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Crushed by Born Again Christianity

(44 Posts)
OutwiththeOutCrowd Sat 30-Aug-14 17:42:45

Many, many years ago, while we were at university, my then boyfriend became a born-again Christian. There was a lot of pressure on him from more established converts - church elders - to drop me. I never met any of the elders. They were shadowy figures in the background providing counsel to my boyfriend. They asserted I was a bad influence and eventually - after many difficult months - we split up.

I am sure our relationship would have run its course naturally at some point given our differing outlooks, but the artificial ending, the rejection of me by my boyfriend on religious grounds and the condemnation of me by members of the Christian group - they painted me as a scarlet woman - have all had a long-lasting effect on me.

There have been times in my life when I have felt I would like to explore the spiritual dimension of experience a little further (whatever that means!) but have felt blocked. Christianity is culturally familiar from my schooldays but even the word 'Jesus' now sends a cold shiver of dread down my spine because of the 'born-again boyfriend' episode. Other religions just seem foreign to me although I have found it interesting to read about them.

Sometimes I think it would be possible to be spiritual without buying into an established religion wholesale - but then I'm overwhelmed by a horrible feeling that the God stuff is only for 'proper' believers - ie the Born Agains - as if they've annexed off the whole terrain.

In the years since my ex-boyfriend's conversion, I've met many Christians - kind people who have not rejected me on account of my lack of faith - yet somehow their influence does not negate that early traumatic experience.

My ex-boyfriend is now a pastor with an equally devout wife and a small flock of followers. I no longer live near him but know something of his current attitudes from his writings on the Internet. (I know I shouldn't look at them!)

If anything, his views are even more entrenched than they were immediately post-conversion. His words are misanthropic and judgemental. I feel downcast after reading them but keep returning to look. I think I might be set free by some small indication of humility or doubt.

In many ways, I have moved on. I am settled with my DP and DS. I certainly don't want to be with my ex-boyfriend. It's just this uncomfortable feeling around religion that remains ...

I'd be interested to hear from anyone who has had a similar experience. Were you the one 'left behind' after the conversion of your much-loved boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse? How did you cope? Did you ultimately find your own spiritual identity or contentment in atheism?

I'd also like to hear from converts. Did you break up with someone as a result of your conversion? Were you urged to do so by church elders? Was it difficult for you or did your faith carry you through?

Thank you for reading.

GimmeMySquash Sat 30-Aug-14 17:46:11

I grew up Roman Catholic, I am no denomination at present. I looked in many religions and other branches of Christianity and came to the realisation that the best way is to have a relationship with God myself, via the bible. Read it, enjoy it. Try biblegateway on line.

seasavage Sun 31-Aug-14 02:36:00

I suppose I am a convert (no faith until 2009). But at the moment I am struggling to 'relate' to god.
Unlike your ex my (Christian) religious leanings are not conformist.
In fact I cheat a lot my view isn't really fitting to any particular denomination. However, much like your ex in one way I have found a community (local church, very casual, modern, no high church stuff, promoting family time and the local food bank).
I also had a friend who had (prior to college) been very much part of a more bible as fairly literal group. She had intense religious experiences, lost her faith (judgemental comments about her clothes / mental health representing lack of faith) and has been mourning it until recently she started attending Sunday services (the secular ones in London?).
Again, she found somewhere to consider things of importance to her.
Community is a big thing often tied with faith and it is a fickle beast.
Unfortunately she has rejected me because of my faith and she puts all people of faith in the 'encouraged physical abuse' after a congregation near her were found to have known about an awful case of child cruelty. She basically said being a christian was agreeing this was somehow of god (yeah, I didn't get it either). She also accused me of faking faith to get a school place (there are no faith schools near me for a start).

A lot of me pulls away really, c of e DOES frequently smack of entitlement and is about image / school places / going through the motions.

There are interesting churches (ones with equality at their core).
But. The pull I think is ultimately belonging. Friendships are key. I don't attend church often, but there are people I will be glad to see when I do.

CheerfulYank Sun 31-Aug-14 03:36:36

I'm really sorry for what you went through.

