Repost from 2015. Edited, updated, and corrected.
I used to enthusiastically preach that Jesus was hope for the hopeless and rest for weary. Unfortunately, for many people, Jesus, or I should say the Evangelical Christianity, made them weary and hopeless.
What should have been a source of hope and rest turned into something destructive — so destructive that some people have thoughts of committing suicide.
It shouldn’t be this way. I am convinced that Jesus — real or not — is not the problem. I find nothing in the words of Jesus that would cause me to lose hope or have thoughts of suicide.
No, it is what the church has done with Jesus over the past 2,000 years that is the problem. God, Jesus, and the Bible have become tools of manipulation, control, and destruction.
I wish I could share with you the emails I get from people who are former, or trying to be former, Evangelicals. I can’t share them because I respect the privacy of those who email me. For some, my email inbox has become their confessional. I can tell you this: there are a lot of people who are hopeless and weary as a result of their immersion in the Evangelical Christian religion.
They often have no place to turn. In many instances, their families or spouses are still in the church. They desperately need someone to talk to, but they have no place to turn. They can’t go to their pastor — he wouldn’t understand. If they live in a small town, they can’t even seek out a local counselor because everyone will know (you would have to live in a small town to understand this).
So they suffer in silence. In the night they toss and turn and wonder what has gone wrong. Where is God? There is no God. Where is the God of hope? There is no hope. Where is the God who gives rest? There seems to be no rest.
Their thoughts turn to suicide. No, I can’t do that, I’ll go to Hell. Wait, there is no God, who gives a shit?
I want you to know that I give a shit. I have been where you are and some days I am still where you are. There are a lot of readers of this blog who know your story. They have lived it. They are still living it. They know the struggle you are going through — the struggle of a life of faith that has turned into faithlessness, a life of believing that has turned into unbelief. Maybe you are like the man in the Bible who cried “Lord I believe. Help my unbelief.”
I am not out to convert you to my cause or change you. It does not matter whom you worship, where you worship, what you believe, or what label you give yourself.
My desire for you is hope and rest.
For many of us, the Evangelical Christian faith has caused psychological damage. The wounds and scars run deep. All the attempts in the world to marginalize our feelings will come to naught. We know what we know.
It’s late . . .
I can hear the clock ticking.
Another night with no sleep.
I hear my lover snoring.
I think of our life together.
So much time wasted.
So much work invested in things that do not matter.
Years have passed us by.
God, we served you.
God, we loved you.
God, we worshiped you.
God, we left all to follow you.
Careers, ambitions, wealth, family . . .
All forsaken to follow you.
Only to find out it was all a dream, and a bad dream at that.
And so, in the still of the night, I reflect on the heap of my life.
What am I to make of all this?
Can I go on?
Will I go on?
I must go on.
God or not, there is a life to be lived.
God or not, I still must live as if I am dying.
Because I AM dying.
So much life yet to live.
So much life yet to experience and enjoy.
God is back on the shelf where he belongs.
Maybe I’ll dust him off again on my final day.
Until then, I will live morally and ethically.
Until then, I will love and hate.
Until then, I will walk the path called life the best way I know.
Without God, without the Bible, and most certainly without the church.
I still have hope.
My hope is no longer built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
My hope is built on the love and goodness of humankind.
These days, the only gods I see are my family, friends, and fellow humans.
I devote myself to these gods.
I worship them.
That’s enough for me.
I will leave eternity to another day.
Bruce Gerencser, 63, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 42 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen awesome grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.
Are you on Social Media?
Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so. Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.