Are you breaking up with me?

I’m so sorry for leaving all of you in the dark about what has transpired over the last month.  It’s been… interesting?  Actually much of it has been terrible.  Yep, pretty much lost all my friends save 4.  But the last friend I lost was the final straw.  That last friend I lost gained me two more and changed my life for a positive direction.

BTW, I’m just going to start using real names now.

Stephen is a scientist.  Like a legit, working biologist.  Stephen is also employed by the US government to do science stuff on a daily basis.  Stephen is a Christian and was a regular attender of my ex-church.  Stephen is a very curious and intelligent person.  Stephen is also…wait for it…a young earth creationist.

I liked Stephen a lot.  He was very nerdy and a bit socially awkward but had the redeeming qualities of friendly, intellectual, and a working scientist.  One of the first real conversations I had with him was a debate on the age of the Earth.  I have long been a believer that the evidence pointed to a billions of years old Earth, but I did spend about a year and half in college as a young earth creationist (YEC) believing that Bible taught the Earth was only about 5,000 years old.  This was back when I was a biology major myself but also a boarder line fundamentalist.  Thankfully biology won out and I abandoned YEC.

My debates with Stephen were always respectful and somewhat fun.  In one such debate he paused to comment:

Stephen: Wait.  I’m the scientist and you’re the pastor.  I think we arguing on the wrong sides of this debate.  Shouldn’t I be arguing for an old earth and you arguing for a young earth?

We both chuckled.

Stephen was ok with me being an old earth guy because he knew I was a Christian.  As long as you believe that Jesus rose from the dead, the details of how old the earth is are kind of inconsequential.  So we spent at least twice a month, eating at the local wings place, talking theology, science, and church.

Literally the Sunday before I stepped down as the pastor, he came to me with a proposition.

Stephen: One of these days you and I need to go hiking around [local volcanic mountain] so I can show you, physically, why I think the earth is only 5,000 years old.

Me: You know, that actually sounds like fun.  Lets do that real soon.

The next Sunday I stood before the church, reading the prepared statement the board wrote for me on why I’m resigning, and looked over at Stephen.  He was tearing up.  He was very visibly sad about not only my departure but my reasoning too.  After church, as we are saying our goodbyes to everyone, he came up to say goodbye.

Me: Hey man, we should really do that hike up the mountain soon.  I’d love for you to show me why I might be wrong about the age of the earth. Especially now. [implying a need to regain faith]

Stephen: Yeah, let’s do that.

But of course, that had to wait.  I had a trip to Arizona that I had to make.  But upon my return I sent him a message with a request to meet soon.  The government was sending him to another location for two weeks, so it’d have to wait another two weeks.

Last Wednesday night we finally get together at the wings place.  We sit in our usual seats.  We talk about what the government has been having him do for the last two weeks.  I show him some pictures of some highly unusual bugs I spotted at my in laws.  It’s going like a typical meet up.  Then he asks the question:

Stephen: So I want to hear from you.  What happened?  What’s going on?

Me: Well nothing has “happened” per se, it’s just I can’t believe anymore.  It started out as not being able to trust God in prayer, but it eventually moved to a place where I don’t know if a god exists at all anymore.

Stephen: Take me through that.  How did you arrive at that conclusion?

Me: About a year ago, I was praying in my room.  Praying for the church, my family, myself.  Then I had this overwhelming sensation that God wasn’t listening to my prayers and I’m not sure He ever has.  Then by about January I started coming to the realization that maybe it felt like no one was listening because there was no one there to listen.  It’s hard to be mad at God for not answering your prayers when He was never there to begin with.

