Faith, Philosophy

Religion and I

I’d honestly be lying if I said that writing this doesn’t SCARE me, I’m not entirely sure why though. The thing is if you’ve known me for a while you’ll understand how mad this all sounds coming from me. But at the end of the day, this is my truth. My faith was a big part of who I was and I never hid that, it wasn’t something I forced down anyone’s throats (well I hope not anyway lmao) and my newfound lack of faith isn’t something I’m going to hide either. This isn’t me trying to convince anyone of anything, other than to be open-minded, it’s sort of just a record of my evolution as a person.

Some background: I was Christian for a good 10 ish years, I wasn’t raised that way from birth but I didn’t start going to church till I was like 8 I think. To be honest church at that age was fun, when you’re a kid basically all your friends are from school (well mine were anyway) so having a separate social group from that felt cool.

I think I properly took my faith seriously when I was 14/15, that’s when I’d say that my identity was heavily influenced by Christ. I wasn’t the perfect Christian but I did try, I went to church, read my bible etc. Basically, the stuff that most would constitute makes a Christian a Christian. I really did believe that I believed in God. I know that’s a weird sort of thing to say, but I literally could not imagine life without God. Until now. Now, life without God is my reality.

Also, this isn’t some rash decision I’ve made, I didn’t just wake up one day and be like I AM NOW AN ATHEIST 😡  , I’ve been thinking about it for months. Even calling myself an atheist just feels aggressive, it’s like telling people you’re a vegan or a feminist. They’ll just assume that by you identifying yourself you’re trying to convince them to be like you. Like me saying that I am a feminist, isn’t actually saying that you ought to be one. Although you defo should, but you get my point.

 

I think it’s quickly worth mentioning that for anyone, theist or atheist, being open-minded doesn’t mean that everyone is supposed to end up reaching the same conclusion.

 

How did I come to the conclusion that I’m probably an atheist? (and by probably I mean definitely because I’m just scared to admit it for no rational reason)

Well I’ll start by saying that I’m not saying God absolutely most definitely without a doubt isn’t real, but at this point in my life, I’m more inclined to believe he doesn’t exist. I don’t know what it would take for me to believe in God if I’m being real. If the clouds parted and Jesus came down on a golden escalator from heaven I’d probably think I was going mad. My theory is that if God is real and he is omniscient then he would know what it would take for me to believe in him, and if he is omnipotent then he would know how to make that happen.

I don’t want this to turn into a philosophy/theology short course but there are just so many questions that I think are worth thinking about: If there’s a God then what religion is the right one? And I’m sorry but you people who say that they’re all the right ones are delusional because they all so obviously and fundamentally contradict one another. How can I know that God is real? What would prove his existence? What is the point of religion if you can just have faith? Who is God? Then there’s other stuff like the problem of evil.

I also read The God Delusion by Dawkins and although, from what I know of him as a person, I can’t say I like him but it’s actually a seriously good book. I would recommend it to literally anyone but I have to say it’s not for the fainthearted at all.

Anyway, in light of all of the above and months of contemplation that is how I arrived at atheism or some form of weak agnosticism.

 

How has my life been since I abandoned my faith?

The thing is, no matter what you believe you’ll always have doubts and I think I forgot that. When I was finally honest with myself about my beliefs anything that happened in my favour I was completely spooked by. My train could come as soon as I stepped foot on the platform and I’d be like omg God is that you hun??!!!! I know how utterly dumb this sounds but that is actually who I am. Little coincidences that happened in my life were subconsciously indicators that God existed and he was trying to get my attention. But then I thought, there’s definitely another 18-year-old girl out there somewhere who has never heard of the Christian God in which case anything good that happened to her would simply be good and anything bad would simply be bad. And I realised that I can and probably should be that girl.

Like sure, it would be nice to have an explanation for certain things like ‘why am I here?’ but for me, religion didn’t provide adequate answers. Religion provided explanations for some things, but it still didn’t have answers for things that mattered. I would rather not believe in a God and deal with moderate existential dread and wonder why I’m alive than believe in a God and a belief system that I don’t understand (almost) at all. It’s really forced me to find peace with not understanding certain things and although I could have gotten this peace as a Christian, it wasn’t the same because deep down I knew some things fundamentally didn’t make sense to me.

It’s also forced me to take a good look at myself and figure out what kind of person I want to be. As a Christian it’s pretty easy, the kind of person you want to be is a Christ-like person. The hard part is adhering to the ‘rules’. But when you don’t have that anymore you have to figure that out yourself and it’s hard especially when you’re aware of how inadequate you can be. Why should I listen to myself, knowing that I can really be a dummy? It made me trust myself and find a new sort of confidence.

One thing that I think is super specific to me is navigating guilt (or maybe not). I only realised this recently when I was talking to a good friend of mine that when I was Christian and I did something I wasn’t proud of I would always feel so guilty. And I didn’t feel guilty because I felt like God was looking over my shoulder, I understood that it was in Gods nature to be forgiving. But retrospectively I had always felt that I had let myself down, and I was insecure about that. I think I just thought that I felt guilty because I had let God down but I couldn’t feel bad that I let something I wasn’t sure existed down. I really didn’t want my faith to be based on insecurities that I had. I didn’t want to believe in God because I knew he would love me regardless of how I looked or acted. I don’t think I ever really felt validated by God, but I didn’t feel invalid either. I just wanted to believe in God because he existed and it made sense that he did. But it didn’t. And even if he did exist I wouldn’t know what kind of God that would be.

