinely loving others. Christianity and the doctrine of original sin armed nearly everyone I knew with a good reason to distrust everyone around them.

But if the heart is deceitful above all else, how do we know that all Christians are not liars? How can we trust our pastor? Our friends? Our family? How can we trust the apostle Paul or Moses? Or what people say about Jesus?

Where does this stop?

I did not realize how truly painful the doctrine of original sin is until I left the faith. Ultimately I think the reason it is so painful for many of us to leave the faith is because every person we ever loved within the faith now assumes – from the start – that our intentions are selfish. That we must be a wicked, depraved sinner for even thinking about leaving the faith. We are all liars, because we were never saved in the first place or something similar. Few believe us. Our own friends and family don’t believe us. Our closest friends refuse to listen seriously to what we say but expect us to still submit to their sharing the gospel with us. This hurts.

Oh, it was easy to say “I love you” and then to tack on “the reason I want you to change is because I love you.” Is this agape love? Does agape love say “change, because I love you?” Shouldn’t it say “I’ll love you even if you don’t change?” That is truly unconditional. But was there ever opportunity to change one’s own mind?

I can’t believe I am saying all this. I feel awful about it all.

I was told over and over and over throughout high school that guys cannot be “just friends” with girls. This has made it super difficult for me to get to know women because I feel like it just won’t work. Like somehow we are either lovers or we are nothing. Just recently this tendency has completely shifted. Suddenly I feel freed to be friends with women and not worry that something “might happen”. If it does, so what? Because I am not spending every moment worrying that something “might happen”, I feel freed to just be relaxed and enjoy their company. Falling in love is no longer going on a few dates, praying about it, and getting a sense it was meant to be.

This morning I woke up and realized that it has been forever since I just really enjoyed someone’s company. I always felt like I needed to change their mind, or somehow turn the conversation to “deeper issues”, or witness to them, or confess something, or that I should not be frivolously wasting my time on “small talk” but should be doing something – anything – more spiritual.

I am discovering that the Christianity that I at least knew was silently arming me with a barrage of missiles with which to slowly and cleverly destroy all my friendships. And in many ways, it did.

I apologize that this post is so negative, but I feel I just have to get this all out there.

The nice thing is that now I feel like I can truly start to be friends with others and really care about them – as people. Rather than spending all my time analyzing my motives and intentions and wondering if other people are struggling with sin, I can just enjoy other people and try to get to know them and help them out in life.

I’m free to care about others and I’m starting to like how a life of this looks :)

- Josh

Entry filed under: Josh. Tags: , , , .

There is No God: by Penn Jillette The Gospel Story – Act 1: Creation and Fall

85 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Zoe  |  February 7, 2009 at 3:34 pm

    A great post Josh. More positive then you realize. :-)

  • 2. writerdd  |  February 7, 2009 at 3:59 pm

    not negative; honest.

  • 3. guitarstrummr  |  February 7, 2009 at 4:08 pm

    Thanks you two :)

  • 4. waltzinexile  |  February 7, 2009 at 4:40 pm

    I have to agree; this wasn’t negative (although sometimes brutal honesty feels that way, so it’s understandable.)
    I’m just delurking to say I thought it was beautiful and that I hope you get to have more satisfying and meaningful relationships now that you’re open to simple acceptance; I know it really made a difference in my life.

  • 5. writerdd  |  February 7, 2009 at 7:19 pm

    I actually haven’t had any really close friends since I left the church. I think it’s because I got married and moved near my mother and sister. But my friendships are much more distant now, mostly work related and somewhat superficial. But my earlier friendships were never only about the faith or doctrine at all.

  • 6. paleale  |  February 7, 2009 at 8:27 pm

    Damn. I can relate so well, Josh. Thank you for sharing your story.

  • 7. Slapdash  |  February 7, 2009 at 9:11 pm

    I think the judgmental behavior/mentality is ultimately rooted in fear. If they validate our experiences, which don’t square with their take on scripture/faith, then they are forced to question their entire belief system. So for their own self-preservation they have to label us as selfish / sinners / led astray by Satan / never-believers-in-the-first-place.

    I have to say that I *expected* all of my Christian friends/relatives to react the way yours have, but I have been pleasantly surprised that not one of my close friends has tried to re-convert me, lecture me, or reject me. I think my experience has shaken their faith, to some degree, but to their credit, these friendships are so far surviving my de-conversion.

  • 8. Josh  |  February 7, 2009 at 9:56 pm

    Thanks everyone :)

    Slapdash –

    You are accurate I think. The judgmental nature is somewhat rooted in fear. I think it is rooted in the fear of being wrong as you say. Even among Christians who trust the Lord I still think there is the occasional deep-seated fear that they might be wrong in one of their doctrines. After all, the very diversity of Christian positions should put a lot of insecurity into the life of a believer who has a lot of friends who do not agree with him. Especially when these positions are in direct contradiction to one another or affect eternal security.

    I’d like to see a graph showing the connection between how “true to the origins of the faith” a person believes they are and how small their congregation is. My guess is there is a direct correlation – at least from my experience!

  • 9. jeremy  |  February 7, 2009 at 11:19 pm

    They say keep your friends close and your enemies closer. I did not think the post was negative and you hit on many valid points about Christianity and her groups. I’m sorry you feel so alone. I know what I want to say about being alone. The universe conspires to help us in many ways.

    I don’t think I put conditions on my friendships save for respect and integrity. Maybe you need to be on the lookout for other like minds or those who can benefit your journey of exploration, aren’t we all just exploring? I don’t know any man or woman with the ultimate answers.

    Silly how many Christians get caught up in dogma, interpretation and witness to say they are better than another. There are as many interpretations of scripture as there are people on the earth. It seems everybody has a “belief” one way or another and are ready to convict the other for their lack of faith.

    I’ve been a reader… and at least you reach a hand into the darkness and you still have that question on your lips. That’s what we are all doing, reaching into the dark looking for some answers. Keep searching and keep writing.

    Jeremy

  • 10. Raytheist  |  February 8, 2009 at 12:16 am

    Thank you, Josh. I’ve been 25+ years out of the church, but your post brings back al sorts of memories, which I won’t tell here but suffice it to say that your experience is shared by thousands of us. Not all Christians are bad, of course, but under common teaching many of them don’t realize the barriers to friend they themselves have built up.

