Design a site like this with WordPress.com
Get started

Why I Left Christianity: Guilt

Leaving Christianity – Part One

One of the things I felt most frequently and most strongly as a Christian was a sense of guilt.

It seemed to me like anything negative which happened to me – or even to people close to me – was at least partially my own fault.

I remember when I was in Bible school, we had an entire class dedicated to the topic of healing. There, we were taught that God’s will is for everyone to be healed, and that we can use our faith to bring about this healing. It was a new idea to me, but as the teacher used Bible verse after Bible verse to support this doctrine, I believed it.

But one day I got sick. I got so sick, I had to stay home from school. My classmates told me, “How can you get so sick when we’re having this class about healing? Don’t you have faith?”

It felt like my fault that I was sick and not getting better. After all, if I had enough faith, I would be healed. But my faith evidently wasn’t strong enough, and I felt guilty. I felt like I wasn’t as good of a Christian as my classmates, like I was letting down my teacher and like even God must be disappointed in me for not having enough faith.

I was taught that prayer is powerful and can change things. I was taught that if you have enough faith, miracles will happen. So whenever things didn’t change, something bad happened or the miracle I believed for didn’t happen, I felt guilty. If I had prayed more, that wouldn’t have happened. If I’d had more faith, that person would have recovered.

This sense of guilt extended beyond individual cases of prayer and faith. It extended all the way to one of my core beliefs, which was the death of Jesus as payment for our sins. It seems to me like Evangelical churches don’t talk about Jesus’ death very often, and when they do, it’s only in this very specific context:

“Jesus died to pay for your sins. He suffered unimaginable torture and anguish – for you. If you were the only person who had ever sinned, he still would have let himself be crucified for you. Every single one of your sins nailed Jesus to the cross. You killed Jesus.”

When Jesus is the person that you love more than anyone in the world, being told that you are personally responsible for his agonizing torture and death is devastating. This message always filled me simultaneously with an overwhelming sense of love and guilt. Love for the man that suffered and died to save me from hell, and guilt for making him do it and still not being “good enough” to be able to pay him back in any way.

Now when I look back, I can see how love and guilt often appear together in Christianity. There were many things I did out of love for God – but actually, I was also doing them out of a sense of guilt. I felt like I had to do more and be better, or Jesus’ death wasn’t really worth it.

A sense of guilt is something which permeated my whole life as a Christian, everything from big things – like feeling responsible when my grandmother died from cancer, because I didn’t have enough faith for her healing – to small things – like feeling guilty about drinking a cup of coffee instead of believing that the Holy Spirit will give me supernatural energy.

Although most Christians will deny this, guilt is one of the building blocks which sits at the very core of Christianity. It opens the door to a lot of ulterior motives, manipulation and psychological suffering. If only more Christians took this verse seriously: “So God made peace with you, and now he lets you stand in his presence as people who are holy and faultless and innocent.” (Colossians 1:22, CEV)


To Christians: Do you also feel guilty about some of the things I mentioned? Why do you think that is? Do you think God wants you to feel guilty?

To Christians who are questioning their beliefs: How can you reframe your view of God and yourself to be centered more around love and less around guilt?

To those who left Christianity: Are you still holding on to a sense of guilt about changing your beliefs?

9 responses to “Why I Left Christianity: Guilt”

  1. Allie, I have had similar problems with healing as you have had. I will never forget when I was diagnosed with cancer, I called one of my close friends and ask for prayer. They immediately said that I had no faith and that I must have done something wrong. I was crushed but my Savior, was there. I had surgery, went through treatment and here I am, 72 years old and will always believe that God, our Heavenly Father does heal. Sure I get sick from time to time, but we live in a sin cursed world. It will not be perfect until the Lord takes us home. And as far as the guilt of Christ dying on the cross, He didn’t die to make us feel guilty He died because He loved us so very much. Oh my Allie, God will always be love. Don’t you remember that little song that you learned when you grew up, Jesus loves Me! He knows your name and where you are, come back to Him. You just had a very bad experience. Let that experience make you more determined to really know Him. Much love ❤️

    Like

    1. Ms. Tanna, thanks for sharing! I’m glad you are doing better, both in terms of the cancer and the sense of guilt you were feeling. I will be continuing to share both good and bad experiences that I had as a Christian so I hope you will follow along 🙂

      Like

  2. Hey Allie! I’ve been keeping up with your posts! I’m commenting as a Christian, still firm in my beliefs. It’s very sad to see that people judged you for getting sick. I have been sick twice this year where I was almost worthless for a week solid. One was right after our Believers Rally, and the second right after youth camp. I understand Jesus died for my healing, and maybe it’s possible that my faith isn’t strong enough to keep me from getting a cold, possibly because it is such a common thing that it just seems like part of life. But I also know that we have an enemy that wants to stop a move of God. He wants to get Christians to question their faith and get them off course. I also know that it’s smart to take care of our bodies. And through both events I was not well rested or hydrated. One thing I haven’t felt is a sense of guilt. I understand how that can be a mindset, but Jesus died for imperfect people. If I could be perfect He wouldn’t have had to die for me. I do believe that because He died for me, it should motivate me to be better. And I will always strive to be a follower of His word and commandments, but I also don’t put unrealistic expectations on myself to be perfect. Jesus is merciful and gracious. He has never overwhelmed me with things I need to fix. But brings things to my attention that I need to work on and is patient with me.

    Hope that’s a helpful answer in your journey!

    Like

    1. Hey Jake, thank you for being honest and sharing your thoughts!! I’m glad you didn’t experience a sense of guilt like I did, I really don’t believe guilt has any place in the teachings of Jesus 🙂

      Like

  3. Hi Allie!

    I’m enjoying reading your Blog.

    So yes I have felt guilty about not having enough faith to see a person healed. 🥹

    No I do not feel guilty about drinking coffee. 😀

    I am sorry you have felt this way. It’s a heavy burden to carry and I am glad you’re being open about it.

    I appreciate your transparency and look forward to reading more. ❤️

    Oh and I think I felt guilty that I didn’t pray and fast enough to be able to do that works of Jesus.

    And no I do not think God wants me to feel guilty (there is no more condemnation).

    Ultimately I want to be motivated out of love like you said.

    Like

    1. thank you for your thoughts Addie!!

      Like

  4. Allie,

    I’d like to share the real gospel with you and what that actually looks like. A lot of Christian’s have the wrong emphasis of their salvation. I’ll have to share later. Would you be willing to hear that? BTW I went to a school that taught healing was for everyone but sadly the Bible does not teach that. And when the gospel is presented properly guilt is overcome by the absolutely amazing Grace that God gives us. I’ll get back later.

    Brian

    Like

  5. Thanks for liking my post and following my blog, it brought me over to you and I’m really glad it did! I also experienced the guilt and pressure around healing but that wasn’t what led me out of the church, when I became really honest with myself I just couldn’t reconcile the Gospel as it was being taught and proclaimed with what my innermost self was telling me.

    Now I have the freedom and liberation to ask questions without fear, shame or guilt and I am so much happier and enlivened as a result!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thanks so much for sharing!!

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: