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Coming out as an Atheist

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  • Grunt's GhostsGrunt's Ghosts Registered User regular
    Seems like the Catholic Church turned a lot of people away from religion here.

  • RendRend Registered User regular
    Seems like the Catholic Church turned a lot of people away from religion here.

    Well it's the biggest Christian denomination, right? So statistically speaking it makes sense for it to be well represented- all churches are losing members right now, or nearly so, catholic included. But that's not advice, so I'll stop there.

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  • NoMoreDelusionsNoMoreDelusions Registered User regular
    Yeah, while I do appreciate the idea behind revealing things to her slowly and presenting it as a "crisis of faith" at first, I don't really think it's the right way to go. I'm not actually having a crisis of faith.. that came and went long ago. I'm confident in my (non) beliefs now. So even if it would make things easier for her initially, I'd still be more or less lying to her, and giving her false hope at that. Like someone else mentioned, she might still think she can "save" me, which is not something I want to lead her on about.

    Still, lots of great suggestions and discussions, again, I really appreciate everyone's input. Particularly the idea of getting plugged into a counselor or support group. It is true that I have essentially zero non-religious friends at the moment. It would definitely help to have someone to talk to about it afterward.

    I was going to have the talk tonight, but some things came up today that made me back off. I know there's never a good time for something like this, but some times are more "not-good" than others, and tonight turned out to be one of those. Still, fairly sure it'll happen within the next week, as soon as I can find an opportunity where we can be alone for a while and discuss things. Hopefully I can come back and let you guys know how it goes. I'm sure there will only be more questions that come up at that point.

  • WordLustWordLust Registered User regular
    edited October 2015
    Seems like the Catholic Church turned a lot of people away from religion here.

    Former protestant / pentecostal here. Uh... represent.. kind of. ;-)

    WordLust on
  • L Ron HowardL Ron Howard Registered User regular
    This is very relevant to me, as an atheist dating a Christian.
    I told my girlfriend about this, and we had a good discussion from done of the points brought up. There have been some things that I had not thought if as well.
    As an aside, what happened OP? Have you told your immediate family?

  • NoMoreDelusionsNoMoreDelusions Registered User regular
    I did actually, a few nights ago. It's been a busy few days since. Not much time to give an update now, but I'll try to fill in the details later when I can. Overall though, it went better than I possibly could have hoped. Not to say everything has been perfect, and there have been many tears shed and feelings hurt already, but I think we're in a pretty good place right now moving forward. The advice here, all of it, was tremendously helpful, and I cannot thank all of you enough.

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  • MuddypawsMuddypaws Registered User regular
    As long as you don't start using phrases such as "Primitive Bronze Age fairy tales" and "Imaginary friend in the sky" you should be good.

    Newly minted atheists can be a little evangelical at times but it sounds like you have that in check. My first long term relationship was with a vicars daughter and it was never an issue.

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  • NoMoreDelusionsNoMoreDelusions Registered User regular
    Okay, I guess it's time to give a more detailed update. Prepare yourself for the wall of text.

    As I'd mentioned before, I kept wanting to confess everything to her, but it was difficult to find an appropriate time or place to do it, especially with circumstances going on over the last couple of weeks. I'd almost come to accept that it just wouldn't happen any time soon and I'd have to keep internalizing everything, but I wasn't very satisfied with that idea. But several nights ago my wife, being the perceptive person she is and being able to read me like a book, knew something was wrong with me one night when we were falling asleep. I guess she could see it all over my face, and even though I tried to shrug it off at first, she insisted that I tell her and that whatever it was, we could figure it out together. I finally decided that this would be as good an opportunity as I'd ever have, and after much reluctance and hesitation, I muttered the words, "I don't believe in God anymore."

    She reacted initially with surprise mostly. I'm not sure she fully understood at first. But as we continued to talk and I explained what I was dealing with, the reality and weight of it started to sink in. I'll be honest, it was a long conversation, and my nerves were so stretched to the limit I could hardly breathe, much less remember everything specifically that we talked about. But in general, I reiterated much of what I discussed in the OP and elsewhere in this thread - when my initial change began, how it progressed, some of the issues I struggled with, and generally what I believe now. She had a lot of questions, and it was a long conversation that went well into the night. The more we talked, I believe she really began to understand what this meant for us. It got more difficult, and like I said, there were many tears. However, throughout the conversation, she never once even hinted that this was something we could not deal with or that she would love me any less for it. I felt really guilty, because all this time I had been bracing for the worst possible reaction, and she essentially proved to me what I already knew - that she is an amazing woman who truly loves me, no matter what happens.

    One thing we agreed on that night was that we needed to see a counselor right away, preferably the very next day. She managed to get an appointment scheduled and a babysitter lined up, and so we went the following afternoon. I think this was really helpful in a lot of ways for both of us, if nothing else than as a reinforcement from a non-biased third party that yes, we could work through this and stay together and have a happy marriage. So even though I think we both knew we wanted to make it work, it just helped us to hear it from someone else.

    Another thing the counselor recommended was that my wife have someone she could talk to about this besides me, someone who could empathize with what she was going through and who she could confide in. So we decided to tell her parents the next day, because that's who she said she would feel most comfortable talking about it with initially. This was also a pretty difficult conversation for me. After all, he is a pastor, and is the man who I once asked for permission to marry my wife, with his answer largely predicated on the fact that I would be a godly husband and father to her and our eventual children. They were shocked, as expected, but again were not unreasonably harsh or judgmental toward me. My FIL in particular seemed more like he simply wanted to discuss it with me more and find out how I've come to the conclusions I have, which I am totally okay with. But the most important thing was that my wife at least now has someone she can confide in about this besides just me.