I don't have any advice. I am a Christian and have always insisted on doing it my own way, no matter what other people (both religious and not) have said about this being wrong.

combust22 Sun 31-Aug-14 06:41:39

My mother and sister are born again christians. My sister is a pastor. I am an atheist.

HomeIsWhereTheHeartIs Sun 31-Aug-14 07:06:56

I am a born again Christian. I'm sorry you were made to feel this way. As you say, the relationship may have ended anyway as you were both going in different directions, but it sounds like bf didn't going about ending things in a very nice way, and you shouldn't have been left feeling judged or that you were at fault in any way.
Actually the Bible describes relationships of this kind as being like two oxen, yoked together in order to move in the same direction, however when one person is pulling towards God and the other is not, then neither or them are getting anywhere. Neither is better, bigger, stronger or superior to the other, but they are unable to move along together any longer.

cloutiedumpling Sun 31-Aug-14 20:48:20

First of all - don't look up your ex on the internet grin. I am sorry that you were made to feel judged and condemned. If it is any consolation, they were not judging you as an individual. They would have treated any woman who was not a Christian, and possibly any woman who was not a member of their church, the same way. The bible verse that Home has referred to was probably quoted to your ex. The fact that it took him so long to split up with you would suggest to me that it was not an easy decision for him to take.

I also felt rejected from a church, albeit for different reasons. Over time I came to realise that God is a god of love. God doesn't reject you because of what happened all those years ago. He wants to have a relationship with everyone, whether they are Christians or not. Also, please don't feel that God has been annexed by a particular group. As others have said, there are many different types of churches and it isn't necessary to be a member of a church to have a relationship with God. Personally, I find the teaching and fellowship of a church family useful though. I'm sure your friends would be delighted if you wanted to go to church with them. If your friends aren't judgemental there is a good chance that the people at their church aren't either!

lougle Sun 31-Aug-14 21:07:20

You were so hurt by that experience and I'm not surprised that you associate it with Christianity. I think it's worth trying to understand that Christians are people who aren't perfect either. Sometimes even with the best intentions, they can act in ways that are hurtful and unkind. But that doesn't mean that Christianity itself is hurtful and unkind.

Your boyfriend was immature and took the easy way out.

SBGA Mon 01-Sep-14 10:40:20

A few thoughts about your post OP.

One is that everyone who goes from unbelief to belief in God is 'born again', because it is talking about a spiritual change within. It's not this big old thing that people try to make out as being separate from other people who might also believe in God and it's not a club or something you earn your way into. Once a person believes in God their world view changes, and that's what it means to be born again. I think a lot of evangelical charismatic pentecostal christians claim they're born again in a hyped-up sort of way that understandably puts people's backs up, and isn't what it means at all.

Secondly, you felt rejected by this group of people and it would be understandable to feel rejected by God himself as well. But you really need to separate the two, because my guess (I say guess since I don't know them personally) is they're just not representing God's true heart towards you at all.

I wasn't in a relationship but i grew up in a church where they believed in casting out demons, and apparently I had more than anyone else, so was always pulled in for a talking to and a casting out session. I grew up trying so hard to be good and prove myself, but failing to miserably.

I left the church as soon as I could legally go against my parents, and didn't believe in God. I despised all things Christian, and even hated the name "christian". I viewed it like lawyers or estate agents, you just don't trust them! The job I had involved looking after dying people and I remember one woman I got close to, asked me if I believe in God. She really wanted to draw comfort from that but I had to be genuine and say gently that I don't. She looked so disappointed and I felt I had let her down. But I had to be true to myself.

For many years I got by just fine in my opinion. I didn't allow myself to think about anything spiritual because I felt angry about people giving the idea there might be a God.

But then I heard someone ask people "if you died tonight and went to heaven, and Jesus met you at the gates and asked why he should let you into his heaven, what would you say?" People offered all sorts of answers to this theological question, such as "because I'm a good person", or "because I was christened as a baby" or "because I go to church", and I momentarily wondered what I'd say if it were me.

Then I stumbled across some new information that I researched for myself. It came from John 3 verse 16 which says "for God so loved the world, that he gave His only son, so that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life". The critical part was the word "believe", which means to trust in and rely upon. Other verses in the bible spoke of how God says we can't earn our own way through good works, going to church, being baby baptised etc. It's a free gift from Him, that everyone either chooses to accept or reject. A gift that is given freely because everyone has done wrong at some point in their life and there is no-one righteous enough (perfect) to not need this gift.

