Searching for the Baby in the Bathwater

Everyone who leaves the Quiverfull movement, Christian Patriarchy, or fundamentalism in general has a long journey in front of them. They have to sort through everything they have always believed and determine what to throw out and what to keep, what still makes sense and what does not. This can be a long and difficult process, and can even take years. Everyone’s journey is different. My personal journey led me out of Christianity altogether. This is the story of that journey. It is not your journey and does not need to be; rather, it is my journey.

I had been taught all my life to take the Bible literally, to believe that God created the world in six days, that Abraham and Moses really existed and did and said what the Bible records, that every word of the Gospels was true as written, and that Paul really did tell women to submit to their husbands and not work outside of the home. The Bible, I was taught, was infallible, without error of any sort, and was my guide for life. But when I found in college that my parents’ views on evolution were wrong, and that the Biblical account of creation could not possibly be literally true, I had a problem. What was I to believe?

This was actually the point where I first questioned my beliefs about patriarchy. I had wholeheartedly endorsed patriarchy up until this point, but if my dad was wrong about young earth creationism and the literal truth of the Bible – and he made this issue the very foundation of his faith and taught it to us with a passion rivaled only by his very belief in God – I realized that something was seriously out of place. Put simply, my father was wrong. And if he was wrong about this, what else was he wrong about? And how could I submit to him and make his beliefs mine if I knew he was wrong? And with that, I let go of Christian Patriarchy.

But at this point, I had bigger problems to worry about. I had been taught I that had to take the Bible literally but now I simply could not do that. In addition, when I delved further, asking questions I had never thought to ask before, I realized that, taken literally, the Bible was wrong both factually and ethically.

First of all, not only is the Bible wrong about how the world came into being, it is also wrong in numerous particulars, such as how many Israelites left Egypt (the Bible says there were 600,000 men of fighting age, which would mean about 2,000,000 people total, but at the time there were only 6,000,000 people in all of Egypt and only about 50,000 people in Canaan) and the correct dates for the existence of the various Canaanite tribes. In addition, the four Gospels contradict each other mercilessly and contain historical inaccuracies (how many donkey’s did Jesus ride on Palm Sunday? it depends on which gospel you read. similarly, there was no empire-wide census in the days of Augustus). Sure, I had been taught to explain these things away, but I suddenly realized that those explanations made no sense when I looked at the problems honestly, and not simply out of a desire to justify my faith.

Second, I began to find that the Bible had ethical problems. God commands the Israelites to commit genocide, killing thousands of men, women, and children and wiping out entire nations. The law God gave to Moses treats women as property and even instructs fathers on how to sell their daughters into slavery. The New Testament was not immune to this either; God strikes Ananias and Sapphira dead for the simple act of lying. And this is a good, perfect, loving God? Something was seriously wrong here. And then, of course, there is the issue of sending people around the world whose only transgression is not ever hearing about Jesus to eternal torment in hell. I suddenly could not fathom how a loving God could do that.

Now that I saw the Bible as riddled with errors and filled with genocide and misogyny, I could no longer believe it was infallible in any literal sense. How was I to understand it? I had a problem on my hands. But of course, I wasn’t about to throw out the baby with the bathwater. I couldn’t very well reject Christianity – it was the core of my existence. So I set out to sift through the bathwater and find the baby. And in this process, I did what many recovering fundamentalists have done: I turned to Catholicism.

The Catholic Church admits that there are errors in the Bible, which it sees as a very human book that simply contains kernels of greater truths rather than literal truth. The Old Testament Law and the genocides were merely a tribal society’s way of understanding God, rather than being God’s actual perfect commands. This was an understanding of the Bible that I could accept, and, somehow, it made the Bible more beautiful, more rich and complex, than before. In addition, the Catholic Church teaches that Jesus came to die for all of humankind, whether they had heard of him or not. Anyone who lives life with the right heart attitude will be saved through Jesus, whether they hear of him or not. This made so much more sense. I mean, if I were Jesus, I’d die to save everyone, not just the few who might hear and believe.