    Since then, things are still not easy, especially for her. I keep trying to remind myself that I've had years to work through all of this, and now she's had it all thrust upon her at once. She has said that at times she feels like it's just a horrible dream that she hopes she will wake up from soon. I can't blame her. The biggest issue she's going through now are feelings of distrust and betrayal. Not necessarily at my changes of belief, but because of the fact that I held it from her for so long and kept it a secret. And again, I can't blame her for those feelings. I've even said here that, in hindsight, I wish I would have gone to her about it sooner. In a lot of ways this feels to her like I've been having an affair, and I think she's totally justified in feeling that way.

    So now, a big thing moving forward for us will be to try and rebuild her trust in me. Many of my efforts going forward are going to be centered around being completely honest and transparent with her, and that she can indeed trust me not to hurt her again. I know it will be a long process, but I hope we can find a way to rebuild that trust, because without it our marriage means nothing. One thing I've done to that end is to tell her about this thread, so she can see what was going through my mind in the time leading up to me telling her, and so she can see firsthand how amazing all of you are and the usefulness of the advice you offered. I don't really have anything to hide now, so I hope it's at least a first step.

    We're also trying to figure out how to reveal this to everyone. At the moment only her and her parents know, but that will change sooner or later. I have no desire to rock their world and come out to everyone all at once... I just don't see the point in that. So we'll have to develop a strategy together on how to do this in a way that is least disruptive to everyone involved, particularly our children. And that will be the most difficult reveal of all. We both think that our older child needs to be the next person we tell, simply so they aren't blind-sided by this when it does start getting around. I'd rather they hear it from us than some kid in Sunday School who overheard it from a parent. I'm not sure how to handle this, if I should do it one-on-one or if we should reveal it together, but we'll simply have to talk about it and figure it out like everything else.

    I guess the big thing now is moving forward. There is still a lot we have to figure out. Both of us know it isn't going to be easy. We've even readily admitted to each other that there's a chance that it won't work out, that the differences between us might eventually prove too vast to bridge. That's not what either of us want, but we'd be fooling ourselves if we didn't at least consider the possibility. But we at least agreed that, should that time ever come, it won't be a surprise to either of us, because we'll have exhausted all other options by then. If there is a way to make it work, we'll find it. In doing so, we'll have to continue to communicate, be honest with each other, and do our best to understand each other. We know some days will be more difficult than others, but I hope we can just keep in mind before everything else that we love each other and the life we've created. My hope is that this will outweigh everything else.

    Once again, thank you all. All of your responses have been incredibly helpful, and will continue to be helpful as we figure all of this out. I know that traditionally this would probably be the time to ask for the thread to be closed, but if it's okay I'd like to keep it open. We certainly haven't reached the end of this story (not by a long shot), and I'd hope that we can continue to ask for advice as potential issues and pitfalls arise. I know that this would have been much more difficult without some of the guidance I received here, so hopefully you guys will be okay with me returning to you again. But whatever the case, I appreciate it all, and wish the best to every one of you.

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  • WordLustWordLust Registered User regular
    edited November 2015
    Thanks for reporting back! I'm glad you finally had the talk and that she is being understanding and that the two of you are trying to make it work. At the end of the day, you are still the same people you always were. My most religious relative is probably my dad, and it's been the hardest working out my non-belief with him, but I think we're in a good place now. He still does not like my non-belief and obviously wishes it were otherwise, but I think it is just one of those things like... I dunno, like losing a finger or something? It is REALLY strange at first, and for a long time you notice it every second of every day, a thing that's supposed to be there but isn't anymore, but then after a long time goes by, you realize that it really doesn't affect your life as much as you thought it did, and you're actually doing pretty okay, and everything is pretty much the same as before, and you only notice it every once in a while, and even then you just kinda shrug it off. *writes ridiculous run-on sentence*

    I think that was the thing I had to keep emphasizing to my dad over and over again. I'm still the same person. I'm still good. I'm not going out and sinning it up or anything. Hell, I'm an adult who doesn't even drink, so I'm not exactly leading a party life. I pretty much just play guitar, read books, video games, and coffee. I think once my dad got a feel for that---that everything is basically the same as it always was---that our relationship turned out okay, even if he still on some level wishes I would get my faith back.

    And if your experience is like mine, I hope your wife understands, too, that not saying anything for so long isn't just because you were trying to hide it from her (although fear of the repercussions is certainly a contributing factor) but also part of it is just one's own uncertainty. There is a point you reach where you realize, "Yes, I definitely do not believe anymore" and that point, maybe you could be accused of hiding it. But there is also this whole weird phase before that which is sort of like:

    Do I believe anymore?
    Of course I do. Faith. Have that faith.
    Right? I have it, right?
    Why would I even doubt it?
    Well, okay... maybe this part I'm not sure about anymore, but the GOD part....
    Definitely sure about that part. Still a believer.
    If I'm going that far... not sure sure about these others parts either...?
    Maybe true? Maybe metaphors? But they are important either way...
    But God is still real, though. Still pray to him every night. Gotta pray. Yes.
    Maybe I just believe in God but not a literal interpretation of the other stuff...
    Maybe I'm more like a deist? I still believe, though, totally.
    Gotta pray.
    Do I?
    Hm.
    ...
    ...
    Maybe I'm agnostic.
    <.<
    >.>
    O.O
    Maybe... I... don't believe at all, really..?
    ..
    ..
    Sigh. Yeah.