I knew I hadn't killed or raped anyone, or even shoplifted, but I also knew I am not perfect because we all know that no one really is. I was relieved to read that the bible was completely different to the God I was taught about and had rejected for so many years.

My recommendation to you is to research it for yourself, take no one's word for it (either for or against), the answers are all there if you take time to read and study them out.

AnyoneForTARDIS Mon 01-Sep-14 17:54:49

I once had a non-Christian boyfriend who respected my morals and stuff yet was blasted by the elders in my then denomination. I felt I had to drop him or be exterminated by God!

left that church eventually and now in a better denomination which has no such qualms.

In fact when I told my then elder I was leaving and going to this particular denomination he sucked his breath in through his teeth and said ''ooh, you'll just get into Heaven by the skin of your teeth with them!''.

mummytime Mon 01-Sep-14 18:15:57

I tend to go to my local Cathedral - which is full of very non-judgemental and open people (if a tendency to be slightly posh).
I have been thinking about the prayer group which supports my DCs school, and why I feel increasingly awkward there. I used to run one at another school, and it was far less "religious" and really welcomed everyone. When I got to the one at my DCs school now, I can "fit in" but I feel like I am putting on religious clothes - and I doubt lots of people would feel "at home" there.

OP my only advice is if you want to explore your spiritual side, that you do and don't let him or his church prevent you. As I used to say when I went to a more "Evangelical" church, Jesus would be hanging out in Old Compton Street etc. if he was on earth nowadays.

Italiangreyhound Thu 04-Sep-14 02:30:25

OutwiththeOutCrowd I am so sorry for your miserable experience and so sorry it has effected you so much.

As a young Christian in a minor leadership role I went to talk to my co-leader who had started going out with a non Christian. I certainly told her what I thought of that! Only to return a short time later (weeks/months, I can't remember) to apologise that I too had started dating a non-Christian! My point... we Christians can be a judgemental and hypercritical bunch! But God loves us, and he loves you.

I second all the good advice here. I would also add....

1) Wiggle out from the guilt of your past, you were not to blame, you were just going along with your life and your bloke got zapped! Maybe you want to blame the group for breaking you up but maybe he just chose that life.

I went out with several non-Christians but I chose to marry a Christian. I knew that I wanted a life partner who shared my world view, that is not so very strange or very bad.

I am sure I did hurt and confuse people along the way. I recently met up with a previous non-Christian boyfriend from 28 years ago! We were able to laugh and chat and it was clear he respected my faith even though I must have been one heck of a crap girlfriend. I fancied myself as Kelly McGillis to his Harrison Ford in 'Witness'; actually I am sure I just left him rather frustrated.

2) STOP reading his posts. It is obvious but poison poisons and sometimes when I hear some people talk about God I feel the picture they paint is very poisonous and hard and cruel. It is just easier not to expose yourself to that.

3) Forgive him, forgive them, forgive yourself for hanging on to it for so long. Just say in your head or out loud that you are not going to allow this pain to have any further hold over you and you choose to forgive. He may have finished it because he felt it was right, it was his choice to do, and they may well have felt they were doing the right thing. They were wrong to make you feel bad about yourself. They should have had more compassion on you but that is ancient history. Let it go, in the words of this song....

Let it go,
Let it roll right off your shoulder
Don't you know
The hardest part is over
Let it in,
Let your clarity define you
In the end
We will only just remember how it feels

4) Go out and meet God for yourself. (IMHO!) Ask those nice Christian friends to help you. Test everything, when you feel a real sense of deep peace even amid the crash of everyday life you may feel closer to God. I have spend years in the free church but am now returning to the good old C of E because it suits us better as a family.

Poison poisons but there is an antidote - and I think forgiveness is a start.

Bless you. smile

Annetter Thu 04-Sep-14 09:05:58

I left "born again" Christianity after realising what an awful effect it had on my relationships with family and friends.

