5 Reasons Why I'm no longer a Christian
If you did not fear hell, would you follow God?
Jesus said to him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen, and have believed.
This verse epitomizes my biggest problem with Christianity. It always bothered me when I read it during my time as a Christian. Come to think of it, I should tell my story first.
I was one of those kids who loved stories. I can't tell you how many times I would bug my mom to buy me new storybooks. Whenever she bought them, I would finish them within a day or two and go back to bugging her. This love for storybooks is what led me to reading the Bible - after you get tired of re-reading your own storybooks, you begin going through books that don't belong to you. I especially loved the stories from the I and II Kings. Anyway, reading all these stories acquainted me with the God of the Old Testament.
Eventually I came to spend about 8 years of my life living with a Pastor. My fascination with his personality played a big role in my coming to accept Christianity. I was really impressed by how he remained calm and happy no matter how crazy how things got. He seemed to have a level of peace I didn't have. Christians have a belief that everything that happens - whatever it's nature - will eventually work out for their good; you have no idea how comforting this belief is...
Anyway I got baptized and did my best to live a Christian life for the next 7 years. At the end of this period, I went through a depression that changed everything (Maybe I will give details on how this happened in a future article). The pain I went through gave me the bravery to seriously consider all the doubts and questions I had forced myself to ignore during my time as a Christian; I came out of these considerations without my Christianity. Without further ado, here are the 5 main reasons why I let my Christianity go:
1. Christianity requires belief over reason.
If we cannot use the faculty God supposedly gave us to make judgements to decide whether we should follow Christianity, how are we supposed to know it is the right way to go. This requirement is probably going to be what leads most people who were born to Christian parents and were never given any reason to doubt the existence of God to walk away from the religion. As long as these people feel like they are not allowed to logically and objectively evaluate the religion, they will always wonder whether they would have accepted Christianity if they had grown up in, say, an atheistic household.
2. I was born into it and didn't know anything else.
When you're born into a Christian household and begin reading the Bible as a child, you come to take the existence of God and everything it implies for granted. You may not live up to the beliefs Christianity espouses but you will feel some guilt whenever you do something your Christian upbringing has taught you not to do. If nothing happens to cause such dissonance that you wonder whether you would have made a different choice as an outsider, you will probably stay Christian till your death.
3. There was a big chance I was staying in it out of fear
The fact that you go to heaven if you obey and you go to hell if you don't definitely made an impression on me when I was a kid. When I became a Christian one of the rationalizations I used whenever I felt doubt regarding Christianity was: "if it's false, there's no harm done; if it's true and you don't follow it, you'll end up in hell. If you follow Christianity, you win either way". When the fear of going to hell goes away, you may find, as I did, that you are willing to walk a different path. If you cannot honestly say you would be willing to follow God even if you would not end up in hell if you didn't, you're probably a Christian because you're afraid of going to hell.
4. Doubt and Contradictions
One of the first things you learn as a Christian is that God is perfect, He knows everything and is everywhere. It follows therefore that such a being would never contradict himself. However, there are many different Christian factions with conflicting beliefs. One big example was that most Churches believe in a three-in-one God, while my Church believed in only one God. I also found certain things in my reading of the Bible which would have impressed an objective version of myself as contradictions. However, until I walked away from Christianity, I always wrote these things off as things that I did not understand in the moment but would come to understand as I grew in the faith.
5. The courage that comes from suffering
If you did not fear ending up in hell, would you still follow God? It turns out my answer to this question was no. One of the biggest indications of depression in a person is the loss of hope. For me this loss came from the realization that no one coming to help me. I was in constant pain and nothing I did helped - I was quite suicidal at this point. When you go through enough suffering a lot of your fears become irrelevant - you gain the courage to ask questions you have been avoiding. At the height of my pain, I chose to walk away from Christianity.
Let's not Jump to Conclusions...
I am not saying Christianity is false. All I'm saying is we should give ourselves the opportunity to evaluate it independent of fear before joining it. That is what I'm going to do now. I will be going through the Bible and evaluating it logically.