I blame Penn Jillette.
Well, to be fair, it’s Adam Savage’s fault, too. And George W Bush, and many of my current friends, and a lot of the people I used to spend my time with.
I blame Planned Parenthood protesters, and I blame Pat Robertson and Sarah Palin. I blame the friends who won’t return our calls, since we came out.
I would blame my parents, but it’s really not their fault, not at all. But I do blame some of my aunts and uncles.
And I blame myself, for believing it at all.
The road to a loss of faith is not nearly as glamorous as the conversion stories. Paul, blinded on the road to Damascus, the fiery tales of teenaged martyrs, that poor bastard Job stuck in that awful chess game… all these tales have such weight and sparkle. You want to believe they are true, sometimes so badly that you force yourself to believe in them. And I think, that may have been what happened to me.
I was a woman of faith, once, but before that, I wasn’t. My family went to church once in a while when I was a child, then never once I reached my preteen years. I wanted to believe in something, and spent some time mouthing words to pagan deities but mostly feeling hopelessly alone. My father was dying, my grandmother was dead, my mother a changed woman, ravaged by their illnesses more, perhaps, than they were. And in this crazy time, I moved to California, and met other pagans, and the first Jewish person I had ever known, and somewhere in there, Jason and I started going to a brimstone-and-hellfire sort of church, and I decided I did believe in the Christ, after fighting it for so long.
And from there, I identified as Christian for more than a decade.
We didn’t go to that church for long. They wouldn’t baptize me, because at the time Jason and I were living together but not married. We didn’t find a new church until we moved back to Oregon, and were invited by some friends to their church. I ran Bible study groups and planned dinners and teas. It was there that I was told I could not be a Christian and a feminist at the same time, and that women were only allowed by God to preach because men weren’t doing a good enough job. I even preached a sermon once.
I internalized the statements that to be bisexual was bad, at least for me. That to want to love and desire people outside my marriage was the worst sort of sin. That pornography was as bad or worse than theft. That accepting other beliefs was somehow very wrong.
I had two children in that time period, and struggled with deep depression. I wanted to fight all these injustices that I saw, the inconsistencies, the lies. I studied the early church, the words of Jesus, and learned how far modern Christianity had fallen and failed. And I started to fight back. I started to argue, and my friends called me “The best Christian apologist for atheists that they had ever met”.
And I met someone who changed my life. And I started reading and watching things by freethinkers and non-believers.
And the walls started to crack.
And I read a book by Penn Jillette and watched videos by Adam Savage, and our relationships at our church started to crumble. I met and loved an amazing woman, so patient and kind, and I fear I hurt her badly with my fear of my own feelings and the loosening grip of my faith.
But this time, when the closet door opened, it didn’t close again.
We left that little country church. We tried a few other churches but we had been badly burned. My husband finally told me he was done with church, and we stopped trying.
When I met my boyfriend, I still believed, at least a little. That was two years ago.
And I’m not sure when I lost that belief. I think it happened when I finally accepted myself completely, and realized I no longer needed to hide behind any sort of faith.
And I think I can finally say that I simply don’t believe anymore.
PS – This was a difficult piece to write and share, but hopefully soon, I will be writing more about faith and the role it played in my life. If this resonated with you, please share it with others, and I also would love it if you leave your thoughts below.