Of course this was much easier to do after looking into the history of Christianity seriously and recognising that "born again/fundamental/literal interpretation" is a relatively modern phenomenon and seeing how it has recycled many stories/miracles of earlier religions. I was shock to my core after searching for about 2 years into it and it was unreal because my faith shaped my world and reasons for doing anything and everything to this point

I now feel awful about some of the decisions and hurt i caused during my time being "saved" but finally admitting to myself I wasn't facing hellfire for acknowledging that history didn't add up the evidence for "born again" Christianity was the only option by this point.

Sadly I am now a prayer point, and backslidden outcast by my former community, the newer converts are told to stay away from me etc, and the older ones only engage with me to try and persuade me to repent (that's generalising - a few do still genuinely love and care for me however this is is what the majority do) and I can understand it, I did exactly the same for years believing that was how you behave 'out of love' to save someone from hellfire and draw them towards a loving God. I shudder when I think about things iv said in the past to gay people etc

The even sadder part is that I don't want my old friends to lose their faith, it's frighteningly painful to lose the very thing that shapes your world so I avoid their debates (meaning I am then interpreted by them as simply backslidden due to sin)

Long story short- I am discovering who/what God is through experience. Belief is fickle - I don't believe the same things year upon year, beliefs change based on experience however nobody can take away from me the spiritual experiences I have had. I haven't stopped believing in God, only a man shaped religion iyswim

it's painful how I'm treated by people who I thought were my true "family" but easier to deal with because I remember the way the thought process in it works... it's oversimplifying it, but try to understand that it wasn't personal to you as a personality how he behaved, he would have done the same to anyone in your position at that point in his life x

MexicanSpringtime Sun 07-Sep-14 22:25:34

I would say all the world religions have some groups with this type of mentality, but put that down to the frailty of mankind. However, again, you can also find wonderful groups within these faiths who are truly living their beliefs in a beautiful way.

I live in a Catholic country, and most of the leadership of the church is awful, but my Catholic friends are absolutely lovely and, if I didn't already have my own religion, I would be attracted to their churches.

You've got to read as much as you can to find out what is the truth for you and then look for the group that best embody that.

combust22 Mon 08-Sep-14 06:54:28

My sister was "born again", she influenced my mother who also became a "born again". My sister raised her two kids in a strict religious way- Baptist school, no mixing with non-christians. It has caused deep divisions within our family.

Mexican- "You've got to read as much as you can to find out what is the truth for you and then look for the group that best embody that." maybe the "truth" doesn't need a group.
Perhaps the "truth" is that there is no god.

nooka Mon 08-Sep-14 07:25:18

My best friend at university had a similar experience, although she didn't actually get to date the boy she really liked (who also fairly obviously really liked her) due to the influence of the local evangelical church who were busy telling him all his natural impulses were ever so sinful. She attended the same church for a while so it wasn't even a don't date a non-Christian thing, and more 'thinking about having sex is sinful'. As an outsider it was really sad to see the two of them tie themselves up in knots, especially as if they had just dated it might well have been a quick fling leaving them both free to live their lives without bucket loads of quite ridiculous angst and deep upset. Damaging for no good reason at all.

I've also lost another really good friend because of religious conversion, not because of rejection but because our viewpoints are just too different and so we can't relate to each other any more.

I was brought up Catholic and for a while had quite a strong faith but lost it at university (my friend's experience was a part of that). However unlike the OP I really don't miss it at all, and as I've got older have become more firm in my anti-religiousness. I'm not for example worried about questions about heaven's gate, because I don't believe that there is a heaven. When my mother and sister express their religious feelings to me (both are very strong believers) it just feels uncomfortable. I'm happy to find spiritual moments in earthly beauty without feeling there is anything more. The world is a fantastic and beautiful place and I can appreciate art, music, love etc without a need for god.

Can I echo that looking at your ex's posts is not going to be healthy. If he is as conservative as you say then doubt is going to be the last thing he is going to post about. Conservatives (in my experience) don't do doubt in public.

