Thursday, January 29, 2009                                                                                       View Comments

I am a work in progress, but it is REALLY difficult

A letter from Dean

Jesus died to save sinners from HellImage by Steve Rhodes via Flickr

I need help. After a very long time of searching for people who feel as I do I finally found this website. I have written this because I do not know who else to talk to and I feel that this is the only site where people will understand what I am going through.

This is a long post. I hope someone reads it as I really need to know that I am not the only one going through this.

I am really struggling with Christianity. A couple of years ago, when I was in my late 20's, I started questioning my faith. I was deeply involved in a church but things started to unravel.

The crux of the matter is that I fell in love with a wonderful, beautiful, caring woman. She was not a Christian. I had never had a close girlfriend, and I had always wanted to be with a Christian woman. How ironic - I had waited so long, just to fall in love with THIS girl!

For many weeks, I tried to put off the feelings, but I could not ignore them any longer. Eventually, I got together with her. One thing led to another and we had a physical relationship - my first.

The terrible thing is that I felt so guilty. What made it worse was that I believed that God had told me to pray for her salvation and I felt like I had destroyed everything and was going to hell. I had nightmares, I could not sleep and I had horrible panic attacks - like post traumatic stress disorder. The feelings were made worse when I told my best friend about everything. He could not handle that I was with an "unsaved" girl and he definitely did not encourage the relationship.

I could not stand seeing my friends any more or anyone from my church. My mind was really messed though, and I mean REALLY messed. I could not eat or concentrate, I could not sleep well. I could talk to my parents but they could not really understand because my entire family are Christians.

To cut to the chase, I endured a horrible ordeal and ended up with a nervous breakdown. I broke up with my girlfriend which made me severely depressed. I loved her so much in spite of everything, and I wanted to be with her so badly, but I couldn't due to my state of mind. The worst thing that has haunted me for so long, is that I know that I hurt her so badly. I know she has forgiven me but I regret hurting her and sometimes I find it hard to forgive myself.

Anyway, I had to leave my town and my job. I ended up in another city and started going to church again (I was very fragile at the time), in spite of knowing that I had too many doubts. In a way, it was a very good thing for me because I kind of got my life and my self confidence back. However, I find it difficult to come to terms with what happened to me. I know that my story is nothing in comparison to some people's suffering, but it is still difficult for me.

The essence of the matter is that I started seeing life from a completely different perspective and I nearly lost my mind because of it!! I started seeing that people are just people - there should not be any Christians, or Jews, or Muslims... just people. I realised that sex is a wonderful thing to be shared by two lovers, not some sick sin. I realised that just because something is written in some "sacred" book, does not mean that it is actually true! I see so many things in movies and read so many books that show me that we should strive to be free of intolerance, superstition and worthless tradition.

One good thing is that I no longer feel guilty for doing most things, and the best thing is that I am starting to believe in MYSELF! I know that the accomplishments that I have made in my life are due to ME, and why should I not be proud of myself?!

The thing is though, I am still battling. I have not gone to church for a while now, but I still struggle. I loved my church and a lot of the people there before everything happened. I love my friends, but I don't think our friendships will ever be the same if they know that I do not want to believe any more. I am worried that I am going to cause strife in my family as we are very close. Worst of all is that I gave up the love of my life (so far - I hope she's not the only one) for something, and now I do not believe in it like I used to!! (What an idiot!). I do not want to live in regret, but it is difficult not to.

I really loved God too and I fear going to hell sometimes, but it is getting better as I meet new people who are not Christians and realise that they can be so wonderful and loving - why would they be sent to hell, it just makes no sense! I am worried that I am going to be alone. It is so lonely outside the church some times. I am also really worried that I am going to react the same way if I have sex again. I want to be with someone but I am so scared of having anxiety problems again - if you have not had a breakdown you have NO idea of the hell that it is!

Well, I am a work in progress, but it is REALLY difficult. It is getting easier, but some days are BAD. It is difficult when you are alone.

I agree with a lot of people on this site. It is extremely BRAVE to turn away from religion, if that is your decision. De-converting can be extremely stressful and one can go through a lot of fear. Your friends and family may desert you and one can go through years and years of agonizing reflection. When you are stripped of your identity and see the world in a totally different way, it is an extremely scary place to be. That is why I am writing this. I need some help. I don't know what I am going to do about my beliefs but I am just taking it one day at a time. Writing about everything makes it easier. I hope someone can respond with something helpful. I really do not want any hurtful or sarcastic comments please.

