Friday, April 10, 2009

A letter to a new ex-Christian

Dear ex-Christian

I just want to thank you for writing to me and letting me know about your recent decision to leave Christianity. I can understand how difficult it was for you.

What I want to say – and as an ex-Christian this is something that took me a while to realise – is that you should never be ashamed of the decision you have taken. I can't stress this enough! Despite what some Christians might claim, the reason for your journey away from faith was not to embrace sin, but to achieve integrity.

What has integrity got to do with changing your beliefs? Well, I once heard the following definition of integrity:

What you think, do, and say is the same thing.

Integrity means being consistent in these (and many other) areas of our lives. It is a state in which an individual can become a whole person, instead of consisting of many different, fractured parts. As individuals, we can never be perfectly consistent or whole, but we can always work towards it, and being mostly whole is a step towards good psychological health.

Many Christians, who I look up to and respect, live with incredible integrity; they exhibit consistency in how they act, and in what they think and say. But during my own faith struggle I eventually reached a point where I could no longer sustain the inconsistencies between what I believed and what I observed in the world around me, causing a chasm to develop between what I thought, what I said, and how I acted. For a while I pretended to be Christian, but pretending to believe when I no longer did seemed dishonest, somehow. So in the end I decided to strive towards consistency, and for me that meant leaving my faith behind – not only in thought, but also in word and in deed.

Christian friends and family who look down on you because of your decision should instead hold you in high esteem, because you are searching for consistency in your own life. Is this not a good value to aim for? Many noble Christians have strived for integrity and have succeeded within the boundaries of their faith. But what if achieving integrity means changing one's core beliefs? If a loving God really exists, I would think he would value integrity and honesty above mere obedience. Well, that's the kind of God I would hope for :-)

Just know that there are others out there who have also reached a point of letting go of faith. You are not alone, and there is nothing wrong in rethinking what you believe. After all, you are becoming a whole person.

Keep well, and let me know how you do.



Anonymous said...

PS: The biggest change will come when you are no longer an ex-Christian, but just another person. That's when you'll really be an ex-Christian.

Barbara(aka Layla) said...

great letter, Kevin. I can relate to all of what you said.

Under Duress said...

I think you're right about God valuing integrity over religious compliance... but it can't stop there. I think a loving God values honesty if it means "honestly seeking truth", not "honestly don't have the strength to think about it any more". Reading your blog I can see you don't confuse integrity with laziness, but some readers of this letter might. Best to give them a little shove in the right direction.

Anonymous said...

I am just so darn releived to find out that I am NOT alone. When I discovered there is a word to describe what I believe, agnostic, well that just made my year. And now, to find blogs, articles, and stories online of people with very similar thoughts is just such a relief. Thank you, all, for posting every single thing here. It's been very helpful to me.

whynot said...

Christians have no right to look down upon none-Christians because we have no reason to think we are better - because rather we are privileged. The only thing that came to mind in finding integrity while not being a Christian us that it sounds like the easy way out... I'm not attacking, but I am convinced that it's easier to do what you do that to find integrity as a Christian.

Lydia Ma said...

Hey, I'm a first-timer here. Stumbled upon this site sort of by accident. Anyway, great letter Kevin... really appreciated your "Letter to new Ex-Christian", cuz that's where I'm at right now... and it hurts like hell for some reason. But really glad to know that I'm not alone or crazy.

Newsong4Him said...

Hi Kevin;
I like your comment that "your journey away from faith was not to embrace sin, but to achieve integrity." As an ex-christian; that is EXACTLY as it was for me. It has only been about a year since "I left the christian community" and lack of relationships and the pulling away of friends and "family", was not easy but I can see that it is FEAR that keeps many in their "place" where they do not QUESTION their "faith".I KNOW that it was "not the draw of sin" but the "search for truth" that "led me away". I feel no guilt and thank you for your writing...Peace to you....