I want to start this article by first saying this: I am in no way trying to generalize religion, specifically Christianity. I understand that not all Christianity is like the situations I describe here, and I understand that not all Christians are like the people described below. This article is based on my own experiences, which many can probably relate with, but are specific to my own story. Also, these are not the reasons I became an Atheist, they are simply the perks.
Atheism and Feminism are both heavily loaded terms. When I tell people I’m an Atheist, they automatically assume that I have no morals. When I tell people that I’m a Feminist, they assume that I hate men and don’t shave.
When I deconverted from Christianity, people had a lot to say. They told me that I was just angry with God, or invalidated my decision by asking me what had “gone wrong” to make me change. They told me “not to throw the baby out with the bathwater.” But, nothing went wrong. I did my research, and I reached a conclusion, the baby was never in the bathtub, and honestly I’m happier this way.
After draining my imaginary baby’s soapy bathtub, I realized that life was so much better, for me personally, on the other side. This system, this lifestyle, worked so much better much better for me and was such a positive change. Here are some of the positive things that I’ve discovered over the years about being an Atheist, along with the negative things that made me feel oppressed by my old religion.
Yes! I can finally have sex without feeling like a terrible sinner afterwards. No more awkward after-sex crying or begging for forgiveness. No longer do I feel compelled and pressured to pray for my virginity back or repent after having an orgasm, “Okay God, that was the last time, now I’m really waiting for marriage.” I’m done making empty promises to an invisible man who makes me feel guilty about having a healthy sex life. “But your body is a temple.” Yes, you are absolutely right, my body is my temple and I decide who comes in and out of it.
I Can Dress However I Want!
I grew up going to a religious camp every summer, and when I got older, I ended up working there for a few months. They had very strict rules about dress code, especially directed towards women and girls. If even a centimeter of my cleavage showed, all of the females around me would start tugging at their own shirts, hoping I got the message to fix myself like a girl on a date with spinach in her teeth. This always bothered me, but we sugarcoated it with fun sayings like “totes inappropes” or “modest is hottest.” I’d like to say that I didn’t also judge people who dressed immodestly, but that would be a load of crap. It was easier to judge others than to admit how restricted I felt by the camp’s oppressive wardrobe rules.
I was told that I couldn’t show my skin because, as it turns out, my body doesn’t actually belong to me. Year after year my camp counselors would talk about modesty and how we had to hide our bodies away because they belonged to God; to Him. Our bodies were not our own, they were His. Capitol ‘H’, His.
Another part of the camp’s reasoning was that it was cruel to tempt the males around us. This made me feel like all men were perverts. Would they really be tempted to have sex with me if I wore spaghetti straps instead of a tank top? Would these pure, Christian men really picture me naked if I wore a skirt that didn’t stretch passed my fingertips? They told me it was cruel to tempt the men around me, but isn’t it more cruel and just plain insulting to assume that these men, who were supposed to be ‘good guys,’ have so little self control? I grew up thinking that men were sharks who couldn’t handle their own actions and thoughts when presented with a frenzy of female flesh. No wonder I turned out to be a Feminist.
I Don’t Have to Read That Sexist Book Anymore!
Sexism in the Bible is a huge problem for someone who is a Feminist. The Bible says that God is both male and female, suggesting that ‘He’ is down with gender equality, but I’ve never been convinced. The Bible constantly refers to God as “Him” and “He,” if he were also female, wouldn’t there be some “Her”s and “She”s in there too? Plus, there’s the whole “our Father” thing, nothing about “our mother,” which strikes me as strange. He is “the creator” of all life, right? So, why is he associated with a man when women literally push a living thing out of their bodies? But, I was supposed to ignore how much this bothered me because “God said so.”
My little pronoun rant isn’t the only instance of sexism in the Bible. Eve was said to be created out of Adam’s rib, which suggests to women that we owe men our lives, and the Bible makes that clear later on in 1 Corinthians where it says that man is made in the image of God and women in the image of man. 1 Timothy 2:11-12 says, “Let all women learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.” Translation: “Shut up girls, don’t tell men what to do.” As an Atheist, I happily exercise my right to talk as much as I want and take joy in telling the men around me what to do.
No More Picking and Choosing!
There is no denying that the Bible is full of contradictions. Even as a Christian, I felt like the entire book of Leviticus was total bullshit. But, how could I believe whole-heartedly in something with so many flaws? God was supposed to be perfect, and this was his book, his law, shouldn’t it be perfect too? I understand that it has been translated and rewritten lots of times, but why wouldn’t the men and women rewriting it realize that they were rewriting contradictions? Basically, to cope with such a question, I had to pick and choose which parts of the Bible I wanted to believe, and that never sat right with me. It sat very wrong with me, like someone was trying to tip my chair over.
My Sunday school teacher told me that “The Bible is the weapon that God has given us to fight through life.” The Bible definitely made my life a fight. Do me a favor and google “Murder in the Bible”, you’ll find passages which justify killing pretty much every kind of person besides Christians. These people include gays, Jews, witches, adulterers, and many, many more. The Bible is definitely a weapon, but to remain morally sound, I had to choose to ignore these parts.
I Can Give Myself the Credit I Deserve!
I don’t owe my achievements to anyone but myself and the actual people in my life who made those achievements possible. No more, “God gave me a gift.” No. I have things that I am good at and I have worked fucking hard to become as good at those things as I am. People don’t understand that when they are complimenting me by saying I was “blessed by God,” they are taking away all of my hard work and giving it to someone else. I understand that these people are only trying to be kind, but come on. I deserve more credit than, “Thank God!” No, thank me. I did that all by myself.
I Can Be Gay!
I don’t really identify myself as gay or straight, I feel like it’s more of a spectrum and, for me at least, attractiveness depends on the actual person rather than their gender identity or reproductive organs. Currently, I have a boyfriend who I am crazy about. I, of course, hope it works out, but if we were to break up, it’s comforting to know that I could date a girl without compromising my beliefs or moral values. I’m finally comfortable with my sexuality.
It has been two years since my deconversion, and it was one of the hardest things that I had to go through. Changing your whole lifestyle, realizing that everything your parents told you growing up isn’t real, is hard, but worth it. Once I adjusted, I finally felt like myself. I feel like I live for me, for what I believe is right. I’m an Atheist Feminist and that’s who I want to be. That’s who I’m happy being. In short, for me, Atheism has been a life of freedom and liberation. Thank God!
Written by Rebecca Pitzer