    (All of the above takes place over the course of months or years.)

    It's not like some secret thing that you are knowingly doing all along. I mean, you kinda start getting this feeling, but you don't wanna talk about it because you're not even sure YOURSELF, you know? Maybe you are just feeling "tested" but your faith isn't in jeopardy, you know? Maybe that's it. It just kinda sneaks up on you. Or at least it did for me. It wasn't something I, like, TRIED to do. I didn't SET OUT to become a non-believer. It wasn't really a choice that I made, you know? It just kinda happened. Like waking up one day and realizing you like country music or broccoli now for some reason, even though you always hated it before. It's like, "Wait, when did THIS happen?" But that's the new reality.

    Anyway, thanks for sharing. I wish you two the best of luck.

    WordLust on
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  • mere_immortalmere_immortal So tasty!Registered User regular
    My FIL in particular seemed more like he simply wanted to discuss it with me more and find out how I've come to the conclusions I have, which I am totally okay with.

    Just wanted to highlight this as he seems like a pretty cool guy. As a non religious person I appreciate when official members of a faith care more about discussion and understanding than the promoting of views, religion is still fascinating even if you're not a believer.

    Also good luck, you both seem like well adjusted and understanding people, hope all goes well.

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  • MelksterMelkster Registered User regular
    My FIL in particular seemed more like he simply wanted to discuss it with me more and find out how I've come to the conclusions I have, which I am totally okay with.

    Just wanted to highlight this as he seems like a pretty cool guy. As a non religious person I appreciate when official members of a faith care more about discussion and understanding than the promoting of views, religion is still fascinating even if you're not a believer.

    Also good luck, you both seem like well adjusted and understanding people, hope all goes well.

    When I came out, *everyone* wanted to talk. But when we actually talked, it was mostly one way. Most of the time, the other person wouldn't want to talk about the philosophical issues and instead wanted to engage in personal attacks. I don't think I'll ever forget the things that were said to me... Exactly where I was, what I was doing, what the other person looked like, how the room was configured... Each time it happened... Even from people who, before I came out, I thought the world of.

    I would be wary, if I were the OP. Be strong. Be prepared for anything.

  • MelksterMelkster Registered User regular
    She has said that at times she feels like it's just a horrible dream that she hopes she will wake up from soon. I can't blame her. The biggest issue she's going through now are feelings of distrust and betrayal. Not necessarily at my changes of belief, but because of the fact that I held it from her for so long and kept it a secret. And again, I can't blame her for those feelings. I've even said here that, in hindsight, I wish I would have gone to her about it sooner. In a lot of ways this feels to her like I've been having an affair, and I think she's totally justified in feeling that way.

    So now, a big thing moving forward for us will be to try and rebuild her trust in me. Many of my efforts going forward are going to be centered around being completely honest and transparent with her, and that she can indeed trust me not to hurt her again. I know it will be a long process, but I hope we can find a way to rebuild that trust, because without it our marriage means nothing. One thing I've done to that end is to tell her about this thread, so she can see what was going through my mind in the time leading up to me telling her, and so she can see firsthand how amazing all of you are and the usefulness of the advice you offered. I don't really have anything to hide now, so I hope it's at least a first step.

    I totally understand why she feels hurt.

    But to be honest with you, from my outsider's perspective, I don't see that much wrong with what you've done here. Maybe I just don't understand marriage, but issues of faith are so deeply personal, and you needed time and space to figure it all out on your own. To think deeply about the consequences of what you think, too. To make sure that this isn't some transient thing. If anything, waiting until you were sure, and then finding the best time, the right time, that's completely and totally understandable.

    This is so NOT like cheating. Not even close. This is 100% NOT breaking your vows to your wife. It is, in fact, the complete opposite. You're being true to yourself and what you believe in. You're being careful and cautious and thoughtful about it. You're carefully considering everyone's feelings, deeply.

    Then again... maybe I shouldn't even be saying this. Maybe the right way to repair your relationship with your wife is to just 100% accept blame and everything, even though in my opinion you have done the right things. I dunno. It's so easy to look at stuff like this in terms of blame. But I feel like the better thing would be to look at this in terms of understanding... Understand why you needed space, why you couldn't talk to your wife about it... I dunno.

    Really glad to hear that this is all turning out well for you though. You're setting a great example for your kids, and I've ... enjoyed? that's not the right word .. I think I've benefitted from reading your story here. I would totally be interested in updates down the line. :+1:

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  • RendRend Registered User regular
    To do soul searching in order to ensure you don't worry your spouse with your transient flights of fancy is, of course, perfectly reasonable. To go through all the stages from religious to atheist over the course of multiple years without mentioning it is less one sided.

    It is very good that you're able to see her point of view on that, but try to make sure her view is tempered by the fact that you weren't hiding anything out of a want to be deceptive, but because, based on what you believed before and the situation at hand, you felt it was the right thing to do, mistaken though that may have been.

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  • mellestadmellestad Registered User regular
    I'm pulling for you and your marriage--I think you handled this very well and if things do go south at least you'll go down fighting for your wife and your family.


    @Melkster: Actually there's a good chance it *is* breaking the vows of his marriage in a literal sense.

