Out From Under the Umbrella

playing in the rain

Black and White: There are Colors in Between!

17 Comments

The pastor of the church I attended was fond of saying, “Most people say God said it, I believe it, and that settles it. But I’m here to tell you God said it and that settles it!”  I believed it.  Black. White.  That was based on my inerrantist, conservative, fundamentalist, evangelical Christian worldview.  Just about any subject that came up I could give you a right and a wrong answer or solution. God, Jesus, worship, creationism, abortion, marriage, divorce, women, men, homosexuality, work ethics, having children.  Black. White. BOLLOCKS!

Then I woke up one morning to the freshly brewed aroma of real life.  I discovered a brilliant array of colors in between.  There is no one-size-fits-all hat for all of mankind.  I put the hat on and it just doesn’t work. Flopped right down over my eyes.  It was way too big and it swallowed me whole.  Someone else tries it on and they can’t squeeze their big gourd into it for anything.  It sits atop their head like a beanie.

I thought I’d dabble outside of the black and white.  Try some shades of gray.  But then I picked up blue.  Not long after that I was using purple.  That just devolved into red. Now there’s no going back.  By George I LIKE color. Some things may always be black and white for me, but I want to see and enjoy all the colors of the rainbow.  So here’s to living!

My views about quite a few things have shifted considerably.  While I still think I hold myself to a pretty high moral standard, those moral standards have changed a bit. They might even be higher as I’m not nearly as judgmental.  What has been the most significant shift in your moral standards and views of other people since leaving fundamentalist Christianity?

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17 thoughts on “Black and White: There are Colors in Between!

  1. I can watch R rated movies and not feel like god is going to get me. :)The biggest change for me is with the very things you mention in this post.With No god and no bible to guide me, I have to decide for myself what my moral and ethical values are. Result? My sin list has gotten much, much smaller.Oh….and I cuss more, using real curse words instead of baptist swear words. 🙂

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  2. You write so beautifully. I feel that since I have left by fundalmentalist belief system I am a kinder person because I no longer judge people like I once did. I want to make a difference in this world because I want to not because I have to or because there will be a reward for me. Freedom to be the person I want to be.

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  3. I don't see any change in my morality. On a scale ranging from scoundrel to saint I figure I am no better or worse than about average. I do know that if I am selfish and inconsiderate that I have myself to look at in the mirror later. That suffices to regulate me pretty well. I really don't want to hurt anyone. I guess the wicka idea, 'an ye harm none, do as you will' seems about right.I am and always have been a prude about sex and profanity. My ideas about sexual conduct aren't too restrictive, but I think privacy is appropriate and always skip past explicit scenes in movies. It is uncomfortable for me viewing intimacy between others. Profanity offends my ears even though I know that it is just a sound and that how I react to it is merely a mental program. Still profanity is to me a lower class behavior.Not preaching to anyone else how to be. Just responding to the question in the post as to my pre/post deconversion morality.

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  4. D'Ma, as a child I was not reared in a fundamentalist church, but I did spend one year at a very fundamental university, and for a short time was in a fundamental church after coming to faith.The biggest change for me happened when I realized that living the Christian life was not about this rigid list of dos and don't, but about walking in love, and also understanding that in making moral decisions one size doesn't always fit all. I became less interested in judging others and more in focusing on my own response to the love of God in my life, and relaxing into that. But, I still think that God used that fundamentalist experience in my life in some positive ways as well. Most often we have to come through somethings to learn, and to see for ourselves.

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  5. I don't like profanity either, ex. Most times, I think it can become habit forming, and those words slip out at the most inopportune times.Also, it just seems ugly to me, the f word in particular. If our sexuality is good, and even a gift, why use it as this curse?

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  6. I've been thinking of doing a post along these lines, so I'm very glad you did this! I ditto what you said in terms of being more open to others, having less need to judge and control other's beliefs and behavior, feeling more free and thus more motivated to love. A few years ago before this faith crisis began, I had reevaluated my beliefs enough to no longer consider drinking to be a sin. I didn't drink alcohol til I was 32. It's interesting that cussing has been mentioned. I also generally consider it to be ugly and unpleasant. However, I do curse a bit more (mainly when crazy drivers cut me off). I have also revisited my stances on doctrines regarding homosexuality, premarital sex, abortion, and divorce. It's interesting as these are topics that continue to be devisive and separate liberal and conservative Christianity. We don't have raging debates on whether lying, envy, jealousy, selfishness, slander, and stealing are wrong. I think mostly we experience the negative effects of these behaviors regularly and the costs generally outweight the benefits.

