A lie that nearly ruined me.

comments 4
the godless side

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We attended a local Evangelical Christian church service on Sunday. My husband likes to check out some of the local churches to find some sort of sense of structure and community. I go to see from a new perspective what used to make up the very foundation of my life.

The last time I attended this particular church, I was in silent tears the majority of the service. I had very recently lost faith in God, in spiritual things of any kind in fact, and I felt a terribly amount of loss, loneliness, and meaninglessness. The blissful ignorance of the congregants only exacerbated and accentuated my pain. Plus, we were there in the first place to raise support as missionaries as it was during our more closeted days in which our job depended on our doctrine. So not only did I feel intense pain, but I had to feign intense joy and excitement for the “cause of Christ.”

Over one year later, my experience was about as opposite of the above as it could have been.

Not only did I feel no sense of loss or pain, but yesterday I found myself overwhelmed with anger. This anger found two causes:

  • The extreme misrepresentation of unbelievers by the church and to itself.
  • The manipulation to remain blindly in belief.

Let me talk more extensively about the first for a moment (the second will come in another post). The pastor firmly and sternly spoke in front of hundreds of his flock telling them these words:

“There is no hope, meaning in life, or even love without God. Christ is the source of everything good. We aren’t just some product of chance, evolved to whatever helped us survive. No! If that were true, there would be no love.   Those who do not have God are completely lost.”

I wanted to scream at him. Actually, I really really really wanted to go up on the stage and offer a real, true perspective from an unbeliever. Aaaahh!! This angered me for so many reasons. First of all, as an unbeliever, I was completely misunderstood and misrepresented to the public here. Secondly, the pastor made that statement completely blindly based on his own belief about unbelievers. Had he actually met or talked to an unbeliever, he would be shamed to make such painful, blanket statements about us.

[A note about this: It’s possible this pastor has spoken to at least someone in his lifetime who hasn’t believed in God. But to make such huge generalizations based on his assumed limited experience is not only wrong ethically, it is just wrong, incorrect, untrue. ALSO, for every atheist who feels hopeless, I guarantee I can find a religious believer who feels the same. Even one with exact same doctrine as any given pastor who feels his specific doctrine is the only true source of hope!]

Thirdly, this message creates a self-fulfilling prophecy!! This very message that “all who do not have God are hopeless” drilled into my head over and over and over again by various pastors and church leaders throughout my entire life was exactly that which made me feel hopeless for so many months once I no longer believed!!! I was so confident that the only source of hope in the human life was God that once I no longer believed, I was conditioned to simultaneously feel hopeless!!

I must take some responsibility for believing that which became, very nearly, the death of me. But I feel so much anger at the Christian church for teaching me such blatant untrue things from a place of authority that, very truly really set me up for failure in anything outside of it.

Yesterday opened my eyes to new, ugly blemishes of religion previously concealed by its own self-protection. My a-theism isn’t what caused my sense of hopelessness, severe depression, and sense tragic loss throughout last year. This is further reinforced by the fact that I am as unbelieving now as I ever was, yet feel an incredible renewed sense of hope, joy, and meaning in life that I hadn’t even experienced as a believer. No. It wasn’t the loss of faith that ruined me.  It was, ironically, faith itself.

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The Author

I'm a closet atheist christian missionary. Paradigm shifts happen frequently for those who allow themselves to think critically about currently held beliefs and openly about new ones. I’ve developed the skill, or perhaps addiction, for change but the community around me is slow to catch up -- and would damn me if they knew where I stood.

4 Comments

  1. Ain't No Shrinking Violet says

    I very much understand your words. After years of being in mental anguish as a devout catholic, my faith came completely crashing down about 5 months ago. It’s taken me a long while to find my feet, but my recent realization that I’m an atheist is what is bringing me out of the crisis. It was just a couple of days ago that I came out as an atheist to my super-religious family, which as you can imagine didn’t go over well…but it was freeing for me.

    I can NOT imagine trying to hide a loss of faith while being a missionary. That must be so hard to cope with. Last time I was in a church I had to leave to go throw up, and it wasn’t from physical illness either.

    Well, see you in the Lake of Fire! 😉

    Like

  2. It’s been a while since I’ve become an atheist, but it does make me very angry that theists, and Christians in particular, so depend on intentional lies about atheists and non-christians to keep their nonsense afloat. If the religion is valid, one can guess that there won’t be any room in their hell for honest atheists. It’ll be full to the rafters with dishonest theists.

    That’s why I’m out and proud and always happy to take on one more Christian or other theist who tries the same lies again and again.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I once thought as that preacher did: that people who did not believe in God through Christ – or in any god for that matter – were willfully rejecting the truth of Jesus and consciously rebelling against the lordship of God. Now I know better. I don’t believe because I Don’t Believe! I didn’t try to stop believing. I didn’t rebel against anything or anyone. I didn’t even choose to reject what I have held as truth my whole life. It. Just. Happened. Trust me, this is not something I wanted. But I am past the point of agony, of tears, of fear. I have more peace now than I ever remember knowing. I know that will change when I come out to my family and friends. Not looking forward to that. But it won’t signal the end of the world. In the meantime, I no longer have to live in daily fear that some trumpet blast is going signal the end of the world, either.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Is life a Miracle? | teal tomato

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