Stephen: [he reaches for his water glass and his hand is clearly shaking]  What do you mean God doesn’t answer prayer?  Surely you’ve seen God answer prayer.  I know I have. [he takes a drink while shaking subtly, trying to conceal his emotions]

Me: Well, I’m just not sure we ever have seen God answer prayer.  I mean, hmmm.  I was at church one day when someone was going on a road trip. They asked me, “hey pastor, can you pray for my upcoming trip?”  And so I did, but later that day I went home and read some news on my tablet.  One of the news stories was about Syrian President Assad using chemical weapons against his people.  There was a picture of 5 children, all between the ages of 3-6.  They were all dead.  Their eyes were open and they were dead, lying next to each other.  Dead Stephen, dead.  And I thought to myself, “why should I pray for this persons road trip, when clearly God wouldn’t answer the prayers of the parents praying for their children to survive?”  If God wasn’t going to answer the prayers of these parents, why on earth should I ever expect him to listen to any of my prayers?

Stephen goes through some mumbo jumbo about God’s plan and how His ways are different than ours.

Me: You have got to be kidding me Stephen.  You’re a dad.  Your son is not even a year old yet.  Imagine that’s your kid, dead in the picture.  Would you have not prayed for your son’s life?  That he would survive?  If God refuses to answer you most deepest and desperate prayer on behalf of you child, why the hell would He answer any prayer at all?  What’s easier to believe, that a loving God watched those children suffocate to death by poison gas but He did NOTHING AT ALL?  Or perhaps, that if there is no one protecting your children from evil, then evil will harm your children?  Occum’s Razor here man.  Which is realistically easier to believe?

Stephen: So you really don’t think there is a God at all?

Me: Technically I’m agnostic.  But my opinion is atheism.  I really don’t think there is a god.  It just doesn’t make sense.

Stephen: So you’re struggling with “the problem of evil”.

Me: Well slightly, but that’s not my main problem.  My main problem is prayer.  It doesn’t work.  Prayer is inconsequential.  Often Christians teach and believe that prayer is an inner thing.  It changes you as a person to be more like Christ, but it shouldn’t be used to try to change your circumstances or the world around you.  But that’s not what Jesus taught.

Stephen: Clearly the scriptures teach that prayer IS about changing things.

Me: Precisely.  But it doesn’t change a thing, man!  James 5 says:

Are any of you sick?  Then he should go before the elders of the church and be anointed with oil and he shall be healed, for the prayer of the righteous man avails much.”

Except it doesn’t.  Nobody is ever healed by prayer alone.  If prayer worked then we wouldn’t need doctors!  I have often found that somebody’s chance of healing has more to do with the severity of the disease and the proficiency of the medical staff that are caring for them.  Prayer makes little difference, if any.  But James doesn’t say “might be healed” he says “will”.  But that’s just not true.

Also Jesus says:

“Who of you, if your son asks for a loaf of bread, would give him a stone?  Who of you, if your son asks for a fish, would give him a serpent?  If you, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your father in heaven?”

But, how many of those Syrian parents prayed the simple prayer for keeping their children alive?  Yet God does nothing.  But you mean to tell me that God is somehow going to answer your prayer over your chicken wings?  Is that not the very definition of giving a stone instead of a loaf of bread?

And Jesus also says:

“If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘be thrown into the sea,’ and it will be cast into the sea.”

A mustard seed, Stephen.  A small, tiny mustard seed.  Have we not had a faith that small?  Yet God refuses to answer our prayers.  Jesus also says:

“Ask for anything in my name and your father in heaven shall give it you.”

But have we not asked for things that would appear to be part of God’s desire, and yet we have not received what we asked for?  And notice he doesn’t say “your father in heave might give it to you”, he says “will.”  But that’s just not true.

“Faith” means trust.  I just don’t trust that God will answer any prayers.  So I don’t have faith in God.  But then again, maybe it’s not God’s fault.  Maybe, he just doesn’t exist.

Stephen: But if you don’t believe a god exists, then why does this seem to upset you so much?

Me: What do you mean?

Stephen: Who cares if children are dying in Syrian then?  If there is no god, then there’s nothing wrong with that.  There is no right or wrong without God.