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  7. I've noticed this on blogs as individuals deconvert. Their posts and comments usually start containing more swear words. It's interesting. I think it's a behavior that doesn't have clear relational consequences. we typically don't do it because the Bible says not to, so when we don't view the Bible as the word of God, there isn't much of a reason abstin, unless we know if offends our audience or we're so sensitized that we can't get past our upbbringing. (And maybe don't want to)o b

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  8. I've noticed this as well. I've posted a couple of youtube videos that contain some profanity, though I'm not fond of it sometimes it can make a point. Not that the point can't be made with other language, but sometimes it's just how you feel.

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  9. Thank you, dsmoker. Welcome to the blog. It's nice to just be able to look at other people as other people, isn't it? Not measure them up by what they believe? Not judge them based on whether they're in the club or not? I'd have to say that's added the most color to my life, getting to know other people for who they are and accepting them for themselves.

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    • Hey Ruth,

      “It’s nice to just be able to look at other people as other people, isn’t it? Not measure them up by what they believe? Not judge them based on whether they’re in the club or not? I’d have to say that’s added the most color to my life, getting to know other people for who they are and accepting them for themselves.”

      I love this comment you made in 2011. It’s exactly the way I feel about people now. It’s been one of the biggest changes in my life and keeps on surprising me. I’m actually less reticent and reserved than I used to be, because I haven’t got all kinds of hidden agendas and worries and walls up between myself and others.

      I’ve been following all your posts and just discovered the Book of Ruth. Wow, what a story! I kept thinking about it all the next day, reminding myself that it wasn’t a novel I’d read but was your life.

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      • Hey Kotales,

        Thanks for reading and for your comment here. Yes, that was my life, but it feels like a lifetime ago now. So much has happened between then and now!

        I’ve opened myself up to all kinds of people and find that the color it brings to my life is absolutely wonderful. When I was a fundamentalist Christian I was so suspicious of unbelievers and questioned their motives, their lives, and their decisions. All along it was me who was suspect! I was the one with the agenda. Friendship evangelism is not friendly. At all.

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  10. How refreshing, exrelayman! Sinning it up is the reason most believers think people deconvert. They have no idea that it's not and don't bother to find out. Even if you try to give sound reasons they assume deconversion is for ulterior motives. II don't think it's prudish at all. It feels like an invasion of privacy to watch people doing things that should be kept private. In a movie I know it's intended for an audience, I just feel weird watching it.

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  11. It's interesting that I never thought of drinking as a sin(though my Southern Baptist roots would say otherwise). I just couldn't find support for that in the Bible. Everything I thought was so black and white I could find as such in the Bible. Homosexuality, sex(premarital and extramarital), abortion, and divorce. I've completely revisited my stance in all of these areas.I have always looked at these things in terms of right and wrong and judged a person's spirituality based on them. "Hate the sin, love the sinner". I find that almost impossible to do. I also think most Christians, though they say this phrase, do as well. Now I'm free to love someone for who they are and not what I think they should be. I used to believe homosexuals chose that lifestyle, but even so, should they be denied love if they're not attracted to the opposite sex? I can't imagine having an abortion, but I also can't imagine what might drive a person to have one. I've never been in that situation, so I can empathize now at what a heartbreaking gut wrenching ordeal it must be to even come to such a decision. I have so much more empathy now for other people. Because life is lived in color, not in black and white.

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  12. I'm glad you feel the presence of God in your life in that way.

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  13. Glad to see you are still there. I've been under a rock and when I heard about devastation in the Southern Bible Belt I was concerned.Now that I'm here …Can't say I really "left" fundamental Christianity (I still self identify that way), but I did have a transition from "having the answer" to something hopefully more humble.I was not raised in a "Christian" family (though I was exposed to what I consider real Christians through my stepfather's family). So for me the transition to believing was something like the magic eye (http://www.magiceye.com/). Suddenly it was so "clear" I could not understand how everybody didn't "see it". When I got the the point where the "answer" I had didn't meet my desperate need I think I became more sensitive to how little I actually "saw" ;-)In terms of my moral standards, I'm not sure how much they've changed (post "having the answer"), and I had pretty diverse life experiences before my "conversion" so I also can't say I had a significant change in my view of other people (from a morality perspective).So I guess I think the biggest change was internal. The answer didn't change, but my appreciation for the complexity did.Speaking of a change from Black & White to Color I've met another Christian in the UK through blog pages. You might enjoy his perspective as well.http://evangelicaliberal.wordpress.com/His name is Harvey too.

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  14. Yep, David, still kicking! Thanks for the viewpoint. Hope the new job is going well.

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  15. I play online poker now! lol

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