    There’s a big wide wonderful world outside those barriers of conditional love. Welcome!

  • 11. Saganist  |  February 8, 2009 at 4:33 am

    I totally understand this. Thanks for posting it. My entire life I’ve felt guilty for not “witnessing” at every possible opportunity. It’s been hard to make real friendships without feeling like I need to be thinking about converting them. Ever since my own de-conversion, I feel so much freer to just be myself, and to relate to other people as fellow humans, which is basically what I was doing before, but was previously feeling guilty about it.

    It’s so sad that some of your friends and family now feel this way about you. Sometimes I just want to say, “Can’t you see I’m the same person I’ve always been?!” But in their eyes, you’re not, and no matter what you do or say, that may never change. I do hope that they might eventually see that you haven’t become a pawn of Satan, hellbent on destroying the world or whatever. But I know from experience that empathy, or trying to see things from someone else’s point of view, can be a very difficult skill to acquire. Good luck to you!

  • 12. annaldavis  |  February 8, 2009 at 11:23 pm

    This is a great post, Josh. I don’t know what it is about church that does this to people, myself included. Jesus certainly didn’t act that way.

    Fear has a lot to do with it, as you have said. I look back with sadness over the time I lost a good friend because of my self-righteousness, and it was also the time I was struggling the most with faith. Just trying to hang on to God in all the chaos. What if I had just tried to have an honest talk with her about why this was all happening, rather than building walls?

    Interestingly, the closer I become to God the more open I become to friendships of all kinds. But for me this openness comes from my personal spiritual growth, not as much from church as an institution. We all have lots to learn from each other, and I have learned so much from people who believe differently.

  • 13. Edwin Jose Palathinkal  |  February 9, 2009 at 9:02 am

    Josh, You are not alone in experience. The whole world sees the hypocrisy of Christians.

    I believe this hypocrisy will be the single greatest factor for continued de-conversion.

  • 14. Lucian  |  February 9, 2009 at 9:50 am

    I am so very sorry to hear about Your sad experience. :-( But if You would’ve been a member of MyChurch®, which is -of course!- TheTrueChruch®, :D then things would’ve been SO much different for You! :-) JOIN NOW, and we can guarantee You the experience of a lifetime! 8)

  • 15. Josh  |  February 9, 2009 at 11:00 am

    Damn Lucian, I had my hand on my wallet ready to sign a tithe check and a pen in my Bible ready to sign a doctrinal statement by the end of your final sentence!

    Then I realized you were joking… what a let down!

  • 16. LeoPardus  |  February 9, 2009 at 11:18 am

    My friends and I were basically trained to feel uncomfortable around people whom we considered to be a potentially bad influence on us.
    ….
    I feel like the love of most of the Christians I knew had conditions attached to it. I will love you if you repent. I will love you if you agree with me on this doctrine. I will love you if are as spiritual as me. I will love you if you raise your standards of modesty. … I will reject your friendship if I feel that you are beginning to pull me down spiritually. I will only give advice if you are willing to submit to the Lord first.

    YESSIR! This is the kind of stuff that keeps me mostly in the closet. My kids, my friends have all been trained this way. I come out and “friends” will be afraid to have my kids over because “god knows” what demonic influences might come.

    Sick! And if there was ever a place where the term “god-damned” would apply, it’s here. God-damned sick!

  • 17. Yurka  |  February 9, 2009 at 12:52 pm

    So you think you have the right to be affirmed no matter what you do or say or believe? Isn’t that a tad self indulgent and narcissistic? If a man opens up a porn shop and his former friends feel alienated from him and try to change his mind, because of what he has done, whose fault is that? If he blubbed “They don’t wuv me! They are so judgmental!” can you see that this type of reasoning is a tad… juvenile?

    What bothers me is your hypocrisy. You would treat others this way given certain circumstances, yet you deny others have grounds to do the same to you, when it is inconvenient to you.

    Do you see this is a real problem? You seem to be emoting rather than sincerely seeking to ascertain truth.

  • 18. LeoPardus  |  February 9, 2009 at 1:07 pm

    I think I am going to coin a new internet abbreviation. And it is…… WIFA (which stands for weed-induced free association).

    It should not be confused with WIFI (usually denoting public, high speed internet connections) or FIFA (the international soccer authority).

    All please feel free to use WIFA where appropriate.

  • 19. Raytheist  |  February 9, 2009 at 1:08 pm

    @Yurka #17

    Are you serious? Your comment reeks of the kind of judgmental hypocrisy Josh (and many of us) received from so-called “Christians” who expect others to fit a certain mold or face rejection.

  • 20. Josh  |  February 9, 2009 at 1:14 pm

    Hey thanks to whoever took the time to update my post title etc. :) Appreciate it. Is there a set of guidelines on posts that I should find somewhere?

    “What bothers me is your hypocrisy. You would treat others this way given certain circumstances, yet you deny others have grounds to do the same to you, when it is inconvenient to you.”

    Oh wow. Are you kidding? Do you have any idea how hard I have tried to be open and be friends with certain people within the faith? How hard I have tried to be accepting despite differences? To really try to understand people and where they are at? Yet to feel none – or little – of that in response?

    BTW, I still consider you a friend. Its alright, just take a little time to get to know me better and I’ll do the same to you. You are definitely welcome on this site :)

  • 21. anti-supernaturalist  |  February 9, 2009 at 1:34 pm

    You are doing something quite difficult —

    ** You want autonomy — to become who you are! **

    Becoming-who-you-are or ‘individuation’ (to use Jung’s terminology) is the goal of personal growth. It cannot occur without self-doubt or without doubting authority and authority figures.

    When you’ve made a “leap of faith” into hyper-religious space there is no return except by self-assertion, and doubt is just one form of it.

    It’s not surprising that even attempting to leave a near-eastern religious culture which demands ’subordination’ or ’submission’ to someone else’s interpretation of an alleged *will of god* does adversely affect the psychological well-being of the so-called apostate. (Particularly when you’re the one who is becoming balanced and self-possessed.)

    You’ll emulate defiant Prometheus and steal the fire rather than submit to the dictates of the pauline Jesus. The hero labors, struggles, succeeds, or dies trying; but throughout remains human.