And on top of that, the Catholic Church offered beauty, richness, tradition, history, and belonging. I studied the early church and found that even the earliest Christians practiced infant baptism and believed in transubstantiation. There was something beautiful about the sacraments and the ritual and the history. It fulfilled my heart’s desires. The saints became my cheerleaders and Mary my surrogate mother. I had new friends who accepted me for what I was, and did not judge me. There was comfort and contentment there. There was acceptance, and I loved it.

But unfortunately, once I had begun to think the questions kept coming. Why did the church condemn birth control? Why was masturbation wrong? Why did priests have to be celibate? Just believe, the Catholic Church said. Just accept. We know what is best. It became all too familiar. The beauty and richness was still there, but the hierarchy began to feel stifling. When I took issue with certain things in the church, super-Catholics told me I wasn’t being a good Catholic. Just believe. And I couldn’t do that.

At the same time, I suddenly found that I had other even more troubling questions. Why couldn’t God just forgive people, why did he have to have his son murdered in order to be able to do so? This made no sense. When someone hurt me, I didn’t have to have something murdered in order to forgive them. It suddenly seemed to me that Christianity was built on the foundation of actual literal human sacrifice, and I felt repelled. And besides that, how does God have a son who can come to earth and die, and yet he and this son are one being, together with the Holy Spirit? Let’s face it, the Trinity makes no sense. How do theologians defend it? “Human minds cannot comprehend the mystery of it,” they say. “Just believe.” Sorry, can’t do that, I stopped doing that a while back and I won’t do it again. If the Trinity makes no sense, it makes no sense. You can’t just make it so.

With a very human Bible and Christian doctrine that didn’t even make sense anymore, I had a problem. I began to wonder if there actually was a baby in the bathwater at all.

One thing I still held onto as proof of Christianity was my relationship with Jesus. He and I had been best friends since I was a little girl, and he was always there for me. I talked to him constantly, depended on him, loved him. He was so real to me – Christianity couldn’t possibly be wrong, could it? And then I started to realize something. Christians have set it up so that God can never fail them. Your child survives cancer? Praise God! He healed your child! Your child dies of cancer? It was God’s will, and he’s teaching you things through it. In practice, whether God exists or not is completely irrelevant. Christians don’t get sick less, they don’t have greater financial success, and studies have shown that prayer does not actually help. And as I pondered it, I realized that there was nothing about my relationship with Jesus that could not be pure imagination. In fact, that’s what it was: Jesus was my imaginary friend. And with that, I let go.

It took me almost five years from start to finish, but in the end I concluded that there was no baby in the bathwater after all. You can’t force yourself to believe something you simply don’t believe anymore, and my faith died a quiet and peaceful death. Christianity embodies some very excellent impulses – love, service to others, charity – but it no longer appears to me to be divine in any sense. I can appreciate it for its history, beauty, and tradition, but I no longer believe it. I have walked beyond the borders of religion and found that the world is still a beautiful place, filled with wonder, love, and joy. I have finally found lasting contentment and answers to the questions that before had never stopped pestering me. My journey has led me to a place that has, for me, brought freedom in mind, body, and soul. Life makes so much more sense to me now, everything all fits into place, and because I now believe I have only one life to live, I am living it to its fullest with no regrets.

Please don’t feel like this post is either my attempt to convince you to follow me down the same path or an invitation for you to try to convert me. It’s neither. You might find a baby in the bathwater even as I did not. Everyone’s journey is different. I’m not asking you to either agree with what I’ve said or disagree with it; rather, I’m simply explaining my journey and asking that you accept me as I am. Or not. Because regardless of what you think, I am Libby Anne, and I am an atheist.

If you think anything I have said here is incorrect or simply want to learn more, please see Bart Ehrman’s Jesus Interrupted, Friedman’s Who Wrote the Bible, and Silberman and Finkelstein’s The Bible Unearthed. To clarify, these authors simply explain scholarly (i.e. academic) understandings of the Bible, and reading these works helped me come to see the Bible as a very human book, but none of these authors argue against faith itself. That part I did on my own.

Why Does Lily Work Two Jobs while Carl is Unemployed?
On Coming When You’re Called and Fear-Based Obedience
HSLDA on those “Radically Atheistic” Public Schools
Sorting Out the Good from the Bad
About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • Hillary

    I'm sure this took courage to write and post. I'm so glad that you are acknowledging the truth of where you are and not walking in denial about your beliefs. Denial is one of the most difficult things to move past because it chases us down ~ and usually at the most inopportune moments. Kudos to you and big, squishy hugs.