Me: Dude, that’s ridiculous.  If you can’t figure out why killing children is wrong, you don’t lack a god, you lack empathy.  The ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes.  You’re a dad.  Surely you don’t need Jesus to feel bad if your kid is gassed to death.  And you don’t need God to feel bad for someone else’s child dying.

Stephen: But that’s the kind of world you are choosing to live in.  Without God, there is no objective morality.  Everything is subjective.  Everything is pragmatic.  Look at the kind of world that would exist without a God to give us moral guidance.  Killing children isn’t “wrong” in a subjective world.

Me: I could argue with you about that but I think that’s beside the point.  Just because you wouldn’t like the moral implications of a atheistic worldview, doesn’t make God magically exist.  Just because you don’t like the conclusions, it doesn’t nullify the premise.  If there is no god, then there is no god, regardless of whether you think objective morality is important.  It’s like with hell:  if hell exists, then it doesn’t matter whether I like the premise or not.  Truth is truth, no matter what you think about it.

Stephen: Yeah, but why should you be bothered about hell?  How could you possibly morally object to it if you don’t believe in a god?

Me: The Bible clearly teaches that hell is a place of conscious, eternal torment.

Stephen: Agreed.

Me:  But how on earth could that be considered moral acceptable?

Stephen: What do you mean?

Me: Have you seen that Francis Chan video on eternity?

I reference this video:

Me: How on earth could that ever be considered morally acceptable?  How can a “just”, “loving”, and “merciful”, being punish someone with eternal torture for finite crimes?  Infinite punishment for finite crimes?  That’s clearly immoral.

Stephen: Who’s to say they’re finite crimes?  Are we not eternal beings?

Me: Well in some respects no, and in other respects yes.  Even if we live forever, there was a time when you didn’t exist.  As we know, some infinities are larger than others.  But at the very least you are finite in the sense that there was a time when you were not.  It is unjust to punish infinitely for that which is finite.  Even the American constitution puts provisions against cruel an unusual punishment.

Stephen: [he is now clearly sweating, taking a sip of water every 3 seconds.  Hands are shaking, he’s clearly nervous twitching.  Can’t tell if he’s just upset, or afraid.  Maybe both] But who’s to say that our crimes are finite?  Perhaps they are infinite.

Me: But that’s ridiculous.  Think of video.  Think of how small that red spot on the rope was.  There was a time you didn’t exist.  And then when you died, you ceased from sinning.  Is it just to punish for millions and millions of years, without end, for what…80 years of rebellion?  At some point, punishment must end or it is unjust.

Stephen: But what about the death penalty?  Is that not an infinite punishment for a finite crime?

Me: But there is a difference between killing someone verses torturing them endlessly for an eternity.  For fuck sake man, you’re a dad.  Could you possibly ever think of a crime so heinous that it justified torturing your son forever?

Stephen: I guess it depends on the crime.

This is where I know I’ve lost him.  There’s no arguing with him about God at this point.  If he is willing to say that there might be a crime worth torturing his own son for an eternity, then I’ve hit a brick wall of blind faith.

We progress to other topics.

Me: Listen, at the end of the day, I can understand people being upset with me, feeling betrayed by me, or whatever.  What I can’t get over, is that people are mad at my wife.  She did nothing wrong.  She didn’t lose her faith.  Why the hell won’t people help her?

Stephen: [whose own wife refuses to return my wife’s phone calls and text]  You have to understand, you aren’t two individual people.  You’re a couple.  People view you together.  Since you have chosen…

Me: No, I didn’t “choose” anything Stephen.  Why the hell would I or anyone choose this?  I have gained nothing from this.  I have lost damn near everything because of this.  This wasn’t a choice.  If I could choose to believe again, I would.  But I can’t.  I have simply lost the ability to believe.  You need to trust me on this.  Look at my life right now!  What possible reason would I have to reject the Gospel?  If I could believe it again, I would get my whole life back.  I have lost nearly all my friends, and these friends of ours have also rejected my wife.  Don’t you think if I could believe again and fix all that I would?

Stephen: Well I guess if I was the devil, the first thing I would do was make you think you had no choice.

