Tonight’s the Night

03 Dec

For the past couple of weeks, several of you have been urging me to come out of the atheist closet. Well, it happened tonight.

The story actually started yesterday, Sunday morning, as my husband and I were getting ready for church. I mentioned that I was really getting “burned out” on our church. We discussed that a bit, and he revealed that if he were asked about his positions on some of our denomination’s doctrines, he would have to phrase his answers very carefully. We talked about that for a few more minutes, but had to halt the conversation because it was time to leave, with our 17-year-old son in tow.

This evening, at my huband’s suggestion, we went out to dinner. Since it was just the two of us, we were able to talk freely. The water had barely arrived when he asked me to tell him some more about my “burn-out.” I hemmed and hawed and gave the answer he already knew, that I’m tired of being the church pianist and being “on duty” every Sunday. He then asked, “is there anything else?” I hesitated, realizing that this was probably my best opportunity to be forthright and said, “I don’t think you’ll want to hear this, but I don’t believe in Christianity anymore.” He answered that he’d had a feeling that I’ve been having some questions lately, so he wasn’t surprised. We talked some more about where each of us is theologically (I’m an atheist, he’s a very liberal Christian, can’t quite get to the deist mindset). He revealed where some of his thinking has taken him in recent years, some of which I knew, but he filled in some blanks. I revealed where I am now, intellectually, and a bit about how I got here. I mentioned that I’d recently started this blog and would email the link to him when we got home (which I’ve done). I also told him that I’ve been frequenting a number of atheist blogs and have been communicating with many of you. He’s also been doing some of his own reading and will email some links to me.

We’ve both come a long way from our evangelical roots and we’re pleased that we’ve traveled pretty much parallel paths intellectually. We’ve been dropping subtle hints to each other for at least a couple of months, and have sensed that the other was working through some things, but haven’t been sure about how to get things out in the open. With tonight’s revelations, we’ve arrived again at a very open, honest, accepting point in our relationship. And that’s the most important thing in the world to both of us.


Posted by on December 3, 2007 in coming out


17 responses to “Tonight’s the Night

  1. Babs

    December 3, 2007 at 8:38 pm

    Yay! I’m so glad that it turned out to be a positive experience for you. And see how much room there is outside of the closet?

  2. Lifeguard

    December 3, 2007 at 9:02 pm

    Chaplain? I don’t know what to say other than that I feel great about reading that post, and I am so happy for you. Way to go!

  3. The Exterminator

    December 3, 2007 at 9:45 pm

    Heartwarming coming-out story, although I have to confess that I expected as much. Your husband sounds like a great guy, who’s intellectually and emotionally honest and admires his wife for being the same. It is possible for believers and atheists to live together and love one another, despite their differing world views. You should both bear that in mind.

    I can’t speak for anyone else, but I think you could tell your husband to feel free to visit and comment on any of the sites you frequent. (I’m not sure he’d want to start with mine or Babs’s, though. Yikes!) And, although I’m often flippant and snide at No More Hornets, I’d be happy to engage in serious e-conversation with him, answering any questions he might have about my own atheism, without making any attempt whatsoever to “de-convert” him.

    If you haven’t already done so, chappy, you might explain to him that atheists don’t conform to any orthodoxy. So he’s likely to see a wide, wide range of ideas and opinions; we really are freethinkers around here. Your husband may find that refreshing.

  4. John Evo

    December 3, 2007 at 10:36 pm

    Ex said: It is possible for believers and atheists to live together and love one another, despite their differing world views. You should both bear that in mind.

    Chappy, when my wife and I met, she was a faithful Catholic. After my son was born and she went through a really awful post-partum episode, she converted to become a born-again. This has been far from easy for me. It may yet not end entirely happily. But honestly, even if we divorce, I suspect we will be great friends (not saying yours will end that way. It certainly doesn’t sound like it)! My point is that 25 years down the road an evangelical and an atheist are still together and still friends, at least. So, like the man says – It is possible for believers and atheists to live together and love one another.

    Congratulations on showing the strength that I ABSOLUTELY knew you would show.

  5. Lynet

    December 3, 2007 at 11:31 pm

    Wow! Well done. I’m glad it turned out reasonably well.

  6. athinkingman

    December 4, 2007 at 3:38 am

    That sounds so good. I can almost feel the relief. Although many will not understand, it is good that at least someone important to you does. Honesty and vulnerability is so liberating.

  7. Spanish Inquisitor

    December 4, 2007 at 10:48 am

    Nice, Chappie. My best to you and your husband. I suspect that the reason he seems so open to your change of heart has a lot to do with the reasons and attributes that attracted him to you, and vice versa.

