Lightbulb Moments: Small Glimpses
CC image courtesy of Flickr, Ryan Hyde.
Some of us, when thinking about our “lightbulb moments”, didn’t have long stories to tell. Maybe there wasn’t an exact moment we could pin-point. Maybe it was one, very simple event. Maybe it was a decade of dominoes, falling one by one, each knocking over another piece of our former belief systems. We compiled some of these comments here, no less important stories merely due to brevity. Small glimpses into the journeys of the people who told them.
I spent four plus years in Josh Harris’ church, and his teaching wasn’t terrible but it was the people in my care groups who really made me start questioning things. Then I met my now husband and the reactions we got from our parents and people around us and the shame they all tried to heap on us for simply loving each other really pulled the plug for me.
My dad was really into the whole arranged marriage “I have to choose your spouse” thing so for him he really fought my choice because I chose and didn’t give him any say in the matter. I also just realized my dad was the literal catalyst for me when I found out at 14 that he was/is a porn addict and has been addicted for 40 years, and then I started seeing how hypocritical he is and that started all the questioning about my faith, I just didn’t know it then.
The biggest thing for me was when he kept trying to get me to do what he said while he did the complete opposite. He told me it didn’t matter what he did, it only mattered that I did what he said to do.
I realized how many things I had never considered, or questions glossed over with religious speak. The real kicker for me was the lack of honest church history, where the Bible came from, how it changed over the centuries, and what has been added or subtracted from it. Then I realized that the church’s only focus is on devotion; no history, no context, and no questions please. I decided I couldn’t walk that any more and left.
There was an event that started everything for me. I fell in love at 17. And thus the hold of Purity Culture loosened a little as I realized everything Gothard and others taught about purity and courtship was ridiculous and didn’t add up in the real world. That was the beginning of the end. I started questioning all of the teachings of Gothard that our family operated under. I threw out modesty and embraced Christian rock music. I was still stuck on the Pearl’s though, both their child-training stuff and their “how to be a godly doormat” book. When those things didn’t bring about the promised results, I realized they were crap too. I embraced Christian egalitarianism and peaceful parenting. I stopped praying years ago when I realized how strange the notion was. We were poor and one day our home burned to the ground, taking everything we owned with it. I begged God for a week to help me find our wedding rings that had been in a bathroom drawer. I had perfect faith that He would do this one little thing for me because he loved me. But the days wore on as I dug through the ashes and I didn’t find them. I realized then that prayer was bogus, people’s excuses for why prayer did or did not work were illogical, and maybe God didn’t care about the little things in my life after all. Then I started studying theistic evolution and examining flood geology and one more belief system fell. In the past 13 years, one by one, I realized everything I’d believed was a lie or at the very least, completely unproven. The Bible as God’s word was one of the last things to go, and actually it was a history of western civilization class that started that one. Last year, looking back over my life, I realized that anyone could make the Bible and God approve or condemn anything they wanted it to, and that I had no more reason to believe in any of it and couldn’t logically reconcile in my mind or life anything involving the Christian religion.
I was already having problems with the Old Testament as it was, and [John Piper’s] justifications for the OT atrocities and his view of god as being this cruel creature who rules on a whim (and we should not only accept that but marvel in it and praise him) just repulsed me even further.
www.stufffundieslike.com I thought it was just good inside jokes about BJU/PCC at first, but they were the first to link me to the Les Roloff/Hephzibah House/Chuck Phelps scandals and I soon saw there were major issues under the Fundy facade.
The thing that started my wheels turning was a missions trip to Nicaragua when I was 18, but after that everything just snowballed. The first person I can remember really edging me along my path of waywardness is probably Mark Driscoll. Way back before he was disgraced, when, if you didn’t like him the problem was you and the biggest controversy surrounding the man was that he swore. We watched his video series on Ruth in my YA Sunday school class and he kept making these super sexist jokes (one of them was about Ruth/women offering herself/themselves sexually to Boaz/men in godly submission, he said “We’re putting the ‘fun’ back in ‘fundamentalism,'”), and laughing at his own jokes, and it was sickening and nobody else was bothered and that upset me just as much.
The final straw was a guy who occasionally taught the YA class at my next (and final) church who convinced a room full of naysayers that sometimes god asks us to commit genocide and he might ask it of us today and that’s okay. I’ve always had a huge problem with people who need to be told what to do to such an extent that they’ll bend over backwards to justify the worst of atrocities simply because they’re in the bible and it says god commanded them. I’d been reframing such events for years already (Abraham failed whatever test he thought he was taking; it’s easy to mistake what you want for the voice of god’s approval if what you want is to do something morally unconscionable), it’s NOT HARD, but I was surrounded by people who would apparently rather take up a call to mass murder than try to think about the text a different way. That was literally a terrifying Sunday.
Mine wasn’t a negative. Nor was it a celebrity person. It was the witness of gay Christians. When I couldn’t deny the legitimacy of their spiritual experience, I had to broaden my own understanding of Christianity. Of course, the fear-mongerers were right; once I started questioning, all sorts of things fell apart. Except they were wrong about me losing my faith. Now my conservative friends and family don’t quite know what to do with a progressive, Bible-loving Christian.