You will know them by their fruit…

I will keep this short, I don’t wanna rant whilst I am pissed off.

I am slowly coming out to those around me, as they begin to ask why I no longer lead or preach at church. It’s a strange feeling, I mean I don’t think I ever asked people ‘how is your faith’ or ‘where are you at with God’ on a semi-regular basis. I tended to just assume people are doing well unless they tell me otherwise.

This opens up a whole host of questions around surface-level conversations within the community of believers that you worship with or used to worship with if you ever did. We don’t seem to deep dive in the culture that we live in, we don’t ask the honest and quiet often hard questions of those we are in life with. But that’s where we need to live because we need to engage with those that we are doing life with, in meaningful ways.

Not only is there rarely the space to do this, but neither is there the appetite. I’ve noticed the opposite since leaving the fold. Sadly.

I have seen every leader within my church and the family of churches my church belongs to withdraw from me. None of them are talking about how I have left the faith, asking how I am doing and coming alongside me. My wife, who still believes and goes to church, hasn’t been supported by anyone and I can’t help by feel like we have been left shell shocked by how unloving and un-supporting people have been. It should be noted that this is all my opinion of the situation, and I don’t speak for her, rather I observe.

I didn’t imagine that my loss of faith would affect my wife in the way it has. She has no one to turn to for support and comfort in the community of believers that she still sits within. Not only this, but it turns out that my loss of faith is going down the grapevine to other churches. My wife met up with a good friend of hers a few days ago, they belong to another church in the same family of churches I was leading within. This person just blurted out, ‘So I hear that Sam no longer goes to church’. When she told me that this had happened, I was shocked. I do still go to church with my wife when she wants to go; I want to support her, so I will walk life with her. But clearly, my church leader has told the wider church family, and these other church leaders have told this person about me when they said they were meeting up with my wife. It’s enraging.

My wife and I are still people. We have pains, struggles, emotions and vulnerabilities. Surely you would go out of your way to wrap your arms around someone who was hurting. I’ve had nothing. My wife, who still goes to the Wednesday evening meetings and is involved in the church has also had nothing. I can understand why I might have been rejected, but why has she been left on the fringes all alone?

What the fuck has happened? I feel as though if I found someone had struggled as I did and then left the faith, I would want to at least remind them that I love them and think they are still an amazing person, regardless of what they believe. I would doubly make sure that their partner was supported as they tried to navigate a massive life change such as their spouse losing their faith.

I guess another way of looking at it is to ask: What did I really expect people to do?

I recently started a non-Christian job, and as I interact with people who hold either different faiths or no faiths, I am beginning to see more and more that people are just people. Being a Christian doesn’t tick a special box which means you are different.

Do we really believe that by praying (to what by the way?) and attending church, by experiencing emotions, claiming a relationship with the risen Jesus and changing our Facebook bio to ‘Christian’, we are now going to heaven? That we ‘become’ different because we think we are different? Sure, we can act differently when we believe we are different, but that doesn’t mean we are different, just that our mental state has changed.

You can be an asshole as a Christian or a nonbeliever. You can love and support people as a Christian or a nonbeliever. Faith doesn’t seem to change anything, rather it’s what we allow ourselves to think about ourselves and others around us that allows us to change our mental states and our outlook on the world around us.

I can’t help but think that the ‘Fruit of the Spirit’ is nothing more than the fruit of a healthy outlook on the world, an outlook where you don’t place yourself as the most important thing in your life, but rather realise that life is about living in relationship with those around us. We evolved in a community; we are blindly engineered by evolution to be within a community.

You’re not fucking special just because you call yourself a Christian.

You could at least try to love and support a stay-at-home mother of two little boys by regularly checking in with her and making sure she is doing ok in a town she barely knows, which she moved to support her husband and your fucking church.

_End of Blog Blurb_

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog. It has taken me a few years to get to a place where I am able to share my loss of faith and to start writing about the journey that I am still on for you all. I hope you find it useful.

Support: The podcast and blog will always be advertisement-free, and your generous support on Patreon will enable us to continue doing this effectively and to a higher standard over the years to come. Please consider supporting the work we do.

Podcast: If you like what you read then you could always check out the podcast ‘When Belief Dies’, it is available on all major podcasting platforms or you can listen via YouTube. I upload and publish via Anchor FM each Wednesday at 7 am. For early access, support me on Patreon.

Grammar, spelling, capitalisation and punctuation: I am massively dyslexic. It has taken me years to get to the level I am currently at with writing and I have done this mainly through reading. I want to be better and ask you, reader, to please forgive any errors in my writing. I hope you notice improvement upon improvement over the coming years.

Time Frame: This blog is roughly twelve months behind where I currently am at in my journey out of religion. It’s important to remember that when reading and commenting.