    I'm not trying to argue but to a lot of people this type of change is worse than cheating. If you cheat you can be forgiven by God. With apostasy you can't. On top of that for some the religious idea of marriage is a literally spiritual bond and having that bond cut is a rather huge deal.

    The central person to how this will play out is going to be his wife, what her beliefs are, and how open she is to change. Some people are able to deal with things like this and some won't be able to. If you start with a significant enough commitment to certain religious ideas you aren't always able to bend even if you really want to.

  • PapillonPapillon Registered User regular
    mellestad wrote: »
    @Melkster: Actually there's a good chance it *is* breaking the vows of his marriage in a literal sense.

    I have never heard this in a Christian context. In fact 1 Corinthians 7:12-16 seems pretty clear to me being married to a non-believer isn't a reason to divorce that person.

    Phasen
  • WordLustWordLust Registered User regular
    edited November 2015
    Papillon wrote: »
    mellestad wrote: »
    @Melkster: Actually there's a good chance it *is* breaking the vows of his marriage in a literal sense.

    I have never heard this in a Christian context. In fact 1 Corinthians 7:12-16 seems pretty clear to me being married to a non-believer isn't a reason to divorce that person.

    As with so many christian things, it probably depends on which christian you ask.
    Melkster wrote: »

    When I came out, *everyone* wanted to talk. But when we actually talked, it was mostly one way. Most of the time, the other person wouldn't want to talk about the philosophical issues and instead wanted to engage in personal attacks. I don't think I'll ever forget the things that were said to me... Exactly where I was, what I was doing, what the other person looked like, how the room was configured... Each time it happened... Even from people who, before I came out, I thought the world of.

    I would be wary, if I were the OP. Be strong. Be prepared for anything.

    Oh yeah. Big time. When a lot of people say they want to talk to you about it and about how you came to your non-belief (especially spiritual leaders), what they really mean is they want to try to persuade you that it's all because you feel somehow troubled and that faith will help you, and you should therefore get the faith back, and by the way, they are here to help you get it back. (Insert a lot of bible versuses and jesus-saids here.) It's the whole "non-belief = sickness" mentality. They will want to "help" you, where "talking about it" is code for a pseudo-therapy session to help you "recover". BUT THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH YOU.

    (Or if your church were more like my pentecostal church/family, the conversation would be more along the lines of, "You DO still believe... RIGHT? Don't you realize the rapture is coming soon, and if you aren't taken the first time, you might have to be beheaded if you still want to go to heaven? It's faith or eternal fire. ETERNAL FIRE. Don't you understand??? Don't be STUPID, boy!")

    If that is indeed what these "talking about it" sessions become, then I know it's gonna feel awkward, but you'll get through.

    WordLust on
    MelksterSmrtnik
  • mellestadmellestad Registered User regular
    Papillon wrote: »
    mellestad wrote: »
    @Melkster: Actually there's a good chance it *is* breaking the vows of his marriage in a literal sense.

    I have never heard this in a Christian context. In fact 1 Corinthians 7:12-16 seems pretty clear to me being married to a non-believer isn't a reason to divorce that person.

    Most of the evangelical religious weddings I've been to (which is most--that's the largest demographic in my area) have the bride and groom explicitly stating some agreement about keeping faith, obeying God, working with one will to keep faith strong, praying to God to keep the marriage pure and Christ centered, etc. etc.

    So when I say break wedding vows I mean it literally.

    Marriage *is* a religious event for lots of people. Actually getting a marriage license is secondary.

    I was married in a religious ceremony, but our vows were secular--that could be the case for them too. ymmv.

  • MelksterMelkster Registered User regular
    x
    mellestad wrote: »
    Papillon wrote: »
    mellestad wrote: »
    @Melkster: Actually there's a good chance it *is* breaking the vows of his marriage in a literal sense.

    I have never heard this in a Christian context. In fact 1 Corinthians 7:12-16 seems pretty clear to me being married to a non-believer isn't a reason to divorce that person.

    Most of the evangelical religious weddings I've been to (which is most--that's the largest demographic in my area) have the bride and groom explicitly stating some agreement about keeping faith, obeying God, working with one will to keep faith strong, praying to God to keep the marriage pure and Christ centered, etc. etc.

    So when I say break wedding vows I mean it literally.

    Marriage *is* a religious event for lots of people. Actually getting a marriage license is secondary.

    I was married in a religious ceremony, but our vows were secular--that could be the case for them too. ymmv.

    Oh interesting. I only kind of know about Catholic marriages, and the vows you take are pretty much entirely secular, weirdly enough.

    Papillon
  • Rhesus PositiveRhesus Positive GNU Terry Pratchett Registered User regular
    My marriage was a Catholic one, and I had to agree that any children of the union would be raised Catholic. I think that was in an interview before the wedding as opposed to during the vows.

    It depends on the individual priest, however. For example, my sister-in-law had to go to marriage preparation classes as part of the deal, and we didn't have to.

    [Muffled sounds of gorilla violence]
  • FonjoFonjo Registered User regular
    Everyone has a different way of looking at this and I can understand why she feels betrayed... but my opinion is that if a person wants to keep their struggle with faith between God and themselves, that is OK. I know marriage is about trust but sometimes you need to work things out inside before you bring them out. Dealing with deep and powerful convictions is difficult stuff and a lot of times not dealing with outside bias and pressure can make it more easy to deal with. Yeah, I'd agree that you needed to tell her but, personally, I don't think waiting until you were sure was such a bad thing. Once again, I can see how she might feel otherwise. There are a lot of people out there living lies with their significant others and I would hope that she recognizes the strength it took you to open up about this. This is a big deal. It's hard to do. Many people would not have the strength to do this in your situation.

