I Was Once A Christian, But Hypocrisy Turned Me Agnostic

I Was Once A Christian, But Hypocrisy Turned Me Agnostic

But, I am not a bad person and I do all the things that those who believe in a god do every single day. I have tattoos, I have sex, I drink alcohol, and I cuss.
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Before I talk about why I became Agnostic, I should probably tell you how religious I once was. I was raised as a southern baptist. Couldn't cut your hair, wear jewelry or makeup, no tattoos, your skirt had to be to your ankles, pants were only for boys, and so on. My mom didn't practice this to a tee, but you get the point. In high school, I dated a guy for almost 5 years who helped me form the foundation on which my religious views were built from. He went to a Christian, private school if that tells you anything. We went to church religiously, we prayed together, and we read the bible together and apart. I thanked "God" for everything he did and didn't do for me. But the moment I ended the relationship with that guy was the moment I ended my relationship with "God."

Of course, after I started questioning my faith and religion, I had gone to my grandma's church for the last time. I was already struggling with the decision but I knew if I just tried, it might come back to me. They spent an hour talking about other religions and how silly it is for others to believe that there is a god outside of their god. I knew there and then that religion was definitely not for me.

Living in America, where Christianity is pushed on you from the fine print of "In God We Trust" on our money to people on every corner on a college campus handing out bibles, it is hard to feel "normal". Where we publicly embarrass others of different religions and those of the LGBTQ community to "stop pushing their lifestyle onto us", although it is the exact things that Christians do. I say "Christians" because that is the only accepted form of religion throughout the U.S. The only religion where people can parade up and down the streets yelling out, "Love God" and it is okay. The only religion where people can have signs in their yard that says, "Jesus loves you" and it is okay. People can wear clothing and support propaganda that enhances the light on Christianity but those of other religions will be shamed if they do that as well.

But this isn't the only reason why I became Agnostic. Reading the bible and going to church every Sunday does not make you a good person. Believing in Allah or practicing Buddhism does not take away from the fact that those who do not believe in anything are bad people. I support and admire all religions, but I don't want to take part in any of them. Everyone I know that is religious, sins in one way or another. They go against whatever interpretation of the Bible, or their sacred book, they chose to go with that day, one way or another. They do things that go completely against their religion and as I write this, I cannot even skim the surface of why I no longer believe.

I grew tired of people talking about living for their god and doing right by their god before doing right by those around them. I grew tired of hearing my grandparents talk shit about Catholics, black people, and gays and then go to church to say that we should love everyone. I grew tired of people saying that "god" does not love or accept gays. I grew tired of seeing those who are religious be the same ones who draw the lines between white people and those of color. I grew tired of seeing those of other religions hated and bashed for doing the same thing that those of the more popular religion is doing. I grew tired of thinking that the only way to be a kindhearted person was to believe in "Jesus" and "God". I grew tired of people taking no responsibility for their actions and asking, "why me, God?" I grew tired of people dismissing logic and ration. I just was just so fucking tired.

But, I am not a bad person and I do all the things that those who believe in a god do every single day. I have tattoos, I have sex, I drink alcohol, I cuss, I do every single thing humans do and have done for centuries, but the only difference is, I don't believe in anything. I don't think anything bad is going to happen to me because I do those things. And I don't spend time at night asking for forgiveness but waking up and doing those things all over again. And somehow, I feel this continuous need to justify how and why I am a good person, while all a religious person has to say is that they go to church or believe in a higher power. Boom. They are a good person. I didn't need to tell you how I was once religious, that does not change your perception of me nor does it help you accept the fact that I no longer believe in a higher power.

Religion is just ultimately something that helps you feel like you belong to something bigger than yourself. I respect everyone's views but I also understand how me making you feel as though I am saying your "God" isn't real, makes you defensive, so stop. I am not taking away anyone's beliefs nor am I trying to "convert" anyone.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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I'm Tired Of Trendy Christianity

Life with Jesus is so much more than one big coffee break.
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Okay, you're a Christian. After all, you have all of the tools you need.

You have your densely highlighted and underlined Bible, your Eno, your Chacos, your Patagonia backpack and of course, your beloved Camelbak or Nalgene water bottle that is covered in name-brand stickers.

Your days consist of going outside, chilling in your Eno and blasting "Oceans" by Hillsong and "Good, Good Father" by Chris Tomlin. Your room is decorated with lots of inspirational quotes, maps with variations of "send me" close by and probably some pictures of your last mission trip. Your Instagram page is full of pictures of your friends that are "gems," captions of how thankful you are for certain things and pictures of the last country you visited that say "take me back."

Oh, and you might have a tattoo in Greek.

Okay, if you know me, you know that I literally just described myself. So, when I say what I'm about to, I'm not bashing anyone at all. I am guilty of all of these things and God has really laid these things on my heart that I've found myself doing time after time.

It seems that in the time we live in, if you're going to be a Christian, you have to have all of the right things, and I'm tired of it. Christianity is not about having a certain look or personality, but about having a deep, meaningful relationship with Christ. I think a lot of people have the wrong idea about what being in a relationship with Christ actually looks like. I'm here to tell you that it's not anything like what I described.