    Welcome to a very hard, worthwhile journey — as Pindar puts it “of coming to be who you are.”

    anti-supernaturalist

  • 22. SnugglyBuffalo  |  February 9, 2009 at 1:36 pm

    You seem to be emoting rather than sincerely seeking to ascertain truth.

    There you go again, Yurka. Nothing in this post is dealing with “seeking to ascertain truth.” Nor has anyone claimed that they have a right to be affirmed regardless of their actions. You’re pretty good at setting up strawmen.

  • 23. Inigo Montoya  |  February 9, 2009 at 2:48 pm

    Not far from where I live, in the 1950’s and 60’s there was a Buffalo Ranch. One of the attractions at the buffalo ranch was the “dancing chickens.” Before the advent of the ASPCA, people would train chickens to dance anytime they heard music. You would put a quarter in a machine, music would begin to play, the chicken the whole time would not take its eye off of a chute where, at the end of the tune a few kernels of corn would fall.

    I went to church for 50 years. I realized toward the end that I was just another version of the dancing chickens. You have to do the dance in order to get the love.
    Best wishes in your journey.

  • 24. numerodix  |  February 9, 2009 at 3:55 pm

    Don’t beat yourself up about it. You lived it, you learned something. Maybe in a few years you’ll look back on this and have a better idea about how to deal with people like that.

  • 25. Lucian  |  February 9, 2009 at 5:08 pm

    Well… I guess that’s the advantage of being raised in *ANY* non-Neo-Protestant religion: there’s no “love-bombing”. People just are what they are and that’s it. (My heart was always displeased with something fake).

    Luv u guys! ;) Bye! :D

  • 26. Josh  |  February 9, 2009 at 5:29 pm

    “love-bombing” lol. So that gives us two new terms: love-bombing and WIFA (weed induced free assocation).

    Were on a roll!

  • 27. LeoPardus  |  February 9, 2009 at 5:55 pm

    I think WIFA and love-bombing could definitely be related. :D

  • 28. drdave  |  February 11, 2009 at 2:07 am

    Josh:

    I really have enjoyed your posts. Some of us do accept people unconditionally. My wife is one of those radical Catholic ladies. She rejects almost all of the Church’s teachings. She and I occasionally go back and forth on god and what she is or isn’t, but we always go to bed happy with each other.

  • 29. Josh  |  February 12, 2009 at 1:07 am

    Thanks drdave, I am learning how to actually live unconditional love now. Its funny, years of Bible and Christianity and I became a judgmental prick about so many things. One year out of the faith and I find myself wanting to develop genuine friendships and really just care about people without any conditions. Well, I guess I have a few:

    * Don’t kill me
    * Don’t rape me
    * Don’t take my money

    Yeah, other than that I’m fairly merciful – and learning how to be more accepting all the time!

  • 30. Luke  |  February 12, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    you guys are right on.. and this is coming from a Seminarian. i love my faith and really struggle with it… but as the saying goes “I love Jesus but his followers freak me out.”

    i view most things through the framework of relationships.. and if something is harming that relationship, esp. in such a corporate sence of whole communities or soceities, than it needs to be done away with.

    it says in James (sorry to quote scripture, but this will provide fodder against the fundies) that pure religion amounts “to taking care of the widow and the orphan and trying to remain unstained by the world.” that last part doesn’t mean you run away from the world… but that you seek to forgive, be flexible, and love people as you love yourself.

  • 31. Josh  |  February 12, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    Luke,

    What an incredible point. I can only speak for myself, but I believe that most of have no problem if you quote Scripture – as long as one takes it in context and does not try to make it conform to a systematic theology and imposes an idea onto the text it was not meaning to convey :)

    In all honesty, I think that most of the “struggle” that Christians have in relationships is trying to balance the tension (contradiction?) between trying to do what James says to do and at the same time feeling a need to judge others for whatever lack of holiness or doctrinal error they find in someone else’s life. So on the one hand, Paul says to expel the sinner from the church and to judge those in the church (1 Corinthians), thus giving a Scriptural precedent for the spiritual perfectionists. On the other Jesus says not to judge, lest you be judged. On yet another hand, Jesus admonishes us to approach our brother if we catch him in a sin. Well, how serious of a sin do we have to catch someone in in order to confront them? If we are to be holy as God is holy, then the more perfectionist someone is the slighter the sin needs to be in order to call for a confrontation.

    Ultimately it seems men’s spiritual attitude toward others has little to do what the Bible “says” (as if the Bible “says” any one thing, because anyone can pick their favorite Biblical attitude to harbor and have plenty of verses to back it up), it has to do with our personality. So we take our personality and back its sharp edges up with Bible verses to protect ourselves from critique. The Bible becomes a sword and a shield. A shield to those who do not wish to be critiqued by others (“Do not judge, lest you be judged”) and a sword for those who wish to do all the critiquing (“Be holy as I am holy”, “If you find your brother in sin…”, “Those who are spiritual among you…”)

    How is it possible to do what the Bible “says” and still love people? This is beyond me, quite frankly, unless one is willing to ignore the portions of the Bible that command behavior one finds unloving (as Jesus supposedly did when asked about stoning adulteresses). Most Christians ignore the passages in the Old Testament that talk about stoning apostates or the passages in the New Testament that talk about handing men like me over to Satan so that our flesh can be destroyed so that we can be taught not to blaspheme.

    Convenience of interpretation seems to be the only consistent thing among every Christian. Christians take the interpretation that is most convenient in their scenario and makes them feel the most safe and secure or loved.

    For example, the apostle Paul says that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. Growing up, I remember this verse being used over and over to support God’s love for us even when we make mistakes or sin. Oddly enough, Paul gives a mighty list of things that cannot separate us from the love of Christ. But is sin on the list? Not at all. I always wondered why Paul didn’t include that. Of all the things Paul could have included, he does not include sin. And then most Christians I knew interpreted the the passage as if it was referring to sin as well, conveniently forgetting that the author(s) of Hebrews warn us that if we continue to sin after receiving the knowledge of the truth nothing remains for us except a fearful expectation of judgment and of wrath which will consume the adversaries of God.