  • Lyn

    I agree with you because Christianity has frustrated me for years. I do wish it had more of the love, compassion, respect being nice stuff that I like and less judgment, cruelty, women as second class citizens, children as 4th class citizens, tormenting gay people stuff I do not like.

  • Gloria

    I could have written pretty much every word of this, except that Anglicanism was my gateway "exit" of choice. :)

  • Young Mom

    Same questions, same dilemmas. *Sigh* Thank you for sharing this.

  • bluebleakember

    Wow, I have to say this comes as a surprise. I've been reading about your journey with interest and really did not expect it to end in atheism. But, as Hillary said, I'm glad you are acting from a place of strength and authenticity. I know it's not easy. My journey does seem to be taking a very different path from yours. Right now, I'm trying to see what mysticism has to offer and am feeling hopeful and excited.A little off topic, but speaking of "Jesus, Interrupted" I did read it per your recommendation, hoping it might offer some clarity (or even enlightenment!), but I have to say I was disappointed. Not trying to be rude. Is it okay to say it seemed trite and condescending to me? I know the Bible is a difficult book on many levels and for many reasons. This shouldn't be news to anyone who reads it seriously. So, Ehrman's attitude that he was graciously bringing an important revelation to an ignorant public was a bit irritating. Anyway, I've researched a bit and was unsurprised to find that there are serious scholars who are *not* fundamentalists and who intelligently and strongly disagree with Ehrman's conclusions. I don't know if this is where you are at right now, but perhaps at some point you would like to consider reading them.I'm not trying to convert you, btw. I don't really think I have the answers. I just don't think Ehrman does, either. ;) Thanks for the recommendation regardless (and feel free to recommend me other books if you are ever so inclined)! I'm not at all sorry I read it.

  • Libby Anne

    Bluebleakember – Your journey is yours. :) I hope you enjoy it! I think mysticism is really cool, by the way. Also, don't think I was intending to deceive you by not saying this up front! I never said I was still religious today, and I simply wanted to wait to post this until the rest of my story had been put up on No Longer Quivering. :)I would point out though, that Ehrman really is simply reporting mainstream scholarship. You say there are "serious scholars" who disagree with Ehrman, but I think what you probably mean is that there are Christian apologists who disagree with Ehrman. No actual academic scholar (read, approaching the Bible from a secular rather than devotional perspective) disagrees with Ehrman. You can disagree with him, though, no one's stopping you!Also, I'm sorry this made you feel offended (I don't think this was the intent), but I actually do think Ehrman brings "an important revelation to an ignorant public." Most Christians have no idea that there are contradictions between the gospel, or that Paul did not write I Timothy or Titus. In other words, there is a huge gap between devotional approaches and scholarly approaches to the Bible. And most Christians have never heard the scholarly understanding. What Ehrman is doing is simply making mainstream scholarship on the Bible available to the masses. I personally really appreciate this.

  • Libby Anne

    Bluebleakember – If you want to email me the names of some of the scholars you mention, feel free, but I found Ehrman entirely convincing. What he said actually made the Bible make sense to me for the first time ever. Also, at this point I find scholarly sources more trustworthy than apologetic sources.

  • Libby Anne

    Hillary, Lynn, Gloria, and Young Mom – Thanks for the kind words! This was indeed a hard post to write, because I know that many of my readers will disagree entirely, but then, I felt it best to be honest and open, because I am SO TIRED of feeling like I have to hide my beliefs. I don't! So yes, thanks for understanding!

  • Anne —

    The bible is something I've been struggling with for the last year as well. I've written a couple posts about my struggles…questions I have, and thoughts about the bible.I still don't know what I believe about god, Jesus, and the bible. And I'm OK with that now.The one thing that bothers me still is that Keith Green once said he tried a lot of different religions, and the thing about all of them was that they all pointed to Jesus. They couldn't deny his existence. And then there's "the bible" (honestly, I hate calling it THE BIBLE), with all those things you mentioned. It just doesn't make sense to me.

