At one time or another everyone who is true to their thoughts doubt religious beliefs. I found it surprising to see that even Mother Theresa doubted on a regular basis that God even existed. The more I studied religious documents including the Bible the more doubt I had as to the beliefs of the variety of religion that I was then a member of.
…according to a recent study in the journal, Society and Mental Health, individuals who consider leaving a faith, but do not, tend to experience more depression than those who decide to leave…
There are good reasons to not underestimate the instability of doubt, says Lack.
“Doubt is often framed in religious communities as showing that you aren’t a ‘good’ Christian or that the devil is tempting you and you are too weak to resist,” Lack explains. “Given that, many people who have doubts either get shamed by their communities when they express doubt or feel shame at their ‘weakness.’”
I am just not a person who allows others to think for me. If you say “Take it or leave it” I will most assuredly leave. But, at the same time, I can relate to the quote above. For many if not most Christians, their church is also their country club. It is where most if not all of their social life happens. In that regard, many are willing to just look past things that they really don’t believe in order to stay on good grounds with the club rules.
Ignore the “belief” stuff has a name in Catholicism, it is called “Cafeteria Catholic”. For them, one of the toppers is birth control. They say that the vast majority of Catholics in the US practice birth control and just ignore the edict from the church that it is a sin. But Catholics are by no stretch of the imagination the only cafeteria Christians.
Most Christian churches have a creed that you have to swear allegiance to in order to be a member of that tribe. I’m sure the leaders of the churches take those pledges very seriously but I don’t think most of the member really even think about what they are pledging. To them, the allegiance ceremony is just the right of passage into the clubhouse and its social advantages.
But of course, there are others like me who know they are really not aligned with what they pledge but do it anyway. That fake belief does cause depression until it is finally voiced. Although I had seriously considered it, I did not leave my church voluntarily. It was only after asking too many questions and voicing “forbidden” thoughts that I was stripped of membership by a very fundamentalist pastor. I would have left myself but I knew the damage it would do and did to my wife.
When I finally was able to come out of the closet with the fact that I had serious doubts about what some Christian beliefs, I felt the tension and depression with that false allegiance wither away. I no longer had to hide things like being convinced that the earth is millions, or maybe billions, of years old instead of the 6,000 or so as my church demanded I believe.