    Its such a mixed bag of tricks and treats, the Bible. No matter how deep into interpretation and hermeneutics one studies, one still realizes that its interpretation is primarily subject to the interpreter. And what good is that except to use the Bible as a defense mechanism or a weapon against others?

    Telling someone they have the Words of God in front of them is just too much power for the average person to know how to deal with it, whether its true or not. At least that’s my opinion.

  • 32. Josh  |  February 12, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    I might add one other thing. I am certainly not saying the Bible cannot be used to learn good behavior. Not at all, I am just saying that we generally find within the pages of Scripture passages that encourage behavior we already know to be good. And because everyone’s definition of what is “good” is slightly different (one person favors mercy over judgment, another justice over mercy) we can find the passages that confirm our bias pretty quickly. After all, “God said it, I believe it, and that settles it!”

    And since it seems the authors of the Bible had their own biases, we can always find our favorite book or passage that ‘matches’ our biases. So one man follows Paul, another Peter, and another Christ.

  • 33. Josh  |  February 12, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    But, at the end of the day, few can find the consistent thread of unity among the pages of Scripture that the apologists so eloquently present in their marketing campaigns unless they just assume its there from the start.

  • 34. Derek  |  February 12, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    * Don’t take my money

    Well damn Josh, I ain’t gonna wash your car for free… Guess we can’t be friends now.

  • 35. Josh  |  February 12, 2009 at 3:12 pm

    Derek –

    If you look up the original Greek from which that sentence was translated you will find that the word for “take” actually denotes negative sentiments toward someone. I.e. stealing. We here at TranslateItRightDamnIt Inc. decided on the word “take” because we thought it would provide for a broader range of interpretation, including – but not limited to – stealing, pilfering, borrowing and not paying back, and stealing one’s wallet.

    Fine, don’t wash my car. Jerk.

  • 36. Derek  |  February 12, 2009 at 3:29 pm

    Figures you’d take the side of the conservative scholars. If you look elsewhere in the post, you see the following:

    One year out of the faith and I find myself wanting to develop … money

    This clearly underscores your underlying selfishness and greed.

  • 37. Josh  |  February 12, 2009 at 4:05 pm

    Derek –

    As many kind Christians have so eloquently and thoughtfully told me in the past:

    You are in error.

    Just because the apostles broke apart Old Testament prophecies like that, twisted the wording into Greek that manipulated the meaning of the passages, and then applied them to the Messiah does not mean that you can do the same with whatever texts you want.

    After all, they were inspired.

    You aren’t.

    So there.
    :)

  • 38. Luke  |  February 13, 2009 at 2:07 am

    “And since it seems the authors of the Bible had their own biases, we can always find our favorite book or passage that ‘matches’ our biases. So one man follows Paul, another Peter, and another Christ.”

    and thus the problem of the written word. i hear ya and thank you for your response. i’m with you most of the way!

    “And what good is that except to use the Bible as a defense mechanism or a weapon against others?”

    my responce would be to use it as a mirror to our own stories. we are all colored by bias and seeking cultural affirmation that we’re not alone in our struggles. the Bible provides the story, the mythos, of a culture’s struggles and questions in their context with their biases. looking at their bias, we find our own. in their story, we find our own.

    now does this reflect and support your claim “Christians take the interpretation that is most convenient in their scenario and makes them feel the most safe and secure or loved.”

    absolutely! but that’s a very human emotion, to be loved and accepted and secure. some use religion, others science, culture, or some more harmful addictions. but this Judeo-Christian seems to work for me and my biases… namely treating others as they like to be treated and trying to love my neighbor… but that’s not just sola scriptura.. but with the whole of human wisdom and science.

    i’m not sure exactly where you’re coming from, but there’s my $.20 (used to be $.02, but inflation). thanks for the mutually enriching dialogue.. well, enriching on my part anywho, i hope it was for you as well.

  • 39. Josh  |  February 13, 2009 at 11:20 am

    Luke –

    Damn inflation!

    No, but Luke, I do appreciate your comments. It is obvious you are open and listening, which is more than many who comment on this site.

    You have given me a slightly new perspective on Christianity. If I am not mistaken, I would place you somewhere on the extreme moderate -> liberal edge of the Christian realm. Correct?

    If not, then what follows won’t be accurate. Basically I am learning that many people use the Christian faith as a tool for guiding life, like a good philosophy that when used properly can benefit the happiness of the individual applying its principles and those around them.

    Perhaps I could describe it this way. Fundamentalism forces the individual to conform to the dogma for the benefit of the dogma and at the expense of the individual. Liberalism forces the dogma to conform to the individual at the expense of the dogma and for the benefit of the individual.

    So now you can imagine why so many of us felt a little destroyed and tricked by the Christian faith. We feel used, like we fell for a ponzi scheme or something.

    Thanks for commenting on the site: as always, you are welcome.

  • 40. Josh  |  February 13, 2009 at 11:21 am

    “If not, then what follows won’t be accurate.”

    I just realized this sentence was completely unnecessary. Ha.

  • 41. annaldavis  |  February 13, 2009 at 2:14 pm

    “So now you can imagine why so many of us felt a little destroyed and tricked by the Christian faith. We feel used, like we fell for a ponzi scheme or something.”

    You know, in the Bible we hear from all the people who followed Jesus. But what about the people who truly, honestly believed that the Pharisees knew what they were talking about? The ones who went along with them when they said “can you believe this guy? He doesn’t follow the rules!”

    We don’t know of course, but I would imagine that when they found out who Jesus really was, they would probably feel much like you. Tricked by the religious leaders of their day.

  • 42. LeoPardus  |  February 13, 2009 at 2:53 pm

    when they found out who Jesus really was, they would probably feel much like you.

    Sort of relieved you mean? ;)

  • 43. annaldavis  |  February 13, 2009 at 5:43 pm

    I guess it all depends on your bias, right?

  • 44. Quester  |  February 13, 2009 at 5:50 pm

    Which bias would that be? One we had before deconverting, after, or what?

  • 45. annaldavis  |  February 13, 2009 at 6:44 pm

    It doesn’t really matter which one. We’re all dynamic (most of us, anyway), as as Josh and Luke have said, we see what we what to see (or read) at any given time in our development.