    I was always worried about my wife, and how she would take my atheism. We have actually yet to sit down and have a heart to heart, but she knows how I feel. She knew I was areligious when she married me, though she did think I believed in god at the time (as did I). But she’s coming around, recently agreeing with me on many topics related to religion, though if I say something provocative with company, she’ll give me a dirty look. :) She even resigned from her church, though I suspect that’s more a matter of expediency than belief.

    Good luck to you and Mr. Chaplain.

  8. the chaplain

    December 4, 2007 at 11:45 am

    Babs, Lifeguard, Exterminator, John Evo, Lynet, Thinking Man & Spanish Inquisitor:

    Thanks for your support in welcoming me into your community and in encouraging me through the coming out process. I’m not too concerned about what other family members will think, but it’s crucial to be able to communicate openly and respectfully with a spouse. I’ve read a number of coming out horror stories that have ended in divorce and broken families. I’m thankful that my coming out did not lead to such a breach in our relationship.

    I’m fortunate to have a very supportive, thoughtful husband who accepts me exactly as I am, no matter what I may be like on any particular day. Who knows, maybe I’ll be a Buddhist tomorrow! (Just kidding.)

  9. Babs

    December 4, 2007 at 7:23 pm

    Ex said: (I’m not sure he’d want to start with mine or Babs’s, though. Yikes!)

    I’m going to kick your ass. Just thought you should know.

    But, Ex, is correct about believers and non-believers living happily together. Of course, I couldn’t do it myself, but then again, I was told last night that I was indeed the anti-christ. But, I know a couple and the husband is an atheist, and the wife is a semi-liberal Christian and they have a very happy marriage.

    For what it’s worth, I would also be willing to discuss my beliefs, or lack thereof, with anyone. And I can even do it seriously. For short periods of time.

    I just know how difficult the de-conversion process can be.

    I’ll shut up now.

  10. phillychief

    December 4, 2007 at 11:48 pm

    Sorry I’m late, I see I missed a biggie. Well congrats. I’m glad it went so well for both of you. I can’t imagine having to live in secret, and it pained me to think about you doing that.

    Btw, yes, people of different mindsets can get along. I get along great with my butcher and he’s a Raiders fan. Creeps me out a bit thinking about it, but he’s a decent guy, just a little confused. ;)

  11. Greta Christina

    December 5, 2007 at 12:15 am

    Congratulations! I want to applaud your bravery — I know this must have been scary. I’m so glad it went so well.

  12. DaVincirapp

    December 5, 2007 at 10:23 am

    Back in christian days, I was the drummer in my church. I also got tired of having to be there all the time, but the chance to rock-out every now and then was too tempting.

    Your situation sounds just like mine, my wife is still clinging to the hope that the world really doesn’t make sense, (but heaven will), but she doesnt go to chruch or do any ‘christian’ stuff.

  13. imabbb

    December 5, 2007 at 11:34 am

    I think your courage is fantastic. By all means you should be honest with yourself and your loved ones about your core beliefs. I just wanted to point out that you can reject Christianity but still believe in God.

    My girlfriend and I live together. She is agnostic and I am a reformed Christian. I rejected the dogma of the church to find my own path years ago. Yes, I still believe in God, but not the church’s twisted misrepresentation. I have my reasons and I assure you they are not emotional or fear-based.

    I wish you and your hubby the best!

  14. ordinarygirl

    December 6, 2007 at 7:21 am

    Chaplain, I’m late to the party, but I wanted to give you a big load of encouragement. It’s not an easy thing to show your inner self, but you’ve done it with the most important person and it’ll only be easier, especially with his support.

    I came out to my husband, brother-in-law, and a friend last New Year’s with no idea ahead of time that I was going to. But I’m so glad I did. My husband knew I wasn’t religious when we met, but I don’t think he ever thought I’d become an ardent atheist.

  15. the chaplain

    December 6, 2007 at 8:48 am

    Phillychief – You’re the one who, from day one, said that I should do this. Thanks for giving me a kick or three in the butt.

    Greta Christina – Thanks for your encouragement. You know I’ll meet you at your place again.

    DaVinci – If I could “rock-out” now and then, the piano gig would be more compelling. Unfortunately, my congregation has less than a handful of people who can rock out properly.

    Imabb – I checked out your blog [and added you to my choir (blogroll)]. You’ve got some interesting stuff over there and I’ll be dropping in frequently.

    Ordinary Girl – Thanks for the encouragement. I hadn’t planned to come out when I did either, but the opportunity was right, the best opening I’d had in months.

  16. EnoNomi

    December 7, 2007 at 3:25 pm

    Yay, I’m happy you were able to do this. It sounds like it was a growing/bonding experience for both of you. I’m sure the two of you will have some really good theological converations now.


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