Me: Stephen, you’re a scientist!  Can’t you see that you are inventing reasons to fit clear evidence presented to you, into the mold of your own belief?  You’re making things up, just to make it fit with your theory instead of just taking the evidence in front of you and allowing that to be true!  Why is it so hard for you to believe that I didn’t “choose” to reject God?  Why can’t you just believe what I’ve experienced?

Stephen: Regardless, I’m not justifying our friends actions but explaining them.  You have taken something very dear to us, Jesus, and thrown him into the trash, and stomped on him.  You have rejected the very essence of our being, our everything, and just… thrown it away.  That hurts us a lot.  So it’s awkward to even approach your wife.

Me: That’s bullshit.  How can you be mad at me, and then take it out on my wife, for not believing in Jesus…WHILE YOU DON’T BELIEVE IN HIM EITHER!  Does not Jesus say:

“If you are at the alter and remember your brother has something against you, go and leave your gift at the alter, and be reconciled to you brother.”

and does he not say:

“How often shall you forgive your brother who sins against you in one day? Seven times?  No, truly I tell you 70 times 7.”

and does he not say:

“How many of you if you have 100 sheep and lose 1, do you not leave the 99 behind and search out the 1 who is lost?”

and of course he says:

“Why do you call me Lord and do not do what I command?” “You are my friends if you do what I command.”

Except you don’t.  None of you do.  And it’s not just towards me, it’s towards my wife, WHO HASN’T DONE THE SLIGHTEST THING WRONG.  This was an opportunity for the church to reach out to someone who was hurting, and keep her part of the faithful, but you failed.  All of you did.  Why man, why?

Stephen: Because we can’t, we can’t.  This is the path you have taken and we can’t walk it with you.  I’m sorry but this is the end of us.  I have appreciated our time together over this last year, but I can’t have fellowship with you.

Me: What the hell are you talking about?  So because I’m a lost sheep, you can’t be my friend?

Stephen:  But you aren’t just lost.  You once believed.  Heck, you preached it.  But have since rejected it.

Me: But I didn’t choose to.

Stephen: Either way, we’re done.  If you ever want to talk about coming back to Jesus, I’d be glad to talk with you.

Me: But it’s not that simple.  You don’t choose what you believe.  You believe in what you think is real.  You think God is real, therefore you believe.  I don’t, therefore I don’t.

Stephen: John, it was a pleasure knowing you.

He gets up, extends his hand.  We shake, he leaves.

Did he just break up with me?

He did.  What the fuck?

This kills me on the inside a lot.  I move from the table to the bar, where I think proceed to drink about 10 too many drinks.  I call my friend Anthony and his wife to come pick me up and take me home.

At least I got someone who will pick me up from the bar.

This story gets better, but that’s all I can write tonight.  And as always, much of the conversation was paraphrased and edited for length.

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34 thoughts on “Are you breaking up with me?

  1. The whole argument about objective morality has always been complete and utter BS. How many lines of scripture are there of God declaring punishment that even the most die hard Christians reject because they are simply too dark? Not to mention all the things the Bible condones that are illegal. Do these people just conveniently forget that the Bible not only says slavery is okay, but that it’s necessary to beat your slaves in order to teach and discipline them?

    If the supposed word of God says it’s okay to do these types of things, but we have the capability to decide they’re wrong and make laws against them, what more evidence do you need that we have our own sense of morality?

    It has always baffled me that people like this can exist. To call yourself a scientist, to study and understand the scientific method and objective reasoning, and yet to believe with such blind faith in things that have no credible evidence for them.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, that was part of the conversation I left out of this post. Of course morality is subjective, even in the Bible it’s subjective! Picking up firewood on the Sabbath is a capital offense for Moses, but Jesus seems to skirt that law, and Paul says the Sabbath doesn’t matter any more. Bacon will get you banished in the Old Testament, but eat what you want in the New. Clearly situational ethics occur in the Bible, why do Christians think moral law exists in a stagnant form?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. When my wife and I had the conversation 5 years ago when we both agreed that we just couldn’t keep pretending anymore that we were Christians I said at the time we’d inevitably loose some key relationships. This proved to be the case, but we were still taken back by the response of some.