    But feeling tricked isn’t unique to deconverts. My parents once “helped” God with a miracle to strengthen my faith. I felt tricked, but God had nothing to do with it. Millions of people are currently being tricked by this idea that God wants to make them rich and prosperous. Is that God’s fault?

    False teaching is everywhere. And it fuels the hypocrisy that Edwin says will be the greatest factor for continued deconversion.

  • 46. annaldavis  |  February 13, 2009 at 7:09 pm

    Come to think of it, that’s probably why we have those verses about if someone is caught up in a sin, confront them in love, if they don’t listen, get someone else, and so on. False teaching comes from within the church. We can earn our way into heaven? Somebody should have corrected the person who said this before he became a preacher. It doesn’t matter if we ask for money from people so that we’ll pray for them? Somebody should have been so bold as to correct this guy before he started his own church and swindled thousands of dollars from a gullible public with his own TV show ( this particular one strikes close to me).

    When such biblical correction comes from a self-righteous heart (yes I have been guilty of this)– then it is really a sad thing. But I do believe those particular verses have a purpose.

  • 47. Luke  |  February 13, 2009 at 7:33 pm

    Josh… you got it on all accounts!

    thanks man! peace!

  • 48. annaldavis  |  February 13, 2009 at 7:43 pm

    Sorry about that — I got a little worked up. I absolutely cannot stand how so many of us have gotten it so wrong for so long. It just makes me ache. Because if there is a God, and Jesus really did die for us, then we have certainly made a giant mess of things.

  • 49. Yurka  |  February 13, 2009 at 7:46 pm

    Luke, are you an Episcopalian? UCC? UMC? Just curious.

  • 50. Luke  |  February 13, 2009 at 7:55 pm

    UCC… i’ve heard this stands for Utterly Confused Christian or Unitarians Considering Christ. ;-)

    thanks for the interest Yurka. what are/were you?

  • 51. TitforTat  |  February 13, 2009 at 8:21 pm

    It just makes me ache. Because if there is a God, and Jesus really did die for us, then we have certainly made a giant mess of things(anna)

    If he is God, hes not dead. I always wonder how people miss this simple fact.

    Luke

    Isnt that Unitarians Completely Crazed ;)

  • 52. Quester  |  February 13, 2009 at 9:05 pm

    Anna,

    It just makes me ache. Because if there is a God, and Jesus really did die for us, then we have certainly made a giant mess of things.

    Perhaps, though a little clarity and consistency in God’s communication might have helped.

  • 53. LeoPardus  |  February 13, 2009 at 9:10 pm

    UCC: ultimately clueless clods…. useless congregation of cads…. ugly cantankerous correctoholics….

  • 54. guitarstrummr  |  February 13, 2009 at 11:48 pm

    “I guess it all depends on your bias, right?”

    If one knows they have a bias, and now know how it is wrong, is it still a bias?

  • 55. Luke  |  February 14, 2009 at 12:21 am

    Leo,

    thanks for the warm welcome. although based on the first definition, i’d say the world is full of Ultimately Clueless Clods. every single last one of us.

    so i guess you and i are in the same denom!!!

  • 56. guitarstrummr  |  February 14, 2009 at 12:36 am

    Luke –

    Ah, now that’s the spirit!

    We all live in a yellow submarine… a yellow submarine… a yellow submarine…

    Everybody now!

  • 57. lauradee24  |  February 22, 2009 at 2:37 pm

    I think I am still in the “Wow, there are people out there like me!” phase, because this is the second post of yours I have read today and can’t think of anything to add because your experiences are so like mine.

    I am glad you wrote it, even if you thought it sounded “negative’ because it gives a voice to everything I have felt regarding friends.

  • 58. grace  |  March 3, 2009 at 9:42 pm

    Praise God, Joshua.

    For me, that’s a huge part of what the Christian faith is about, loving people unconditionally, accepting people where they’re at.

    I currently work as a social worker with abused kids, and their families. Many of the folks my agency works with are pretty rough, and have done some awful things. But, my hope is too extend the love of Christ in various ways, to make a difference.

    I think we can trust God, and totally rest in HIm. I feel as a Christian just being open, living an authentic life, being myself is the best witness.

  • 59. Eve's Apple  |  March 15, 2009 at 7:34 pm

    Josh – I can totally relate to what you are saying, because this happened and is still happening to me. I can’t tell you how many times I have been treated with suspicion by so-called Christians because of my denominational background (Catholic). I won’t share my deconversion story at this point, it’s long and complicated, and anyway it’s not necessary. Let’s just say I have gone through the same searching and questioning and come up with my own conclusions.

    One of the problems with Christianity is that its core teaching demands that the believer divide the world into us and them. As a result behavior that would be considered just plain rude in any other situation becomes justified by Scripture. Scripture trumps all! Including common decency. I do not know how many times I have had believers say with false sympathy that they were sorry I was hurt by fellow Christians–and then they go ahead and display the same kind of objectional behavior that I was protesting against! I have come to the conclusion that they really cannot help themselves, that it is part and parcel of their religion, and to reject that would be to reject their religion.

    Yes, I have lost friendships to religion and probably will continue to do so. I feel it is those people’s loss, not mine. The world is full of interesting people; and I have no desire to wrap myself in a Christian cocoon. Some of the people who knew me in my religious days are bewildered at my de-conversion. But it becomes very clear within a few minutes that they are not really interested in the “why’s”. You see, they already know why!

    At any rate it is difficult to talk about these things with believers because 1) most are not educated enough in the subjects I read to have an intelligent discussion and they don’t care and 2) I really don’t want to undermine someone else’s faith if it does give them comfort. No one twisted my arm and told me not to believe (on the contrary), and I feel the journey to de-conversion is a personal one. I have no desire to prosetlyze for agnosticism or atheism. If you are content and satisfied with your faith, that is fine. But don’t try to convince me if you are not interested in wrestling with the hard questions.

  • 60. Joshua  |  March 15, 2009 at 10:35 pm

    “most are not educated enough in the subjects I read to have an intelligent discussion and they don’t care”

    Oh my, this is exactly a problem I run into all the time. My family, for example, will admit over and over that I know more about the subjects I am talking about than they do, but are fearful to listen to me talk about them because they probably think I am trying to deceive them or lead them away from the faith with all my “so-called knowledge”. It is so frustrating!

