The Point Whereupon I Become Free

The Point Whereupon I Become Free

This blog post has been a long time coming. I have an admission, a declaration to make, which has changed my life forever.

I am no longer a Christian.

Just typing those words stirs up a maelstrom of emotions. It is so difficult for me to write this. But I need to sort this out in my own mind, if not for the friends who care about me. For those of you who may be reading this in shock and disbelief, I’m sorry. I hope I will be able to justify my decision. Please don’t judge me for it, or try to talk me out of it, no matter how much you feel you need to. I’ve already made it.

For those of you who may be reading this with a ‘told you so’ smirk, don’t assume that I’ve turned into a Christian-bashing atheist overnight. Not to say that all atheists bash Christians. But a lot of them do. I am not that either.

For a good few months I’ve been turning this issue over and over in my mind. If you don’t know me very well then you perhaps wouldn’t realise that I was brought up in a Christian household and attended church from a very young age. It has been a part of my life for so long that there are many complications to this decision. It is difficult to view it from a removed point of view: am I still clinging on to my faith because of my true beliefs, or just because I’m so used to it that I’m scared of entering a future without it, leaving it all behind? Am I now a different person?

I still don’t know the answers to these questions. I’ve had God’s voice in my head for so long. It is speaking to me now, saying, “If you deny me in front of others then I will deny you”. The thought of that terrifies me. The Christian in me approves of that fear.

For the longest time now I’ve had problems with the Christians around me and with the Church in general. The ignorant remarks made about homosexuals at a prayer meeting. The outright racist behaviour exhibited towards an innocent visitor to our church. The ‘don’t care, can’t deal with it, so let’s sweep it under a rug’ attitude that even the most loving of my Christian friends have shown me time and time again. The way that I was treated by a whole congregation when my father was dying, when I needed their help and guidance most. The constant and ongoing hatred I see every day which is only there because someone believes that their faith demands and legitimises it.

For the longest time, I’ve comforted myself with the mantra, ‘That’s not Christian behaviour. Not everyone is like that. You’re not like that.’ But as the examples mount up I feel I can no longer draw the wool over my own eyes like that. I can’t lie to myself. The reason that I am ‘not like that’ is because I am not one of them. I find myself unable to condone hateful behaviour just because ‘the Bible says so.’ After the aforementioned prayer meeting a person I am still struggling to forgive told me, with a disbelieving smile, that if I don’t accept the Bible’s word as paramount then I’m not a Christian.

That hurt, but it struck a chord. If I choose to follow the path of unconditional love and tolerance, the one Jesus showed me when I was a child – if I choose to break away from the religious mass and do and believe what I think is right, then maybe he was right.

If ‘being a Christian’ means that judgemental words written in a book hundreds of years ago should govern my life today regardless of how I feel inside, then I don’t want it. If ‘being a Christian’ is drawing the cloth over my own eyes and ignoring the hurting of others when I should be relieving that pain, then I reject it, utterly.

There is a difference, I feel, between what ‘being a Christian’ should be, and what it has come to be. I feel that if the God who has been with me since I was a child is looking down on us, he wouldn’t approve of the Church as it is. He would be crying with and for the millions who’ve been wounded by those throwaway self-justifications, the people who have turned away from Him because of something His servants have done – the ones calling themselves ‘Christian’ but failing miserably to understand what that really means.

I don’t know what this makes me. I still believe in a governing force (which I call God) and I still believe in Jesus, and his teachings. Or at the very least, I’m reluctant to part with those beliefs. They’re hardwired into my psyche and they are not coming out without doing a lot of damage. But I refuse to accept the mantle of ‘Christian’, since that means I am kin with those whose beliefs and actions differ so completely from mine.

A word occurs to me that may replace ‘Christian’ – that word is ‘hermit’. Perhaps I should flatter myself here – the feelings I’m experiencing could be kin to the old saints who spent their lives in seclusion. I have no intention of going to live in a cave, though, and I am no saint. Maybe ‘spiritual un-saintly hermit’ fits me better. Maybe the idea of choosing a title to define myself with is meaningless, and not the point I should be aiming at. If anything should come out of these musings to myself then it is that I only hope to become a better person in future and learn to love others as myself, like Jesus wanted.

Picture is from the ‘Orlando Furioso’ by Ludovico Ariosto.

5 Comments on “The Point Whereupon I Become Free”

  1. Andrew Raby says:

    You have made a tough decision Marie, but ultimately, I believe, the right one. Good luck to you.
    I was brought up a Christian but turned away from it, not because Christians are not good people- most of them are- but because, ultimately, it’s a load of old nonsense which people generally believe in, either without applying critical reasoning, or simply because they cannot face the thought that death is, indeed final.
    I also believe that acting morally because you are afraid of eternal damnation, or in order to appease your creator is no sort of moral behaviour at all (just ask Emanuel Kant if you don’t believe me).
    Anyway, well done on your reasoned and reasonable decision and welcome to rationality.

    • Marie says:

      Thanks Andrew 😀

      To be honest I’ve always thought that no one knows for sure what happens after death and to act like you know all about something when really you don’t have a clue is the worst kind of ignorance, bar that which leads to discrimination. Personally I hope that there is a heaven and that it accepts all good people, not just the ones from one particular religion. It doesn’t make sense otherwise. I also think a good deed is a good deed and that the instinct to do good, especially to others, is just as much a part of being human as is being afraid of death.

  2. Amanda says:

    I didn’t claim Christianity as mine for a number of years due to similar points you raise. I came back to the title (because my beliefs have held regardless of what I called myself) when I thought, why should I let only the toads represent?

    I hate being lumped in with the toads, though (see: all the Republican candidates for the U.S. Presidential race — holy cow, just shoot me). So it’s a mixed bag. You’ll work out what you need to do for your peace of mind. I’ve watched you grow so much over the past few years, and I have every confidence you are making the decisions that are correct for you 🙂

    • Marie says:

      You know what, I am so glad that I’m British – not because I think America or Americans are crap (y’all rock!) but because I couldn’t face being on the same landmass as that great a concentration of ignorant bigots.

      Oh yes, and you rule, AJ 🙂

  3. Teresa says:

    I think you have faced really difficult situations with the wrong people, but I do not think they are all the Christians.I have been let down by Chriatians and it does not mean that if I follow the Jesus I am being like them.I am Catholic and the Church is made of real people who make mistakes.It does not mean that if I meet an untolerant christian I should question my faith…it hard of course, but we are who have to accept their humanity and follow Jesus words.God bless you!

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