Talk

Advanced search

Guess I'm looking for some guidance

(64 Posts)
Itsheresomewhere Fri 09-Jun-17 19:37:42

on how to find myself and my path I suppose. Might be a bit of a long one, so sorry in advance.

I had a very atheist upbringing. Despite being baptised at birth, both of my parents are staunchly evolutionist.

Growing up I always felt like something was missing and dabbled lightly in various religions but never managed to settle anywhere.

In times of trouble, which have been fairly frequent over the last 10 years, I always seem to turn to God. Never more so than when I fell pregnant with my daughter as we had an early scare. At that time I prayed, and I prayed, and I prayed. And it all turned out well.

Since that time (2.5 years ago) I have felt my faith growing day by day. But I've been idle with it, mostly due to my circumstances.

My first issue is that I am an unmarried mother living with my partner who is about as atheist as they come. We plan to marry in the future, but are financially unable to do so currently. Our relationship suffered for a long time before the birth of my daughter due to lack of sex and as we entered into the relationship without any religious constraints I feel it would be unfair to him to ask for abstinence this late in the day.

Of course this is difficult if not impossible to reconcile with any church, and I feel utterly torn between my love for my DP and my love for God, both of which grow daily.

My second issue is that possibly due to my atheist upbringing, I can't seem to let go of evolution, which is irreconcilable as far as I can see with a fair portion of the Bible.

If anyone has made it this far, then thank you. I would welcome any guidance and advice with an open heart.

Hi. You don't have to let go,of evolution to be a Christian. It is only the very conservative stream that sees science and religion as incompatible and that is rare in the U.K. I've got a research scientist and a biochemist in my congregation at the moment. As a priest I don't think I've married any couples that weren't already living together. It is normal these days for people to marry after they have had children so that isn't a problem either.

It is probably worth going along to a few churches to find out more. There us quite a wide spectrum of styles from praise bands to choirs, lively or traditional, liberal through to more conservative. As it all starts with Jesus this site may be useful http://www.rejesus.co.uk

Learning about the Bible and what it is and isn't is something Christians argue about. Some conservative and fundamentalist groups say that the bible is the literal,word of God. Most of us see the bible as much more complex and will look at whether it us poetry or myth or letters or something else and wrestle with the meaning.

BroomstickOfLove Fri 09-Jun-17 20:06:19

I'm unmarried, live with my partner of 21 years and our children, and have no issue whatsoever with evolution or the scientific method. I'm also a Christian. What makes you think these things are incompatible with Christianity? Because they really aren't, unless you want to follow a particular type of Christianity. Are you attracted to those forms of Christianity which take the Bible very literally and have prescriptive rules about sexual behaviour, and you feel called to change your ways? Or is it just that those are the churches or religious guidance you have encountered and you want to find a group or a church that meets you where you are and values reason and freedom of thought and conscience? It's worth asking yourself those questions. And a healthy relationship with God isn't always easy or comfortable, but it should leave you feeling expanded and more true to yourself rather than diminished and forced into betraying your nature.

Itsheresomewhere Fri 09-Jun-17 20:29:59

Thank you both for your replies.

I suppose I've only really known very conservative Christians in my lifetime, from a friend at school, to a born again Christian in a youth club in my teens, to a group of people in my adult life who weren't judgemental per se, but who always had everyone questioning every aspect of their lifestyles and decisions.

Broomstick I'm certainly not attracted to the strict groups you mention, but that seems to be all I've encountered. I didn't know there was another way. I sound so naive!

We moved to a very rural location a few months ago, and I believe the majority of churches in my area may be very similar to the Christians I've known in the past. They are certainly very small churches as well, with little to no information available online.

How on earth would I go about finding a group that would suit me?

You could try a cathedral if there is one near you. They often have afternoon services if Sunday mornings are hard.

Rural churches are a very mixed bag. They can be wonderful places which are the heart of a village. I know from my time covering very rural areas that because they are the only church they try really hard to be middle of the road rather than the more defined styles you can get in cities. They can also be dominated by one person/family who only allow one style of worship circa1950 as they are the only ones paying to keep the roof on. You don't know until you give it a try.

Itsheresomewhere Fri 09-Jun-17 21:43:34

Thank you, that's very helpful. I'll have a good look around smile

ollieplimsoles Sat 10-Jun-17 10:34:29

Hi op, green and broomstick have given very good advice and i hope you find something to suit you.