  • 61. Eve's Apple  |  March 16, 2009 at 7:56 pm

    Oh, but Josh, you are ! They are afraid because they see what is happening to you. Your deconversion or whatever you want to call it, is a threat to them. Because they really aren’t that secure.

    If I am going to have faith, I want faith that is strong enough to withstand a F5 tornado. Faith strong enough to withstand anything that can be thrown at it. If I have to cocoon myself to protect my faith, then that faith isn’t worth it.

    You and I are not afraid to question. But questioning isn’t encouaraged by the churches. They are like the Wizard of Oz shouting “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain”, except that they would have you believe that there is no man and no curtain. I am convinced that a lot of the hostility towards the Harry Potter series stems, not from the fear that it will encourage the study of witchcraft (how many children really believe in that stuff anyway?) but that Potter’s being based on fantasy will cause unfavorable comparisons with what they are peddling and that Christianity itself will be exposed as a fraud.

  • 62. annaldavis  |  March 17, 2009 at 8:00 am

    “If I am going to have faith, I want faith that is strong enough to withstand a F5 tornado. Faith strong enough to withstand anything that can be thrown at it. If I have to cocoon myself to protect my faith, then that faith isn’t worth it. ”

    This is probably among the most inspiring statements I’ve ever read.

  • 63. Eve's Apple  |  March 18, 2009 at 6:56 pm

    Thank you, annaldavis. I get so frustrated when people who are obviously living in a Christian cocoon try to lead me “to the Lord.” They may think they have something richer; I don’t see it that way. When I hear “I used to (fill in the blank) but now I don’t,” it makes me feel sad. I’m not talking about destructive things, like drugs and alcohol.

    I have a former friend who is steadily burrowing more and more into a Christian fantasy world. She has lost friends, she has even lost a husband and it looks like she may have even lost her son, because her version of Christianity is so rigid that very few are permitted to be part of that world. Only if they sacrifice themselves and become like her will she accept them. We don’t speak any more, because I am clearly of the lost. Worse yet, I am a former Christian who has been there and done that, and I have told her frankly that she is using her religion to run away from reality. And furthermore, she is driving people away from her in the name of Christ. It is not that I want her to stop being a Christian, but that I want her to see what she is doing. Instead I got Bible quotes on separating oneself from the world. Well she is doing a great job of that! I shudder to think of what will happen should she ever wake up from this Jesus dream and realize what she has done with her life.

    I will give a small example of the kind of thing I am talking about. I feel that I am willing to respect and accommodate people’s beliefs if what I am being requested to do is reasonable; it is not my wish to go out of my way to be offensive. A few years ago the movie “Prince of Egypt” was showing at the local theater and I asked her if she and her son would like to go. She hemmed and hawed and finally said she did not know, she would have to think about it. What she did not have the guts to say was that she would have to check it out with her church to see if it was on the approved list, because a few days later she told me that her pastor had given it a glowing recommendation! I was plenty disgusted at that. What her actions (and this was not an isolated incident) said very clearly is that “I do not trust you, I do not trust your judgement, and I am afraid that you will put me in a situation that compromises my faith.” I found that very insulting! Anyone who knows me at all knows that that would be the very LAST thing I would do; for God’s sake this was a Christian movie, not the triple-X feature down at the adult theater. She was THAT afraid of me and THAT afraid of life,
    That kind of faith I want NO PART of!!!

    Hence my remark about the F5 tornado. Life has a tendency to throw them at you sometimes . . .

  • 64. Joshua  |  March 18, 2009 at 8:24 pm

    Eve, I TOTALLY understand!

    My parents are that way about movies. I could recommend movies when I was a Christian and my poor parents just would not trust me. I could recommend just about anything and they wouldn’t trust me. It was so insulting.

    It makes friendship so hard! Because they completely distrust your judgment from the start – even when you are trying to look out for their standards. In many cases, I would recommend movies that I knew my parents would like because they were wholesome, etc. but my parents would still hem and haw.

    Its so self-righteous, really.

  • 65. Quester  |  March 18, 2009 at 10:43 pm

    Self-righteous, Joshua? Sounds fearful from here.

  • 66. Joshua  |  March 19, 2009 at 12:15 am

    Well, having learned that attitude from my parents, I have to say it was mostly self-righteous – at least when I had that attitude before I started “loosening up”. I don’t know about my parents. Some of it is probably fear – fear of the unknown.

    Its probably a little of both :) But I hear ya!

  • 67. Eve's Apple  |  March 19, 2009 at 7:58 pm

    You know, I am so glad I stumbled upon this site, because I was beginning to wonder if it was something about me. But I see now that others have gone through the same frustrating experiences with Christians.

    Well I don’t want a faith that teaches me to distrust. I have enough trust issues on my own, thank you, I don’t need a lot of encouragement in that area. I have Asperger’s Syndrome (a form of high-functioning autism). Let’s just say that there are certain types of religion that are not healthy for someone like me because they only aggravate already-existing social deficits. I still don’t have great social skills, but I feel that in many ways religion held me back socially. Of course, when your thinking is next-worldly instead of this-worldly, then helping someone develop the necessary social skills isn’t important. Unfortunately it is the unhealthier forms of Christianity that are the most aggressive in recruiting, and it takes a strong person to recognize and resist them, I would suspect that a lot of fundies are undiagnosed Aspergers simply because that is the sort of thing that appeals to the Asperger’s mind. On the other hand, there are a lot of us who are agnostic or atheists, mostly the higher-functioning ones.

  • 68. Dona  |  August 18, 2009 at 10:47 am

    I believe that as we mature in our faith, we will become more humble, less pharisaical(sp), and better able to love and live in the world of people like Jesus did. I believe that our faith develops and matures as the Holy Spirit sanctifies us and that some of us may go through stages and struggle with problems of being legalistic or “doctrinally sound” at the price of being loving and inclusive, or “loving” at the price of being truthful and having good wise biblical boundaries. I don’t think we need to throw the baby out with the bath water. We just need to cling to Jesus as our Savior and only hope and let his Spirit and Holy Word comfort us, guide us, and change us into more loving and Christlike people.