  • Libby Anne

    Anne – "I still don't know what I believe about god, Jesus, and the bible. And I'm OK with that now." I like this. I'm also okay with uncertainty. Where did the world come from if there is no god? I don't know. And I'm okay with that. I think people should be more okay with uncertainty, because there are some things we *can't* know. And again, I'm okay with that. Also, that thing you say Keith Green said…that makes no sense at all. Not every religion includes Jesus, and those that do include him (say, Islam) see him as just a man. So…I really haven't a clue what he means by that.

  • Sara

    I really appreciate your story and am glad for the peace you have found.Out of curiosity, what do you think of the phenomenon of religion in general? Historically, all religions seem to share certain things in common. It is often cyclical. First, it has been used to support a hierarchy, caste and class systems- for example, Egyptian and Mesopotamian cosmologies that make the king in the image of god, or just below the gods, thus legitimizing his rule over the rest of the people. But as political uprisings and revolutions occur, religion evolves to then make a god that is "for the people", to which the king himself must be subject, thus legitimizing the overthrow of his regime. One example could be the Protestants' development of the doctrine of "Sola Scriptura" in order to take ultimate authority away from the pope. Of course this doctrine has come full circle and been made to give ultimate authority to clergy who interpret the Bible, and interpretations that legitimize other hierarchies, such as in the family and state. But then there is a more democratic or anarchist (as in non-hierarchical) strain in some religions that emphasize egalitarian and nonviolent values.A book I read recently was _Truth is Stranger Than It Used To Be_ by J. Richard Middleton and Brian Walsh. Written in the 1990's when the totalizing systems of modernity had collapsed into the postmodern god of individualism (every one decides which truth works for them), they propose a way to read the Bible as both gradual revelation and a purposeful contradiction. That there are things held in tension, like the cruelty of OT warfare, the crucifixion, etc. with the liberation texts, like the exodus story, the gospel passages about liberation of the poor, and of the universal outpouring of the Spirit on all flesh, regardless of race, class, age or gender. In other words, the Bible is not a closed system, but purposefully left open-ended and unresolved, awaiting which path its readers will take- towards enslavement or liberation. Just some interesting thoughts to share, I'm addicted to exchanging ideas with lots of different beliefs. Love the ideas you share!

  • jemand

    At one point I had come up with the personal theory that the "test" of Abraham by god was not actually pass/fail as is usually thought, but was open ended. Aimed at determining what kind of people lived then and how they understood authority, good, and evil.And that Abraham's reaction was what convinced god he was dealing with a bloodthirsty people who did not recognize good and evil, STILL, and it caused god to have much different interactions with humans than otherwise. And that helped the ethical questions. For about another six months or so.When finally I realized what was being changed in the old testament, food, modes of dress, holidays, an economic system, even some agricultural and animal husbandry practices changed. Pretty much the ENTIRE culture, was being changed in these laws.But slavery? Cruelty to women? NOPE. Not being changed. So the "it was the culture" excuse no longer worked for me. The culture was being changed, but these problems not being dealt with. Then again, that was also about the same time I was realizing the collapse of creationism as a true statement about the world– and those coupled with the problem of evil more generally (not just in the bible) caused me to lose my faith.

  • Chad

    My wife and I went through many of the same thought processes, and she was frequently confronted with the "baby in the bathwater" analogy. Unfortunately, this cliche is based on disagreement with those who have found none of Christianity's core beliefs worth believing. She also took the route of embracing and redefining the analogy to show that it was not the effective rebuttal that others thought it to be. That is key to the difficulty in communicating to people of faith our journeys out of it: most who still believe cannot imagine anything else, and often frame all of life through that lens, including outsiders.

  • bluebleakember

    Libby Anne,No worries, I don't think of it as deception. :) Kudos to you for successfully writing a true story with a surprise ending. I just sent you an email with some info re Ehrman's book.

  • Sara Amis

    My departure from the Southern Baptist faith I was raised in was partially precipitated by the fact that they became increasingly Fundamentalist throughout my adolescence, and partially because I balked at the idea that women shouldn't speak or preach. I'm from a family full of Baptist ministers, and if things had been different I might have become one of them. I wound up a Pagan priestess instead….though I was a Buddhist and an agnostic first. Basically, I'm a mystic, and the religious tradition I am now a part of supports mystical experience and meditative practice without entangling it with a lot of dogma. I'm allowed to change my mind about things.

