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.