  • 69. Joshua  |  August 18, 2009 at 10:49 am

    But what about the people who mature in all those things without the Holy Spirit?

  • 70. Roy  |  August 18, 2009 at 12:08 pm

    Joshua and Dona,

    Perhaps you are both referring to the same process, maturation, using different lingos. Dona uses the Christian lingo and Joshua uses the atheistic secular morality lingo.

    I think that both are perfectly valid ways to talk about that process. I was a Christian for years, then I deconverted, was an atheist for a while, and now I consider myself a healthy blend of the two. I am actually a panentheist.

    I can understand and speak in both lingos. I use the throwing out the baby with the bath water metaphor often when talking about my current interpretation of the Bible. Everybody tends to use the language they understand the best. I probably do best in the pantheistic lingo now, but I am always open to new truth (new to me, that is).

    Paul of Tarsus wrote of maturing and putting away childish things. In my opinion, legalism, toeing a doctrinal line, insisting that the Bible must be interpreted as being completely and literally true for all people in all places and at all times, and being motivated by a presumed eternal reward or punishment in a presumed afterlife are all signs of immature faith. I have been there, done that, and I discarded the T-Shirt.

    There are Christians all along the maturity spectrum and atheists all along the maturity spectrum. In my opinion part of maturity in general is learning that people of all faiths or no faith can work together side by side to make the world a better place for all.

    Humanity is very badly in need of salvation in the here and now. We all need to step up and help make it happen. I have faith in our ability to do what we need to do.

  • 71. mary  |  September 13, 2009 at 10:15 pm

    “This morning I woke up and realized that it has been forever since I just really enjoyed someone’s company. I always felt like I needed to change their mind, or somehow turn the conversation to “deeper issues”, or witness to them, or confess something, or that I should not be frivolously wasting my time on “small talk” but should be doing something – anything – more spiritual.”

    Wow, Josh, I can SO relate to this! Now that I am no longer a Christian I am really struggling with feeling my relationships are missing something. I was so used to relationships being about God and deep spiritual issues. So in addition to losing Jesus and God, I feel like I’ve lost friendship too, even with the friends I currently have. UGH. Losing faith is hard.

    Of course, the Christian’s answer would be that I just need to choose faith again to start experience all of those benefits. They don’t seem to get it. I know all the verses, the arguments for God and all that. But the faith is gone, and “choosing” it to get some kind of benefits would be a lie.

    I do admit that I am looking forward to developing some “normal” friendships and have started working on it. Since it can be hard to meet people when you’re used to having social networks in church, I looked at meetup.com and found some local meetup groups. Different kinds of people, hanging out in a group, just having fun…imagine. :)

  • 72. Joshua  |  September 14, 2009 at 1:15 am

    Mary, I am so glad my post has helped – even if in just a small way. I’ve discovered that 99% of the healing process of leaving is just being able to connect with someone else in a similar experience. You are far from alone.

    About a month after writing this article I reached a point where I hit a wall and realized that I needed to cut off as many of my Christian friends as I could for a temporary period… just to heal. It helped immensely. That worked for me a lot, and forced me to search out new friendships among those outside the fold. And yes, meetup.com was involved in that process :)

    After writing this article… I think, though, that for me I began to realize that in all honesty, I didn’t know myself. I didn’t know who I was. I didn’t know what I liked or where I was going. I was never allowed to really like myself and what I liked – it was all to be submitted to that Yahweh character. I had never explored my sexuality or… well… really anything related to what I personally wanted.

    That lead me through a period of, well, floundering, which included not knowing what kind of friends I wanted, who the hell I would want to date… that in many ways put me in a vulnerable spot. I made some mistakes, but thankfully I can just laugh at myself now instead of feeling guilt or condemnation for not having my life perfect.

    You are going to have fun, I guarantee it. I’m not sure how involved you were in the church, but it sounds like maybe a lot. I’m not sure where you are at, but give yourself lots and lots and lots of mercy-room during the transition. Things are hard enough without you also being hard on yourself. There is no longer a standard of perfection you are trying to achieve, so just let yourself go and be you… remembering that your smarts are what keep you safe in your relationships.

    I wish you the best!

  • 73. Lyra's Alias  |  June 6, 2010 at 6:32 pm

    Really cool. I have talked with a few people from my campus church, from which I have gained the closest friends I have ever had, about my present frustration with Christianity and religion in general. I will say, thank goodness, that my experience has largely been different, that my friends really do base our relationships on an unconditional love.

    I know within that love will probably always be a desire to pull me back to orthodox Christianity (I no longer claim a typical evangelical salvation doctrine whatsoever), but the response has still largely been ‘I am still your friend regardless.’ Which is great.

    I was thinking today how disturbing it is that people say things like “I wouldn’t be able to get through this if it weren’t for God” or “I wouldn’t be passionate about serving the poor if it weren’t for God,” because if your concern for fellow human beings depends on the existence of something entirely unprovable, I imagine your moral compass is not well-made. Caring for others, including friendships, should not be because “Jesus said so.” That Jesus says so is great, but loving other human beings should not be dependent on a religious background (and, from the number of truly conscientious agnostics and atheists I know, it obviously isn’t).

  • 74. Julian  |  August 23, 2010 at 11:21 pm

    Simple, yet a common and understandable mistake many of us make.

    “You cannot judge a religion by those that fail to practice it”

    A Christian is required to officially be charitable to all, and those that are not are not practicing true Christianity. Of course, no one is perfect, but the ideal is not found wanting.

    A philosophy’s atheism consists less in denying God than in not finding a place for Him

    The death of God is an interesting opinion, but one that does not affect God

    It is not the origin of religions, or their cause, which requires explanation, but rather the cause and origin of their eclipse and neglect.

  • 75. Amy  |  April 21, 2011 at 10:07 pm

    Hi Josh!

    I found your post by putting in “Christian friend suddenly rejects Christ” in my laptops search engine.

    Thank You for your honesty and thought-provoking comments. You have reassured me this evening to not be so “worried” about my friend.

    I too, rejected Christ approx. 28 years ago. I am
    now “back” with Christ personally, without all the social “hoopla”. People find this odd, as the Bible says for us to not neglect meeting with others of our faith.

