Menu Close

Bruce, Wouldn’t Your Life Be “Easier” if You Were Still a Christian?

bible has all the answers

I recently participated in a Zoom discussion with a Mennonite discipleship class in Pennsylvania. At the end of my sermon/lecture/speech on why I am an atheist, I fielded questions from the men in attendance. (Please see Bruce, I Don’t Believe You Are an Atheist.) One man asked me, “do you think your life would be ‘easier’ if you were still a Christian?” I replied, “yes!” The man agreed with me; life was easier for me when all I had to do was read, trust, and obey.

As a Christian, I believed the Bible was the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God. I believed the Bible contained everything I needed for life and godliness; that the Bible was God’s blueprint for living. As all Christians are, I was a hypocrite, often ignoring or disobeying the teachings of the Bible. That said, the bent of my life was towards holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord. I daily asked Jesus to forgive me of my sins (I John 1:9). I sought truth and guidance from the Bible, asking God, the Holy Spirit, to guide my thoughts, words, and deeds. As honest Christians will also admit, I failed at this endeavor. I kept trying, day in and day out, but I never felt I had “arrived” as a Christian.

Despite the existential struggles that came from being a follower of Jesus, life was simple. I didn’t have to think about morality or ethics. When questions would arise, the answer was always the same: THE BIBLE SAYS __________. Granted, in retrospect, I now know that the Bible required interpretation. Thus, I was the final arbiter of what I deemed moral and ethical — not God. Bruce Gerencser, not the Triune God, had the final say on everything.

In November 2008, I attended church for the last time. In 2009, I wrote a letter titled Dear Family, Friends, and Former Parishioners, detailing my loss of faith. Losing that which had been the foundation of the first fifty years of my life was traumatic, to say the least. I desperately tried to hang on to God, the Bible, and the church, but I was unable to do so. If there was ever a time for God to make himself known to me, it was then. But my doubts and questions were met with silence. Eventually, I concluded that the reason for the silence was this: God was a myth; the God of the Christian Bible was a human construct. Once the Bible and its author (God) lost their authority and control over me, I began sliding down the proverbial slippery slope. Many of the readers of this site have experienced similar frightening slides. Some of you found natural resting places: liberal Christianity, Unitarian-Universalism, or some other religion. For me, my slide finished with a colossal thud at the bottom of the slope. I finally admitted I was an atheist.

Saying I was an atheist was just the beginning of my new life in accordance to science, reason, and skepticism. Gone were God, the church, and the Bible — now what? What do I believe? I had to rethink my morals and ethics. I no longer had at my disposal book, chapter, and verse. I had to ponder what it was I believed about behaviors the Bible called “sin.” I decided that “sin” was a religious construct used by clerics and churches to keep asses in the seats and Benjamins in the offering plates. Sin, Hell, Judgment, Fear . . . thus saith the Lord! Remove these things from the equation and Christianity would shrivel up and die.

I have spent the past thirteen years thinking about what I believe and how I want to live my life. This has been hard. There’s no Atheist Handbook, no rulebook by which to govern my life. Sure, humanism provides a general moral and ethical framework for me, but I still have to determine the moral and ethical beliefs I took for granted as an Evangelical Christian. It would be far easier for me to appeal to a “book” as my standard for living (and certainly Christianity influences my thinking on morality). However, I am committed to doing the hard work necessary to best live my life. My “sin” list now fits on the front of a 3×5 card. Most of the “sins” that perturbed me as a Bible preacher and teacher no longer matter to me. I don’t care about who fucks whom, when, where, why, or how. As long as it’s consensual, that’s the end of the discussion for me.

The longer I’m an atheist, the easier the journey becomes. I have settled many of the moral and ethical questions that perturbed me a decade ago. However, I still struggle with some things. As my politics continue to move leftward, I am forced to rethink what matters politically (and morally). I remain a work in progress.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen 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.

You can contact Bruce via email, Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

6 Comments

  1. Avatar
    BJW

    It’s amazing and wonderful that you did rethink your religion and leave it. I started following you and other atheists and in the end, I’m convinced that you all can’t just believe in a god. There is no evidence to refute your belief, nothing to prove you wrong. Christians are making a grave mistake thinking atheists hate god or refuse to worship him. He’s no more real to most atheists than the Easter bunny.

