Lynn (Anonymous) – Recovering from Sexual Violence, Leaving Fundamentalism, Agnostic and Lesbian
Lynn (Anonymous) grew up attending a fundamentalist church (IFCA–Independent Fundamental Churches of America), complete with parenting via James Dobson books and participation in AWANA, youth group, Bible Quiz Team, and youth choir.
She loved it, and yet from the beginning, she suffered under its influence and questioned a great deal due to severe sexual violence she experienced as a small child. Because of the trauma, Lynn had questions about the problem of evil and the hiddenness of God for as long as she can recall. Her faith endlessly revolved around trying to resolve these questions, as well as wondering if she could ever be a good person or have any sense of self-worth one day.
Lynn always assumed Christianity was true, and she merely needed to find the “right” version that would be a good fit for her particular needs. Also, as she progressed through various stages of the educational process, Lynn strived to reconcile her Christianity with the contradictory yet demonstrable truths she was learning about the human condition. Struggling to make sense of her experiences in spite of the contradictory worldview she’d been given, she was driven to study psychology, and became a clinical psychologist.
Parallel to her educational process, Lynn went through some theological and denominational shifts, from fundamentalism to more mainstream evangelicalism. Then from mainline Protestantism, to Catholicism, followed by the Ecumenical Catholic Communion (super liberal Catholics whose teachings fall outside of catholic orthodoxy).
Each shift was fraught with fear, wondering if she’d go to hell for pursuing teaching that merely “tickled her ears.” The more loving and affirming the church, the more anxiety she had in attending, to the point that once Lynn found a truly accepting and affirming church in the ECC, she really couldn’t attend because the anxiety became unbearable.
In the midst of this journey was an additional conflict regarding her sexuality. Lynn loved the man she met at 18 and married at 21, and she loved the life they had together. She didn’t want to be gay, but she was. She and her husband were ultimately together for 20 years, and married for 17 of those years. While Lynn couldn’t fully own her orientation, and couldn’t even be sure of it in the midst of marriage to a man, she is sure it contributed to the end of the marriage, though that wasn’t the main reason for the divorce (for her). Lynn sees herself as one of the multitudes who REALLY tried to “pray away the gay”. She remembers crying and pleading with God so many times. It really only compounded the self-hatred she learned through abuse and had reinforced through indoctrination.
The divorce was almost 5 years ago, and Lynn has been in a relationship with a wonderful woman for 3 years. She loves her partner and loves her life, but still struggles with the impact of indoctrination and what that means in terms of her ability to accept herself. Lynn works as a psychologist, though she is taking a break from clinical work. Her faith was really integral in how she coped with the challenges of working with a severely mentally ill population, and stripping that away changed her entire framework and motivation.
Lynn considers herself still pretty new to this deconversion process. It’s been approximately 3 years since she first questioned the truthfulness/reality of Christianity. She considers herself agnostic, but can’t recall when exactly she took on the label. She just remembers that moment three years ago when she began to question, “What if it isn’t about finding a version of Christianity I don’t experience as harmful? What if the whole thing isn’t real and there is no God?” It REALLY felt like scales falling away from her eyes and beginning to see the world clearly for the first time.
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