On facebook there are two sites that are very much for people who have encountered conservative Christianity. One is called Kissing Fish and the other is Christians Tired of Being Misrepresented. Both are American where conservative Christianity has historically had a stronger hold than in the UK. Maybe try looking at their pages for a while to get a sense of what is possible outside that stream.

vdbfamily Tue 16-Sep-14 08:50:59

I think most of this has been said already so I'll try not to be repetitive. I remember as a young Christian having to think really carefully about who I might date. This is obviously easier if you are a Christian before you start dating but very difficult for those who become a Christian whilst already in a relationship. The example given of yoked oxen going in different directions is biblical and I think the clearest. If you are genuinely committing to Christ for the rest of your life ,it is life changing. You are asking God to lead you wherever he wants you to be. If you have a partner who does not share that understanding it can lead to huge amounts of strife. I am not saying it is not possible, just more difficult. I have several good friends who chose to marry non-christians. Some have just stopped churchgoing but continue to believe without enjoying fellowship of other believers and others have a weekly battle with their spouses about church going v family time together. For all of them it has meant they have had to compromise their beliefs/practices to make their marriage work.
I am sorry this has left you with such a negative view of Christianity but just imagine,as you read this guys blogs, that you had gone ahead and married have said that you find his posts misanthropic and judgemental. You were clearly not compatible so although you feel the church influenced his decision, it seems like it was right for both of you.
To get a clear view of Christ you need to read about Him and his life.Unfortunately us Christians are only human and whilst we ought to be 'Christlike' we are mostly far from it. Do not judge Christ by our behaviour but by himself from the New Testament.

machair Tue 16-Sep-14 23:07:37

Remember God loves you. It's not about what you do, what you have or what people say about you.

OutwiththeOutCrowd Sat 20-Sep-14 19:35:15

This is the original OP. smile

I just wanted to reanimate this thread to thank everyone who contributed.

The generosity of fellow mumsnetters with their advice, thoughts and stories never ceases to amaze me!

Since I wrote my original post, I've been trying to think about Christianity and to read about it - but this feels unwholesome as if I'm lingering too long on something that is steeped in bad memories.

For me, I think the door on Christianity clanged shut a long time ago. Nevertheless, I would be delighted if those deciding to embrace Christianity in the future chose the loving, tolerant 'Kissing Fish' variety mentioned by thegreenheartofmanyroundabouts - society as a whole would surely benefit as a consequence.

A number of people mentioned that my ex and his friends might have seen me as an ox going in the wrong direction - thanks for the insight. I shall now think of myself as a disorientated ox - one who is perhaps also singing from the wrong hymn sheet! smile

To those, like me, who have felt rejected for having the 'wrong' beliefs, I hold out a hand of friendship and understanding.

To those who told me to stop reading my ex-boyfriend's posts, I fear my name is Pandora and I've got a box!

To those who said the condemnation by the born-again group wasn't personal - thank you. Yes, it is important to bear in mind that those who judged me had not spoken to me.

Annetter, I just wanted to say that I found your post particularly touching. I commend you for your honesty and your generosity of spirit.

Italiangreyhound, thank you for the song and youtube link. The little geeky boy in the video reminds me of my DS!
Forgiveness ... I'm not sure. If I were angry, maybe. But I'm just sad! Letting go, yes ... but perhaps also to look at the situation and see if anything can be gleaned from it, or even if it is possible to minimise the risk of others suffering similarly.

AnyoneforTardis, you really made me giggle with your story!

And to everyone else I haven't mentioned specifically, I treasure your contributions just as much but I don't want to witter on more than I already have! smile

My sincere thanks to all,


annieoaklie Sun 21-Sep-14 17:31:22

Hi, I am interested to read your posts, I saw on your thread that this happened some time ago. When I was in college I also had a boyfriend who was a Born again Christian. When we started going out he told me he shouldn't really be going out with me, but he felt "God" told him It was ok. As far as I was concerned I was a christian as I had been raised catholic, but I soon realised that was not the case.

Anyway, we dated for 3 years. About 6 months into the relationship I "became a christian " too. Got involved with the whole scene to the detriment of my relationship with my parents and especially my father. I feel sad about all that fighting and acrimony now. I also excluded myself from a lot of college fun, what with so many prayer meetings to be getting on with.

When we broke up I was truly devastated, even though I had signed up for christianity I was still not good enough (reason for breakup was that he loved me but I was a distraction from God) and that affected me deeply for many years. I also felt rejected by the church in the sense that I was not perceived as genuine and was only in it for my boyfriend.

