Editor's Note: Sam is our latest young Christadelphian deconvert. We need to protect his confidentiality from relatives in the Christadelphians; so we cannot reveal his true identity, ecclesia or country of residence. But we can assure you that he is a young, baptised Christadelphian.
Why are you reading this? Perhaps you’re something like I was, reading these blogs from time to time and feeling the warm glow of self righteousness as you scrolled through post after post of humanistic nonsense and evolutionary propaganda. Perhaps you’re here looking for answers to questions you can’t share with those around you. The important thing is that you’re here. Because it is these very posts that steered me away from nineteenth century fideism onto the pathway to rational thought.
It hasn’t been an easy process, and I am going to share some of my story with you.
It was the influx of “non CD” thoughts and ideas coming in ever so slowly from sites such as this, and the excellent work done at Berea Portal that eroded the foundations of my faith, until one night, lying in bed, I had the sudden realisation “This is all a pile of..........” well, for the sake of preserving the purity of this blog, I’ll refrain from repeating the actual words I thought about the particular faith I was raised in.
I realised, in that instant, that my worldview was warped. Not a pleasant realisation.
Perhaps it takes so long to come to this conclusion because, as Christadelphians, we are extremely adept at mentally blocking our ears and closing our eyes to other viewpoints and ideas, and the pressure of these repressed objections build up until the breaking point.
Some poor souls manage to repress them for a lifetime, and they are of all men most miserable.
Some live and die happy that they have the truth, and they will never know they were wrong.
A third group (which I count myself part of) finally succumb to the cognitive dissonance and begin to question their beliefs. This is one of the hardest things you can ever do with your life, and therefore one of the most rewarding. Heck, if I had read this very post 5 years ago I would have written it off as just another degenerate young person leaving the faith to go live a short, miserable life of sin. And I couldn’t have been more wrong.
This post is about preparing yourself for a life of intellectual honesty, rational examination of ideas and beliefs, and enlightened human morals. A lifetime lived as if you were living in “the kingdom” for any who are willing to get rid of their Victorian thought processes. It is the most rewarding thing imaginable.
Contrary to what I used to believe, people don’t leave to live a sad life of depraved sin. Innate in human nature is the desire for our own betterment, the care of others, and the advancement of the human race as a whole. Sounds pretty humanistic hey? Don’t worry; the remnants of my CD upbringing are making me mentally cringe as I write some of this. It’s not an easy pathway to this kingdom, but it’s worth it. The life of an ex-believer is not a wretched one of short term self interest; on the contrary, it leaves you free. Free to treat your gay co-worker with dignity and respect. Free to get the number of the waitress at your local cafe. Free to explore all the wonders and intellectual stimulation of modern science without being hampered by Bronze Age myths. In short, free to do the million and one little things that make life worth living.
Wanton sinning is not the reward of abandoning your faith; the fun bit is being able to live your life as you truly know you should, not the way an archaic religion demands you to.
Yes, the bible has some good pointers towards leading a good, morally upright life (particularly Proverbs and Jesus’ parables). But it also has some very misogynistic, xenophobic outdated ideals that are abhorrent to enlightened members of 21st century society.
So how do Christadelphians get around this? Why, by taking the good bits and ignoring the bad stuff. In short, they are living by what their human conscience tells them is correct. So why not skip the middle man and live directly by your conscience? You may find, as I did, that once you leave your Bronze Age ideals behind, you will be more compassionate to your fellow man, as Jesus directed. And you get your Sundays back to boot.
Someone once described Christadelphia as “An ascetic religion, a religion with all the joy and spontaneity removed” and they were bang on the mark. If you really want to follow Jesus, you could do a lot better than mainstream CD. For a religion that once prided itself on being “In the world but not of it” they are doing a remarkably good job of being of the world but not in it. 50 inch plasma TVs and the latest furniture reside behind whitewashed doors that have never been opened to invite the poor or less desirable elements of society for a meal.
So to get to the practical points of leading an enjoyable life. Like me, maybe the time is not right for you to leave yet. - Too many social ties within Christadelphia, Christadelphian partner, nowhere else to go, or a myriad of other problems, I am fortunate in having a loving family who will support me no matter what, and an open minded ecclesia who I really do care for. In this way it is probably not dissimilar to a divorce: you may still have real compassion and feelings to the other party, but you know deep down that you cannot spend the rest of your life together.
This post is not aimed at those who have been the victims of real spiritual and emotional abuse in the name of religion, but those who are coming to the scary but rewarding realisation that they have simply outgrown Christadelphia. If you feel the desire to continue going for a while, there’s no shame in that: it’s just like half heartedly attending the games of a football team your family is fanatic about, while you remain uninterested in sport.
The important thing is to know what you believe, and why you believe it, and to live your life according to these principles. Where you choose to spend your Sunday mornings is neither here nor there.
As I have been moving through this process I have a few simple tips for others who may be on a similar journey.
The first is, expose yourself to new ideas with an open mind. You’re off to a great start on this blog, and remember that your natural aversion to the ideas contained here is simply the product of thought processes trained into you over years or decades, so try to gently ease yourself into reading more and more material like this.
Try to express your issues to a trusted friend who is prepared to accept you regardless of your beliefs.
And remember that you’re not weird or a hopeless sinner for feeling the way you do. You are not the first person to feel this way, and hopefully you won’t be the last. There is a plethora of online help from people who’ve been through what you are going through.
Above all, keep travelling down the path of being honest with yourself. The reward of being able to live your life in the best way you possibly can, with a mind devoid of any cognitive dissonance, and a heart full of love and compassion for your fellow man is indescribable.
Written By Sam