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I’ll see you back here at the same time next week 🙂

-Sam

When Belief Dies #33 – 'Michael Ruse' When Belief Dies

Sam is joined by Professor Michael Ruse. Michael shares his story and explores belief, atheism and religion. Michael Ruse is a British-born Canadian philosopher of science who specialises in the philosophy of biology and works on the relationship between science and religion, the creation-evolution controversy, and the demarcation problem within science. Ruse currently teaches at  Florida State University. We hope you enjoy our show. When Belief Dies aims to honestly reflect on faith, religion and life. We blog and podcast. Your support on Patreon enables us to cover the costs of running this show and look to the future to make things even better as we build upon what we already have in the works. Please take a look and consider giving. Use this link to navigate to the website, to find us on social media and anywhere else we might be present online. #Podcast #Deconstruction #God #Agnostic #Christian #Atheism #Apologetics #Audio #Question #Exvangelical #Deconversion #SecularGrace #Exchristian
  1. When Belief Dies #33 – 'Michael Ruse'
  2. When Belief Dies #32 – 'Tangents & Goodbyes'
  3. When Belief Dies #31 – 'Graham Oppy'
  4. When Belief Dies #30 – 'David C. Smalley'
  5. When Belief Dies #29 – 'Matt Dillahunty'

8 thoughts on “You will know them by their fruit…

  1. I’m glad you’re so open about the various hurdles that come with leaving the faith, because I think it can help people going through similar to feel less alone.

    I was surprised, when I told my then Christian friends (nearly 10 years ago!) that I was really not sure about the things in which I was “supposed” to believe – I always had trouble with the Trinity, and could never understand how people understood it – that they largely blanked me. I thought they’d have answers, that they’d show concern at my faltering.

    It made me realise that a lot of people hold a faith (or world view) of sorts, but don’t really scrutinise it very much. I think that’s why what we expect of Christians – compassion, Christ-like behaviour etc. – is often missing. Because a lot of people go through the motions without really thinking about what they’re actually doing.

    Also, I loved your episode with Graham Oppy. I think it was nice to have a layman interview him in some depth. I love Oppy, he’s a really humble and insightful guy, but a lot of the interviews I’ve seen featuring him involve another philosopher, and it can become really easy to become lost in a swamp of jargon!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks, Aaron! 🙂

    I really enjoyed that episode of the podcast and I agree. I love having people on to talk 121 first to get ‘them’ out there and shared. Though I will be having Dr Oppy back on in the future 121 and in a debate form when the podcast has grown a bit more 🙂

    Like

  3. Hey man, I’m sorry you’re both going through this.

    I can’t say I’m surprised at how you yourself are being shunned. When people have such fundamentalist Christian beliefs, somebody like you is going to be treated as a danger to them at best (what happened to you could happen to them) or an agent of Satan at worst, leading people to Hell.

    I find it harder to understand how your wife is being treated. I would have expected people to rally to her side, offering her support and presumably praying with her for you.

    I’m starting to think your former church is more extreme and cultish than I had realized. Maybe in time this experience will undermine her faith and cause her to see that you are more right than wrong. Meanwhile though, why would she stay in a church like that? There are plenty of churches – maybe mainstream denominations or other liberal churches – where you as an unbeliever would be welcome and she as your believing wife would not be treated as a pariah.

    I hate you’ve both been going through this. How about I give you a manly hug and then let’s go for a beer, OK?

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I’ve always remembered that “by their fruit …”.

    I could have continued as a Christian, even though I came to doubt the core theology. The teachings of Jesus were still good. But “by their fruit” I could see that the church was mostly a society of pious hypocrites. They did not practice what Jesus had taught.

    I’m sorry to hear that you are going through this. Unfortunately, too much of Christianity has devolved into a crude tribalism.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Sam, I hear you loud and clear. The nagging sense that the “kingdom of god” and the spiritual world may had all along been a weaved fiction is something I relate with deeply. I am a forty-year old who had an established career as a political scientist before life turned up-side down. I live in a country where Christians are a minority, yet it does not make them better people either. I had been plagued by clinical depression on top having to care for a father with rapidly deteriorating health (Parkinsons, small-strokes, falling down). I considered and tried leaving the faith multiple times. It may be due to myself being weak that I decided to stay in faith.

    Am I clinching to faith as my fix or opiate…? I don’t know… but this quote from Philip Yancey’s “Reaching to the Invisible God” articulates my current decision well: my faith may be a crutch… but “for a crippled person there is one thing worse than a crutch, after all — no crutch.”

    Anyway, even from an opposite end of the earth I feel a kindred spirit with your disappointment, disillusionment, and perhaps subsequent enlightenment in seeing how the “kingdom of god” is filled with “nonsense” and “non-sensical” people. Maybe I am still clinging to a delusion that there is still the real Kingdom of God behind the “kingdom of god” we can see with our eyes and experience. I just want to acknowledge and appreciate you articulating your honest struggles here. One day I plan to write my own struggles as my own therapy.

    It is nice to engage fellow sojourners where we may feel less lonely in such an uncertain odyssey.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am so delighted to have you on this journey with me.

      Thank you for listening to my story, sharing your own and being honest with where you are right now.

      I talk about this strange idea we love to cling to on the most recent Unbelievable? episode, the idea about ‘landing’ somewhere.

      Life is a journey and it sounds like you’ve had a fascinating and hard journey so far. When you are ready to share I would love to read about it.

      I hope you find honest thoughts on this blog, always.
      Sam 🙂

      Like

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