Writing about what I used to believe as a Christian never comes easy for me. It’s a revealing process that is guaranteed to be scrutinized in all the worst ways. Maybe it’s a practicing Christian looking to explain why my beliefs weren’t True ChristianityTM. Or maybe it’s a glib objection – a self-serving technicality – that points out I was not only wrong to believe such a thing, but wrong as a person. Regardless, it’s not an intuitive process that leads to healing.
But it’s important to talk about such things.
The other day, I was talking with some friends about VeggieTales, a Christian animated video series that portrayed kid-sanitized Old Testament stories. It’s pretty popular even now in children’s ministries. In the late 90’s and early 2000’s, VeggieTale references were everywhere. My friends, who span from Mormonism to Southern Baptist upbringings, were familiar with the brand.
I mentioned in the discussion that I’m not a fan of it. When asked why I could have a problem, I replied that VeggieTales didn’t quite get its biblical source material right. Like other children’s ministries, stories get reduced to emotional propaganda. The story about Adam or Noah or David changes when a person ages from six to sixteen.
This isn’t an accident. Biblical precepts and teachings and stories change for each audience. When I was growing up, the changes were justified by gaslighting or by appealing to some unknowable higher truth that made it okay. This process was critical to helping me maintain inconsistent beliefs, and it’s still critical to others. Everything gets boiled down to maintaining some core belief, details be damned.
The thing is, the details of what I believed turned out to be important. But they never were discussed or called into question the same as when I left the faith. Sure, some wild ideas might get floated in a Sunday biblestudy group. Everyone was allowed to live and let live, because judging others was only the invisible deity’s jurisdiction.
Why it matters for myself.
I need to write about the things I believe so I can accurately go through them and unpack them. There is a difference between being unburdened by faith and being rid of the burden of faith. For some it’s a quick process, and for others it might take a lifetime.
My first instinct over the past few years has been to apologize for my thoughts. When I can’t write the apology, I delete my post. I walk away from my keyboard, frustrated that I have something to say that I know people might take objection with.
I forget that my thoughts might not be entirely useless. If it benefits other people, I’m more than happy to be of any help. Hopefully people will have a new perspective on the stuff I used to believe, and see how a person straightjacketed into the faith can go through the motions of believing it. And yeah, I expect some of it will sound weird.
In all the years I believed, I met plenty of people who had similar beliefs. I said nothing at the time, because I couldn’t bring myself to reconcile the irreconcilable. At the time I thought I was being patient with brothers and sisters in Christ. Now, I realize I was struggling with my own bindings and tethers to mystical superstition.
I figure I’ll try to start this process at the beginning: Genesis. I believed a ton of things about creation. Those beliefs changed to fit new facts, and they should provide a good example of what I’m talking about here.