    The biggest thing for me is striving to NOT live for man’s approval. To me, if someone points out something in the Bible to remind me of my errors, just search a little farther and I can find something there to support my “error”.

    For everything there is a season.

    I am in no way mocking the Bible.

    It helps me to remember that the Bible says that the apostles argued among themselves on who was Jesus’ favorite. Lol.

    Josh, I would like to know how You are doing?

    Thanks!

  • 76. Eve's Apple  |  April 22, 2011 at 7:26 pm

    You know, what I find very interesting about this whole church business is how often people will invite me to their church or say that I should be going to church (when they find that I am not), without ever once inquiring into my beliefs! It is my understanding that church is not a social club; it is an organization made up of people who believe a certain way, and that this is an integral part of the organization. So why would you want someone attending who does not believe what you believe or worse yet, is opposed to what you believe? It does not make any sense.

  • 77. April Galamin  |  April 25, 2011 at 9:12 pm

    I so understand this!

    Thanks for sharing your experiences.
    I wish all of the best to you in your journey out of abusive religion.
    I’ve been there & sometimes it is not easy. But I’d rather
    be free, than with a group of people whose relationship
    with me was sadly VERY conditional.
    When I finally realized it, it was devastating. But I am glad
    I saw IT, better late than never. :) I’m out now & though I’ve had some rough times, I have no regret whatsoever leaving that abusive & controlling environment.

    I hope you keep moving forward & all of the best to you.

  • 78. Heather  |  June 7, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    I’m sorry that happened to you. Yes Christians are crazy, and hypocritical, but the thing is- you are supposed to be looking at Christ not the christians. Chrisitans are supposed to follow Christ and become more Christ-like, but sometimes we have out own ideas of what Christ is like is and we get full of ourselves and self-righteous. This is not what chrisitanity is supposed to be like, I don’t blame you for leaving your church and your friends, but if I may be so bold as to say… please continue to talk to God. I am not asking you to repeat the sinners prayer or anyother nonsense that I’m sure you are aware of and can smell a mile away. Just talk to Jesus and listen to what he has to say..I’m sure it won’t be anything like what the christians ‘you know’ have been saying.
    God Bless You, regardless of your decision.

  • 79. Amy  |  June 17, 2011 at 10:38 am

    “That lead me through a period of, well, floundering, which included not knowing what kind of friends I wanted, who the hell I would want to date… that in many ways put me in a vulnerable spot. I made some mistakes, but thankfully I can just laugh at myself now instead of feeling guilt or condemnation for not having my life perfect…” this from Joshua, last entry, Sept. 2009.

    Still waiting to see how Joshua is doing!

    Thanks to those who have written on this blog this year! I feel that the “de-conversion” can be a process of getting to know one’s self, just as Joshua stated.
    It’s often thought of as someone making a huge leap from a life of, hmmmmm, resisting our sinful nature, to becoming a “slave” to that same nature.
    De-conversion is not always that obvious.

    The friend I mentioned seems to be doing fine. What I’m troubled with, is I saw subtle hints that my friend was struggling, and he didn’t talk about it to me. I think about the times any of us are in the right place at the right time to give encouragement…

    My prayer life and personal relationship with Christ is good. A portion of that spiritual health is due to overhearing a mature adult say to another mature adult, “If you have doubts about your christian faith, go to God with that. Ask Him to help you with your unbelief!” Wow! I had (for years) mistakenly thought that my insecurities were sinful in itself and I had no chance of living a guilt-free life if I was striving to be Christ-like.

    enough said, for now

  • 80. catherine  |  December 17, 2011 at 3:43 am

    The path I am on demands that I learn to live without the approval of others. Some people think that what we are taught in the churches is milk, and maturity means growing up and going your own way. Sometimes when you do that you end up going from church to church, from disbelief to belief and back and forth again. I am being led to more eastern traditions and it’s what I need. I am also leaning towards more new age stuff that Christians say is Satan. -my spiritual growth demands it. Even Jesus visited India I believe and studied what they believe and took that with him. You can see it in the things he says. There is nothing wrong with searching. I am always suspicious of those who continue with the beliefs they were raised in. have to always question. The path is not easy for some of us. And yes..it is a journey you must take alone, though along the way you have many great teachers and you take their words with you as you travel. The best advice I ever received is never look to leaders outside yourself as to define to you what the truth is. Faith is always going to be subjective for everyone who is human.

  • 81. from the outside | alabaster jar  |  October 24, 2012 at 4:26 pm

    [...] In light of my conversation with my coworker, I ran across an article titled “Becoming Free from the Conditional Love of Christian Friendships.” It is tough to read, it challenges things that are hard to face, and might even make you question how you live out what you believe. The hardest part about this article for me to hear is that it isn’t until after the author choses to walk away from his faith that he feels free to care about others and be cared for in return. But if you’re ready for the challenge, check it out here. [...]

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  • 83. Bryan  |  December 18, 2012 at 11:50 pm

    Wow. That’s my story. Mines a little closer to home, literally, IN the home. My wife, deeply commited Baptist….me, an emerging deconvert. I noticed all the same things mentioned in the first post. It truly does hurt and its not just a whimsical decision to step away from faith. Looking back, I was the dog on the conversation looking for a weak spot or a logical fallacy to attack and latch onto until I proved my worthiness by tearing down arguments against God and gave my reasonable defense. I feel ashamed. The idea of relationships and my concept of them changed dramatically while under all that religion….religion robbed relationships. I no longer simply cared about people regardless I cared because I was supposed to. And if I did anything well then my motives weren’t right or I avoided doing because of the possibility of bad influence. Yes, I feel ashamed. I’m starting to see the light at the end of dry religious faith. My wife and church hurt more than I expected, I must admit. It does hurt having the gospel shared with you when I was the one heading the apologetics course. That and being told that my faith wasn’t genuine is oh so frustrating. I can’t speak for all but mine certainly was genuine. I knew it in my bones, scripture was alive, God spoke (figuratively). I suppose I’m left with “I don’t understand why they dint understand.” In which I answer myself, “how could they?)

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Attention Christian Readers

Just in case you were wondering who we are and why we de-converted.

de-conversion wager

Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe in creeds- when there is a significant lack of evidence on how to define God or if he/she even exists.

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