  • Jesse

    I'm another one who found a home in Pagan beliefs. It started with the realization that I didn't think that Christ was more then a very smart, wonderful leader, deified by his later followers. The disconnect between Old and New Testaments made more sense at that point, and I found myself agreeing with gnostic traditions which argued that El of the Old Testament was not the almighty, but a rather jealous, petty local deity. The place that my personal experiences have led me to is a belief that if there is an ultimate divine, then it is different enough from us to not be involved in our day to day lives. While my spouse's take is agnostic, mine diverges from there into (usually non-literal)pantheism. Congratulations Libby Anne, on finding something that makes sense for you. It's a difficult step to take!

  • Amy

    You have a very interesting story Libby Ann. I have been reading a good bit of it tonight. We took different paths though. I came fully back into my Catholic faith after being agnostic. An interesting guy to read for making sense out of the Bible from a Catholic view point is Scott Hahn if you are ever interested. My personal belief is that God was calling you to be Catholic but you are all right that we have our own journey's and I am sure it will all work out in the end. I love reading these types of things and seeing how it all plays out for everyone. I am sorry about your relationship with your parents and hope you can all some day become more reunited. :)

  • Libby Anne

    Amy – I read so much Scott Hahn it's not even funny! Actually, I even met him and heard him speak! I still have a number of his books. He was instrumental in bringing me to the conclusion that the Bible actually supports Catholicism. In the end, though, Scott Hahn could not make the Trinity, or human sacrifice, or eternal torture for finite sins make any more sense than anyone else could. That's why I left.

  • Anonymous

    I am praying that you will allow Jesus to speak to your heart again someday. In Christ,Mrs P

  • Libby Anne

    Thanks for the thoughts, Mrs. P. Just so you know, I am always open to Jesus "speaking to my heart." It's just…I really truly don't hear anything. If I did, I wouldn't be an atheist. :)

  • Libby Anne

    Sara – I find the phenomenon of religion fascinating! And yes, there is indeed SUCH variety! It's incredibly interesting.Also, the book you mention sounds interesting. It seems to me that a given individual's understanding and interpretation of the Bible has more to do with what he or she brings TO it than with some actual concrete unchanging Bible. And yes, the Bible is diverse enough to allow for that. This is why you see so very many different sorts of Christianity. So yes, I think I absolutely agree with the book you mention, at least from your description.

  • Anonymous

    Libby Anne,Here is a website that came to my mind when you were speaking in a comment above of science and the Bible. I don't know if you have heard of it or would be interested at this point: bit of explanation–have you heard of Hugh Ross? He studied physics and astronomy and at age 19 started looking at the Bible. He went on to study astronomy and physics in college and grad school. He has written books on his research. He has a group of scientists(under tab "about us", "our people" gives a bio of each person involved and their field of focus, where they studied,etc.) who study science and report their findings. The group is called "Reasons to Believe, reconciling science and faith". They include apologetics but discuss how they see science tying it together. It is not devotional.Please don't feel obligated to look at the website–I won't be offended.Beverly

  • Andrew G.

    That "Reasons to Believe" site has almost as much bullshit per paragraph as Answers In Genesis; the only difference is that they are old-earth creationists rather than young-earth ones.No need to read it unless you have plenty of free time and a taste for debunking pseudoscience; but if you do, it's a pretty target-rich environment. I've checked a dozen or so articles so far, all of them containing egregious misrepresentations of the science.

  • Libby Anne

    Beverly – I didn't stop believing because I realized that Young Earth Creationism was a bunch of bunk. I had no problem reconciling science with faith as a Catholic, as that is what Catholics emphasize – God reveals himself through science, and through faith, and the two are complimentary rather than contradictory. I stopped believing because core doctrines of Christianity simply stopped making sense, and I stopped seeing any need for a God to explain the world I saw around me. In fact, the world seemed to make more sense if you took the idea of a God out of it, and I'm talking psychology, sociology, and history here, not hard science. I totally understand people who combine faith and science, seeing a God who created through an evolutionary process, etc. That's not what I had an issue with. Thanks for the link, though. I may take a look at it when I have a moment.

