Divorcing God and Falling From Grace

Published Oct 27, 2020 4 PM

Hey all. Yin here. Last night I couldn’t sleep again (8 AM class the next morning too!! Screw you brain.), so I had to write my thoughts down. This morning I thought long and hard about whether to make my writing readable and share it with the world. Since you’re reading this now, I guess you know what I ultimately decided. I accept the consequences of what would happen if a certain group of people read this article, and while I don’t want that to happen, I secretly hope it does. I’m gonna have to confront them with this eventually, anyway. But I decided I have to share this because I know there are people out there going through the same thing I am, and I’m humbled and hopeful at the thought that my experience might help them. For me, the rewards far outweigh the risks. Here goes:

I’m not a Christian, but I was raised one. My family and half the people I know still are. But years of thinking slowly lead me away from the religion. It ultimately boiled down to: the Bible is scientifically and historically inaccurate, bad things happen all the time to good people, and everyone I knew who wasn’t Christian would burn in hell if I couldn’t convert them (all loving God FTW!!!). Even though I’m not Christian now, when I was questioning and desperately seeking the truth, I read the Bible. A lot. Occasionally a verse or two will still pop into my head, and last night one did. It was Galatians 5:4, which reads, “You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.” I got a 3 on AP Lit :p, so don’t take my word for it, but I’m pretty sure this verse refers to believers who, in an attempt to live a life apart from Christ, lose his “grace” entirely. Anyway, I remembered this verse because something had happened before I went to sleep. I won’t get into the details, but when I heard about it, it certainly felt like I had “fallen from grace”. It’s been about a year since I intellectually separated myself from Christianity, but my immediate instinct was still to pray and ask for comfort and guidance. I won’t lie, emotionally separating yourself is so damn difficult. Especially when that’s how you were raised, and how many people around you act and expect you to act. My automatic jump to prayer got me thinking about why I believed in the first place: childhood indoctrination is how I was introduced to the religion, but “personal experience” is why I stayed. It’s why I tried so hard to find justifications for God: after all, isn’t my experience evidence? And it’s why, even today, I’m struggling (and I’ll admit it, scared) to let go.

I think my early “experiences” of God were largely produced by the people around me, rather than myself. My church does yearly gatherings with other nearby churches, and we would sing, pray, and overall be joyful together. As social creatures being apart of such an enthusiastic crowd could probably convince anyone of anything. I, for one, was fully taken by this spiritual current. It’s interesting because once you’re in that current, you become part of it, make it stronger, and thus pull more people in. And the more people you pull in, the harder it is for yourself to swim out of it or against it. These early experiences were enough to keep me from questioning the system, though I should’ve known better. Even then some of the things people said sounded suspicious, like “Don’t try to argue about God with logic, the proof is in your experience” and “God does things in mysterious ways, we can’t understand everything” (to be clear, I don’t think the latter statement is outright wrong, it’s just way too lenient and convenient of an explanation for literally any contradictions).

By middle school I did start having questions. They weren’t even the major questions relating to the reasons why I ultimately left Christianity, they were just small things that didn’t make sense in the Bible. I couldn’t help but notice contradictions as we read through it during our “Bible study”. For example, why did God say he wouldn’t tempt anyone (James 1:13) yet he tempted Job (book of Job) and Abraham (Genesis 22)? When I started asking these questions I was shocked by their reception. My teachers would entertain them at first, then start to act annoyed and say something along the lines of “That doesn’t matter”. Of course it does, it’s the word of God!!! But whatever, maybe my parents would have more patience. When I started asking my dad these questions, I was even more surprised. He seemed a bit angry on my first question, and eventually he asked “Are you an unbeliever?” as if that were the worst thing in the world. Shocked, scared, and bit hurt, I said no and stopped asking these questions. They didn’t bother me again for a while, and eventually my faith actually grew.

High school hit, and boy did it hit. I’d say I was pretty lucky in high school and had a positive experience, but it definitely wasn’t without its own family, financial, social and academic issues. During times of stress I would use the tried and true method of prayer, and it really worked. Or maybe I just thought it did. Prayer actually did seem to “solve” one issue, but that was one out of hundreds, maybe thousands that went unnoticed. Regardless, I have to admit I really felt like I had someone to lean on 24/7. I honestly think it prevented me from doing some terrible things. The shock of bad news was instantly numbed/dampened by calling “Oh, Lord Jesus”. Interestingly enough, I recently read that swearing when you stub your toe actually lessens the pain. This may be somehow related to that, and I’d love to do more research about it in the future. Anyway, prayer became my personal support system, and sometimes it actually solved problems. By the end of junior year, 3 years of these experiences, coupled with the constant church meetings from when I was younger, made me stronger in the faith than I ever was, and ever will be. There would still be some nights where I’d lie awake thinking about my doubts of this religion, but I generally forgot about them the next day. Truly, I thought, nothing could shake me from my religion, my community, and my God.

Actually, the statement I made is interesting because I’d been watching atheist YouTubers for about a year at that point. Non Stamp Collector, Telltale, Genetically Modified Skeptic, etc. I actually enjoyed watching their videos and considering their viewpoints. I was pretty stupid back then though, because I never really considered their points past “Huh, that’s cool.” I think I was too scared to. Regardless, the turning point was the summer before my senior year, but I’m not sure why. Maybe those videos were slowly eating through the shell I had built, and the shell finally cracked. Or maybe I realized I would go off to college soon and if there was a time to be more open-minded, it was now. When I finally started to really consider their points and their implications, I started to see the major cracks in religion. It wasn’t just minor inconsistencies here or there, and it wasn’t even things like evolution (at that point I believed Genesis was just a metaphor for creation). It was issues like, why are there so many gods, each with their own followers and each with their own “unique experiences” or “personal relationships”? Why is there death, sickness, hunger and sadness? Why did God create us, create a situation where he knew we would fail, then send himself to solve his own problem, defined by his own rules? Why does everyone that doesn’t believe in God go to hell? Some people never even heard of God before they died. What happens to them? Does that mean God actually chooses who believes, and by extension who goes to hell (Yes, I understand this is an implication of omnipotence, but I’m mainly framing this question in relation to the previous one)? These questions were too much to answer and justify. So I just said, “Screw it.” I broke free.

You might be asking, what?? So you had all this experience, all this time spent with God, and you stopped believing just like that? Yes and no. Morally and intellectually, I can’t believe in that God and live with myself anymore. But, as I alluded to earlier, the fight is far from over. Prayer is still a habit. This is only further reinforced by my constantly going to meetings. I can’t stop, because I fear the social consequences. My family and half the people I know are Christian. But honestly, I can afford to lose a few friends. I’m most scared about what would happen if I told my family. I don’t think I can afford to lose them, so for now I play along. I’m secretly hoping that if I told them they would understand and respect my decision, but based on how my dad reacted when I asked a few basic questions I’m scared to try. My parents are good people, and I do love them, but I don’t want to cause them pain as well.

But that’s enough about me. I have schoolwork to do, and I’m sure you’re busy as well. Overall, despite the constant feeling that I need to tell everyone someday, I’m pretty happy with my decision. I may have fallen from grace and onto the earth. There is doubt here, fear and uncertainty. But there is also happiness, love and hope. And I’m not just saying this because I’m probably going to hell when I die now: but right now, there’s no place I’d rather be.

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