Ronin of the Spirit

Because reality is beautiful.

The Church, Parenting, Teenagers, and Atheism.

Two big thoughts today.

Part I

My deconversion story: I’m beginning to understand my teenage years. (I’ve been reading parenting books, more on that in part two)  I sincerely wanted to be a Christian when I was a teen.  The thing is, I also sincerely wanted to be a fighter pilot, rock star, pornagraphic model, cult leader, cat burgler, mercenary, repo man, special forces troop, artist, automotive engineer, truck driver, therapist, hit man, mafia boss, and, of course, Jedi Knight.  The Teens are the time in our lives we try different identities and see what fits.  Many of these identities were mutually exclusive.  I could not be a Christian and porn star for instance.  Also, in the case of “rock star”, there was the question of would I be a Keith Richards sort of rock star (not compatible with following Jesus) or a Phil Keaggy sort of rock star, which is more Jesus friendly.   To consider some identities I had to consider the rejection of Christ, and the (perceived) ramifications that would bring.

I always considered myself a Christian, and yet had my private doubts about whether I was or not.  Sometimes, I loved to do things that fit well in the 90’s Christian teen persona.  I was a Youth Ministry Team member and worship leader, for instance (played guitar).  I really, sincerely liked doing that.   Other times, I loved to do things that did not fit well in the 90’s Christian teen persona, like hardcore bondage porn. I really enjoyed doing that too.  I was enormously concerned with which actions sprang from the authentic me. Which upon reflection, I think, is what all teens are doing: trying out different patterns and thoughts and seeing which one seems to be the authentic self.

It seemed, as I was writing the story, I couldn’t really say Christianity was that important to me as a teen.  If it had been, I would have confessed to someone that I was masturbating, looking at pornagraphy, hurting myself, and often suicidal.  Suicidal above all, is not an OK way for Christian to feel.  We even had a little talk about it in youth group.  (I think a kid at the local high school had killed himself.)  Iremember everyone going around the circle in small group saying “Oh, I can’t even contemplate what it would feel like to even want to contemplate suicide.” I never told anyone how much I wanted to kill myself because if they knew, they when I finally got up the nerve, they would stop me.

Those thoughts and actions are so out of tune with what is acceptable behavior for Christians, that I am tempted to say that I never took Christianity seriously.  And yet, I know I did.  I would often not take communion, because I took Paul’s warning that taking communion when one has unconfessed sin could result in God killing you.  I didn’t commit suicide primary because I wanted to have sex first.  Even if by some not understood way, I made it to heaven, there is no sex in heaven.  Heaven or Hell, no sex.  So I would just tell myself to endure another day because maybe tomorrow I would meet someone…

So, in one way it is true, I never took God seriously until after I broke up with my first girlfriend. It’s because  I never really gave up on all those other identities, heroes and geniuses, until after I had sex. Then I resigned myself to being what God wanted me to be, since I had made such a mess trying to be what I wanted to be.

Part II

All that just sort of reinforces my new level of chill with the church.   It’s OK.  The church didn’t hurt me.  I hurt me, and the for the last 3 years the church was easy to blame for that.  Now, over the last three years, my pain was constructive, it helped me discover a lot wrong with the Bible, and ultimately reject the church’s beliefs, but it’s important to accept that I am responsible for my life.

However, I have yet another beef with the Church.  I’m reading Raising a Daughter by Jeanne and Don Elium.  The church told us we were prepared to parent if we just trusted Jesus and the Bible.  Oh, there is so much  I didn’t understand about parenting and am only now just begining to learn.  I’m so glad I deconverted when my daughter was young, and I hadn’t really messed up yet.   This is just one book, one set of experts.  I’ve so much to study, so much peer review and sources to check.  Perhaps the most dangerous thing the church does is assume it knows anything about raising children.  *sigh*

December 3, 2008 Posted by | atheism, Religion, Self discovery, skepticism, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment