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Facing Death Without Jesus


Guest post by Ian

Since my deconversion, people have asked me how I feel about dying. I tell them that I feel nothing, it would just be the end.

I have had two life-threatening instances over the last 3 years, and neither one has caused me to “cry out to Jesus.”

When I was still a believer, I was scared of death. I knew I was going to heaven, but the thought of death scared me. This is actually the most ridiculous thing ever, since my place in the clouds had been bought and paid for with the blood of Jesus®️. The Apostle Paul talked about people who had been held captive by their fear of death being freed by belief in Jesus. For myself, and most Christians, it wasn’t true, though. I have heard so many Christians talk about lying in bed, in the dark of night, afraid of hell/death/sickness/etc., and praying for Jesus to take the fear away. After the prayer, they are ready face that nasty old Devil again. Why should they be afraid, though? Doesn’t perfect love cast out fear? Aren’t the fearful some of those who won’t see the kingdom of God? I see this as a direct result of the fear-mongering peddled by church leaders of every stripe. They use our fear of death to keep us subjected to their power.

I think, though, that it is the fear of the unknown that scares people. No one has come back from the dead and told us what is there. If you believe nothing is there, then you have nothing to fear. If you believe angels or demons await, then there is a huge fear. The dirty little secret is that you can never really know for sure you are saved. There will always be a little doubt, tucked away somewhere. That is what gnaws on you in the middle of the night, as you lie awake in bed.

My fear of death was mostly cured by Calvinism. One day, I realized it didn’t matter how I felt, I was pre-ordained to either Heaven or Hell, and nothing I could do could change that. That freed me from most of my fear. My deconversion shook away the last remnants of the fear of death. I now understand that there is nothing, death is just the end of this life.

What I do fear is how I might die, and the possible pain involved, but that is a rational fear. I also am sad at what I will miss; that is also normal. Kids growing up, grandkids, friends prospering. I’m selfish and I would like to experience all of it. I also fear being forgotten. In two or three generations, almost no one will know I existed.

I have come to terms with all of that, though. I’m not looking to jump in front of a train, but I’m not going to shrink back when it is my time.

I’d like to finish with this quote. It gave me joy and I hope it will for you, too:

So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart. Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours. Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people. Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide. Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend, even a stranger, when in a lonely place. Show respect to all people and grovel to none. When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself. Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools and robs the spirit of its vision. When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song and die like a hero going home.

– Chief Tecumseh, Shawnee Nation


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    Well said. Like you, I was absolutely terrified of death when I was a Christian. I was terrified that all the times I prayed for salvation, it didn’t take. Now I understand that type of teaching is manipulative and abusive – it is meant to be in order to win converts and to keep them in the fold.

    I raised my kids without religion, and they both told me they believe we cease to exist when our bodies die. They have accepted that a lot better than many of their religious friends. One day, one of my daughter’s friends who is Catholic was in tears because she feared that my daughter was right and her religion was wrong regarding afterlife (she is 18 so she is old enough to handle whatever my daughter told her). Her friend was upset that one day she won’t see grandparents, to which my daughter responded, ” That’s why I make sure to spend time with them now.”

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    Having worked in health care I have seen first hand that Christians are often the last people to accept death gracefully. You would think that someone who truly believes he is going to paradise would only be too happy to end life sustaining treatment but more often than not I have seen Christians hang on to the bitter end

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    mary g

    well said. thanks for sharing this. Christians seem to fight death more than anyone else. they demand meds,surgeries,etc and will not accept reality. they fight to the bitter end to the detriment of their families and finances. these views are costing our health care system here in the usa more than anything else. I think the last thing I heard, we spend 80 percent of our health care dollars on a small percentage of elderly who are only alive because of the meds and treatments. we need to seriously rethink this. I myself wish to go with dignity instead of being warehoused and kept alive thru artificial means.

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