Several days ago, I received an email from a Christian man by the name of Tim Clark. Here’s a screen shot of Tim’s email:
Tim could have found the answers to his “thoughtful” questions by exercising a bit of curiosity and reading the posts found on the WHY page. Unfortunately, Tim evidently is not the curious sort, so after reading a couple of posts he decided to email me. Tim came to this site via an internet search. He landed on my post about a California pastor accused of sexual misconduct. I suspect Tim was looking for the latest dirt on this preacher, and, while reading my post, decided to email me about what he suspects is my own “immorality.”
Tim’s email subject line says, “Are you “free” now? He put the word free is scare quotes. I assume he did so because he believes that no one is truly free unless they have been saved; that non-Christians such as myself are in bondage to sin and Satan. Telling Tim, YES, I AM FREE, THANK REASON, I AM FREE, will surely fall on deaf ears. For Tim and other zealots like him, the dictates of the Bible determine who is free and who is not. Christians are free, everyone else is not. No amount of discussion will change Tim’s view of me. I walked away from Jesus, and nobody does that without having some sort of secret desire to live sinfully, especially sexual sin. (It’s always sexual sin, right? Evangelicals are voyeurs, obsessed with sex — who is doing it, when, where, how, and with whom.)
My first thought after reading Tim’s email was to tell him to go fornicate with himself. I am more than a little tired of self-righteous Evangelicals who refuse to accept my story at face value. I am beyond tired when it comes to receiving emails and Facebook comments from Christians who are certain that there is some other reason than what I have stated for my loss of faith. But, tired as I may be, I will muster up a bit of strength so I can answer Tim’s questions. Or are they accusations? Either way, here are my answers.
Did I “turn from the faith” to “justify some sin in [my] life”? No, I did not. As the posts on the WHY page make clear, the primary reason I deconverted was that I no longer believed the central claims of Christianity; I no longer believed the Bible was what Christians claimed it was; I no longer believed the Christians narrative could be intellectually and rationally sustained. Simply put, Christianity no longer made any sense to me. (Please read The Michael Mock Rule: It Just Doesn’t Make Sense.)
What Tim really wants to know is whether I turned from the faith to justify “immorality” in my life? Why would I have left Evangelicalism to live an immoral life? As The Black Collar Crime series makes clear, Evangelical preachers can commit adultery, fornication, and even be sexual predators, all while preaching the gospel and condemning sinful behaviors. If I desired to have sexual affairs, chase after prostitutes, frequent gay bars, or get massages at the local massage parlor, I could have done so and still remained an Evangelical pastor. When feeling guilt or conviction over my immorality, all I would have had to do was confess my sins (I John 1:9) and Jesus would cleanse me of my sin.
I can tell Tim this much, I have never had an affair. Thirty-nine years ago, I stood at the altar of the Newark Baptist Temple and told my bride that I would be faithful to her unto death. I can humbly say that I have kept that vow. I am far from perfect, having done things that are sure to be on Tim’s sin list, but not adultery. Have I ever looked at porn, been to a strip club, walked through the door of an adult book store, or “lusted” after a woman who is not my wife? Yes. And a survey of Christian men would show that most of them have too. In fact, I am quite sure that Tim, if he is a normal, healthy, heterosexual male, has lusted after women too. Jesus said in Matthew 5:28:
But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
I have no doubt that most men, at one time or the other, have “looked on a woman to lust after her” and have “committed adultery with her already in his heart.”
Evangelical zealots looking to root out the real reasons for my loss of faith will continue to poke and prod, hoping that I will someday reveal the secret sins that lie buried in the depths of my sin-darkened heart. These Geraldo Riveras of Christianity will surely be disappointed. I have been quite transparent, open, and honest about my past and the reasons I am no longer a Christian. If the Tims of the world can’t accept what I say at face value, that’s their problem, not mine. Have I aired out every corner of my life for all to see? Of course not. As all writers do, I choose what I want to tell readers, leaving buried things that are too painful to talk about. Perhaps someday I will write about the secrets that remain, but for now I have told all I need to tell to adequately relate my story. Readers can rest assured that there will be no women coming forward to tell about having adulterous liaisons with Bruce Gerencser.