Being in a relationship with Christ is not easy, and it's certainly not the most trendy thing out there (maybe on your college campus, but not in the real world.) It's about surrendering everything you have to a God who sent his son to be crucified for things you've done wrong.

It's more than just drinking designer coffee and Bible journaling and "being intentional."

It's about finding peace and joy in spending time with our creator. I know a lot of people just like me who fit the stereotype perfectly who have some of the deepest, most meaningful relationships with Christ, but I also know a lot of people who fit the stereotype who are just faking it.

I'm so tired of people who do not know Christ thinking that they have to have a certain look or personality about them and it hinders them from running into the loving arms of Jesus. We've made Christianity a club, and that's not okay. We have taken God's beauty and grace and made a fad out of it.

So, friends, I'm not saying that we can't have these things and still be Christians (because honestly, I like the way I live life with these things I've been given, and this is just who I am,) but I am saying that having these things are not what makes us Christians. So, be careful how you live out your walk.

Are you just doing it to be trendy, or do you have a deep and meaningful relationship with Christ?

Walking with Jesus is more than just a big coffee break.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Cover Image Credit: Tumblr/Psalm Thirty Seven Four

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I'm A Christian Who Practices Yoga And That's Okay

Yoga and Jesus: Is it possible?

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I have a confession: I am a Christian who practices yoga daily. I even teach it twice a week. It may not seem like a big deal, but to some, my yoga practice is considered demonic or blasphemous to my faith. I understand why other Christians hold this belief. Yoga is rooted in the Hindu and Buddhist tradition. Christians do not believe in actively practicing any other religion but Christianity, and monotheistic doctrine is 100% scriptural.

But, it is important to remember that in today's Western culture, many of the specifically religious parts of yoga have been stripped to offer a more inclusive approach to the exercises. To be honest, I have never attended a yoga class in which I felt pressured to conform to the ways of another religion. Yoga teachers see the melting pot of races and religions that walk into the studio every day and know that they have to make class inclusive or they won't have any students! I like to compare yoga to the Christmas tree. Christmas trees definitely have pagan origins, but Christians across America put up a Christmas tree to celebrate Jesus' birth. Although we are aware of the original purpose of the tree, we are also aware that such old traditions mean very little to society today. Yoga is a similar situation.

Most Christians who practice yoga know of its origins but also understand that hundreds of years have separated the practice from its original intent.

When I take a yoga class, I have a very specific mindset that I try to enter each time I approach the mat. This has very little to do with "altering my spiritual state." It's more about making sure that I'm getting the most out of each stretch and breath physically so that I am maintaining emotional regulation. All of these benefits, of course, extend to my spiritual life as well. Because my Christian walk is a part of everything I do, Christ has really, truly blessed me in my yoga practice. When I'm going through a flow, I pray, I seek answers, I ask questions. I get to focus on how God holds together all of my operating systems: physical, mental and spiritual.

Yoga is literally medicine. Doctors are starting to prescribe it like a pill. Here are just a few of the countless benefits of having a regular yoga practice:

- increased flexibility

- more effective circulation

- weight loss

- boosts immunity

- better focus

- increased oxygen intake

- sinus relief

- depression/anxiety relief (lots of serotonin!)

- better posture

- natural pain relief (even for menstrual aches and pains!)

- improved metabolism

- lowers blood sugar

- supports connective tissue

-maintains the nervous system

- releases physical and emotional tension

- relieves drug withdrawal symptoms

- prevents loss of bone and cartilage

- increased strength

- relieves insomnia and other sleep problems

For me and millions of others, the amazing benefits of yoga happen not because of calling on any other deity, but because of the strengthening and relaxation that happens when you go through the physical act of yoga. Of course, this physical positivity changes my emotions and spiritual posture with God, but for the better! I walk away physically invigorated, emotionally purged and spiritually more in tune with my Father's voice.

I think that's a really cool thing to experience, but it's not for everyone, and that's okay! If you're a Christian and do not feel inclined to start a yoga practice, that is valid! No true yogi would ever try and force a practice on anyone! But, it's hard to see a lot of my Christian friends bash yoga as "a practice from Hell" or "a way to open up portals" when it's been a Godsend for so many people ailing from things they never thought they would find relief from.

God, through the redemptive grace of Christ, is in the business of making all things new (Revelation 21:5). He can turn ashes into something of magnificent beauty, and I believe He can do it with yoga. Looking back, I can see how God has given me discernment with my practice to know how to worship and serve my God in yoga without compromising my heart in the process. Because of God's clear direction in my life, maintaining my spiritual integrity in yoga has not been hard.

I totally understand that an 800-word article may not change anyone's mind, and that's okay! I just ask everyone who might disagree with me to take into account not only all that I have said, but all that God says in Scripture, and use discernment to make a decision for yourself. I think that's really the heart of yoga today: asking others to consider a different way of observing life while staying completely true to themselves and what they believe.

Blessings.

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