    I’m not in anyway equating my experience with yours: I wasn’t the pastor (‘though I had a fairly high profile) and I have a “proper” job, and thankfully my wife and I were of the same mind.

    I’ll not give you the bereavement BS line, you’ve no doubt heard that many times. It does hurt. I was (and still am) desperate to talk through my journey with other Christians. Sadly, it is the elephant in the room. Interestingly, non-christians are fascinated with it all, if not a little bemused.

    Big hugs from across the pond…

    Ian

    Liked by 2 people

  3. When i left the church many years ago now I misinterpreted ‘fellowship’ for friendship. It was pointed out to me (by someone I thought a friend) that if you refute christ then you are a tool of the devil. Christians fear the devil nearly as much as they fear hell. ‘Fallen’ Christians are seen as contaminants sent by satan to fool the faithfull. Delusions are not amenable to reason or logic and so shunning is the only solution that comes to the Christian mindset. I feel for you and your wife its a nightmare situation to be in. All I can say is that the pain will fade some in time.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I clearly misinterpreted “fellowship” with friendship. But to be fair, I was the preacher. I preached that fellowship WAS friendship. Clearly my congregation didn’t agree with me.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. More and more, I have come to realize that for certain denominations, the name “Christian” has absolutely nothing to do with following the teachings of Jesus.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. would you , when you were a believer, have behaved as your “friend” behaved? it seems to me that is the way all christians act. they are not filled with love, and what love they do have has so many conditions. i really liked this post. it seems like you are coming out of a fog. i know this is painful and it might go on for awhile but i wonder if you do not feel more free? and i wonder if you know that kind of “friend” is no kind of friend at all. he’s only your friend as long as you talk the talk and act the act. do you see the fear underlying his words? surely you can imagine the rage he probably feels that you have become free while he is still trapped but cannot even acknowledge it to himself? btw that video was an excellent point

    Liked by 2 people

    • I would have never acted this way, which is why this is so upsetting. This is not the version of Christianity I preached. I frequently sought out friends who were exChristians. I spent time listening to my expastor friend, Mark, talk about his split with is wife. Shit, as a former youth pastor, I know plenty of kids (who are now in their late twenties) I once taught that have since rejected the gospel. Some of those ‘kids’ I’m still friends with today. I never, never, never acted this way and I sure as shit taught my church to do better than this.

      Like

  6. my question has always been how can you love god and fear him too? you love your wife, do you fear her? you love your children, do you fear them? why does god require fear? seems like fear is antiethical to love. also, i think most christians are really following the apostle paul and not christ. i hope you keep blogging. i admire your thought processes

    Liked by 1 person

  7. You will find new friends. That process takes awhile, but perhaps less for you and your wife than for some others; you, as a former preacher, are skilled at connecting with people, and I suspect that may rub off onto a former preacher’s wife as well. Meanwhile, I get that you are pretty social people, and it will feel very lonely for some time. All you can really do is ride it out, and keep reaching out.

    Don’t discount the value of social media. I am friends with 5 people (two of whom are quite close) who are geographically near me, thanks to Facebook.

    Also, I suspect this shunning is an Evangelical thing, to some extent. You will meet Catholics and mainline Protestants who will be happy to talk beer and science and your favorite sports and whatever, and agree to live and let live on the subject of religion; they’ll judge you by your behavior. They do exist. I grew up in that kind of household.

    So, people who you can honestly connect with — people who are into friendship, not fellowship — will become part of your life. And I suspect your entire family will ultimately be happier.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Ohhh. My heart is breaking for your pain. No matter your reasons, or his, it is a loss for you both. You are morally right, but that is not the hug you need. I am sorry the ones you love are failing you and your wife. Sending you both a lots of hugs. Keep strong and let your true friends hold you up when you are feeling weak and alone. You are not. You are not alone.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Reading this helped me figure something out.

