Not a day goes by when I don’t worry about how I will live when I’m independent. I’m the third of four sisters; the two oldest are married and the youngest is still in school. My oldest sister teaches at a Lutheran elementary school and her husband is an LCMS pastor. My mother is the organist at our home church, so between coming home from school and visiting my sister, any time I go to church, I’m in for multiple services at a time. I can’t help but look forward to the future when I’m married, I have my own family, and I can choose to not set an alarm for Sunday mornings. A girl can dream, right?
Of course, it won’t be that simple. One of the biggest obstacles here is actually one I’ve been thinking of since the very beginning of my deconversion. The LCMS is very, very interested in the holy sacrament of baptism. Your baptism as an infant is one of the biggest days of your whole life, and you’d better not forget it (although no one actually remembers it because they were a baby when they got baptized). I would prefer not to baptize my children, but it doesn’t make a difference to me since I find it meaningless, and as long as it makes my family happy, I don’t mind. The thing is, most churches won’t baptize your child if you don’t regularly attend their services.
This is the nature of my catch-22. After putting up with such an overload of Christianity at home for eighteen years and at school for four years, I will not continue the facade indefinitely. I don’t want to regularly attend church, raise my children religiously, or have a religious wedding, but I know that until I come out, I probably won’t be so lucky.
Even before revealing myself as an atheist, I know that I am and will continue to grow as the black sheep of the family, since my religious apathy can’t help but peek through. As I am one of the youngest and the least religious, I think that my family is hoping that I’ll grow out of my religious disinterest; my mother worries that I don’t have a close personal relationship with God (oops—if only she knew) like the other adults in our family. Occasionally, I can’t help but point out their inconsistencies, and I think that they wonder why I can’t get behind LCMS doctrine and all the sense that it makes.
In some ways, my life would be a lot easier if I could be out in the open with my atheism and not have to sneak around (literally–I’m hiding in my sister’s study as I write this, hoping that no one asks what I’m doing) and go through the motions of being a Christian, but the alternative is almost worse. I can’t imagine how badly the reactions would be if I told my family; they would wonder where I had gone wrong and they would fear that I (and my unbaptized children) would burn in eternal hellfire. I don’t know what the future holds, but one thing is for sure–I won’t be praying about it.
P.S. Check out my artwork based off of the title of this post!