Thank you for reading.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009                                                                                       View Comments

Unshakable Sense of Disappointment Post-Deconversion

Morro Bay ReligionImage by SugaShane via FlickrA letter from Andy Walters

I severed myself from the faith with all the grace and gradualness of a guillotine drop. Sitting alone in my apartment, I was held captive by the unsettling but undeniable words spilling off the page. Some Christians wait a lifetime to hear the voice of God loud and clear. I settled for Karen Armstrong. Her thesis was undeniable: Fundamentalism, the belief that God has been perceived in exactly the same way throughout the ages, is ahistorical. Each generation of believers has reconstructed what “God” meant for them, regardless of whether their reconstructions required the reinterpretation, deformation, or abandonment of the prevalent beliefs about God. God wasn't one rope that stretched throughout history, tying our religious ancestors together. "God" was actually a long line of dominoes – individual, gradually evolved, mutually exclusive conceptions of God – that stood proudly, if surreptitiously, waiting to be toppled. The moment I realized this, along with a few other factors, I exclaimed "Oh my God, I'm an atheist!" and burst into a paroxysm of tears.

God was never a mere theological abstraction for me; he was at once my raison d'etre, my best – if imaginary – friend, the benevolent savior of the universe, and the hero of all heroes: he was the summum bonum, the highest good which makes life worth living. Now, he was a fairy tale.

What was worth living for if there wasn't a God? For twenty two years, I had sang songs like these with the sincerest conviction:

You are my strength when I am weak
You are the treasure that I seek
You are my all in all
Seeking You as a precious jewel
Lord, to give up I'd be a fool
You are my all in all

What was my "all in all" now? Was there a treasure worth seeking like a precious jewel? What the hell did "precious" even mean to me anymore?

Fast forward a year. I've figured out that meaning, purpose, and morality are not the monopoly of the religious. I've learned that once we disentangle the knot of religion, we find that philosophy, community, and the numinous are strands completely independent of the supernatural. Generally speaking, I've been able to acquire some decent sense of all of the previous.

But that's only generally speaking. Specifically speaking, it feels like reality has delivered some bad news about my stolen sense of meaning, purpose, and morality: I can have some of it back, but a large chunk is unrecoverable. I'll have to exchange the intellectual opulence I once enjoyed for the austerity of reality. For immortal, perfect love, I'll have to settle for its human equivalent. For absolute, objective morality, a human-constructed ethical system. For communion with God, neurophysiological effects. For compassion for the lost, the stark truth that many of them are doing better than I am. For the participation in a battle of absolute Good and Evil, the participation in a world where every cause is a mixed bag. For the worship of an almighty, infallible God, the limited appreciation of a few humans.

Sure, my life has meaning. But it's just as not epic anymore. The difference between now and then isn't a difference of kind, as I first feared. It's a difference of degree. I've managed to keep some sense of meaning, purpose, and morality, but from God to reality has been a tough let-down.

My situation reminds me of a recovering drug addict who has lost their ability to experience happiness in the usual ways because they were used to such strong, though artificial, stimulation. Everything they experience other than that drug seems hopelessly hum-drum. I feel the same way. Kicking strong doses of “my all in all” to whom I could devote my entire being has left me feeling like I am condemned to hopeless hum-drum.

Perhaps my condition is simply my “cross to bear.” Perhaps it is fixable. Perhaps this is normal for everyone. I'm not sure, and that's why I'd like your input. If you are an ex-fundamentalist, have you experienced this disappointment as well? If so, how have you dealt with it?

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Monday, January 19, 2009                                                                                       View Comments

Fulfilling their Christian duty

Wooden Christian CrossImage by freefotouk via FlickrA letter from Matt

I'm 18 years old and have been brought up in a fundamental (Presbyterian) christian background since the day I was born. My parents are both devout believers as well as my older brother. I was a firm believer myself, although I struggled through many things like drugs, porn, and bad habits like swearing (all the while believing in god and trying to live it). I have also attended Christian school all my life, and am currently a senior in high school (where I am in an apologetics class!)

It was just over the last year that I really began to question my faith, and about 3 months ago when I utterly abandoned it. At first my parents were shocked; my mom cried and my parents tried to make me convince them it wasn't true. When they realized I was serious, my parents made me go to a Christian counselor, but it was eventually my choice to end this. My dad then said he was going to make me read things like "A Case for Christ", but this did not come to pass.

Currently my parents still pray for me constantly (fulfilling their Christian duty) and talk to each other about me when they think I can't hear them. My dad still tries to have discussions with me about faith, "in a non-confrontational manner" as he puts it.

It is only a few months before I leave the house to go to college, but it is maddening putting up with this at home. I know I am right and that they are so blinded by their faith, but they are so sure in their faith and think it is their responsibility to "save me from going to hell".

What should I do to cope with this?

Thank you for your time,

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Sunday, January 18, 2009                                                                                       View Comments

Keeping Secret Silence

The DelugeImage via WikipediaBy KSS

This is an extraordinary site. I have been wondering if I was alone in wanting answers to these questions. Eventually I found this site and I am impressed with the sincere desire to find what is true.