    First, we have to acknowledge that there is a great deal of narcissism among Christians. I realize that is a gross overgeneralization, and could be said of any religion or belief system, particularly among those new adherents who have recently cannonballed into The One True Way and now have All The Answers. But that aside, Christians (god damn it, I keep typing “Christian” with a lowercase C and autocorrect keeps capitalizing it– note that it did not autocap “god”) very deeply identify with the religion, so much that it is the primary aspect of their personalities, or possibly their entire identities. Christian first, parent or pastor or scientist or rock star or lineman for the county second.

    Further, these xtians (ooh, look at that, no cap and it saves me time) are so invested in the faith that anyone who is not the same– especially someone they thought was the same– is alien. Note the way Stephen phrases it as you “rejecting” God and Jesus. He even hyperbolizes it as you throwing Jesus into a trash can and stomping on him. (The same way we all road-hauled Santa behind a truck, forced the tooth fairy down the garbage disposal and slew and ate the Easter bunny as part of growing up.) He cannot conceptualize your realization as anything other than a violent rebellion.

    You and I know that you are not rejecting the church, you just can’t be a part of it any more; he will not understand that. This may be partly the way he was brought up or the way he was brought into the church, I don’t know. But I am sure this is the same emotional process your other conditional friends are responding to you.

    More than that, as I established earlier, xtianity is the greatest part of their identities. When you reject/abandon/turn away from the Holy Mother Church and the One True Messiah, you are rejecting/abandoning/turning away from _them personally_. Their faith is all they are; they have nothing else. Your atheism can be nothing other than a personal insult to their fragile egos.

    As I stated at the beginning, this is an overgeneralization, and it does apply to other faiths and creeds. We see it in Islam, which tells its adherents not to worship graven images; this is interpreted not only as, “Muslims should not draw pictures of Mohammad,” but also, “Non-Muslims who draw pictures of Mohammad have insulted you personally and must be slain.” We see it in $cientology, where members who question the benefit of paying $10000 for a bible lesson are shunned by all their family and friends, harassed and stalked, and reported to government agencies on false allegations. (“Why are you rejecting L. Ron? Why are you putting him in a trash can and stomping on him?”) $cientologists may be a little more forgiving of infidels who just don’t understand and have not seen the light yet. Oddly, I have seen Satanists be more accommodating to outsiders, treating them merely like morlocks who just do not understand or haven’t seen the truth. (You won’t hear, “Why are you rejecting Anton LaVey? Why are you putting him in a trash can and stomping on him?”) The same thing with Objectivists, who consider the uninitiated as uneducated proles brainwashed by the socialist government. (“I know why you’re rejecting Ayn Rand, and putting her in a trash can and stomping on her; just give her a chance. Read Atlas Shrugged!”)

    In a slightly different allegory, I remember having dinner with my cousin and her husband a few years ago. He had just got promoted into management and was learning to golf, which he surprisingly liked. I was working for a country club at the time. He asked if I liked golf, and I said no. His response was, “You hate it!” as though that were the only other option. I said no, I didn’t care one way or the other. He did not believe me. To him, golf was love or hate.

    The point is, xtians are one-dimensional about religion; it’s all or nothing, and because they see themselves as the church, nothing is not acceptable.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That was certainly one of Stephen’s points. He’s not a scientist, husband, father who is also a Christian; he’s a Christian who happens to be a scientist, husband, father, etc. Jesus is literally everything to him. Which I used to be that way too, but I never acted like this.

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  10. My heart breaks for you, my friend. In my search for “The Truth” I was placed in a situation where my best friends had betrayed my trust and stolen my business from my wife and I. We didn’t have the money to fight it in court, and were made homeless by it. This caused a HUGE crisis of faith. How could such things happen if there was a loving god, watching over us? I struggled with it for probably about a year, before I came to the conclusion that god, in any meaningful form, could not exist.

