Why I Write About Leaving The Church

    When I first started this blog, I included these words in the “About” section:

(Weird Name) does not exist in order to pick a fight, but to offer an alternative perspective. It is meant to speak for no one but the author. Please feel free take what you like and leave the rest.

    I hoped it would be enough. Yes, people get argumentative online, and of course there are those Fundamentalist Evangelicals who sincerely believe that if they do not call me out as sinful they are allowing the world to burn. But generally, when it comes to deciding whether or not to nuance every single thing I write about with proof that I know the counterarguments and an assurance that I don’t think less of people just because they’re Christians, I figure we’re all adults. If someone misinterprets or can’t handle my opinion, that’s their problem. I still believe this--I don’t have the time or energy to take responsibility for the feelings of the dominant sect--yet I’ve also been recently compelled to be more explicit about why I’m writing on this subject. Why I write critically about the church.

    First, I am not trying to lure anyone away from Jesus. If a person actively wants to be a Christian and sincerely believes the tenets of that faith (or can live with the ones they don’t believe still hanging out in church with them) then wonderful. As I’ve written about before, the religion of Christianity offers many positive things. And, as I recently told a friend in an impassioned text conversation, if Christianity was just all the good stuff--community, ritual, service--with no exceptionalism or weird irrelevant morality or illogical metaphysics, then I’d likely still be all in, too. But it’s not, so I’m not. The truth is I prefer not being a Christian. Sincerely. There are those who prefer the opposite, and that’s okay.

    However, there are also those who are somewhere in the middle. They might still be going to church, or they might not have shown up in a while. They might be quietly avoiding religious functions, retreating into a phase in which they are trying to decide what they actually believe. Or, perhaps they are still very much active in church functions, despite a quiet, internal crumbling of their previous Christian convictions. See, for some people, leaving Christianity comes at great cost. People get cut off from families; people lose friends. One certainly loses a particular version of community when one says "No more", even if the individual relationships with church friends still stay in tact. On top of that, when a life-long Christian begins to have an inkling that she no longer believes the very tenets on which she's based all her decisions, she is putting not only an entire worldview but an entire identity on the line. Given the risks, it makes sense that, for many people, leaving church for good is not a quick or easy decision. And, given my own experience with this exact situation, I know that at this very moment there are certainly a number of folks who are in the midst of assessing those risks, ready for a more fair and balanced disclosure of their options.

    It is for these people that I write. Not for committed, fully-believing Christians. I am not interested in de-converting anyone--that would be kind of ironic, anyway, wouldn’t it? No, I want to let those who have been deep in the faith and are becoming claustrophobic--I want to let those folks know that they are not alone in their wonderings. Not only that, I want to let them know that they will not be alone on the other side of belief. Christianity is not something that one has to do. (The most common reason I end up having a real problem with Christians is when they think it is.) Nor is it something beyond reproach. Christianity is an option that one can choose or not choose; but, if you’ve grown up in Evangelicalism, that choice is not a reality that is acknowledged, let alone taught. So I write to reach out. I write to make sure people know there are other options. And, to say that some of us are happier as non-Christians, some of us find more freedom outside of the church, some of us are more empowered as humans and more emboldened to pursue ethical action in the world when we are not spending so much time worshipping God and going to church and worrying about what we have to ask forgiveness for now. Some of us just are.

    I not looking to debate it--though I will, now and then, if I feel it’s safe. Since I can all but guarantee that any argument or text a Christian will come at me with is an argument or text I’ve heard (and used myself) before, you can imagine that secular apologetics is not something particularly intriguing to me now. I write, instead, to give a voice to a perspective that is not often heard, largely because people who grow up in the church and decide to leave when they’re older are often, understandably, quiet about their departure. Think about how many people remain in Christianity simply because it’s normal to them and their people, simply because there’s too much pressure to stay. With this thought in mind, I return to the one with which I started: aren’t we all adults here? Why are grown-ups pressuring other grown-ups to remain in a religion that is, quite frankly, ridiculous in many of its traditional assumptions? This is not to say that Christianity hasn't ever evolved, but it is to say that it's not a self-evident conclusion, either. I write about leaving the church because there are people who want to leave the church and don’t know that they can, or they don’t know if they’ll be alright when they finally do. Well, I’m more than alright, and I want them to know that they can be, too.