I would advise against signing up to any belief system that makes you feel guilty, unworthy, or that feels too much like a 'test' on a daily basis if that makes sense.

and I feel utterly torn between my love for my DP and my love for God, both of which grow daily

Think very carefully about the above op. Your dp is a real, living, breathing feature of your reality. While your idea of 'god' is very much internalised, personal, with no outside evidence of its existence other than what you feel. Do not put a real life loving relationship in jeopardy on the place of a 'relationship with god'.

That said, atheism is the lack of belief in a deity. Thats it. It is not a belief system of a way of life or a basis of morality.(Christianity is a pretty poor substitute imo anyway). So if you are unhappy, struggling to reconcile your religion with the rest of your life and do come to the conclusion that you wish to let it go- have a look at some ways people living without faith live full and moral lives.

'The atheist experience' on youtube is a good place to start, many of the hosts were raised in households that rejected evidence based concepts like evolution and held very conservative christian views til they rejected religious faith. They contribute to society, give to charity, help people in need, without faith.

If you are interested, have a look on youtube.

Itsheresomewhere Sat 10-Jun-17 20:43:49

Hi plimsoles. Thanks for your reply.

When I said that I was torn I meant internally. It isn't something I've discussed with DP, and nor would I. Nor would I have ever jeopardised our relationship. He and DD are all the family I have now. I simply meant that it was a struggle balancing the two, particularly as I hadn't known there were more gentle belief systems within Christianity. I do thank you for your concern though.

picklemepopcorn Sat 10-Jun-17 21:01:19

Are you in the UK? I think that makes a difference to what churches are like. Most C of E, Baptist and Methodist are pretty liberal, I'd say.

ollieplimsoles Sat 10-Jun-17 23:18:13

Its ok op, I also wanted to ask if you are in uk as its very different here.

And also, in the nicest way possible, while you are searching how to believe in something, its worth asking yourself why you are drawn to a belief in god. There could be something more rewarding for you that can be beneficial and achieved without a faith based belief system.

Just looking out for you, pm if you want a chat flowers

teapotter Sat 10-Jun-17 23:44:48

To repeat what other posters have said, the vast majority of Christians I know in the uk believe in evolution, even the "born agains". They read the beginning of the bible as a poem, just like they don't think Jesus is a sheep (he's called the lamb of god in the bible). I am a scientist and a Christian myself, and know many others.

If you are interested in visiting or attending a church then I'd suggest looking for one where you feel at home and can ask questions. Visit a few of different styles and sizes before you settle on one. Despite what you see in the media, many churches have people with a mix of more liberal and conservative beliefs. If you feel judged then that is not a good sign (Jesus was not a fan of people judging others). There are some lovely friendly churches out there, but also some which are cold and dead so dont be put off if you don't succeed at first. My local church is like a second family to me.

It is good to meet and discuss with others, but in my opinion nothing beats knowing God yourself so ask for guidance on your journey, read, pray, and follow your heart! Wishing you all the best.

picklemepopcorn Sun 11-Jun-17 07:17:11

It's quite unusual for churches to preach creationism, and they won't expect you to tell them about your domestic arrangements! So many people marry later these days, it really isn't an issue- no abstinence required.

I second teapotter's suggestion of going to a few at first to see what feels comfortable.

My DH doesn't believe. It's never been a problem between us. We are both free to believe as we wish.

That inner sense that God is there, I recognise that. There are a couple of threads on here where people are very friendly, and happy to chat if it would help.

ElseX Sun 11-Jun-17 19:04:48

Your journey sounds quite similar to mine op. I spent my teenage years in a church which would certainly have prescribed behaviours / living arrangements and social beliefs on its members and after I left at around 18 years old I felt constantly conflicted between my moral beliefs & life choices which were right for me and my desire to find my way back to somewhere I could acknowledge my faith. I tried lots of churches and groups on and off over the years. I also lived with my husband for many years before we got married, and like you I thought I'd never be able to find one where I could be true to myself. One thing I eventually realised though which might be helpful to you too is that I was never actually torn between my life with my partner and my faith in god, only between my life with my partner and what my original church had told me my faith in god should look like. More recently, I tried a traditional local church congregation, a Unitarian Universalist church and a very inclusive pro-LGBTi rights congregation, all of which were very welcoming and helped me realise there are so many places to be able to express my faith that could fit well with me. I also tried Quaker meetings which I still attend regularly and which are just a perfect spiritual home for me. I really hope you find somewhere that fits with you and wish you all the very best.