I actually stuck with Christianity for about 10 years. I joined another church but about 10 years ago I walked away. Best decision of my life.

Why am I writing all this? I totally get your post. I admit to also having checked in on my ex occasionally, he is an assistant pastor and writes a blog.

I was bitter for a time at the time and money I gave to Christianity. Now I just feel relief that I am out.

All this happened about 25 years ago and here I am mulling over it all again. The experience had a lasting affect.

jasper Fri 26-Sep-14 10:09:12

Yes I have been crushed by born again Christianity.

My story is both similar and different to yours, in a "what might have happened to you " way .

Confused ? you will be ...

I was raised in a happy Christian family , of the quietly born again variety. I was , I think , a nice kid who never smoked or drank or slept with boys, not because my religion forbade it, but because my personal morals made me think none of that stuff was smart. My school friends interestingly enough were into all of the above , but that was ok.

When I went to uni ( aged 16 ) I moved into a hall of residence where two of my siblings also lived. Those were amongst the happiest days of my life.

I got involved with a Christian group called the Navigators. I was a bit on the fringes because , already being a born again I did not share the dedicated zeal of the new converts. Also the Navs , as we called then had a lot of funny ways. They were Hyperchristians. Amongst other things they were very big on memorising scripture , bible study ( at the expense of university study - hey , just trust The Lord with tomorrow's exam and come along to bible study ! ) and what was known as " door knocking " , ie banging on doors of fellow hall residents and engaging them in a debate about God and faith.

I will post this in case it gets
lost then continue .

jasper Fri 26-Sep-14 10:35:06

It was all pretty happy . I felt I had sufficient integrity not to swallow the whole Nav thing . We were a happy group of friends in the hall of residence and were able to laugh at ourselves and the odder aspects of Navdom.

BUT the new converts ( like the OP's boyfriend ) were almost cultish in their Navishness. I found this a bit alarming and often had heated debates with them .

So while everyone else in Halls was getting pissed and having lots of sex and pregnancy scares and struggling with coursework we were having a very happy jolly time with lots of social stuff with senior Navs ( those who had been throughout the system and had left uni and had jobs but were still into recruiting for the Kingdom ) who often invited us for dinner at their homes. I must stress it was a very happy time. Alcohol was not forbidden , but none of us had any interest in drinking .

The handsomest new recruit , we will call him Tom , not his real name , was a little older than me and a friend of my brother's . He was very earnest in his faith and a fully signed up Nav. He also fancied me, and me him.

One night ( after church ! ) he drove me home and gave me a very hesitant but heartfelt and sweet kiss .

The next day he came to my room and said he really liked me but would have to seek God's guidance on whether we should go out or not.
This also involved him discussing me / us with his Navigator mentor , a sincere but creepy older man called Stef . ( possibly his real name ) .

I was a bit miffed at this. The Lord , maybe, might have a say but it was nothing to do with Stef , who hardly knew me and was in no position to judge whether I was a god fearing "helpmeet " ( Christians, please snigger ) or a bosom heaving harlot who would distract Tom from the ways of righteousness.

It was quite clear that for me to be a suitable partner ( read "wife") for Tom I'd have to be pretty holy.

Well I was fairly holy but to get my man I upped the ante a bit. I can still recite all those bible verses.

Tom was my second serious boyfriend and we had a sweet and chaste relationship. He was , and is, a lovely man.
Sex before marriage was not allowed . He asked me to marry him and I was so happy.

He graduated , got a job several hundred miles away, and we got together at weekends and wrote letters.

But there was a problem. I was losing my faith. I just couldn't find it in me to believe the whole son of god, death, resurrection and salvation thing. It sometimes seemed like a bizarre fairy story. It was deeply unsettling . my whole family background , social circle , and my impending marriage were based around my faith. It was a package deal.

I realised after a few months I had to make a choice. Embrace god, marriage to Tom, the Christian life , or walk away from everything. Tom gave me an ultimatum ( rightly so ) .

I was not brave enough to walk away and became , I think, the last recorded virgin bride in Scotland , three decades ago.

