Someone asked me why I’m agnostic and no longer a Christian, and I decided to go ahead and put it in a post since it ended up being so long!
Anne, can/would you please tell me how or why you think of yourself as an agnostic or atheist? (I got this idea from one of your recent posts.) Yes, I know that your home-life was not the best environment in which to be nurtured. I get some of what you must have lived through with a controlling, preachy adult in your life. But,you can’t let that example be the way of all Christians. Truthfully, in spite of it all, I thought that you were Christian. Have all your experiences with God or a church been so terribly negative that it has totally turned you away from Him?
I hope your question is serious, because this is a serious answer
I hung on to Christianity for about a year and a half before realizing it wasn’t working. I couldn’t change the image I had in my head of a fearsome, capricious, tyrannical god for a loving god. I kept hearing stuff like “God is always there for you, especially when you need him most”, then thinking back to all the times I really needed him, and was trying ridiculously hard to feel like he was there, but that I never felt him. I kind of felt like I had hoped and wished and prayed my entire life for someone who wasn’t there.
I had so many issues with only seeing the stuff I was told about the bible in the bible, and even after getting a new bible in a completely different translation, stuff really bothered me still. Like anything written by Paul…all the “women obey” stuff. Following Paul’s advice for marriage leads to an abusive relationship within a marriage! How is that good? So then I went OK, I’ll stick to the Gospels. Jesus was cool, right? He still says stuff like “if you are my friend, you do whatever I tell you”. If I had a relationship like that with my friends, that would also be an abusive relationship, if being friends hinged on me obeying them!
I grew tired of pat answers like “God provides” and “God is always there” and “we can’t know that, it’s just one of life’s mysteries”. I felt like I was just being dismissed by religion, that Christianity was just patting my head and trying to mollify me and keep me quiet.
I still felt like my salvation was dependent on if I pleased god. I still felt stifled, like I had so many rules I still had to follow. So for a while, I said I was still a Christian, but that I was kind of putting god on hold…I was just not going to worry about what god thought of me. After all, the greatest commandment is love: love god, love yourself, love others, which I did, so I didn’t feel like I was lying.
When I stopped being worried about what god thought of me, it was the best feeling in the world. I lost most of the fear I had been living in. I began to look at Christianity from the outside, with an objective view. I weighed what I had been taught as a kid, and what I had learned since then. I realized that the only reason I HAD been believing in god was because I was terrified of hell. I decided that even if there was a god, forcing love out of fear of hell was a really poor way to have a relationship. I decided if I DID want a relationship with a god, it would have to be because I WANTED it, not because I was scared of what he would do to me if I didn’t. Even if hell weren’t in the equation (like Rob Bell’s stuff…I haven’t read his book but I still want to), that made even less sense to me…I should obey an invisible being just because…why? Because my life would be rainbows and roses? That would be a lie. Because my life would somehow be “better”? No, Christians still have troubled times. Because I would always have someone to “turn to” (figuratively speaking)? I have physical people in my life for that, people who can actually answer me. Because I would somehow be freer? I already was free without feeling the need to put (what I felt were) unnecessary expectations on myself by following an invisible being who had demands.
As it turns out, my core beliefs aren’t much different from the only commandment of Jesus’ that I think really should matter. I believe in:
* equality (no one person is inherently better or worse than another; all people deserve the same love, respect, and rights whether they are 2 or 102)
* respect (respect of property, boundaries, feelings, beliefs, etc) and
* love (love begins with loving yourself…and then loving your neighbor as yourself).
As it turns out, I don’t need a higher power to tell me to love. If I did, would it be fake love, for the power’s sake, or real love, because I want to? I don’t need a higher power to tell me to not kill someone, or to not cheat on my husband, or to not abuse my daughter. I don’t feel the need to voluntarily submit myself to someone else’s rules about life.
I am angry oftentimes at many Christians, for many different reasons which I won’t get in to right now, but mainly that so many refuse to look at facts and instead plug their ears and refuse to listen because it’s a non-Christian saying it.
I am agnostic, which means I believe there may or may not be a god, but that it’s not physically provable. I have atheist leanings, just because of how many Christians irritate me by plugging their ears and refusing to listen to any side but their own, and because of how I see religion and religious cults hurting and limiting so many people.
Just to clarify…these thoughts and decisions happened over the last almost two years, and were not knee-jerk reactions to what I was taught growing up, nor were they out of a spirit of rebellion — I WANTED, with all my heart, to have a relationship with God/Jesus. I think the reason many people are Christians is because they are looking to be a part of something more, and bigger, than just their individual life. That’s cool, but it’s also not me. I’m happy being with my friends and family.
Here are a couple blog posts I’ve posted along the way about my thoughts and questions regarding god and christianity (in the order in which I posted them, so I was still a Christian when I posted the first two)…
I hope this answers your question. Thank you for actually ASKING me, instead of assuming what I believe and basing your opinions of me off that. Don’t hesitate to ask me any more questions…I’ll TRY not to be as long-winded in answering them!