I once was Christian, but now am Agnostic...(41 Posts)
Are there any other MNers who have been through this? I used to be a strong believer for over 20 years. But recently over the last few years I just don't feel the same. I don't know if this is a permanent state, but I have to say I feel more 'me' than I have been for awhile.
I guess I just outgrew that system of beliefs/philosophy.
I believe that we (human beings) find the prospect of death hard to deal with, (along with the injustices/sufferings we encounter/witness going on in the world) so in order to make these issues/problems more 'palatable' we have created life after death, heaven and hell etc.
My becoming an agnostic has repercussions in my marriage (my Dh doesn't want me to tell the kids), and will create problems (possibly) in my relationships with my friends who are Christians.
Can anyone share me of their experiences, or offer some advice?
I was brought up C of E, not a massively strict denomination but my family is v religious. I became agnostic in my teens and am now an atheist. It sounds fairly similar to you, I just kind of outgrew it. Maybe you'll get back into it, maybe you won't. Try not to worry too much about labels, you can always change your mind!
When you say it will cause problems, is your OH a Christian? Are your children being brought up religiously?
I've not told my parents about my (lack of) religious beliefs, mainly because I don't think it's an important enough thing to upset them about. I'm not living a double life or anything, we just never talk about it. I think they probably know.
I do have a few friends that are very religious (a few Christians and a Sikh) and we just don't talk about religion. Or if they want to talk about it, I just let them.
It was tricky to start with, it was a bit like coming out a relationship I suppose. I used to go on a forum called Ex Christians which helped a bit but there were some pretty angry people on there.
Anyway, if you want to ask me anything else, go ahead, I will try and give you some sensible advice
I was CofS growing up, and my beliefs slowly faded till I now consider myself atheist. I didn't make a song and dance about it when my DC were little, but I didn't take them to any kind of church, nor did I allow them to attend church with the school, though I didn't go so far as to pull them out of assemblies. When they said things like "My teacher says God knows when we're naughty" (or whatever), I used the line, "Some people think that." Depending on age, understanding and their questions we had further discussions. They're both atheists now (22 and 19 yo).
My mum and elder sister are both Xian in a church-going but non-evangelical sort of a way, my younger sister is a fairly fundy Born Again who persists in believing that I'm Seeking when I engage her in conversation about her faith, so I kind of... don't.
I haven't really "come out" to my family as an atheist yet, (I'm doing it by drip-feed) so no conflicts so far.
Hi Sweetnitanitro, thank you for replying.
Yes to both your questions: my Dh is a Christian (he is not willing to discuss my lack of or changing faith); and yes my children are being brought up religiously.
I guess you are right to just get on with life and not to worry about it all.
I will google ex Christians, it might be helpful.
It is strange, as I never envisaged that I would ever be without faith, ever.
Do you think I should try and discuss my lack of faith with my Dh or just leave it?
It doesn't sound as if you very much want to discuss this with your DH. Do you have a need to talk about it?
I felt that when I was a Christian that it was true reflection of who I was and that label aptly fitted my beliefs. People knew I was a Christian, and in the same vein, part of me would like them to know that I am no longer a Christian IYKWIM.
OldLadyKnowsNothing, I think am probably heading towards atheism, but am kind of 'hedging my bets' at the moment
I am normally in favour of talking things through but the problem with religious beliefs is that you can't change people's minds easily and it can be difficult to see things from the other side so it's easy for it to end in an argument.
I think you need to talk about how it will affect the way you bring up the kids, ie are you happy for them to go to church and be brought up in a religion you don't believe in? How old are they btw? Are they likely to be confused about you not going to church any more?
It also depends on how religion affected your day to day life and relationship. I know in some religions the wife is supposed to obey the husband etc. I don't know if this applies to you though.
There are loads of books about leaving religions, I read quite a few and found it comforting that so many other people had gone through exactly the same thing and survived!
I have been in a similar place to you. Was converted and had an adult baptism, cell leader etc etc, and then went to New Wine, looked around me and thought "this is a load of old bobbins." That was 2 years ago, and I think I am still grieving the strength of my faith. My path has been to consider atheism, but I am slowly returning to the Church/Christianity as I feel comfortable there and have a great network of friends and I did feel something missing from my life. But I am not convinced the missing thing was me not having a crutch. Luckily (?) DH is not a Christian, so it didn't make much difference to him. I suspect for you this may be more difficult.