My friends are so amazing and supportive, regardless of their beliefs and I think that’s why it’s become a lot easier for me to be open about how I feel. No one has ever tried to convince me otherwise, although I’m not opposed to this, but I just appreciate that they have faith in me to know what I think is best for myself. Obviously, it’s sad that I’m not part of the Christian community anymore, but I guess I’m part of a new community.

I will say that I think it’s important to question your faith, and by question your faith I don’t mean asking yourself if God is real when something goes wrong in your life. I mean actually facing the difficult questions and addressing inconsistencies that exist in religious texts (and I don’t mean the dumb Old Testament vs. New Testament debate, I mean that there are quite bold inconsistencies within each of the testaments).

I think I’m only really scared to write this just in case I end up changing my mind but I’ve literally changed my mind so many times it wouldn’t be anything new and then at least I’d have another blog post to write. And like obviously if hell is real and I don’t change my mind then my soul is in trouble.

I want to thank everyone who has helped me understand myself better, provided comfort when I was a mess and those who never judged me for believing whatever I did. You all know who you are.
Just in case anyone still sees the Bible scriptures I have stuck on my wall I’m not taking them off because first of all, it’s an aesthetic and second of all the blu tac has literally ruined the wall and I don’t have anything to cover it up yet. Thank u.

I feel like this year is really just about like the year of just realising stuff and everyone around me, we’re all just realising things.

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Faith, Feminism, Sex & Relationships, Sociology

So what’s the furthest you’ve gone with a guy?

Honestly, there is a lot to unpack here.

Questions like this tend to have underlying misogynistic roots. Often times what it sounds like is “let me assess what this girls sexual experiences are so I can figure out what kind of treatment I think she deserves”. As much as society has progressed it would be a lie to say that women who are as sexually liberated as some men are treated the same. You might not even be explicitly thinking this, but what if the female you’re talking to has what you consider to be a lot of sexual experience? Are you going to treat her exactly the same as the one who has less? You might think yes, but your subconscious may still be unlearning the values you’ve picked up during socialisation.

Despite there appearing to be a shift in attitudes surrounding ‘sexual purity’; in a lot of cultures and religions shaming women in particular for engaging in sexual activity is normal and even encouraged. Having views on what context you think people should be having sex in is one thing, but shaming others in an attempt to control is not okay. Especially when it comes down to some religions (Christianity, Islam and Judaism mainly) where premarital sex is seen as a sin. Faith and salvation are personal and shaming someone for engaging in what you believe is a sin isn’t going to make them repent. In fact, it just makes you (someone who is also not living sin free) look dumb and nobody wants to look dumb. I really want to highlight here that shaming isn’t the same as what some believe is correcting someone in their faith. Shaming is telling your brother/sister in Christ/Islam/etc. that they aren’t good enough and that their faith means less than yours because they have “sinned differently” to you. That is also not okay.

Also, this odd obsession with virginity and purity can be really problematic. Someone being a virgin doesn’t make them any more or less vulnerable than anyone else and finding this attractive is very questionable. Even in saying this, ideas around virginity and the way it is socially, culturally and biologically constructed mean that what it is to be a virgin transcends discussions around just sex and relationships.

ANYWAY.

Even if your values don’t align with the stereotype, this doesn’t take away from the matter at hand. How you treat others should not completely depend on their perceived sexual experiences.

Don’t get me wrong though, this works the other way. It’s important to think about the purpose of invasive questions regardless of your gender or sexual orientation.

Maybe it’s not that deep, does that justify asking someone invasive questions out of the blue?

I think not.

Maybe you’re asking because you want to know what the person might be comfortable doing with you. But if this is the case, you could actually just ask them what they’re most comfortable doing with you in the given moment in an appropriate context. What they have done with someone else won’t necessarily be an indicator of what someone is willing to do with you and this applies outside of a sexual context. Also, making someone else feel like they’re being irrational for not wanting to answer is borderline mad.

Well, what if you’re just curious? That’s fine, I’m sure we’d love to know lots of things about the people we are getting to know but are you going to put your curiosity over someone else’s comfort? It might be the case that the person you’re talking to wouldn’t mind answering, but your best bet is minding your business unless you’re actually talking about your sexual experiences. What the furthest you’ve gone with another person is not a 21 questions type of question, it’s not a question you ask after ‘wyd’ and it most definitely not a question you ask to someone you barely know.

So if anyone does ask you and you don’t want to tell them, always remember that you don’t owe them an explanation.

Some might disagree with me and that’s okay. Part of me was reluctant to write this but I had to get it off my chest. Perhaps I’m just writing this for myself out of frustration so that the next time I’m asked I can just send a link.

You can’t force someone to respect you, but you can refuse to be disrespected.

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