    My wife was Catholic when we started dating and I was raised Catholic. Her mom and my parents are very strong Catholics. I eventually was so concerned when we started talking about marriage that I told her that I didn't believe any of it and honestly thought I had never believed it. Turns out she felt the same way. I know it is not the same as your situation but leading up to that, I felt the incredible pressure and fear. I admire that strength.

    I hope, in the end, everyone realizes that what you have built is built with love and trust can come back. If love is there and you are willing to work towards mutual trust, things will work out. Even if, for whatever reason, your marriage would come to an end, I can't imagine the love going away. Best of luck to the both of you. This is hard stuff.

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    Orthanc
  • NoMoreDelusionsNoMoreDelusions Registered User regular
    Thanks again everyone for the comments. I don't think I can speak for my wife 100%, but I do believe (and she's told me as much) that she does understand why I went about things the way that I did. In a way, I needed to do it alone, if nothing else than to make sure that I wasn't influenced by anything else while I went through this journey. But still, even if she understands it, it's perfectly reasonable I think for her to also feel betrayed at the same time. It wasn't the journey itself, but leaving her out of it that has been so hurtful in her eyes. Should I have done things differently? I honestly don't know. All that I do know is that we are where we are now, and I want to rebuild her trust in me again. At least now I know I'm not hiding some huge aspect of myself anymore, so that alone makes everything much simpler on my end at least. Not for her obviously, but we're getting there a day at a time.

    There haven't been too many developments since my last post. The only really major thing is that we talked with my oldest daughter about it (I guess it won't hurt too much to reveal she's a she now). I have to say, it was really, really difficult. Like I noted before, we've raised her as a Christian, and she was even saved a few years ago, so she's fairly devout even for her age. When we sat her down and I finally came out with it that I didn't believe in God anymore, she basically began to sob, and didn't stop for a really long time. All I could do was just sit there with her and hold her as my wife looked on. It was pretty devastating, if you want to know the truth, and I had a hard time keeping it together. She eventually revealed that the reason she was so upset about it was that she was worried that now she'd never see me in Heaven after we died. This made me both quite sad and quite angry at the same time. After all, I'd done this. I'm the one who had indoctrinated her with this idea of Heaven and Hell, and now she believed that her own father would end up in a lake of eternal fire. What a horrifying thing for a little girl to imagine... and to her, it was absolutely real.

    I asked her if she thought I deserved to go to Hell, regardless of what I believed, and she admitted that she didn't think so. I told her that's all that really matters. My wife also helped ease her fears through the "once saved, always saved" doctrine. That since I did once accept Christ, then that salvation can never be taken away even if I turn my back on him. At first I wasn't sure how I felt about using more biblical doctrine that I no longer believed in to ease her fears, but ultimately I saw how much it comforted her, and for now I suppose it's better than her thinking I'm going to hell. The three of us talked for a good long while after that, and she's asked me a few questions since then as well. I'm hoping that as time goes on, she'll continue to feel comfortable enough with me to keep asking hard questions and challenging me, and I hope I can in turn be honest with her about where I'm coming from.

    One thing we agreed on beforehand was to NOT reveal to her that it was her own salvation that made me begin questioning my faith in the first place. My wife and I wholly agreed that she should never feel that she was the cause of my apostasy, because she truthfully wasn't. She had nothing to do with it. The conditions were simply right at that point for me to begin questioning things. If it hadn't been then, I think it would have happened eventually with some other catalyst. But I didn't even want to hint that she had anything to do with it. She doesn't need to feel that responsibility. It's not cross to bear, so to speak.

    Otherwise, I think things will get more interesting soon. I wrote out a 3200 word letter explaining everything about abandoning my faith, and what I believe now, and why. They are going out to all of our immediate family members on both mine and my wife's sides of the family. They were just mailed out today actually. I have no idea how many of them will react. To some I don't think it'll be a huge deal. To others, especially my parents, it will be a very big deal. It will likely change the dynamics of my family in many ways. But for better or worse, I'm taking the leap, and we'll see where I land.

    Once they know, we plan on talking to our Pastor and asking for me to be removed from the church membership, and sometime after that, I guess I'll go "public" with it, whatever that means. Maybe I'll just let it be at that point, or maybe I'll begin updating my blog about it, or making a big facebook post informing everyone... I really don't know. I know I don't want it to be some big secret anymore, but what that looks like is anyone's guess. Like I said, we're just trying to take it one day at a time right now and hope for the best.

    Anyway, I guess that's it for now. Maybe next time I post, it will be under my normal handle here. It would be nice to not have to log in with this stupid alt any longer. Again, many, many thanks to all of you.

    cB557Melkster
  • dispatch.odispatch.o Registered User regular
    edited December 2015
    I'm not really sure why you wrote letters. If it's as radical a change to the relationship you have with your family, you're best explaining things (briefly) the next time the issue actually comes up.

    I am unsure how to really put this, but in a general sense, outside of your wife and children... who gives a shit? If you speak with these people so infrequently that they wouldn't naturally find out throughout their course of interactions with you or your immediate family, fuck em. You're not repenting for being a child rapist, you haven't decided to admit you were a prison guard in a concentration camp.

