The bulk of my story as written to date chronicles my rapid decline from social drinker to miserable alcoholic. It was written over several years as I desperately tried to devote my time, energy, and life to the Christian God because I believed it would be through him that I would find peace and sobriety. Instead, I found myself fighting a losing, years-long battle against depression, anxiety, and addiction. I spent a good deal of time reading about Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and trying to implement its structure into my life with little success. In 2012, it finally occurred to me that I might be barking up the wrong tree by chasing Christianity and religious recovery groups. By that time, I had given AA the old college try and even delved into Celebrate Recovery for several months. And while the worst of the drinking was over by this time, I was still a wreck and prone to minor relapses. Trusting God for my sobriety, and, in turn, my sanity wasn’t working. I needed a change. I dropped the fruitless pursuit of Jesus and his supposed holiness by early 2013 and began realizing that atheism was really an option. It was obvious by then that God, if there was indeed such an entity, was not going to heal me of the pains of being myself. And if a real change of philosophy was in order, I would have to cut ties with the church and AA all together.
My perspective at the time of most of my writing was solidly that of a Bible-believing Christian. In fact, it actually makes me uncomfortable reading my own writing now that I am no longer a believer. It was around Christmas of 2012 that I came to the realization that I was no longer a Christian. What I learned around that Christmas and during the early months of 2013 was that the faith that I had once held dear had vanished. No longer was I willing to look at facts about life, science, and history and be determined to twist them to fit the biblical story. No longer would I read the Bible with blinders on to the unbelievable evil exhibited by a supposedly loving God. No longer would I spend hours, days, weeks, and months reading and re-reading a book that I have since learned holds little to no wisdom for living in the modern world.
I always figured that at some point, I would encourage my son to read my story so he could get an idea of how easily alcohol can take over a person’s life and perhaps learn from it. What I never realized was that the pages I have written are very much a written testimony of my Christian faith. So what do I do now that this work stands clearly out of date? It is not the goal of this chapter to completely rewrite what has already been written. Instead, I just thought it might be time for an update on where I am these days.
Off the top, let me list the biggest reasons I left Christianity. First, the idea of creation has become very unreasonable to me. Evolution is backed up by years of solid science; creation is backed up by nothing but the Bible. Religion was created back before we knew how the world worked. Now that we have more knowledge than ever before, the whole idea of faith in the supernatural simply isn’t necessary. Has anything supernatural ever occurred? Probably not and certainly not in my lifetime. Second, the Bible is full of all kinds of evil done by God and his people. I’ve read the entire thing and most of it several times. I got so tired of trying to twist what it said to match what we were taught God was like: loving, caring, intimate, etc. How do you look the other way at the fact that slavery and genocide are endorsed in the Bible? If you say, “It was another world then, and it’s not really relevant today,” then you can see my perspective that the whole Bible is “not really relevant today,” either. Third, what about other religions? Two thirds of the people on this planet either believe something other than Christianity or believe in nothing at all. So all of these people are just wrong and Christians are right? How arrogant is that thinking? And last is simply the age-old question, how can a supposedly all-powerful and loving God allow all the evil and suffering in the world? I just don’t get it anymore because I’m not willing to rely only on the Bible for information or especially my morality. For me, morality comes from reason, responsibility, compassion, and kindness.
Rather than crediting a God with whatever sober time I could muster, I now understand that it was through my own perseverance, discipline, and willingness to accept professional help that I was able to overcome those dreadful years described in such painful detail in my story. I won’t go so far as to blame my addiction issues on my faith, but I will say that Christian faith made it hard if not impossible to get better. Consider that early in the Bible, we learn of original sin. From that point on, you’re taught that we are guilty of and defined by sin and evil. How can you not struggle with shame and depression when you are taught how worthless you are? How can you be truly content when you are told you are nothing but a vile sinner? In early 2015, I came across LifeRing Secular Recovery, and that organization, coupled with two feet firmly planted in reality, helped the funniest thing to happen: I finally got better.
For now, the most important thing to understand is that I am totally sober these days and feel like a human for the first time in many years. Sure, there are still good days and bad days, but that’s life. I thought I knew peace as a Christian, but it was nothing compared to the peace of believing there is no heaven and no hell and life can just be enjoyed rather than endured until the afterlife. My story covered almost ten years full of emotional turmoil, confusion, and addiction. I’m in an albeit unpopular but decidedly better place now than I was then.