I think there are many Christians who are trapped in a place where they cannot talk about their doubts, because of the big investments that they have in church families, church friends, church community, church life. Hence the title above, Keeping Secret Silence. I think there are many men and women in this condition. To speak out would be too damaging. It is even a risk to post something here.

I found the recent post by Kevin, "How do I move on?" to be very helpful, and especially the replies that people posted.

After a tragedy in our family in 2007, I started to question things. My view of God as "all powerful" began to unravel. The more I pull at it, the more it seems to unwind.

Right now I am struggling with the idea that God is in fact very anti-children. I keep seeing these Bible passages where He either destroys, or approves of, their destruction.

In the flood of Noah, God drowns thousands of children. Later, Abraham is told to slaughter his son Isaac, in a spiritual test. Then Moses leads the children of Israel out of Eqypt after God has killed all Egyptian first born children. At the conquest of Jericho, God commands that the young are destroyed by the Israelites. In the Psalms, praise is given to the warrior who dashes the infants of Babylon on a rock. Then in the New Testament, God stands-by when His own son is butchered and left to die horribly - for what cause, exactly?

I really struggle with all this.

So I visited a Christian chat room - thinking they might help me understand the flood of Noah: did God really drown all those children on earth who didn't get into the ark? I discovered the chat room wasn't open to questioning the received story of Noah and the flood.

Here is the transcript of what happened:

KSS:
I have a question, if someone can help me? It's about Noah and the flood. Did God really destroy all the families on earth in that flood? Did he drown all the children that were left behind? ... I mean, it seems pretty brutal to me

Bert:
yes KSS

ThePreacher'sWife:
yes, except for noah's children and their spouses

Glory:
he destroyed the earth and everyone

Doggie:
all but 8 that were on the Ark, KSS

ThePreacher'sWife:
God is just: you can call that brutal if you must

Charity:
God is serious

Jil (Anchored in Christ):
they warned many times to change their lives KSS

Charity:
what God says...He means

Glory:
amen charity, when hes had enough thats it

Glory:
we must heed his warnings

ThePreacher'sWife:
the Bible says that it repented the Lord that He had made man on the earth and it grieved Him at His heart

Jil (Anchored in Christ):
amen preachers wife

KSS:
I am having a hard time accepting that

Glory:
we dont understand God His ways are higher then ours

Jil (Anchored in Christ):
amen glory

KSS:
so you guys are really saying that it is OK by God to drown children in a flood?

Glory:
Im not saying that KSS, but God makes him and he takes em

KSS:
glory that sounds like word games, sorry to say

Doggie:
KSS........"the sins of the fathers are visited upon the 3rd and 4th generation"

Charity:
KSS you need to take that up with God

ThePreacher'sWife:
yes, KSS. You have to understand about generational sin. The innocent babies weren't necessarily guilty, but their parents were: and they suffered as a consequence

ThePreacher'sWife:
The same exists today: our children will suffer for the sinful lives we live

Jil (Anchored in Christ):
KSS how about you praying to god and ask Him about it

ThePreacher'sWife:
I'm with you glory

Glory:
KSS, its true He makes them and He takes them, its all in His Power and timing

Glory:
The sins of the Fathers are passed down through generations

KSS:
well you guys are very good at dismissing something horrible!!! I don't think I can accept the story. Or, I can't worship God if what you say is true

SORRY. You've been asked to leave the room.
Your IP address has been Banned: --.--.--.--

christalk.org



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Saturday, January 10, 2009                                                                                       View Comments

How do I move forward?

  * Description: Coffee cortado (An latte...Image via WikipediaA letter from Kevin

I'm 41 years of age and have been a Christian since I was probably six or seven. It's all I've known.

Now my two kids -- seven and nine -- are right into it.

I've wrestled with doubts since I was a teenager. Life would get tough; I would seek God; and when things got better I would thank Him. Then I would question whether that was divine help or just a coincidence of life. Now I'm at the point where I can't believe that (according to the Bible) my nice neighbours and wonderful in-laws are going to hell. And, I don't see any victories in my life over recurring "sins" or any desire for self discipline -- no visible benefits of being "saved".

I think I can deal with easing out of the church community, but my big fear is, how do I move forward with my wife and kids? How do I respond to what they learn in church or at their kids' club at church? How can I be honest with myself and them?

I am sitting on the fence right now. I am currently reading a book from Philip Yauncey's "Disappointment with God". His has a Christian approach which is obviously trying to support God and quell my doubts, but I see the opposite side of every point he makes.

This would be much easier if I was a single guy or if my kids were much older. This is an anxious time for me. Any advice would be welcome. Anybody from the Niagara Region (Southern Ontario) who wants to share a coffee, just let me know.



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