So I have a "confession" to make. (I put confession in quotes, because the word connotes the sense that I've done something bad that I am admitting to, but I don't consider this particular thing to be bad, actually. It's just the word that most accurately conveys the type of discussion I'm about to have with myself.)

I'm done with Christianity.

I went to church a week and a half ago, and it was nice to see all the people that I'm familiar with and that care about me. That was the good part. I did get sick and have to leave just a few minutes into the sermon, but I kind of expected that. What I was looking for was... I dunno. Some kind of fulfillment. I have so much nostalgia attached to church and the singing of hymns, of listening with rapt attention to the sermon and following along in my Bible. I miss that culture sometimes, I really do. SOULS was a good time, despite all of the difficulties I experienced and the twisted ideas I came away with. I miss the camaraderie, the  passionate pursuit of a common goal. I miss the music. Oh, do I miss the music... I miss the intellectually stimulating conversations, the inside jokes, the whole culture of Adventism. I miss belonging to something.

But I didn't find that when I went to church. I didn't find anything but my friends, and even that wasn't enough. I watched the service through new eyes, and I was disappointed to find that it no longer seemed to fit in with the reality of my world. I wanted it to. I wanted it all to make sense like it used to, but it just didn't. It doesn't. But I was willing to overlook that, to try to get back into it.

Today, though, E and I went to one of the high risk charter high schools to do a presentation on teen dating violence. While we were going through the teen power and control wheel (see picture below), we were talking about abusive control. E was talking, and she was describing how a partner manipulates the other with, "If you love me, you'll _______" to get them to do what the abusive partner wants. When E said that phrase, "If you love me," the words that immediately leapt to mind to complete the phrase was a Bible verse-- John 14:15. "If you love me, keep my commandments."

That's a sentiment that's always kind of bothered me. That, and the follow-up chapter, John 15, especially verse 14: "You are my friends if you do whatever I command you." Well, duh. Of course I'd be friends with someone if they did whatever I told them to! That's always what I thought when coming across those verses, and it bothered me.

Don't get me wrong-- I think the Bible has a lot of good things going for it. There are plenty of fabulous principles to live your life by. Waiting until a mature, monogamous, long term relationship to have sex? That's good sense that's been backed up by neuropsychology. Not killing other people? Yeah, that's a pretty good idea too. Taking care of your body, treating it as a temple, a special thing? Also a great idea.

But the more I learn and heal from my past abuse the more I see why I've had such a hard time dealing with God and religion and church... because there are so many abusive, controlling overtones and triggers. Sure, some people can deal with it, and that's great. My friend J? Religion works for her. The God thing works for her. That's how she lives her life, and she's a fantastic person, and I'm really happy for her. But I just can't do it. I can't get behind someone that says, "If you love me, you will do _______." John 15:10 says, "If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commands and remain in his love."

"I will love you if you do what I say. If you love me, do what I tell you to." No. I don't think so. Sorry.

So I guess that makes me an agnostic now. I believe in a higher power, though whether that's an actual conscious intelligence or just the greater balancing force of the universe, I couldn't say right now. But I definitely believe there's more going on than just our teeny tiny little humanness down here on Earth.

Maybe someday I'll get back to Christianity. Maybe I won't. I couldn't say for sure right now. But I am relieved to have made up my mind one way or another, though I didn't expect it to come so quickly and decisively, and definitely not in the middle of a session on teen dating violence! What a place to have an epiphany, huh?

I'm not going to go announcing this from the rooftops, but I just hope that I don't lose too many of my Christian friends over this... but I guess that if they don't love me if I'm not a Christian, then a.) they weren't really my friends in the first place, and b.) they're not living up to that Christian standard they profess? I know I won't have any problems with my atheist or pagan friends. Shoot, they'll probably be happy for me. C says that he's glad that I'm getting stronger. What he means by that is that I'm thinking for myself, making my own decisions despite the possibility of disapproval from others, and I'm not doing the codependent people-pleasing thing any longer. I'm glad, too. Honestly, I'm scared of the potential rejection and backlash (and I'm really dreading possible evangelism attempts), but I know that I can be true to myself and stick to my guns. I can. But oh... I'm nervous. Please, nobody give me a tough time...

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