We lasted 4 years. It took me a very long time to get over it all.

a lot has happened since then and it took me till about age 50 and the death of my mum to sort myself out (ish)

I now have a weak faith that doesn't involve any organisation.

I think I might even have inner peace

TempsPerdu Mon 29-Sep-14 18:03:57

Sort of similarish experience to annieoaklie here, except thankfully without too much family strife!

Basically was agnostic but open-minded when I arrived at uni and fell in with a group of Christians. Started going to church, did an Alpha course, went to Soul Survivor etc and got more and more involved in things. Wasted a lot of time on the whole prayer meeting/evangelising/fundraising circuit but in hindsight I was doing it more because I wanted to fit in with my new friends than because I was genuinely 'Born Again' - I'm naturally quite a sceptical, questioning person, and while I found the whole philosophy very attractive, and could even accept most of the doctrine, having not been brought up within the Church there were always certain issues (gender, sexuality, the tendency of Christians to close down intellectual debate by referring back to the Bible) that I was uncomfortable with.

I did, however, fall hard for one of my Born Again Christian friends. We developed a very close relationship, spending lots of time alone together. Over a year, going on a series of what I now know were 'trial dates' - he was basically sussing me out to see if I was holy enough! However, I clearly wasn't, as it never turned crossed over into proper romance, even though I was pretty infatuated with him at the time, and have since discovered via a mutual friend that he had strong romantic feelings for me too. Now I'm just relieved I didn't pass the 'audition', as ultimately he decided that NO British girls were holy enough for him, and went overseas to find himself a wife. (The last time I saw him before he left, he told me that God had explicitly told him to do this while he was on a Piccadilly line Tube hmm).

We've lost tough now, but I've heard on the grapevine that he's now married to a girl he met in Latin America, has two kids and works as a youth leader. My other Born Again friends mostly work within the church (several have been ordained and now work for ultra-conservative evangelical churches; others are youth or music leaders or work for Christian organisations such as UCCF or Alpha). In the women's case they're mostly SAHMs now. (One friend who I'm still vaguely in touch with is now a mum of two. She told me she was glad she had boys 'because they can go on to be true leaders in the church, whereas girls would have to submit to male authority'.) None of them maintain friendships with those outside their Christian bubble, other than for evangelism purposes.

I'm now pretty much back where I started - vaguely spiritual and 'seeking', but not attending church.

springydaffs Mon 06-Oct-14 10:52:58

Ugh. The stories on this thread have turned my stomach. That is, the stories about religious zealotry.

IMo God and religion often couldn't be further apart; the latter in no way representing the former. As you, and many on this thread, have seen op.

The guy who went abroad to find a 'holy enough' wife? Probably looking for a woman who would be submissive enough to him. There are a lot of abusers in the church.

God is (imo) lovely and gorgeous, kind, loving, expansive, understanding (though not an idiot). Religion is often cold, severe, judgemental, narrow, damaging. This is what I have seen and experienced - lots of examples of that on the thread. You were judged , op, and that is God's job, not theirs. As it is, his judgement bears no relation to theirs in any shape or form.

Sounds like your ex got 'religion' hard - cold, exacting, damaging religion (or religiosity). You can see the parallels in eg ISIS: follow our religion or we will cut your head off. Extreme, but it's the same thing. Religion can be used to control and condemn, sometimes to death. I wonder if you felt condemned by him, and the 'Christians' who egged him on? Maybe you read his blog to see if you have been forgiven.

You are forgiven! God forgives you and, anyway, never levelled those harsh accusations against you. He loves you with a tender love and just wouldn't do that stuff to you.

So, in short: God and religion are two different things. Couldn't be more different the vast majority of the time; the latter deeply, often savagely, misrepresenting the former. It must break God's heart. Yy 'religion' can mean a system of faith - routines etc (and not all 'religious' people use their beliefs to castigate others; many are sincere in their faith and practise, representing God and God's ways) but it can easily tip into control and abuse, used by adherents rather in the way an addict uses a substance/behaviour: to avoid the challenge of living.

Fwiw I am a 'born-again' Christian. I loathe the misrepresentation of God's true, lovely, nature. Jesus did, too re his white hot anger towards the religious leaders of his day (only my anger has a great deal to do with being lacerated by said religious sorts).

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