Theology

How did you decide to stay in your religion?

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I recently conducted an informal survey on social media: If you were raised within the belief system you are currently in, how did you decide whether to keep it?

Here is a sample of some of the answers:

For me, it was experiencing the miracles for myself. It was putting absolute faith in God and taking the leap, only to find He took care of me every step of the way. –Tiffany

I tested its boundaries, I walked away for a while, I painfully deconstructed my faith to the bare studs and re-examined everything I thought was true with a healthy level of skepticism, and then I rebuilt. –Stephanie

I did a lot of deconstruction. I had to ask if this was something I wanted to trust. More than anything, its BEAUTY is what most compelled me to stay, albeit with huge modifications. –Laura

The belief system I was raised in basically boils down to “Do unto other as you would have them do unto you.” It’s always made sense to me and still does. I have expanded in some ways, and built upon it…but it remains the basis of how I try to live my life. –Holly

I was raised loosely Episcopalian. I suppose I still am. I tried basically all the religious flavors before realizing I lacked the belief in God necessary to make religion work for me. I’ve been hugging trees ever since. –Lyndsey

I noticed how much my own heart changed for the better when I molded my worldview through the lens of Christianity. –Kate

After looking at the best arguments for other worldviews, I found them unconvincing. –Noah

It had to become personal to me. I was raised in a Christian home, but became a “Christian” when I had a personal experience with God in my mid-twenties. –Sam

I took several comparative religion and philosophy classes in college. This was at a time when I was questioning. I had serious questions that weren’t being answered as quickly as I would have liked. But it became clear to me that these other ways of looking at reality had serious gaps as well. I came to the conclusion that no other worldview was plausible. And the Holy Spirit is a powerful thing. –Joe

I feel that it’s part of who I am…Outside of my belief in God, Orthodox Christianity provides many of the things I need to feel safe and fulfilled – community and consistency, for example. I’ve had people ask me, “But what if you’re wrong?” My response is, “So what if I am?” If this faith helps me be a compassionate, self-disciplined, responsible human being, then that’s worth it by itself. –Sarah

For many of the respondents, there’s a common denominator: the strong need to venture out, “test the waters” so to speak, and prove to themselves that their faith of origin is “real” – although the means of testing that faith are highly subjective.

Reading these answers reminded me of a book I reviewed a while back – Strange Gods by Susan Jacoby. Her theory about religious conversion is that most humans choose religion on the basis of emotional needs, not hard evidence. Even just a sample of answers from my friends and followers provides some legitimacy to her study. I know that emotional needs were definitely the catalyst for my conversion.

Now I turn the question back to you. If you are still practicing your religion of origin, I’d love to hear why.

Photo by Alexis Brown on Unsplash

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