Rowyn (rowyn) wrote,
Rowyn
rowyn

Coming Out

Many of you know this part.

I was born the agnostic child of areligious parents. My father is a Jewish atheist and my mother was raised as non-denominational Christian. I don't know if she holds any religious beliefs or not. Whatever the case, neither of them was inclined to teach their children about religion.

I never resented Christianity as a child. I didn't know what it was. I had a vague positive feeling about the religion. Most of the practitioners of it that I knew were good people. I didn't like the deeply conservative Christian set, or televangelists. But I never thought of that as a fundamental problem with Christianity itself. Every group has its share of idiots.

But I wasn't a believer. Sometimes I envied my friends with faith; it gave them a security and confidence I lacked. I didn't think that I could do that. I didn't have faith. I could no more be an atheist than I could be a Jew, or a Christian, or a pagan. For me, atheism was being confident that there was no divine, and I could no more do that than believe that there was one. Or pick one the religion; they all had their good points, and they all seemed focused on saying 'everyone who doesn't believe this is wrong'. I didn't like that part.

Another thread of my childhood: I longed for magic in the world. Perhaps because I wanted so much for fantasies to be real, I was deeply skeptical. I didn't believe in gods, ghosts, alien visitors, psychic powers, alternate dimensions, etc. But I would wonder: what if I had proof? What if, one day, something irrefutably, undeniably magical happened right before my eyes? Would I believe?

I rather thought not. If flying superheroes brawled with fire and ice in the skies above a packed arena, I would think I was dreaming, or this was a mass hallucination, or staged. Seeing isn't believing. There's a simple, rational explanation for everything, and magic is neither simple nor rational. Maybe it's possible for butterfly-winged people to appear and invite me down a rabbit hole to another world. But it's much more likely that I've gone insane. That's reasonable, certainly. But it also struck me as ... sad. Even the evidence of my own senses would be insufficient evidence.




About three years ago, as I was walking to work, I was thinking about a Christian columnist -- not one of the Pat-Robertson-send-more-money sorts, but a fellow who simply wrote about an advice column on Christian faith. There's this one basic question in evangelical Christianity. It doesn't change much no matter how different the views of the particular Christian speakers are: "Will you accept Jesus as your Savior?"

And I thought to myself, "So, why won't you do that?"

"All sorts of reasons. I don't agree with a lot of what Christians teach. I don't think homosexuality is wrong, I don't think abortion should be illegal -- "

"But that's not the question. The question is 'Will you accept Jesus as your savior?'"

" -- but I can't accept all that stuff that goes with it. I can't believe in a creator that would damn people simply for not believing in the right religion. I can't believe in a divine power that would save me if I say the right words but leave me to suffer if I didn't -- "

"That's not the question. This isn't 'why do you reject some of the tenets of Christianity?' This is 'why won't you accept Christ as your Savior?'"

"But what do I need to be saved from?"

"Isn't it possible that there's something? Why couldn't you at least give it a try?"

And mentally, I threw up my hands. I thought, half-joking, half-grudging, "All right, Jesus. You can be my Savior."

And I laughed out loud. Not because it was funny, though it was, but because I was suddenly suffused with joy. Overwhelmed with it, with a feeling that Jesus Christ was beaming at me like a child with a new puppy, saying "Yay! I get to be her Savior!"

I spent that day in a daze, expecting the silly, goofy, unexpected happiness to fade. There was no good reason for it. I hadn't come to some great revelation through soul-searching study or a miraculous event. It'd almost been a joke. I wasn't sure I'd even meant it at the time I thought it.

But by the end of the day, I did.

Maybe it was just a trick of my brain. Maybe it was a quirk of hormones or the weather or my peculiar sense of humor.

Or maybe this was my miracle.

Perhaps the right thing to do, when presented with evidence of magic, isn't to rationalize it away. Perhaps it's all right to believe.




It's been three years. I expect a conversion to faith is supposed to change one, but I don't know that it's changed me much. I still don't go to church, I still don't believe in the things I said were keeping me from Christianity. I haven't even read the whole Bible.

It's been three years, and prior to today, I have told exactly one person about my experience. My decision.

I've been afraid to. I know several people who don't much like Christianity, and several people who don't much like people who say they believe in Christ, but who don't follow the teachings of the Bible. I can think of people who wouldn't care, one way or another. But people who would approve? Of a wishy-washy sort-of-Christian? Wouldn't it be better to be an honest agnostic than a woman who says "I accept Christ as my Savior, but I'm not sure about a lot of the rest, and I really feel, deep in my heart, that some of it is wrong"?

And I should feel alone.

But I don't.




This is not up for debate: I will not not return to agnosticism. I have a hold on faith: it may be slender, but it is mine. I will not give it up.

This is not a statement of "I know the Truth and I know I'm Right". I don't know. I could be wrong about any number of things, on either side.

But ...

I believe.
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