1 Pro & 1 Con of Leaving Christianity

It’s been almost ten years since I officially left the Christian faith. And like any process of this magnitude, these ten years have been fraught with highs and lows.

The process of consciously leaving took about four years. Every single day of that time period was terrifying. I toggled between belief and unbelief where the notions of heaven and hell were still real in my mind. Leaving meant I’d bought a one way ticket to Beelzebub Blvd. Horrifying thought.

The pros and cons of leaving are myriad. There really is no way to cover this topic in one post.  But I’ll start with this:

CON #1 – No more church: Going to church was like visiting extended family. People knew who I was, called me by name, and invited me to be a part of whatever was going on. I was always welcomed and my presence was desired.

0507church2.jpgHaving a place to plug in to belong is like having an anchor to keep you from flailing about. Church people were ‘my peeps’ and when sick, recuperating from child birth, or just in need, I had plenty of helping hands, care and love. A sense of belonging and support is powerful.

Equally powerful was the frequent interaction with fellow believers of a like-mind. We would recite the Apostles Creed every Sunday together, reaffirming our faith as a unit. When a group of several hundred people stand in one accord, it is a moving and validating experience. You know you are not alone, standing hand-in-hand with the crowd. It’s a validation of your faith.

I have missed these aspects of belonging to a church. A shared experience can be enriching.

Ironically…

PRO #1 – No more church: The very same church I describe with affection was also the bane of my existence. At the root of this was the foundation that had been laid for me as a subordinated female in scripture (Ephesians 5). Because I found the concept of being subordinate to my husband repulsive, his being a pastor and I his wife, seemed perfectly in step with that concept to me. And I loathed it. 

Whatta ya think-Share your thoughts about this postin the comment sectionat the bottom..jpgIt really didn’t matter that my husband thought the Ephesians model for marriage was stupid. Rather than preaching that wives should submit to their husbands or that husbands are the God-given leaders of their wives, he believed and preached an egalitarian message instead. But…

The root of this pain for me wasn’t what my husband thought. It was what God thought and what His word said.

For the life of me, I did not want anyone in our congregation to think that we somehow condoned that teaching. But something about my husband’s role as pastor and mine as his wife just felt… Ephesiansy. As if even without speaking the words themselves, we were still a living example of the Ephesians model for marriage. And it made my skin crawl.

Aside from that core issue, there were practical CONS with church. We didn’t worship as a family because “daddy was preaching.” I had to get the kids ready for church by myself every Sunday, because my husband was already there preparing for services. We didn’t sit together at church as a family, my husband was always up on the stage. We didn’t enjoy Christmas Eve services together, he was always preaching. And Christmases that fell on Sundays were the worst, especially when the kids were little.

And don’t even get me started on Easter Sunrise Services with babies or toddlers! I used to think sunrise services were some kind of sick cosmic joke God played on pastor’s wives.

To this day I’m not entirely sure of the negative impact on my two oldest children being raised as PKs (preacher’s kids). But I am aware of many of the specific things they were subjected to. And I feel guilty.

I can’t deny we’ve lost the camaraderie of corporate worship and the sense of extended family by leaving the church. However, leaving Christianity was an absolute must for me psychologically speaking. So, I take the good with the bad for the sake of that sanity and my emotional health.

What I can see now, ten years later, is that life after God is of far greater quality all around. I feel better about me as I’m living honestly, I feel more confident and less peripheral on the whole. But I can’t deny there are losses. They just don’t outweigh the gains.  

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7 thoughts on “1 Pro & 1 Con of Leaving Christianity

  1. It sounds as if you believed two wrong things:

    1) Every word in The Holy Bible is a word spoken or written with God’s own mouth or God’s own hand.

    2) Every verse in The Holy Bible is a direct and very personal verse spoken or written by God just for you and you alone to address the particular situation that is confronting you today at 5:07 p.m.

    Only Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals believe stuff like this, and it is mostly fantasy of their own design and making. The rest of Christianity over the last 2,000 years was either never there or never bought into bullshit like this.

    And do you really know what pisses me off? What really pisses me off is that some farmer with 3 cents in his pocket in Sorghum Run, Mississippi, believes this because some two-bit country preacher with no education and teeth rotting out of his head told the poor guy that he must believe these two things.

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  2. Dover! Hadn’t heard from you in a bit. Glad you came over for a visit.