  2. Avatar
    Charles S. Oaxpatu

    Bruce. I have a question for you. My 2007 Honda Odyssey van has occasional fits of being unable to start when I turn the ignition key. It has been to the best automobile repair shop in my town—-a shop that began as a specialty shop in fixing Honda vehicles and was renowned for its successful work on Honda cars. They have tried to fix this ignition problem on my van three different times and have failed utterly and completely. It has a new ignition switch. There is no electrical wiring problem. My battery is brand new. The alternator is in great working condition—–and so is the starter.

    According to your above blogpost:

    “The Bible has the best answers for every question of life.”

    Can you please point me to the location in the Holy Bible (chapter and verse) that deals with the specific question of why my 2007 Honda van sometimes fails to start? Human expertise has clearly failed here, so surely, the only answer is to look to the divine words of the Holy Bible, which supposedly hold the answers to all human concerns. I assume that covers electro-mechanical concerns as well. I mean really? How could any Christian Fundamentalist or Conservative Evangelical be wrong about anything to do with Honda vans and the Holy Bible? Therefore, I demand that the Holy Bible must tell me precisely what is wrong with the ignition problem on my van and tell me precisely how to fix it.

    The fact of the matter is this. The Holy Bible does not address the specific answer to my question. In fact, it does not address millions and millions and millions—–perhaps billions—–of other questions that many human beings all around planet Earth may have. Just like the BIG LIE that Donald J. Trump really won the 2020 presidential election, the notion that “The Bible has the best answers for every question of life” is one of the worst BIG LIES Christian Fundamentalism and Conservative Evangelicalism have ever foisted on humankind.

    The Holy Bible is an ancient book. It has many good and truthful things to say. It is a book that should be taken seriously, as do many Christian and nonChristian scholars of religion and philosophy. However, let us be totally honest here for once, it does not contain the answers to all human questions.

      • Avatar
        Charles S. Oaxpatu

        Oh. That would be fun for everyone I bet. It sounds like a good subject for a classic Bruce main blogpost. By the way, I did some online research and found out why my van does not start sometimes. It is a rare malady that apparently applies only to 2007 Honda vans. A car or van must be in the “Park” gear position to start. My gear shift is in “Park” when I go to start the van, but the car actually thinks it is in another gear. That is why it will not start. Although the gear shift is in “Park,” it is not making electrical contact with the “Park” node in the gear shift. Furthermore, its ability to make that crucial contact is mediated by a small sync part located on the back exterior of the transmission. It is inside a little round plate that a mechanic can simply unscrew and replace this small part. It may also be necessary to go into the gear shift area and tighten up some things and make sure the sync part is jibing properly with the contacts in the gear shift enclosure. Interestingly—sometimes—-I can make the otherwise dead van start by jiggling the gear shift while it is in “Park”. The jiggle makes the “Park” contact. This wakes up the van, and it says to itself: “:Hey, I bet my owner wants to start me. I’m in “Park” now—–thought I was in reverse before—–I better go ahead and start my engine.” Then it starts right up.

        Apparently, my mechanic does not do online research. He just shrugs and charges me full price for every time he fails to identify and fix the problem. I doubt this fix is in the Holy Bible. Maybe it should be, but it is not. The Bible has the best answers for every question of life? I very much doubt that. I can read you know—and it ain’t there.

  3. Avatar
    Obstaclechick

    As a cis-gendered heterosexual white male, your life probably was easier in many ways when you werea Christian. As a cis-gendered heterosexual white female, I occupied a secondary tier in fundamentalist Christianity. Outside that bubble, in the secular world I have seized a higher tier. I fight for my equality. Is that easier or harder? I don’t know, but I like it better.

    I also don’t like being told what to do, so there’s that…

  4. Avatar
    MJ Lisbeth

    Bruce, questioning and searching is difficult . So, sometimes , is finding real answers. But the rewards are much greater than they are in simply accepting accepted beliefs. You know this as well as anyone, and live it. That is why you are one of my heroes.

    Obstacle—As a white person who lived as a cisgender heterosexual (or, at least bisexual-tending-toward-hetero) for the first four and a half decades of my life, I know what you mean. Had I continued living in that identity and as a Christian in some fashion, I could have been the proverbial “king of the hill.” It would have made my life easier, but it wouldn’t have been worth the cost.

Want to Respond to Bruce? Fire Away!

Bruce Gerencser