Itsheresomewhere Sun 11-Jun-17 19:52:02

To those who've asked - yes I am in the UK. Just South of the Brecon Beacons in Wales.

Teapotter - just like they don't think Jesus is a sheep (he's called the lamb of god in the bible) this made me laugh.

Pickleme - That inner sense that God is there, I recognise that. This is exactly where I am. Despite my atheist background I always felt there was more. I've explored alsorts - Paganism, Wicca, and Hinduism to name few religions. But I felt no affinity I suppose is the best word. Whenever I've been in a Christian church (weddings, tourism etc) I've felt a sense of comfort, and touching a Bible I find very calming. I know where I need to be, it's just the "getting there". I feel like I'm trying to find my way home.

ElseX - * I was never actually torn between my life with my partner and my faith in god, only between my life with my partner and what my original church had told me my faith in god should look like* This resonates for me, thank you. I'll also have a look for those threads.

You're all so lovely smile

Itsheresomewhere Sun 11-Jun-17 19:53:06

Oops sorry ElseX, bold fail grin

Strawberrybubblebath Mon 12-Jun-17 23:37:37

OP I have found these people really helpful when I have asked questions
christianity.org.uk/

Itsheresomewhere Tue 13-Jun-17 00:07:46

Thank you Strawberry, that's very helpful. I'll drop them a line.

I'm both reading and praying faithfully each day.

At the same time I'm trying to do as much research as I can to try and figure out which denomination would suit me best, but it's so confusing. There are so many denominations, all alike and yet very different at the same time. And I am nervous at the idea of just waltzing into just any service in case I feel fraudulent.

There is a tiny Baptist chapel literally next door to my house. I am unsure of the service time. I only know that Sunday afternoons my street is filled with extra cars! I cannot find any contact information for the clergy and it isn't listed at all on any of the online church lists.

There is also a large and beautiful church that I have gazed at longingly in my nearest town ever since we moved to the area. It is a stunning building, with beautiful bells, events and gatherings all the time, 3 Sunday services, weekday services and a Sunday school according to the website. It's an Anglican church and they say they are modern and welcoming, 30 minute drive.

I think there is a Methodist church in the next village, but again I can find no information for this (30 minute walk).

I don't even know where to begin!

picklemepopcorn Tue 13-Jun-17 07:09:59

The big church will have a variety of styles of service, to suit different needs. There will be quiet traditional ones, modern music ones, family ones etc.

Don't try and research them from a distance. They can't capture their belief or atmosphere with a website, particularly the smaller ones. Nothing beats rolling up and trying it out. They will be pleased to see someone new- the smaller churches will recognise you are new and actively welcome you. The bigger churches can't always keep track of who is brand new and who doesn't come that often, so they may not notice you straight away.

Every church feels different, initially. After a while, you see past the traditions and recognise the 'same' though.

scottishdiem Wed 14-Jun-17 01:19:58

Every church is different. Even within faiths and denominations so much rests on what the minister/pastor is like and how the congregation are as well.

My DP is a Christian and I am a Humanist and our sex life is just fine - before and after marriage. My DP has a set of beliefs that I find frankly ridiculous but it doesnt impact on our lives together. I am sure that prayers are said to help me find my salvation. DP rarely goes to church but listens to regular podcasts and online sermons and there are two Bibles on the bedside table as well as a Bible app on the phone.

As others have said, its best to go and see how you are welcomed and how you are treated in churches before deciding your way forward. Most Christian churches are a pick'n'mix from the Bible and various theologians so find what mix suits you best. Be brave though, dont just stay at the first one who are nice and welcoming because you feel obligated to. I think you should look at joining a local Quaker group.

Abstinence is a method of religious control of women. It is much more important that your are in a loving and stable relationship. Some churches are moving to having same sex marriages, others still think that this is the opposite of the Good News of Jesus that they like to preach. Find one that supports who you are, not one that wants to bend you to their control.

Schleeping Wed 14-Jun-17 01:25:06

Hi OP. I am a Christian although don't follow the Bible to the letter- far from it. I just try to follow Christian principles in my life and like you I have faith in God.

