|Can you take the pain|
of losing your marriage
because you resigned?
For Joseph Strong - Be strong my brother
I'll go further than that and say that for the majority of Christadelphians, resigning from fellowship is going to land you in a whole heap of trouble.
It's nothing to do with the silly notion that Christ is going to judge you at the resurrection. It goes without saying that there is not going to be a resurrection; any more than he returned to Earth two thousand years ago when he said that he would.
No; that's not what I mean.
I mean that if you are a married to a Christadelphian and you lose your faith, but your wife or husband does not; then you will almost certainly run into some serious problems.
I have three decades of experience watching people leave the Christadelphians and the trouble that I have witnessed watching one partner leave fellowship is often heart wrenching.
The partner who leaves fellowship feels obliged to go, because they no longer believe all the CD stuff and the thought of sitting through any more Sunday meetings is about as attractive as having your eyebrow hairs pulled out one at a time. They often feel elated at having progressed to a clearer understanding of life and it's a buoyant time for them. They are under a great deal of stress; because losing your faith is traumatic. But at the same time they sense a feel a sense of excitement and relief that they don't have to keep patching up all of the mistakes, contradictions, failures and often downright Iron Age nonsense in that book.
Faith does not go with a whimper. It goes with a bang. Like an overloaded camel, faith struggles under the increasing weight of rational thinking and plain simple facts, like Evolution etc; and then all of a sudden, you wake up in bed one morning and to your total shock and amazement, you realise that you fell asleep as a believer and you have woken as an unbeliever. During the night the faith camel collapsed and died under the weight of reason and your subconscious brain flipped a switch to magically change you into an unbeliever.
You go and eat your breakfast, fully expecting this weird new feeling to pass; but it doesn't. You go to work and the unbeliever brain continues to show you the world in a whole new light. At first it's fun. But by late afternoon you start to panic and wonder where your faith has gone to. By late evening the shock starts to set in. You worry that you might awake the next morning with your faith still lost. And sure enough that's what happens. Faith has died and it never comes back. You have transformed into an Ex-Christadelphian even though you have not yet resigned.
You read this blog and instead of John Bedson being an arrogant, irritating little bore; you find that what he is saying begins to make perfect sense. It's as if previously he was writing in a foreign language. But now you can read his words clearly and everything just "clicks" into place. He was right all along; you previously believed a load of bunk.
And that's one of the scary things about this. You don't lose bits of your faith at a time; you lose the whole thing all in one go.
But if you are married to a lovely Christadelphian wife or husband - what are you going to tell them? After a few weeks you broach the subject to them and to your horror you see that their reaction is about as joyful as if you had informed them that you are HIV Positive. There is only one word to describe it: "Devastated."
You see, they have not even begun to lose their faith. They probably never will. Your efforts to "take him/her with you" are doomed to fail. Their faith seems to strengthen to compensate for your lost faith. But it can't.
The Sunday meetings become torture for you. They becomes an endless round of senseless mumbo-jumbo; just like when you used to read John Bedson's writings before you lost your faith and you thought to yourself "What on Earth is he rabbiting on about?" During the exhortation you wish that you had your IPad with you so that you could read the latest on Christadelphian Atheism. You imagine that you could be painting the shed instead of singing all those hymns.
And so you resign.
That's when your problems start. Christadelphians don't take at all kindly to resignations. They know that you have rumbled them and that you think that they are daft. For a few months they are nice and friendly to you while they try to win you back. But after that the big freeze takes hold and they increasingly start to give you the message that you are no longer in their "Rule the World" club. A year later you know that you are definitely on the outside of their fellowship. They believe such barmy things that they can't tolerate a sane person in their fellowship lest the rational thinking (they call it "funny ideas") spreads to the rest of the flock.
So where am I going with all this? More to the point; where is your marriage going in all this? The answer is that it is weakening fast.
You know how marriages go up and down? Sometimes you are more in love with your partner and sometimes it is less? It alternates? Well that is because you share experiences and good times together and those shared joys increase your love and the times of stress reduce that love.
Being unequally yoked with a Christadelphian deeply injures that relationship. It puts a massive strain on the marriage.
You have all heard the gossip about me. As my faith crumbled thirty years ago, my marriage to a wonderful and blameless Christadelphian sister collapsed, through no fault of hers and I ended up living on my own. It was hell. Pure hell. Let me tell you Christadelphians; you don't want to go there.
So that brings us back you our title. When is it stupid to resign in such circumstances?
Much as it is my job to get you Christadelphians to resign from that irrational religion; my answer is that it is almost always a stupid idea to resign if you are married to a Christadelphian that you love.
Don't do it.
Stay in fellowship and live the lie. You will be an Atheist; so telling white lies is OK if it is for the common good. No Jesus Christ is ever going to raise you from the dead and shoot you in the back of the head because you weren't righteous enough for him.
Attend the bare minimum of meetings and take your IPad with you so that you can read us during the lecture. But don't burst out laughing during a solemn part of the meeting. Enjoy the company of your wife/husband and she/he will be pleased that you are there to accompany them; even if they know that you have doubts.
Don't lie to your spouse. That is a seriously bad idea. But if you have to lie to the Christadelphians, then don't worry about it. Most of them will know what you are up to and half of them will agree with you that it doesn't make much sense anyway.
Even your arranging brethren will know what you are thinking before long and believe me; if you keep your mouth shut, they will do the same. There are few enough Christadelphians and they don't want you resigning and thinning the flock any further.
So enough of this "I feel that I need to be honest and not live a lie" line. Put your marriage first and your own feelings second. Put the Christadelphians third. Resigning is usually a stupid idea if you are married within the CDs.
So you are all waiting to ask me: Would I have resigned thirty years ago if I knew then what I know now?
I wish that I could answer "No" to finish off this article neatly. But I can't. I'm sorry my dear readers; but I honestly don't know the answer to that question. I suspect that the answer might be "Yes" which sort of destroys all that I have written above.
But then all my life I've had the luck of the Devil and you might not be so fortunate as me.
If you don't feel lucky; stay in fellowship if you are married to a CD that you love.