    I’m not saying I had it worse than you do. Luckily we had no children, and my wife was/is not Christian. We also had a UU faith community nearby to fall back on once my “crisis of faith” was a bit settled and the wound was not as fresh as it had been.

    Losing people you thought were friends – especially those that you were especially close to, is hard. You will likely never convince them that you didn’t “choose” this. And your wife, while she didn’t change, or lose faith, is now part of a household that they see as “contaminated by Satan”. So even if she was and is a good Christian, Satan will have his claws in her soon, in their minds. Of course, were she to divorce you, and take the children (in violation of Jesus’ teachings), she’d be welcomed back into their community with open arms! They would praise her for escaping the clutches of a minion of Satan, and saving the children as well. But, as long as she loves you, stands by you, and follows Jesus’ commands against divorce for anything other than infidelity, she is just a step away from a servant of Satan…and might be one herself, in their eyes.

    *sigh*

    Liked by 1 person

    • Stephen virtually implied the whole divorce thing. Get this: so I fucking asked him:

      What if instead of losing faith, I had an affair, or embezzled a shit-ton of money from the Church? Do you think all these ladies would abandon my wife then? Would they not reach out to her and comfort her? Of course they would, but why is this different? If I had an affair or stole money that would have been an active choice to do wrong. But I didn’t choose this, and I don’t want it. Why is she being treated as if what I did was worse than cheat on her?

      His response…

      Well this is worse! Those were lesser crimes, but you’ve trashed the one thing, the one person, who is closest to our hearts. That’s just hard for us to deal with. Since your still married, we can’t separate you two. We see you as one, so you are being treated together. How are you going to manage this with her? This, as long as she takes her faith seriously, is going to drive a wedge between you.

      Fuck you Stephen.

      Liked by 4 people

  11. I’m so sorry the people you know–I can’t really call them your friends– are treating you so badly. I do believe that things will get better for you, especially as you expand your circle.There are many, many people of all stripes of belief who really just don’t care what their friends’ religious beliefs or practices are and will only care about “the content of your character.” Hang in there!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Your friend is terrified. Your friend is in a better position than most to realize you are right and that you have the moral high ground especially when it comes to the Church treatment of your wife.

    But at the same time, he belongs to that Church. If he admits that the church acted un-christian, then he has to admit he acted un-christian.

    Your friend, the creationist biologist with a broken Internet search engine, is scared of the implications of your lack of faith and he is scared of the truth of their church, their community abandoning an innocent for a sin by association.

    They are presented with a further contradiction: your wife should divorce you,m but I assume they are against divorce.

    Plus, I’d find it very unlikely that your friend hasn’t had the very same doubts you have been struggling with. You came out at the other end with the only logical conclusion. He has chosen to remain in the bubble even if it means lying to himself.

    Your friend is a victim as much as you and your wife are. But right now he is a willing victim. But the seed is planted. Maybe as he grows older that seed will sprout.

    PS: I’d be curious what your friend’s colleagues think of him at the office. Unless he managed to find a small enclave of YEC nutcases.

    Liked by 2 people

    • He has to be terrified. If he’s a thinking person, he has to be a least a little bit scared.

      I’m pretty sure he’s silent about his YEC views at work. He’s worried about discrimination if he shares his views on this matter.

      Like

      • Discrimination against him would not be right, as long as he does his job correctly. Not knowing what his duties are, it’s hard to judge that. But if I were a scientist and this guy was tasked, for instance, with collecting data where a modicum of interpretation is necessary, I’d be concerned that if he saw data that didn’t fit with his worldview he may be tempted to make it fit no matter what.

        In other words, we should not discriminate the man for what he believes, but his beliefs override reality and in science that can be dangerous.

        I can see a lot of jobs and situation where his beliefs would not matter, but I also can see a lot of situations where they would matter.

        Do you know what he does exactly? Has he shared that with you? It would be academically interesting. Hopefully, he is not working on an anti-zombie vaccine where one of the ingredients is holy water.