You talk about your life not reconciling with a religion- in my opinion it's what's in your heart that matters. God won't turn you away because of something in your life. God loves everybody.

The evolution question- for me this comes down to faith. Faith is about trusting and believing in something that isn't necessarily tangible. I am of the thought process that we can't and don't know anything, I don't try to reason and make sense of everything, I just now how I feel and I know I have God in my heart.

I'm not sure if this is helpful to you at all- I'm so far from a "perfect" Christian and to many people they may challenge me about that. What I'm trying to say is just because you're not ticking the boxes it doesn't mean you can't find a religion for you. Faith and belief is the most important thing, everything else is a work in progress.

ollieplimsoles Wed 14-Jun-17 13:36:21

The evolution question- for me this comes down to faith. Faith is about trusting and believing in something that isn't necessarily tangible. I am of the thought process that we can't and don't know anything, I don't try to reason and make sense of everything, I just now how I feel and I know I have God in my heart.

Faith and belief is the most important thing, everything else is a work in progress

Goodness what an odd and frankly depressing way to live.
You're missing out on an awful lot if you only view the world through 'god glasses' I mean- even the creationists I know have a basic understanding of the scientific process in their own way and enjoy researching, even if it is towards their own fictional agenda.

I'm sorry I know I'm not a believer but I never came across anyone to take everything on faith confused

Itsheresomewhere Wed 14-Jun-17 17:44:58

Ollie I have to say that whilst I appreciated your input upthread, that last post was fairly uncalled for and could be construed as offensive to some, if not many.

If I understand Schleeping correctly they are trying to say simply that there are so many unknowns - even from a scientific standpoint, and therefore we can know nothing for absolutely certain. For example science previously believed homosapien life originated X amount of years ago, and recently discovered that it was several tens of thousands of years older than thought before.

But you've basically called Schleeping's life depressing and odd. No where in the above post does it say that they take everything on faith. My impression is that they believe that Science still has a lot of work to do to disprove God, and that their faith is stronger than doubt.

"*Fictional agenda*" is also offensive. Would you walk up to a Muslim and say "Hey, by the way, you know Allah is just a story right?" I suspect not.

As I said, I appreciated your earlier input, but I asked for advice and guidance on how to discover my own faith and not for someone to slate the faith of others. Please don't derail my thread by being disrespectful.

Others, dinner about to burn probably so I'll read through responses and reply later!

I hope tea didn't burn!

You are right and all the different denominations are confusing. You can walk into a C of E church that looks like it should be Roman Catholic with statues of Mary and clergy in gorgeous vestments and you can go into a Roman Catholic Church where it is folk mass and guitars. You could have a look at the mystery worshiper project on ship of fools and see if the big church has been reviewed. http://shipoffools.com/mystery/

An overused metaphor is faith as a journey. It may take a few visits to find a set of Christians to accompany you for this part of your journey and that may last months or years and then you may need to find other companions.

ollieplimsoles Wed 14-Jun-17 19:30:21

Well I'm sorry you are offended op, that is your right. I have to say I found shleeping s post rather offensive to read but since I dont have any beliefs to defend, I suppose that doesn't matter?

Science thrives on unknowns, and as theists love to point out; 'lack of proof is not proof of lack' however it is still not a free pass to pretend that because science hasn't disproved it, it is a viable, truthful belief.

Science does not have 'a lot of work to do to disprove god' the burden of proof lies with the theists that claim god exists. Scientists are too busy finding cures for life threatening conditions and inventing every thing we take for granted in our daily lives, to waste time on something that cannot be proven or disproven either way.
I'm not sure where I said I know anything 100% either?
For example science previously believed homosapien life originated X amount of years ago, and recently discovered that it was several tens of thousands of years older than thought before

This is the focus of a piece in the latest issue of new scientist and is very compelling, I'm not sure what it has to do with proving or disproving god though.

their faith is stronger than doubt.
What do you mean by this?

SleightOfHand Wed 14-Jun-17 19:54:19

Always seems the same on these types of threads, loads of people presuming OP is looking to be a Christian. OP, why not read about all the other religions or better still look within yourself and stay away from religion, look more towards the spiritual. Go with something that makes sense to you, if it doesn't feel right, then it's not for you.
Please don't feel bad/guilty about being an unmarried mother or sex before marriage. Love is what it's about IMHO.
Oh and btw, you can get married for very little, so that's not really an excuse, not that you need one anyway.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now