So a couple of months ago, I came out to one of my Christian friends Stephen, as in, I told him I wasn’t Christian anymore. Before that, pretty much nobody in my Christian circle knew that. I was a closeted atheist. You can read about that intense exchange here, if you’re curious as to how it all went down. My promise to you all was to share with you my ‘coming out’ experiences as they happen. So since telling him, what has happened?
I met up with Stephen again a couple of weeks later. Things started out pleasantly but then while having some curry he suddenly burst out of nowhere the topic of Hell, and asked me if I was worried about it. He brought up the familiar crap about God being just and used a judge and criminal as an analogy. I basically told him that Hell wasn’t just and loving and asked him how can he know that Hell actually exists anyway? Of course he wasn’t able to answer that very well. But for some reason, he seemed to think God was still perfectly just, that he doesn’t actually love everyone (are we ignoring John 3:16 now? That’s the first time I’ve heard a Christian say that).
Stephen then said he was worried about me, but it was ‘good I was thinking about things now’, in the hope that I might come back to Christ and that my faith might be more genuine now somehow. It was a bizarre statement for sure, and no Stephen, I have been thinking about these things for a long time. I will most definitely not be going back to Christianity. He then said he wanted to bring some resources for next time (citing Mere Christianity by C.S Lewis), but that these resources wouldn’t be of any use if I wasn’t interested.
Now while I didn’t mind having these big conversations with him, I will only tolerate things to a point. I wanted to get my points out and have done that. But I think that it’s futile for either of us to keep discussing these things, if there is a conversion agenda on the table. So I have decided that if he keeps trying to bring me back, then I will tell him to let things be and that I just want to enjoy our friendship and time together. To my surprise however, he hasn’t brought up the topic since then, nor did he bring any resources along, so I haven’t had to say anything. And you know what? That’s exactly what I want. I don’t want to lose friendships over differing religious beliefs. Interestingly, no other church friends have said anything to me about religion since then, so I don’t think he has actually told anyone (as far as I know).
But there’s someone else I told about my non-belief, someone very important to me, and I knew this could be a big risk…
I told my girlfriend.
This might surprise you to know, but my girlfriend is Christian. She doesn’t go to church anymore though, and has never tried to push things on me. I told her that while I enjoyed going to church in the past, I don’t believe in the Bible and their teachings anymore. Her response wasn’t what I expected at all… She said that it was OK, we all have different points of view. I asked her why SHE doesn’t go to church anymore. Previously she said it was because her kids get up to mischief, but then she gave me a different answer this time. She said that when her mum died (when she was only 21!), she lost her faith and stopped believing in miracles, and that was when she stopped going to church. This saddened me, not because she (apparently) lost faith in God, but because it was sad to see someone lose their mother at such a young age, and experience despair like that. So is she non-Christian now then? I’m not 100% sure since I haven’t discussed it further with her, and later she thanked God for an award she won at work… Perhaps it is the start of disbelief for her, many people do lose faith during difficult times after all, but maybe nothing will happen. To me, her belief in a God doesn’t bother me too much if we can make our relationship work, and if she doesn’t try to convert me (and she hasn’t).
So what now? I live with a Christian flatmate, and I haven’t told him yet. He has been away quite often recently though, and he will go away again at the end of the year for a few months. It is possible that I won’t be living with him anyway, once he comes back. So my plan is to tell him before he leaves at the end of the year. It will give me some closure and I think it’s better I actually tell him while I’m around. Hopefully he comes to realise that I’m the same person as before, but with just some different beliefs.
Out of all the good and bad which has come out from this, I’m glad I don’t have to worry about not attending church anymore, now how’s that for a sweet bonus?
Goodbye for now.
– The (not so) Covert Atheist.