  • Anonymous

    Libby Anne,Thank you for your kind explanation of where you are coming from, I think I understand what you are saying.Re: the Reasons to Believe website, my 30 year old daughter (she has a BS in Psychology from a college, with a liberal perspective) gave it to me. I have not read all of it, nor 1/2 of it. Through her own questioning and researching she came across this site and has enjoyed the factual science part of it. She is interested in factual findings and astronomy research. (Don't know which articles Andrew G, earlier commenter here, is calling psuedoscience.) As with anything, you filter out what you don't want. How else do you learn different viewpoints than your own? Through my years, I have had friends of ALL beliefs. Just because we view things differently we aren't rude to each other nor do we make broad, demeaning accusations of each other's beliefs. A problem I have, is the rudeness that often comes through facing opposing views. A person with an opposing view can become demeaning and rude in their debate. Why is that necessary? I appreciate that about you Libby, you do not come across as being threatened by other's viewpoints. You are kind and factual in your explanations. My belief is that "Christians" have done much damage to the name of their Christ. I mention that as a believer and follower of Jesus Christ of the Bible.Beverly

  • Libby Anne

    Beverly – I do try to be respectful rather than rude or demeaning, though I also try to be direct. This is why I come right out and say what I do, or do not, believe, but while I do think anyone who believes in God is mistaken about his existence, I also don't think belief in God means someone is not intelligent or a wonderful person. Indeed, I've known plenty of intelligent and loving Christians. When I relate to people who do believe, I always try to remember my own past experience. How could I condemn someone who simply thinks as I used to think? I may not agree with your beliefs, but I understand (or try to understand) where you are coming from. I've been there too, so I have no reason to judge. And just as I speak my beliefs directly, you have the right to speak yours directly as well. I also think that honest communication is a better way to change someone's mind, or simply to make them think, than are over the top accusations and slurs. "How else do you learn different viewpoints than your own?"This is one reason I frequently read Christian apologetics websites, or lists of arguments for God's existence. If there is something I have missed, I would like to know. I don't disbelieve in God because I don't want to believe in God, but rather that I honestly don't think, given everything I know and have experienced, that there is one. As I come in contact with new information, I reevaluate my hypotheses. While I am pretty sure that there really is no God, I don't simply discount arguments for the other side without first hearing them out. So far, though, I have found no convincing argument for God's existence, and quite a few convincing arguments against it.

  • Andrew G.

    Re: the Reasons to Believe website, my 30 year old daughter (she has a BS in Psychology from a college, with a liberal perspective) gave it to me. I have not read all of it, nor 1/2 of it. Through her own questioning and researching she came across this site and has enjoyed the factual science part of it. She is interested in factual findings and astronomy research. (Don't know which articles Andrew G, earlier commenter here, is calling psuedoscience.)It's pretty much all pseudoscience as far as I can see. Even in an article presenting evidence for the big bang, which is pretty much a no-brainer since the evidence is so strong, they find it necessary for some reason to add in half a dozen bits of fringe physics (mostly from string theory) for which there is no evidential support. The conclusion – that the big bang is overwhelmingly supported by evidence – is true, but you'd have been much better off getting there using only mainstream physics.Once they get away from defending mainstream scientific conclusions about the age of the earth and universe against the YECs, though, and start attacking mainstream science on evolution, abiogenesis, human origins, geology, etc., then all pretense is abandoned and there is nothing left but pure science-denial, complete with false statements and misrepresentations regarding a range of scientific discoveries.I find it really sad when people turn to these kinds of lies and distortions in place of real science. There are many religious scientists for whom the process of studying the truth of what they see as God's creation is in itself a deeply profound religious experience, with no need to distort the truth in the process (admittedly, this is probably easier in the physical sciences than in psychology or the social sciences). There are many religious believers who aren't themselves professional scientists who also enjoy the experience the same way.The idea that all of this, the awesome and continuously expanding body of knowledge spanning everything from the furthest stars to the smallest subatomic particle, from the total ecology of the Earth down to the chemical reactions sustaining the smallest microbe, from the formation of the universe 13.7 billion years ago right up to now, from our worm-like Precambrian ancestors ~600 million years ago through fish, amphibians, amniotes, synapsids, mammals through to the great apes and man (and all the other lines of descent from our even earlier common ancestors with other life), that this should be distorted by lies, ignorance and deception just to fit a few people's interpretation of an old myth, is one of the most offensive ideas ever conceived.Here endeth the rant.

