My Deconversion Story

I just turned 37 and feel like I only recently discovered my own voice. I was raised Missouri-Synod Lutheran--the most conservative kind of Lutheran. My whole family is extremely dedicated to their faith. They go to church every week, volunteer for all sorts of things, read their Bibles regularly, etc. I have an uncle who is a pastor in the LCMS church, and four cousins who are all neatly-conforming Christians. One of them is now married to a pastor. My sister is also very devout, and although she converted to another denomination when she got married, she is probably even more dedicated to learning about God and loving Jesus than she was before.

And then there’s me. As far back as I can remember, I had doubts, questions, and reservations. I tried asking my mom a question once about a logical conundrum I had thought up (I admit I didn’t phrase it well), and although she didn’t even understand what I was asking, she kept repeating “No, no, no, no!” In other words, Stop what you are doing. We don’t question God.

At age 13 when I got confirmed, I asked my pastor a LOT of questions. When he explained that the bread and wine ACTUALLY turned into Jesus’ body and blood as he said some magic words over them, I challenged him. How did this happen? It still looks like wine. It still tastes like wine, and so forth. Finally I said, “What if I don’t believe this?” He looked at me steadily and said, “Then you can’t get confirmed.” At that point, I had a spiraling realization that if I pursued my questions, I would get into trouble. I would be the black spot in my picture-perfect religious family. Though I was internally questioning the very nature of Christianity, I also didn’t want to disappoint my parents. So I conformed to get confirmed, and thus began the inner anxiety and cognitive dissonance.

I was a precocious child and a knowledge-hungry teenager and adult. I always had an interest in life science and chemistry, so I majored in Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics. During college, I desperately wanted to “be a good Christian”. I joined a Christian group and did the Bible studies. I had long talks with other Christians about creation vs. evolution and how I was continually being pulled by the scientific evidence that refuted the Bible. No matter how much I talked about the subject or how many books I read, I couldn’t make sense of it. I did not dispute evolution, but where did that leave the Bible? Was any of it true? Could it be reconciled with the knowledge of today?

After college, I married my long-time boyfriend, who I was crazy about. He was Catholic, but not a very involved one, which suited me well. I wanted someone who would let me coast along in my “faith”, not ask a lot of questions, and not challenge me at all to be a better Christian. I was checking off the boxes, going through the motions while struggling inside.

This isn’t to say that I considered myself a non-believer. I was REALLY trying, and I REALLY wanted to believe. I went to Bible studies, I did prayer journals, I read the Case for Christ and similar apologetics books. But nothing ever truly convinced me. I would often lay awake at night thinking “Christianity might be true, or it might not be true; but I don’t want to chance it and go to hell, so how do I force myself to believe?” (I would later learn this is called “Pascal’s Wager” and is easily debunked). I knew there were no good reasons to believe in Christianity, and that it didn’t make sense, but it also felt sacrilegious to criticize the Bible or question God in any way.

This state of affairs continued through my twenties and into my thirties--going through the motions, inwardly mostly not believing, but wanting to. But as I entered my mid-thirties, a sequence of events changed something inside of me. It’s almost as if a barrier was lifted off my brain, and once it was gone, I allowed myself to think more broadly. I saw past the confines of the Bible, of Christianity, of my parents’ influence on me, and of my childhood indoctrination. I wanted to know the truth.

Once I started looking for the truth, I found it fast. Do you ever wonder why questioning the Bible is so demonized? It’s because once you question it, you will see that it has no foundation. You will see that it is nothing more than the writings of an ancient people. You will realize that a god had nothing to do with it.

So how did I get there? I started one day with Religions Wiki, devouring the arguments for and against God. For once in my life, things started making sense. I holed myself up for days in the basement reading these arguments (neglecting my husband and kids--he probably thought I was having an affair!) From there I moved on to a podcast called Counter Apologetics and binged every episode. By the end of the first day, the Bible was almost completely debunked in my eyes. It took another few days to fully cement the fact in my mind that Christianity was entirely false.

Though I felt a freedom like I had never experienced before, it was an anxious time. I felt like I was worlds apart from my husband (who was still attending virtual church, though I had stopped participating months before). I was distant and mean to him. I was secretly an atheist (a dirty word in my family and his), and wasn’t sure what to do with that.

Then one day I decided to tell him. Next time, on my deconversion story...


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