    Your opinion changed. It's your business. In this case it may even be your wife and children's business. You're kind of on a trajectory that's going to make you "that irritating atheist" that so many people in this thread warned you away from.

    Edit: I do think there's an important lesson about what to teach your children in the future here somewhere. If you catch a child young enough you can convince them of anything as they really lack any sort of critical thinking skills. Be careful moving forward how you decide to share your atheism with them. While I am an atheist, I can certainly see how this could be much like telling them Santa isn't real... every single Sunday for the rest of their childhoods.

    dispatch.o on
    tynicJuliusApothe0sisSmrtnikSCREECH OF THE FARGApogee
  • Santa ClaustrophobiaSanta Claustrophobia Ho Ho Ho Disconnecting from Xbox LIVERegistered User regular
    When I got to that part about your daughter crying, it reminded me about how I began to question my faith.

    My grandmother died when I was about eight and I fretted over whether or not she'd go to heaven. And it began to bother me that I was spending so much time worrying about it at that age. But until I started considering things, it kept me up at nights fearful that she hadn't 'done enough' to make it.

    In the end, there were other factors that contributed to my leaving religion. That was the event that got the ball rolling.

  • EmperorSethEmperorSeth Registered User regular
    When I got to that part about your daughter crying, it reminded me about how I began to question my faith.

    My grandmother died when I was about eight and I fretted over whether or not she'd go to heaven. And it began to bother me that I was spending so much time worrying about it at that age. But until I started considering things, it kept me up at nights fearful that she hadn't 'done enough' to make it.

    In the end, there were other factors that contributed to my leaving religion. That was the event that got the ball rolling.

    That seems to be a common trigger. It was a dead grandmother that first got me questioning my faith as well. Though in my case, I was already in college ... at a Jesuit university. Not the best timing, that.

    You know what? Nanowrimo's cancelled on account of the world is stupid.
  • WordLustWordLust Registered User regular
    edited December 2015
    Man... having been a full blown deconvert for so many years now, I really do forget sometimes exactly HOW seriously people take this. I mean, I understand it conceptually, but I've not been immersed in it for so long that the idea of someone crying over a family member not believing anymore is... on one hand something I grasp as a real thing... but on the other hand... something I still am on some level surprised is still a real thing.

    Indoctrinating the young is so unfortunate, and yet the survival of religion relies on it tremendously. Nothing makes me sadder than seeing a kid get indoctrinated by religious parents, and there is nothing you can appropriately do to step in and stop it from happening.

    As some have observed, people would find it absurd if a parent boasted that their seven year old son or daughter was a marxist or a Randian objectivist. Likewise, there is no such thing as a seven year old christian. There is only a seven year old who has essentially been living in a christian training camp, being taught by their parents (and other trusted adults) that they are and should be a christian. Imagine a household and community where children were constantly coached on a daily basis on how to be the best possible marxist. When viewed through any other lens other than religion, it is so obviously absurd.

    WordLust on
    mellestadLikeaBoshNoMoreDelusionsLovelyKristmas KthulhuNightDragonMelksterSmrtnik
  • NoMoreDelusionsNoMoreDelusions Registered User regular
    dispatch.o wrote: »
    I'm not really sure why you wrote letters. If it's as radical a change to the relationship you have with your family, you're best explaining things (briefly) the next time the issue actually comes up.

    I am unsure how to really put this, but in a general sense, outside of your wife and children... who gives a shit? If you speak with these people so infrequently that they wouldn't naturally find out throughout their course of interactions with you or your immediate family, fuck em. You're not repenting for being a child rapist, you haven't decided to admit you were a prison guard in a concentration camp.

    Your opinion changed. It's your business. In this case it may even be your wife and children's business. You're kind of on a trajectory that's going to make you "that irritating atheist" that so many people in this thread warned you away from.

    I debated a lot internally whether or not I should go to everyone individually and tell them, or if I should just write a letter to everyone. In the end, I settled on the latter for a couple of reasons. One, it's much easier to explain everything in a structured, well laid out letter than in a personal conversation. Doing it this way, I can tell them and explain everything all at once, and it gives them time to process it before they start immediately asking questions or getting defensive or anything (not to say they all would, but I'd rather avoid the opportunity for it). Two, I didn't want to take the chance of someone finding out about it from someone else before I talked to them. These wouldn't be "brief" conversations... I couldn't do all of them in a day, or even a few days. Even if I asked for discretion, eventually it would get back around to someone else before I could talk to them, and I didn't want that. Even if the letters won't all arrive on the same day to everyone, it will be closer than me trying to do it individually.

    And even though I can appreciate the sentiment of just letting them find out through the course of natural interactions, this is a pretty big deal to most of my family. Enough so that they will very much care about it. It's not that I'm trying to flaunt my deconversion in their faces or anything like that. Once they know, if they never want to discuss it again, that's perfectly fine with me and I will never bring it up. But I feel like I owe it to them to at least know what's going on, why I'm not going to church any longer, etc. They are my family after all. I think they'd want to know.

    Is it the right thing to do? I have no idea. Maybe you're totally right and I should have just left it alone. I certainly don't want to come off as the irritating/pushy atheist, and if that's how I appear to them then I've made a pretty big misstep. I tried my best to avoid that perception in the letter, and will continue to be self-aware of it as I go forward, but it's hard to say how they'll perceive it. And I might look back on it as a huge mistake. I really don't know. But right now at least, after discussing it with my wife, we felt it was the best thing to do. I guess only time will tell if it was right or not.

    dispatch.o wrote: »
    Edit: I do think there's an important lesson about what to teach your children in the future here somewhere. If you catch a child young enough you can convince them of anything as they really lack any sort of critical thinking skills. Be careful moving forward how you decide to share your atheism with them. While I am an atheist, I can certainly see how this could be much like telling them Santa isn't real... every single Sunday for the rest of their childhoods.