No advice to offer, sorry, as you can see from my experience I am still bumbling through. I suppose my advice would be to keep an open mind about it and not try to get pigeon holed into Christianity, agnosticism or aetheism. (Can't spell, sorry)
OldLadyKnowsNothing, I do and I don't want to discuss this with Dh, as he has said that it would have implications for our marriage, he feels THAT strongly about it all.
We are having marriage problems already.
I have always been the kind of person who prefers to be unambiguous, so I would be happier if Dh knows what I do/do not believe.
BedofRosesItAintII, do you think you're in some way different from when you were Xian, or do you think others might see you differently?
It's a lot harder for you with your DH - mine has never bothered one way or the other.
Of course it's important that he sees the person you are.
Do you want your marriage to continue?
Thank you for all your replies, it is good to know that I am not the only MNer who has gone or is going through this. And for me, it is good to have replies to my thread
My children are junior school age, and I have said to them that they are free to believe if they want to. I no longer go to church regularly, but go from time to time, mainly to appease Dh! But usually I am too 'busy' to go along with them. I think my children know that I don't believe anymore as I don't pray with them at bedtime but tell them that Dad does that now.
Religion doesn't affect my day to day life much, but it may affect the quality of my forgiveness in the future.
Sometimes I have witnessed that Christians IMO kind of 'rush' to forgive, because of the teachings of Christianity. It is almost as though they don't want to give themselves adequate time to discuss what has happened, and within church/Christian circles there is a implied pressure to forgive quickly.
Do I want the marriage to continue?...
Honestly, I am not sure. There are other issues aside from this, but for Dh, this might be a dealbreaker, but we'll see, as we are off to Relate shortly for this and other problems.
Yet your DH is having difficulty "forgiving" your change of heart.
I remember as I grew away from my christian faith it was a very gradual process but making the decision to leave the church was so hard I remember thinking at the time it was like a divorce, but I just couldn't battle with it any more. But after I left and made the break I remember feeling much more settled in myself, happier, more true to myself I suppose.
This for me happened before I had my children so I can't really share your experience there, but I have been on a journey recently about the christian faith in my children's school. My husband and I decided to let them join in with assemblies and we talk at home about other people's beliefs and values and our beliefs as agnostics and our values and what is similar and what is different. I hope when they are older they are true to themselves.
I really think people of all beliefs and those of none can work together, have amazing relationships and achieve lots if they look and focus on their shared values, beliefs and experiences.
Flip, hope that doesn't sound to heavy but hope it helps.
1Maya2 and Tummum did you tell you Christian friends? Did those relationships survive your growing away from the shared faith?
<hopes not to x-posts with OldLady>
Sorry if my last post seemed a bit behind I was writing it whilst some of you other posts were happening and I'm sorry if my post seems a bit irrelevant now, things seem pretty serious with your relationship I'm really sorry hope that Relate is a good step.
Sweetnitanitro, can you recommend some books on leaving religion please?
OldLady That's why I have booked us in for counselling! I may be making a huge generalisation but I find that men are resistant to change of any kind unless they are the instigators.
Yes my christian friends knew, and I was really lucky because many of them I am still in touch with. And many of the very close new friends I have made in recent years are christians, but we general don't talk about religion, it seems easier that way
I wonder whether Relate will be sufficiently clued up on matters of religion to be able to facilitate a meaningful discussion about its importance in your marriage though?
What sort of church does DH attend - would talking to the vicar/pastor/whatever be any sort of help, and maybe that person could help him understand that it doesn't have to be the end of the marriage. Or not for the reason of you nmoving away from christianity anyway.
On the surface 1Maya2 things appear to be okay, the children have no idea that mum and dad have marital problems, neither do any of my friend in RL.
But I am looking at our realtionship and after 20+ years am thinking that there is stuff that needs addressing and dealing with if we are going to make it for another 20+. So Relate in my mind is a kinda relationship declutter opportunity (I hope!)
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