If you have lost your faith in god, there is a good chance you are surrounded by Christians who would be devastated by the news. Maybe you haven’t told them. Maybe you will never tell them. Maybe you are all too aware of the fact that eternity is the impenetrable wall that will forever divide us and there is little to be done about it. A Christian’s whole faith is wrapped up in the idea that this place is not their home; it is only a brief stop where they can earn their ticket on the train to eternal bliss. Everyone they love will be there.

Except you.

Where will you be? Damned, of course. Depending on their personal beliefs about hell, this could mean a variety of things. Eternal torture by fire, a more concrete and unbearable separation from God, or simply experiencing the nothingness of death while others enjoy immortality. But one thing is for sure. If you no longer believe in God, it will mean eternal separation from each other. So if they aren’t trying to save you, they should be.

This is what keeps many doubters in the closet. We know there can be no coming to terms with it for Christians. No middle ground. As an atheist I accept that physical death is the end. I don’t like it, but I don’t believe I have a say in it. I may imagine that my energy or memory lives on in one way or another, but that is hardly a comfort compared to the eternity I once believed in.

When and if you decide to confess your greatest sin, Christian friends and family must also come to terms with your lost immortality before moving forward. And you must accept that they may never move forward. Don’t worry! You can always lie and tell them you changed your mind later if things go incredibly bad. It will be as if you were declared dead and then showed up alive and well on their doorstep. A true miracle! And I suspect you already know I’m not kidding about this. Acceptance will be harder for them than it was for you. You don’t believe a choice exists. You have thought about eternal nothingness more than they have. It doesn’t apply to them.

Christians carry the extra burden of trying to understand why we insist on choosing incorrectly. Because if they are right, we are definitely screwing this up big time. Too late now. Hook me up to a lie detector and offer me a million dollars to convince it I believe in Santa Claus- and I’ll still be broke. Because belief doesn’t work that way.

It doesn’t work that way for Christians, either.

Don’t waste time debating hell and eternity. Save that for strangers on social media and people you like to piss off. Find a group of like-minded heathens who will applaud your every thought on the matter. But help Christian loved ones to accept your fate and not be afraid for you. They will still grapple with what it means about our physical lives and who we serve, but those are conversations that can go somewhere. The wall of eternity will remain intact. Remind them that heaven will not be a place of sadness or mourning, so losing you should not make them fear their own eternity. One thing you can both agree on is that this short life is the only time you will have together. So make it count.

 

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