    Agreed, this is going to be a huge struggle going forward, especially since my wife's beliefs (in terms of faith at least) and my own are now so diametrically opposed. From my perspective though, I'm not trying to tell my daughter that God isn't real. I'm simply telling her that I personally don't believe God exists. I still want her to make up her own mind about what she believes, and I'm perfectly willing for my wife to continue offering her perspective in that regard. But I at least needed her to know what I believe, and to know that I will be honest with her about any questions she has in the future. I certainly have no desire to proselytize her or make her believe the same things I do. If I did that, I'd be no better than I was before.

  • WordLustWordLust Registered User regular

    Agreed, this is going to be a huge struggle going forward, especially since my wife's beliefs (in terms of faith at least) and my own are now so diametrically opposed. From my perspective though, I'm not trying to tell my daughter that God isn't real. I'm simply telling her that I personally don't believe God exists. I still want her to make up her own mind about what she believes, and I'm perfectly willing for my wife to continue offering her perspective in that regard. But I at least needed her to know what I believe, and to know that I will be honest with her about any questions she has in the future. I certainly have no desire to proselytize her or make her believe the same things I do. If I did that, I'd be no better than I was before.

    This is 100% correct. Your job as a parent isn't to tell your kids what to think or to provide them with answers. Sometimes you honestly won't have answers. Your job as a parent is to provide an environment where kids can questions things safely. Share what you think when asked, think along with them if invited to, but kids are smart. Let them be smart.

    Suddenly this old Gabe & Tycho conversation has become relevant:


    NoMoreDelusionsDarkPrimusspool32dispatch.oLovelyArcanisTheImpotentKristmas KthulhuBlameless ClericJusticeforPlutoPLA
  • Kristmas KthulhuKristmas Kthulhu Registered User regular
    I've never seen any of the Penny Arcade series; that clip is insanely awesome. Thanks for posting it, Word.

    Rhesus Positive
  • TinaGregsonTinaGregson Registered User regular
    NoMoreDelusions wrote: »

    Agreed, this is going to be a huge struggle going forward, especially since my wife's beliefs (in terms of faith at least) and my own are now so diametrically opposed. From my perspective though, I'm not trying to tell my daughter that God isn't real. I'm simply telling her that I personally don't believe God exists. I still want her to make up her own mind about what she believes, and I'm perfectly willing for my wife to continue offering her perspective in that regard

    That's all very well, but you wouldn't take the same approach to crossing the road safely or getting vaccinated, would you? You're discounting your wife's beleifs to the level of opinion because you don't share them. She doesn't see it that way - her child's immortal soul is at stake, and if you don't take that seriously you're heading for trouble, just like if you wife started telling your child that looking before you cross the road is a beleif some people have that she needs to make up her own mind on.

  • majanzmajanz Registered User regular
    I may be a bit late to the party, but if 'Atheist' has too much of a stigma for you - take a look at 'Deism'.
    The belief that God has created the universe but remains apart from it and permits his creation to administer itself through natural laws.

    Deism thus rejects the supernatural aspects of religion, such as belief in revelation in the Bible, and stresses the importance of ethical conduct.

    The best explanation of Deism is probably the Futurama episode, "Godfellows", where Bender the drunken robot meets god.

    103280.jpg

  • NoMoreDelusionsNoMoreDelusions Registered User regular
    edited December 2015
    NoMoreDelusions wrote: »

    Agreed, this is going to be a huge struggle going forward, especially since my wife's beliefs (in terms of faith at least) and my own are now so diametrically opposed. From my perspective though, I'm not trying to tell my daughter that God isn't real. I'm simply telling her that I personally don't believe God exists. I still want her to make up her own mind about what she believes, and I'm perfectly willing for my wife to continue offering her perspective in that regard

    That's all very well, but you wouldn't take the same approach to crossing the road safely or getting vaccinated, would you? You're discounting your wife's beleifs to the level of opinion because you don't share them. She doesn't see it that way - her child's immortal soul is at stake, and if you don't take that seriously you're heading for trouble, just like if you wife started telling your child that looking before you cross the road is a beleif some people have that she needs to make up her own mind on.

    While I see your point, I'm not sure that it's fair to compare spiritual beliefs (or a lack of them) to things like vaccination and vehicle awareness when playing outside. Still, even knowing how seriously she takes the issue, she is also well aware that ultimately our children will end up making their own decisions about what they believe eventually either way. I did, after all, despite being brought up a strongly evangelical household and believing it for many years after I moved away. I don't see anything wrong with both of us offering our own perspectives and letting the chips fall where they may. I trust my wife enough to know that she'll respect this and not try to undermine me, and I will act the same to her. I'm sure it won't always be perfect, and we're almost certain to do things that will upset the other, but I feel confident that we'll figure all this out in time.

    majanz wrote: »
    I may be a bit late to the party, but if 'Atheist' has too much of a stigma for you - take a look at 'Deism'.
    The belief that God has created the universe but remains apart from it and permits his creation to administer itself through natural laws.

    Deism thus rejects the supernatural aspects of religion, such as belief in revelation in the Bible, and stresses the importance of ethical conduct.

