One of the things that I didn’t expect after leaving my family’s church was all the secrets of my fellow believers that couldn’t be shared comfortably amongst the faithful. Up until my late 20s, the church was an all-encapsulating presence in my life: the source of my family, my friends, my social life. This is naturally going to make one pretty naïve to the nuance of the world, so I’m not surprised in the least that I never noticed some of these things. And other times, when I actually did notice something, I often blocked it out. Just denied it. Sometimes suspension of belief can be just as great of force in your mind than actual belief.
But this is all too vague. Let me explain.
It was no secret amongst the members of the church that people would have crises of faith from time to time. In fact, such things were embraced, as it was taken as a sign that the Devil was still interested in taking our souls. If you never had doubts, it was argued that maybe the Devil already had you. But after I left the church, I finally heard the honest truth from others about the nature of some of these doubts, not the meaningless platitudes that were spoken to maintain the “Satan is still after me” narrative. Once people knew I wasn’t a believer anymore, I was automatically someone who had presumably walked the same path as they had, and I definitely wasn’t someone who was going to judge them for asking questions. I still get people from the church asking me questions from time to time.
And this is just the big stuff! This church was so high and mighty about how it was the only group of people in the history of the world to be the few and chosen saved souls, but the fact of the matter is that the people were just as human as anyone else. Alcohol and other mind-altering substances are completely banned, but there are plenty of people who have a drink from time to time, though more often they’re alcoholics because they haven’t practiced moderation with such a taboo indulgence. A lot of kids (and adults, while we’re at it) smoke weed, sometimes in copious amounts. Instances of premarital sex are no doubt just as high as in the general population; they just don’t talk about it. Well, they don’t talk about it to believing members of the church who would do nothing but judge them for their “transgressions.” I, on the other hand, am someone who can now find out about this stuff and just shrug it off, or console if the matter requires it, or maybe have a laugh at the general hypocrisy of the church.
I don’t fault people for giving in to their “worldly temptations,” so to speak. In fact, I encourage it, provided they’re conscientious of the possible consequences (hey kids, at least wear a condom if you’re gonna have sex). It’s the harsh preachments of this institution that attempts to fight our base needs and desires, then shame us for falling short of transcending humanity, that I find laughable. Even the most pious of believers has made some sort of comment or joked about enjoying being high on the laughing gas after being at the dentist, so none of them are immune to a little intoxication from time to time. They just get a little extra high off the self-righteous judgement they place on anyone else who appears to not live up to the impossible.
All of this only reinforced my decision to leave the church. It was all just further evidence that the claims of the church were simply a load of horseshit; the metaphysical claims of the Bible were obvious nonsense, and now even the social claims that all of us were unique or morally superior in some way were just as debunked. So remember, if you hear from anyone that their clan is special in some holy way, it’s still almost guaranteed that their members enjoy sex and drugs just as much as the rest of us.