Leaving The "fold" Of Christianity

My story is long & complicated, as I'm sure most are.  So, I will try to keep it brief, yet informative.
I am a 31 year old SAHM of two children under the age of 5.  I am married to my best friend, my husband of 7 years.  He works in construction, attends school full time & will graduate in December with a Masters degree in Counseling.  We live in Oklahoma, the "Buckle of the Bible-Belt". 
My husband & I met when we were only 5 years old, when his parents came to pastor my family's Nazarene church.  Over the years of childhood & adolescence, we remained close friends & in our early 20's fell in love & were married in the Nazarene church by my husband's father, an ordained Nazarene reverend.
Throughout most of our lives we called ourselves saved/born-again Christians.  Through study & life-experience, we strayed from many of our family's & church's fundamental conservative beliefs & became more liberal in our beliefs, calling ourselves liberal Christians/Followers of Jesus/Religious Moderates.
Our family noticed the gradual changes & over the years, friendly theological debates have taken place.  But, through it all we always managed to see past one another's different religious view-points & simply be satisfied that at least on the most crucial belief we could agree: the existence of the Trinity of Christianity (God as 3-in-1/God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son & the Holy Spirit).
Our family & extended family are all extremely close & bonded through the "sacred brotherly/sisterly love" of fellow Christians.  We live close, dine together several times a week, celebrate birthdays & holidays together & support one another through sickness & hardship.
Our nuclear family (Husband, Myself, Son & Daughter) are closest to my husbands parents.  They have always been there for us to support us financially & help us care for our children & general emotional/relational/loving support that most children desire from their parents.
However, recently things have changed.
For a couple years now my husband & I have been on a spiritual path towards agnosticism.  Many factors & details have led us this direction, mainly researching the history & facts surrounding Christianity.  But, we were able to see past some of the glaringly obvious contradictions of the faith & generally agree that it would be more harmful to publicly denounce our faith, causing unnecessary tension & disfunction in our family.  After-all, what could be the harm in following the teachings of Jesus Christ?
Well, it turns out, it is harmful!
Through several visits to my 4 year old son's Sunday School class, I started to hear some things that really bothered me.  Here are a few examples:
1.) If you have faith in God & pray, He will protect you from harm.  (Daniel in the Lion's Den)
2.) If you have faith & pray, God can heal all your "boo-boos".  (Lazarus)
3.) God loves you, even though you have been "bad".  (Adam & Eve)
My husband & I discussed this over the course of a few weeks & several Sunday School "audits".  We both agreed, we did not feel comfortable with the information our child was receiving.  We felt it was setting him up with important core fundamental beliefs in God & the world we live in, that just are not true.
And looking back & examining our own experiences, we both heartily agreed that some of this indoctrination had been harmful in our own lives.  Some of it even scarier than that which our son was hearing.  For example, instilling the "Fear of God" & the terror of hell & eternal damnation.
So, we began to skip church all together, coming up with excuses for our absence & finding other enjoyable ways to spend the time together as a family.  We felt the loss of our faith was something we should try to "take to the grave".
But, of course, the charade could not continue forever & soon an altercation ensued, in which we finally shared with my husband's parents our lack of belief in Christianity.
Needless to say, there were some strong reactions & many tears.
But, since that Sunday a couple weeks ago, it's as if the entire subject has been pushed under the rug, a bad nightmare no one wishes to revisit anytime soon.
Also, other things have changed.  My husband & I noticed that his parents no longer tell us they love us, especially at the end of phone calls, something that seems trivial & habit.  But, it is genuinely hurtful to think maybe your parents don't love you anymore.  Or maybe they think since we aren't Christian, we are not capable of love?
Also, my 31st birthday went completely unnoticed by my in-laws.  Usually, birthdays are a big deal, with a homemade dinner of choice, cake & presents.  But maybe we're undeserving of this sort of attention?  Or perhaps without Jesus, there is no reason to celebrate living another year?
For now, only my husband's parents know about our "fall from Grace".  But it is only a matter of time before they spread the word to family & close friends with the purpose of: "Please pray for our children."
In the meantime, this journey my husband & I are on is very lonely.  We are non-believers in the middle of a VERY Christian society.  We would appreciate any & all support, advice or questions.
Thanks for reading my story!
photogness photogness
8 Responses Aug 31, 2010

I am with Pyramus. A masters will do great in California, NY or any other industrialized city. If you think you will have issues with the people you interact everyday, then it might be a good time to move to a more tolerant city.

