Why I Finally Left Christianity

Growing up, my family was what I would refer to as “cool Christians.” I was raised non-denominational, so I wasn’t exposed to a majority of the stricter guidelines for specific sects of Christianity. We went to church maybe once every couple of months, but it was a “hip” church, where they played worship songs with electric guitar and drums. My parents believed in God, obviously, and believed in the truth of the Bible, but didn’t adopt any of the more bigoted beliefs that some did, like homophobia or female inferiority. This all resonated with me from a young age – the universe seemed much too expansive and life much too complex for there not to be a God, and since the Christian God I had been told about from infancy seemed to be the most popular and realistic, I had not substantial reason to doubt his existence.

When I reached adolescence and the church and my parents felt I could handle some of the touchier truths of our religion, I began to learn about the Bible’s view regarding sex, family values, homosexuality, and similar topics. I took these more or less in stride, with the exception of anti-LGBT values, which I dismissed as a relic of an ancient and less educated time - an easy way of brushing it off. When asked, my parents supported this take, saying, “After all, the Bible was written by humans 2000 odd years ago, of course there’s going to be some material in there that’s not quite accurate today.” This view, of course, directly contrasted with the church’s teaching surrounding the absolute truth of the Bible, but I didn’t connect those dots until much later. Not being part of the LGBT community, I was also removed from the direct effects of these teachings, whereas several of my friends suffered the consequences socially and in their positions as youth ministers.

Late in high school, when I became interested in the political realm, I began to see the tension between my morals and the values espoused by the Christian community. Issues I was passionate about, like a woman’s right to an abortion, stood directly at odds with the church’s teachings. Even more concerning for me was the inability to have fact-based conversations with those who opposed my political views. Unfortunately, it seemed that many took standpoints based on faith and the Bible rather than current scientific understanding. In addition, I began to take a more critical stance on matters I previously accepted, such as the supposed evil of premarital sex and the necessity of patriarchy within the family unit.

There was no single event that triggered my falling out of faith, but rather a culmination of these contributing factors, as well as access to new information. I heard about atheist speakers such as Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens indirectly through my interest in politics, and, though at first begrudgingly, I listened to their arguments on religion as well. Eventually, I realized that I was explaining away more of the unfortunate aspects of Christianity than I was accepting the positives. Either I had to accept the Bible as the echelon of moral propriety or come to terms with the fact that I fundamentally disagreed with not only the scripture itself, but also the employment of its teachings throughout history.

Though I recognize the evils that have been done in the name of religion are frankly unmatched, that is not to say I do not understand the value religion holds. After all, I spent 20 and ½ of my 21 years invested in the concept. The comfort it gives those who are suffering is not to be understated; however, I believe the benefits that religion provides can be found through other means that do not carry the measurable cons. Many of my peers who grew up in church alongside me have has similar shifts in mentality; whether this is an underlying trend or purely circumstantial is a question that requires more research. Overall, I hope that Christians (as well as everyone else) can become more comfortable with being critical and skeptical of their own belief system, as that is the best way for any movement to improve.