    You’re only partially right. I believed FAR MORE than just 2 wrong things. I believed a whole host of wrong things! Worst of all, I believed the wrong thing that mattered the most: That the Christian God was real.

    And you know what really pisses ME off? That I fell for it for nearly forty years! Whatta waste!

    Life without that god in it is a far richer, more fulfilling experience.

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  3. What you said about the impact religion had on your “PK”s made me think of a few things. My husband feels called to become a deacon in the catholic church, and I have been all for it, looking forward to taking the classes with him and hopefully we can start a faith-based wilderness program for teens through the church. Currently I am the cantor in the church, so while I sit up front next to the priest and guitarist, my husband has to reign in our busy toddler. I know it’s hard for him to be ‘separated’ during mass, but thinking of him becoming a deacon now and with another baby on the way, makes me think that church may not continue to be a wholly spiritual experience, but more of a pain in the ass. They don’t recommend men with young families become deacons because the church recognizes their first priority, sacrament really, is their calling to the family.

    I still too question how much ‘religion’ little ones need to be exposed to; come adolescent years they’re just going to rebel against everything they were taught. (At least all four of us in my family did.) But the Holy Spirit must work within the person. That is the kind of ‘religion’ that really changes and convicts someone, regardless of whether he/she was taught about it through catechism/sermons/church attendance/youth group/etc. But who really knows why the Holy Spirit works within some and leaves others be?

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  4. It’s great that you have the freedom to consider your level of church commitment before you actually make it, especially with small kids in the equation. Church certainly was a pain in the ass for me when the kids were really little (my first two were only 21 months apart). For awhile, I had one on the boob and one on the hip almost all the time. It could be exhausting just to manage routine things at home, let alone get the kids polished up and ready for a full morning of church without the extra set of hands.

    When it comes to the musings of why the holy spirit speaks to one and not another, it’ll be no surprise to you that I would attempt to answer this from a very different vantage point. For me, the holy spirit doesn’t exist, therefore, those that claim to hear God’s voice or claim to be led by Him through the holy spirit are mistaken.

    The more passionate the person about God and the more desirous they are for His activity in their life, the more they will interpret the goings-on around them with that Divine slant. It’s all in their focus. Have you ever known someone for whom every single occurrence is God at work? They drop their toothbrush and low and behold, God was trying to teach them something? Once immersed in any concept, the world takes on that feel.

    I have a conspiracy theorist relative and it’s the same thing with him. He’s immersed himself in conspiracy theories for years. So it should come as no surprise that when he drops HIS toothbrush, someone somewhere is trying to pull a fast one. EVERYTHING around him is suspect. Everything is a conspiracy. Like I said in a previous post, we tend to hit the target we’re focused on. Focused on God, we see and hear God. Focus on a conspiracy theory, we see and hear a conspiracy.

    How about you? Why do YOU think the Holy Spirit works within some and leaves others be?

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  5. Way, you said you “fell for it” for 40 years, and said “what a waste”. I understand that. Sometimes I wonder what “could have been” had I not fell for it myself. But now being free, “normal” life seems so much sweeter, perhaps more sweeter as it would have been had I never believed. Do you feel that way or does regret outweigh the good? There’s no right or wrong answer. I’m just wondering how you feel.

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    1. Yes, I guess I did answer the question. But I like it so I’ll go a tad deeper!

      I was just commenting on this to another ExChristian the other day that every year that I’m OUT of religion, my thinking seems a tad cleaner and clearer. My perspective even just 5 years ago as a new atheist is different than today in that the further away I get from the dogma and the more I exercise my ability to think critically, the cleaner the thought processes. I find myself in wonder and awe even more than I did when I thought God did the works around me.

      This is sooooooper simplified, but back when I was a Christian I routinely marveled at the wondrous works of God and tried to imagine Him creating the amazing ‘natural artworks’ around me. How He’d wave his hands and create mountains and precipices. But now, without God, it’s even more fascinating how nature created mountains through the moving of the tectonic plates that create volcanoes along plate boundaries. THAT process is much more powerful to contemplate and to attempt to visualize. It’s thrilling and frightening all at the same time because it’s so out of our control.

      I didn’t feel that kind of sense of awe with God at the helm.

      That’s just an example… This process of learning to think for myself is arduous and thrilling at the same time. Does that make sense?

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