Five years ago, I left Christianity behind. It was not a decision made lightly, nor was it one which required a great deal of thought. If that seems like a contradiction, let me explain.
I wish I had journaled the situation — life-changing moments ought to be preserved, I think — the date, the context, all of it faded into the past. What I do remember is that I was upstairs in my home, sitting at my corner desk, doing some thing or another on my computer. Was I debating? Was I cross checking something?
A Bible lay open on the desk before me, the ancient words of Deuteronomy awaiting my eye. Why was I looking at that book in particular? Why chapter twenty-two in particular?
I no longer know the whys, only that across the millennia, the latter portion of Deuteronomy 22 seared itself into my mind, setting ablaze within me not the passion of faith but instead a crisis of morality.
Over and over I read those words, every time as if an ax were striking at the roots of my faith. Here were laws set forth by the god whom I loved — whether that love meets the definition of those who’ll claim I was never a “true Christian” is irrelevant — laws which were meant to, among other things, set apart God’s people while revealing God’s character to them.
Nothing about this passage seemed like the god I had come to trust and to love. It stank of moral putridity, of an attitude toward women which was so utterly demeaning I couldn’t conscionably align myself with it.
In that passage of holy writ, my faith died. I asked myself how I, a lowly sinner, could possibly be more moral than God; how could I continue under the impression that God is love!
I “fell from grace” in the fall of 2010, and for several months I really didn’t know what I was. I had grown accustomed to believing in a god, to believing in something and so I didn’t immediately become an atheist — or as I would come to realize, return to being an atheist, the state into which we are all born.
A few months of faux paganism and vague deism passed by. By December of 2010, I was sharing atheist-related content on Facebook, albeit rarely, and not so much because I identified as an atheist but purely out of curiosity with what was said.
Several years have passed, and I don’t regret in the slightest having given up on the so-called narrow way.
Oh, and yes, I know it is cliché: I became an atheist by reading the Bible, apart from the crutch of commentaries, footnotes, and other writings which provide Christians a convenient buffer between our eyes and ears and what the Bible actually says.
What the Bible actually says… If there is one thing I do believe, it’s that what the Bible really says would surprise most any Christian. I look forward to exploring those things with you, while also learning about your path to, from, or around religion.
Featured image: The Rape of the Daughters of Leucippus (cropped) by Peter Paul Rubens, 1617 (public domain)