        Liked by 1 person

  13. Deepest sympathy for this season of losses. That’s the main thing. There’re so many gains – freedom, integrity, etc – but right now, the hurt has to be immense.

    Trying to figure things out…. maybe the difference between the way in the past you welcomed friendships with unbelievers or former believers and the way Stephen and too many others are reacting to you is that you really truly believed from the heart. When Stephen repeatedly talks about your “deciding” not to believe, to “throw Jesus into the trash,” maybe that reveals or illustrates that many Christians do indeed “decide” to have faith — they refuse to entertain any doubt about Christian teaching and actively tamp down any skeptical thoughts — so that when you try to explain that unbelief “happened” to you, they just don’t have any experience of heartfelt belief to help them know what you’re talking about. Maybe Anthony and his wife truly believe, so they know that faith is not something a person “decides” about. As I read, I was thinking of The Clergy Project’s communications director, too, who in his days as pastor enjoyed sparring with unbelievers. In those years he likewise “believed from the heart.” (I’m so glad you can talk with him!!)

    Francis Chan — I’m in the middle of Carl Jung’s “Answer to Job” — who says the problem in Job is that Job’s complaints reveal that Job is more moral than Yahweh, who accepted the immoral idea of torturing Job to see how loyal he was. “Formerly he [Job] was naive, dreaming perhaps of a ‘good’ God, or of a benevolent ruler and just judge…. and, as one could assume from the Ten Commandments, would have some recognition of ethical values…. But, to his horror, he has discovered that Yahweh is not human but, in certain respects, less than human….” [p.21] I’m at the point in the book now when Jung is saying this is part of why “God must become man” — I think Jung will be saying that Yahweh had to become man in order for Yahweh to become more moral, like Job (who argued he did not deserve his suffering), and less unthinkingly reactive, as Yahweh is portrayed in the early stories. ….I agree totally about infinite punishment for finite ideas… one of the concepts that keeps me fervently opposed to fundamentalism.

    About seeking the lost — Not long ago, the church I was attending did an epic fail in this department. The issue was a moral failing, and the reaction was to totally distance the congregation from the strayer — no word whatsoever of hope for counseling or ultimate restoration. The member’s family was not held responsible and would have been welcomed to continue — but the hurt and shock of the total distancing was deep, and of course the family has arranged their lives to avoid the group. Like you, I couldn’t figure how the church could overlook 99% of what christianity ought to be about. I grieve that with you.

    In my own family, I feel much less close to relatives who are quite conservative, as I’ve grown increasingly liberal. This past weekend we attended a bluegrass service my brother-in-law was leading, and I was sad thinking about the distance that has grown over the years. I think actually it may be more on my part than theirs. As you learn what helps, I will be eager to learn from you!

    Thank you so much for sharing what you are experiencing and learning, and for the help you are and will be to so many. Gratitude; and I am so sorry for the sorrows.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. All of this reminds me why I haven’t talked to two of my closest Christian friends. 😦

    I’m really sorry. I wish I could say that I’m surprised, but what Steven said sounds so very familiar to some of the teachings I encountered as I grew up. Probably more in college (at an engineering school!) than anything else. Cognitive dissonance – that’s Steven’s game. It’s possible to play that game for a very long time too. I did for years. Let’s hope it’s not permanent.

    I am so sorry that he wasn’t able to look beyond the fear to see you as a real person, and a real friend. I imagine you seem as alien to him now as he probably seemed/s to you. The whole not of this world/ in the world but not of it/ idea is so extremely damaging to human relationships, in my opinion.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I think you summed it up in one of the replies. He is a Christian first (and as you explain, not a very good one) and everything else is secondary. That means he was never truly your friend. Which is bad for you. But I also think it means he is never truly going to be a husband or father which is so much worse for his family. It’s a very sad situation.

    Also, I am disappointed that I am not going to hear his evidence for the young earth. But that’s me being selfish.

    Shane

    Liked by 1 person

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