    The best explanation of Deism is probably the Futurama episode, "Godfellows", where Bender the drunken robot meets god.

    Yeah, I sort of vaguely mentioned this in the original post, that I drifted toward the general Deist view for a while after I'd abandoned Christianity specifically. I guess in the end though, I just decided that if God were this powerful being who created the universe, but that he is entirely disconnected from it... what is the point of him existing in the first place? Science is constantly filling in the gaps in our understanding of where life and the universe came from, and with each new discovery it is becoming less and less necessary to believe God was ever needed in the first place (in fact, I think it's fair to say we've already reached that point). I just don't see the point of God.

    NoMoreDelusions on
  • NoMoreDelusionsNoMoreDelusions Registered User regular
    Oh, and as a quick update, most of our family members are now aware of my stance. Most of them have been really supportive so far, so that's been a huge relief. The next step will be to make our pastor and those at our church aware, and then I guess I'll be more or less out in the open.

    It's a weird feeling.

    IncenjucarNightDragon
  • DevoutlyApatheticDevoutlyApathetic Registered User regular
    Oh, and as a quick update, most of our family members are now aware of my stance. Most of them have been really supportive so far, so that's been a huge relief. The next step will be to make our pastor and those at our church aware, and then I guess I'll be more or less out in the open.

    It's a weird feeling.

    I can definitely understand wanting your family to know but why your pastor and those whose social connection is strictly through something you now lack? It seems oddly confrontational and I'm not sure what the ideal outcome of that is. The pastor at least is going to be entirely familiar with people drifting away from the church. They're also the one most likely to feel a moral imperative to try and dissuade you.

    To be clear, this isn't a post really about absolute right or wrong so much as one encouraging you to think about why you would do that. You may well have perfectly good reasons for doing so, I just can't think of any right now.

    Apothe0sisLostNinjaPowerpuppiesSmrtnikNightDragon
  • NoMoreDelusionsNoMoreDelusions Registered User regular
    Oh, and as a quick update, most of our family members are now aware of my stance. Most of them have been really supportive so far, so that's been a huge relief. The next step will be to make our pastor and those at our church aware, and then I guess I'll be more or less out in the open.

    It's a weird feeling.

    I can definitely understand wanting your family to know but why your pastor and those whose social connection is strictly through something you now lack? It seems oddly confrontational and I'm not sure what the ideal outcome of that is. The pastor at least is going to be entirely familiar with people drifting away from the church. They're also the one most likely to feel a moral imperative to try and dissuade you.

    To be clear, this isn't a post really about absolute right or wrong so much as one encouraging you to think about why you would do that. You may well have perfectly good reasons for doing so, I just can't think of any right now.

    It's a fair question. Honestly, if it were just me, I would agree completely. However, the reality is that my wife and kids will still be attending this church, and they're the ones who will continue to interact with all of these people on a weekly basis. I haven't been going for the last several weeks, and rumors have already started going around about what's going on.

    So really, it's more out of respect for my wife and kids than any real obligation I feel towards anyone at the church itself. And honestly, probably the only person I'll need to tell is the pastor himself, and then he can let others in the church know about it if he feels so inclined. I'm not planning on standing in front of the congregation and telling my whole story or anything like that. Just a quick 10 minute meeting between the two of us and our pastor at a neutral location was what we were thinking. Just let him know how it is and be done with it. At least that's what I was thinking.

    Julius
  • DevoutlyApatheticDevoutlyApathetic Registered User regular
    Oh, and as a quick update, most of our family members are now aware of my stance. Most of them have been really supportive so far, so that's been a huge relief. The next step will be to make our pastor and those at our church aware, and then I guess I'll be more or less out in the open.

    It's a weird feeling.

    I can definitely understand wanting your family to know but why your pastor and those whose social connection is strictly through something you now lack? It seems oddly confrontational and I'm not sure what the ideal outcome of that is. The pastor at least is going to be entirely familiar with people drifting away from the church. They're also the one most likely to feel a moral imperative to try and dissuade you.

    To be clear, this isn't a post really about absolute right or wrong so much as one encouraging you to think about why you would do that. You may well have perfectly good reasons for doing so, I just can't think of any right now.

    It's a fair question. Honestly, if it were just me, I would agree completely. However, the reality is that my wife and kids will still be attending this church, and they're the ones who will continue to interact with all of these people on a weekly basis. I haven't been going for the last several weeks, and rumors have already started going around about what's going on.

    So really, it's more out of respect for my wife and kids than any real obligation I feel towards anyone at the church itself. And honestly, probably the only person I'll need to tell is the pastor himself, and then he can let others in the church know about it if he feels so inclined. I'm not planning on standing in front of the congregation and telling my whole story or anything like that. Just a quick 10 minute meeting between the two of us and our pastor at a neutral location was what we were thinking. Just let him know how it is and be done with it. At least that's what I was thinking.

    Fair enough. About the only thing I'd add is making sure that's how your wife would like to handle it. If you're not really invested in that group anymore and she is I'd defer that decision to her since she's the one who has to live with it. I can see that going either way on her part though and I'd guess you have a better bead on her reaction.

    I think you know you're not going to escape the gossip entirely but getting out in front of it is probably the best you can hope for.

    Good luck.

    ceresJacques L'HommeIncenjucarBouwsT
  • SmrtnikSmrtnik job boli zub Registered User regular
    Has the wife seen the thread yet?

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