  • Anonymous

    I'm having a struggle of faith just like you did, Libby, but still I cling to it.I believe in God, but I don't think Jesus is THE savior, or that there's a Trinity, or other finer points of Christianity. These, I think, distract from what we're really trying to get out of religion: A community, comfort, and a calling.Although in the most technical tense I'm not a Christian, I still go to church, still want to be married in a Christian ceremony, etc. You know how you can be culturally, but not religiously Jewish? That's what I'm like. I grew up in Christianity and take great comfort in its rituals, and so many people that I love are Christian, but I don't feel like I am one.I think that Jewish people, Muslims, and Christians all worship the same God, but we tend to get hung up on so many finer points we lose sight of this. Details, people, details that we let undermine our harmony and peace.Us humans are just too obsessive-compulsive for our own good ;).

  • Rebecca

    I loved this. I've never been a fundamentalist Christian, we don't seem to have too many of them here in Australia (although maybe it's just the small 'l' liberal 'people like us' I hang out with). I was raised as a Catholic by parents who were Catholic (lapsed) and Uniting/Methodist (definitely lapsed), went to Catholic school and educated by the Sisters of Mercy. They were some tough nuns, they expected their girls to go on to great things, and never tired of remind us of the MPs, journalists, academics and business leaders who'd all done amazing things! They also allowed us to question our faith, which is, I believe (pun intended) a very Catholic thing to do (particularly the Irish version of Catholicism popular in Australia a la Sisters of Mercy/Christian Brothers). I think it's kind of weird, and no offence to the Christians who've commented, that there's a sense that they need to convert non-believers/lapsed believers and Catholics who are worse than Satan. As a (lapsed) Catholic, it's just not how I've been taught to roll. I don't really understand the need to 'witness' to others. If I'm perfectly happy believing, as an illustration, that a flying spaghetti monster is the benevolent creator of the universe, why not leave me in peace to believe this? If you're a fundamentalist, I am guessing that, when the rapture happens, you want plenty of space around you and a chance to get close to God, right? So, wouldn't cutting down the numbers assist you in that purpose? As such, why not leave me to my heathen ways and let me get on with the not believing bit?Sorry, just a bit confused.

    • DavidM

      With due respect, anyone who does not understand the Christian need to proselytize really can’t make any credible claim to knowing even the basics of Christianity. If you actually want to understand the basics, the NT is a good place to start, perhaps the gospel according to Mark. The centrality of the proselytism thing should become very obvious.

  • SusanM

    I’m just curious… Has something happened in your life (i.e. cruelty from Christians- who are most likely being disobedient to the Lord; or people who call themselves Christians, or maybe not even by a ‘Chrisitan’) that has hurt you deeply?
    Again, just curious…Can I ask why you felt the need to post your story for people to read?

  • Jenny

    I can relate to your struggle. It was difficult for me to sort out what I believed on a number of issue when my father, once perceived as infallible, was proved to be wrong and inconsistent on a number of things. I hope that you continue to seek satisfactory answers to your questions so that you will have peace in your faith. And I pray that your flee from one abusive, patriarchal system won’t drive you towards dependence on a new one.

  • Scott

    I can’t speak for Libby Ann, but my story is very much like what she describes here. (I didn’t turn to Catholicism, but other than that, it was remarkably similar.)

    Christians often assume that anyone who used to be Christian must either have not tried hard enough, or had been hurt or offended by someone in church. For me, it was neither of these. The particular thing that started me questioning was after I had my first son, and really thinking about what the story of Abraham actually said. If I believed I heard the voice of God telling me to kill my child, what should I do? Should I kill him? Would that be good? Should that be rewarded? This thing that seemed to make sense before now just seemed crazy. I would hope that if you hear someone say God told them to kill their son, you would call the police.

    Once you realize how crazy some of the things in the bible sound (I’m sure that sounds harsh for you to hear, but it’s hard to say any other way), it becomes one of those kinds of things you can’t unsee.

