Today’s contribution was submitted by reader mouthyb via e-mail.
…I am not married to a Christian man who mistreats me, forced to have no more ambition in life than to have his babies and try to be obedient to his whims, because he is male and doctrinally superior to me. This is what I was trained to do, growing up: to say nothing, to think nothing, to do nothing which could be construed as competition for authority with the men around me. Being an atheist allowed me to start routing that bullshit from my brain.
Because I am an atheist, I know that my actions have consequences, and that if I do a bad thing, it is because I chose to do it, not because I was possessed by satan or because an imaginary god was ‘working through me.’ The action was mine, the consequences are mine as well, and the reward is mine. I am freed of the weight of being a pawn in a war between good and evil, free of the fear that an angry god is always watching me, even when I use the restroom. I am free to learn to behave more ethically, not bound to a predestined plan.
Because I am an atheist, I am free to study science. My family gave me dolls and makeup for Christmas when I was a child, trying to train me to be properly womanly at the expense of my curiosity. It took me three years of begging to get a microscope, and I promptly made slides of every plant in the yard, even cutting myself to see blood under focus. They took it away because it was unseemly for me to be interested in science and because I loved that microscope; taking it away was a great way to punish me. It took me 30 years to get back to science, but being an atheist has meant that I don’t have to shun the subjects I am passionate about.
Because I am an atheist, I am better able to embrace my orientation and personality. No longer do I have to live with painful guilt for something which is a part of me, something which has always been true and will always be true. No matter who I date and where I am, I’m free to be myself, free to love as I love, free to compete if I wish to, free to argue and to speak with the authority of experience and education, unfettered by the guilt of being female and ‘deviant.’ I am free to fuck someone if I want to, to make friends with someone if I want to, to talk to people and be open about who I am.
Because I am an atheist, I am better able to communicate with people who are different than I am. I must justify, to myself and my own sense of ethics, the way that I treat others. No sky daddy to dictate who I must treat as subhuman, or community of believers to insist that those who are different deserve to be cheated or treated badly. I am able to listen without feeling compelled to agree by the fear of hell or shunning. And I am free to decide for myself what I believe about the merits of their ideas.
Because I am an atheist, I am everyday reminded of the rewards and consequences of my freedom. When I wake in the morning, I wake into a world bounded more by exterior forces (like gender, geographic location, economics) than fear and shame. I may live in a world which is unfriendly to me, but I live unfettered, able to see that I am not at fault for everything unpleasant which happens to me, able to see ways to negotiate the barriers which face me instead of cowering behind them, held back by the fear that I, because of my gender, will be punished by god. I wake into, if not joy, contentment. I live able to embrace myself, to love the ambition I which has been so demonized in me.
I am incredibly grateful to be an atheist.
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