Writing last week’s post about saying goodbye to Christianity was only the beginning of publicly peeling back the layers to something I’ve been working through for the past year, especially the past 6-7 months in particular. It’s always interesting to me to see what people say in comments because it becomes painfully obvious who has actually read my post and who just simply skimmed it or missed the key parts.
Before I dive into this post, I want to make two things perfectly clear.
1. I am not an unbeliever by saying I am done with the label “christian.” That term is not even something Jesus used and I will say it again, IT. IS. A. HINDRANCE. Whether I call myself “christian” or not should not matter to my beliefs or who I am. I cannot continue to work through what faith and belief means to me with labels that people have taken, used, and abused. So please stop telling me I’m giving up on something or losing something or just being wrong. My identity is not “Christian” my identity is ME and that is all I believe that matters.
2. This is even more important for you to understand. These are not decisions I am making lightly. These are things I have seriously wrestled with for over a year and am not coming to any conclusions flippantly. Again, please respect my story, my decisions, and my choices. I am not blind and I am not tossing away everything in front of me. I am being careful about what I pick apart and what is worth keeping and not worth it. What I choose to believe or not is up to me and only me, so please keep that in mind when commenting or talking to me.
Now, here’s the next part of my series of saying Goodbye Christianity.
The past half a year or more has consisted of a lot of inward mulling, frequent outbursts to friends or Phil who are my sounding boards, or long sessions at therapy feeling frustrated. I have tried to logically and purposefully pick apart and understand what belief system I believed growing up and more importantly, WHY I believed what I did. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy and my therapist can attest to the many ranting conversations we’ve had that have been full of me trying so hard to understand reasons for why Christians believed something.
To pinpoint what the hardest part of this has all been, I would have to say it all comes back to the bible. It all comes back to the book Christians worship, place intense authority in, and often use as a weapon.
Putting my bible away over three years ago was one of the easiest yet hardest things I have ever done. It was like feeling trapped and triggered and hurt by someone but also feeling a strong attachment and shame of ever thinking about leaving them. [A lot like a bad ex-boyfriend; it's hard to break up with someone you may have good memories with, but it makes perfect sense to leave when they start abusing the relationship.] It didn’t make sense to me anymore to read something that only served to continue to remind me of the gut wrenching pain I felt which pushed me into the pages of that book. All it reminds me of is my dad’s hypocrisy, his blatant refusal to only read the “children honor your parents” verses and not the “fathers do not provoke your children” verses, and of the verses he used to shame and manipulate me. The verses held so dearly by people I know are verses that will put me into an almost immediate panic attack. They remind me so severely of the pain I felt when I loved those verses, my heart threatens to break all over again. Those verses bring back instant flashbacks to crying hard as I tried to shakily underline a specific verse or two.
The bible became and still is a book I have seen used as a weapon to break people, shame people, and I have seen Christians [mis]use that book and take things severely out of context. The bible is a book I immediately equate with pain, betrayal, shame, and manipulation.
The more I stood back and tried to gain a better understanding of the book worshiped and given much authority, the more I couldn’t understand why I had believed what I had while growing up. I can’t understand how or why so much authority is given to a book written by men, put together by men. It was not and is not written by an invisible hand of an invisible god, it is a book of two halves; one being seriously out of order chronologically books of poems, battle stories, and some deeply disturbing accounts of the viciousness and goriness of human interactions. The second half is full of various accounts of a man called the Messiah, and then there are the letters; letters in response to churches’ issues, dealing with cultural issues, and we don’t even know what was written in the letters these are in response to. I hate seeing Christians take Paul’s writings as what is supposed to happen in church or Christian life today. So many people ignore the historical and cultural context and grossly misapply men’s letters and I must admit I’m so done with that.
I do not see the bible as having any authority in my life. I see the bible to be a book written, put together, and upheld by MEN. Various counsels decided what was to be put into the bible, I want to know what they decided didn’t belong. Where are those books? I view the bible as a book of eye witness history, which means to me that it probably isn’t entirely accurate. I see the bible as a book of poetry, proverbs to hold loosely when applying to modern day life. It makes me so uncomfortable when I see the bible as a book of stories put together by men and I can’t understand why Christians worship it so highly or place so much authority on the inaccuracies of a book written by men. The bible is a book with inaccuracies, and as a book with fallacies, I can no longer place any authority on it. I would view it as a book of curious readings if it didn’t trigger me so badly.
So yes, I will no longer read the bible and I can no longer see it as something with legitimate weight when it comes to trying to prove an argument or debate or conversation or something I MUST do with my life. I do not see how the bible can be applicable to my life anymore, and I honestly don’t know how anyone can explain it to me and it make complete sense.
Maybe one day I’ll be able to come back and read it, but right now, no. It has taken me a long time to admit this to anyone, including myself, and I know I am exposing myself to getting a lot of flak for saying this in public. But please, understand that this is my decision, this is something I have worked long and hard with and have been wrestling with for a long time. I have not come to this conclusion lightly. Please, please understand that. Please do not tell me I am throwing something away and make it sound like I am making a flippant decision. Just the opposite in fact, I am choosing to walk away from something that has caused me a lot of pain and something I have known all of my life. That’s not easy and please respect the amount of thought and wrestling I have put into this.
(more coming in another post, hopefully next week.)