    I also started writing about what I think about some of these kinds of things not long ago. The US has God interwoven into a lot of places where it probably doesn’t belong, like the Pledge of Allegiance and “In God We Trust” on money. I’m not angry about this, but think how it would make you feel if money instead said “There Is No God” — you’d feel like you’re being ostracized for no good reason. That the government shouldn’t be in the habit of telling you what to believe. And you’d be right. Some of the writing is just to let some other people know that they aren’t alone in what they feel.

    Libby Ann, you’re not alone. Thanks.

  • Joseph O Polanco

    Many have wondered why “a perfect and benevolent god does such clearly stupid things and is a sadist that tortures you for eternity if you are “moral” but do not accept his son is the big cheese and worship him.”

    Happily, though, nothing could be further from the truth. Jehovah God never has – and never will – torture anyone for any length of time. This is a mendacity and clear distortion of what the Bible actually teaches. This is especially so because this philosophy is predicated on yet another lie – that our souls are immortal.

    The Bible states: “Jehovah God proceeded to form the man out of dust from the ground and to blow into his nostrils the breath of life.” (Genesis 2:7) Though breathing sustained his life, putting “the breath of life” into his nostrils involved much more than simply blowing air into his lungs. It meant that God put into Adam’s lifeless body the spark of life—”the force of life,” which is active in all earthly creatures. (Genesis 6:17; 7:22) The Bible refers to this animating force as “spirit.” (James 2:26) That spirit can be compared to the electric current that activates a machine or an appliance and enables it to perform its function. Just as the current never takes on the features of the equipment it activates, the life-force does not take on any of the characteristics of the creatures it animates. It has no personality and no thinking ability.

    What happens to the spirit when a person dies? Psalm 146:4 says: “His spirit goes out, he goes back to his ground; in that day his thoughts do perish.” When a person dies, his impersonal spirit does not go on existing in another realm as a spirit creature. It “returns to the true God who gave it.” (Ecclesiastes 12:7) This means that any hope of future life for that person now rests entirely with God.

    The ancient Greek philosophers Socrates and Plato held that a soul inside a person survives death and never dies. What does the Bible teach about the soul? Adam “came to be a living soul,” says Genesis 2:7. He did not receive a soul; he was a soul—a whole person. The scriptures speak of a soul’s doing work, craving food, being kidnapped, experiencing sleeplessness, and so forth. (Leviticus 23:30; Deuteronomy 12:20; 24:7; Psalm 119:28) Yes, man himself is a soul. When a person dies, that soul dies.—Ezekiel 18:4.

    What, then, is the condition of the dead? When pronouncing sentence upon Adam, Jehovah stated: “Dust you are and to dust you will return.” (Genesis 3:19) Where was Adam before God formed him from the dust of the ground and gave him life? Why, he simply did not exist! When he died, Adam returned to that state of complete absence of life.

    The condition of the dead is made clear at Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10, where we read: “The dead know nothing . . . In the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.” (New International Version) scripturally, death is a state of nonexistence. The dead have no awareness, no feelings, no thoughts.

    Since the dead have no conscious existence, hell cannot be a fiery place of torment where the wicked suffer after death. What, then, is hell? Examining what happened to Jesus after he died helps to answer that question. The Bible writer Luke recounts: “Neither was [Jesus] forsaken in Hades [hell, King James Version] nor did his flesh see corruption.”* (Acts 2:31) Where was the hell to which even Jesus went? The apostle Paul wrote: “I handed on to you . . . that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, yes, that he has been raised up the third day according to the scriptures.” (1 Corinthians 15:3, 4) So Jesus was in hell, the grave, but he was not abandoned there, for he was raised up, or resurrected.

    What, then, is God’s penalty for all those who insist on practicing what is wrong or evil if it’s not sadistic eternal torture in a fiery hell? Romans 6:23 plainly declares, “The wages sin pays is death.” This is what occurred, for instance, with Adam and Eve. They are not suffering torment in hell right now. They simply ceased to exist. As Jehovah God Himself pronounced, “In the sweat of your face you will eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken. For dust you are and to dust you will return.” (Genesis 3:19)

    Unmistakably, then, the charge that God “is a sadist that tortures you for eternity” has no basis in reality.

    To the contrary, “Jehovah [is] a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abundant in loving-kindness and truth, preserving loving-kindness for thousands, pardoning error and transgression and sin, but by no means will he give exemption from punishment.” – Exodus 34:6,7

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