Hello fellow agnostics :D!! I feel sort of proud that more people is using reasoning instead of blind dogma to lead their lives. <br />
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Photogness, <br />
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Do not feel bad for the decision you and your husband have taken. You have powerful reasons to justify what you did. Christians, like Onedayacometwillfall said, will only be there so long you agree with their beliefs. Many of them are hypocrites for "their" Jesus instructed them to love their neighbors and enemies, and yet they despise those who do not share their beliefs. <br />
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It is hard to see your some of your relatives walk away from you, but as long as you know you are doing the best for you and your family you should be in peace with yourself. You have not done anything wrong.<br />
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Many people do not understand or lack the tolerance and will make comments to try to hurt you. Just remind them of their "golden rule."<br />
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There is another forum I visit very often:<br />
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agnostictalk.prototstar.com/phpBB3/index.php<br />
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There are more Agnostics there that can show support and it is a great place to debate about religion, philosophy and other interesting stuff.

I too am new to this forum and at least one poster to your story helped me to decide that I am agnostic. Your story is a classic example of why I am agnostic and my life story is not too dissimilar from yours. I have noted for a very long time that each denomination of Christianity seems to interpret the words of the bible in a way that suits them best. Because of this, I think of each denomination as having their own god although each will tell you that theirs is the only god. If the god that your in-laws believe in does allow them to be tolerant of the beliefs of others, then that is not a god that I want to believe in anyway. <br />
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I am 42 years old, married with 4 year old twins. My parents are strict believers in their faith but I have never told them how I feel mostly because I feel that they do not need to know. Your story makes me wonder if I am right in thinking that. (I actually slipped once and referred to the bible as the greatest work of fiction in history. To her credit, my mother did not say anything and I often wonder if she even heard me....lol)<br />
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For me, I want to know that I am not alone in my beliefs and for some time now, have wondered how to put a voice to my thoughts. I am hoping that this forum is a good place for that and so far, it seems that it is.<br />
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I don't have any real advice for you however, it might help to know that I, like many others, are in a similar state of mind. You are not alone and I wish you and your family the best of luck.

That is sad his family has started alienating you since you told them the truth but unfortunately this is the sad fact of many "Christians". They will love you until the ends of the earth...until you disagree with them. And I have had Christians try to tell me what you mentioned. that a non believer is incapable of love because " God is love and love is God" and if you don't believe in God than you don't believe in love...just typing this reminds me how ridiculous that is. All human beings are capable of love...unless they have certain psychiatric issues...so most human beings are capable of love irregardless of their religious beliefs. My husband and I are both agnostics but I can see every day how much he loves me and I know he would do anything for me...which is more than can be said for most of the "Christians" I have known. So anyone who tells you you cannot love because you don't believe in God is ignorant...and maybe you are better off without them.

I can understand your story. When I departed from my home and went to college, I started using my mind freely and thinking about the Christian life I had been living, and realized how...detrimental it can be to experiencing the world around us. <br />
On top of that, I understood completely the scathing hate that a christian community can show. My parents found out I was gay, and really let me know how strong their faith is. It was then I experienced true loneliness.<br />
I have my thoughts with you, and stay strong.

Hi Photogness, speaking as a lapsed Christian living in the South East of UK its difficult to grasp your predicament. It sounds like something which might have happened over here 100 years ago.<br />
In our liberal society of today we bend over backwards to accommodate a wide spectrum of different beliefs & the main problem is perceived as coming form various sorts of fundamentalists who are accused of not making enough effort to integrate / co-exist with people who hold different sets of beliefs.<br />
It sounds to me if you're going to stick it out there in the Oklahoma Bible Belt you're gong to have to build up a good local support network of sympathisers & like minded people.<br />
An alternative solution might be to keep your heads down & keep signing from the hymn sheet until your partner completes his course in December. Then if you've got the Do Re Mi load up all your possessions onto the modern equivalent of a Ford Model T & head off for California (or England or the Netherlands or anywhere which is going to more tolerant & accommodating of your new convictions).<br />
Hopefully somebody can suggest a viable strategy for keeping on good terms with your parents but that falls outside the scope of my experience.

Hey there :)<br />
I'm just 16...but I came from Christianity as well, just a few years ago. I'm not ready to tell my family yet. Only my sister, cousin, and a few of my friends know. But since your family does know, and seems to be reacting to it like with no "I love you"s or celebrations... Maybe you could do something extra-special for them on one of their birthdays or a holiday or somethin? You know, to show them that just because you no longer consider yourself a Christian, you can still love and care and celebrate and there's no need to suddenly feel distant because you're still you!!<br />
Or something like that. I want to tell my parents when I turn 18..

I would genuinely appreciate some honest input. Thanks!