An Atheist's Personal Testimony

(Above: My wife Sayaka)

“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?”
2 Corinthians 6:14-15, King James Version

Okay, so here is the sort of Christian I was, because it was who I was, it is how I thought:

I believed it when the Bible said not to marry anyone outside of the faith. I believed it would be a sin to do so. I believe it would ruin my relationship with Christ.

Then I met Sayaka.

My whole life I had been raised in a Church which taught that if I married a non-Christian, such as a Buddhist, I'd go to hell. And in my piety I believed it.

But then I met Sayaka, and suddenly, an eternity in hell seemed like a risk worth taking.

Like many fundamentalist Christians, I was raised on entirely conservative values, where my Pastor denounced premarital sex and called it lust and a temptation of the flesh, living together before marriage was shunned, and to even talk about one’s sexual identity was taboo. Abortion was seen as evil and homosexuality was a grotesque perversion of human morality. And I believed it all.

But then I met Sayaka, and she showed me there is more to people than unfounded stereotypes. She opened my eyes, and taught me compassion and empathy for others, no matter their race, gender, sexual orientation, or background.

And nothing my faith held seemed to make sense anymore. It was telling me I couldn't love the woman of my dreams because she was an outside force tempting me away from my faith. My form of Christianity taught that I couldn't be with her, that if I chose to love this woman... that if I chose love… God would punish me for it.

My fundamental, quite literal, convictions weren't compatible with a more multicultural and open-minded view of interracial relationships. I believed God was all loving, but only of his chosen flock. If she wasn’t a true Christian, then I’d be jeopardizing my very salvation by allowing myself to be led astray.

So I had to seriously start questioning my faith, and what it taught, because I found someone who I loved and who loved me with all her being back. And that’s not something I wanted to give up. Who would?

I didn't want to be a lonely bigot preaching about the power of God’s love but know nothing about love. Who is going to believe the message of Jesus Christ’s message of love for us all when the same people turn around to hypocritically denounce homosexual’s right to marry, tell people who they can and can’t have sex with, and attempt to restrict the rights of women to govern their own bodies? That’s not a religion of love, it’s a faith based ideology predicated on inequality and hate.

When it came to devotion to my faith, or devotion to my future wife, I chose my wife over the religious ideology. Granted, it wasn't the only thing... just the tipping point and the catalyst. It's what started to make me question everything. EVERYTHING. It gave me the ability to be skeptical and challenged me to seriously rethink things.

Indeed, I had to open my eyes and reread the Bible as a book again, not as the literal truth on everything. Sayaka was the catalyst that caused me to go back and re-evaluate things, everything from who I was as a person, to what I believed, to who I wanted to become.

So learning to love someone fully, regardless of who they were, what race, or cultural background was a challenge for me coming from my very radical, fundamentalist, Christian views. Even as I struggled with the belief that I would go to hell for loving, I kept thinking, how is this not sick and twisted? Jesus was supposed to be all loving, but when I went back to the Bible to confirm it, instead of support I found more outmoded, sexist, xenophobic teachings. And then I had to make a choice, either keep believing in it, because it's all I knew—It's what I was taught—or go back to square one and re-educate myself, become something new, and I’m not ashamed that I did, and that I did it all for a girl.

Sayaka changed my world in more ways than one. In fact,;) she is my world. She is everything to me. And I'm a hopeless romantic... but better off for it, me thinks.

In the long run, I want to help others, like homosexuals, religiously oppressed women, and unsuspecting children, who feel the same anti-humanitarian fear and hate coming from religion. I want to help liberate them from the theocratic rule which has stifled their spirits and caused them to doubt themselves. I want to show them how to shed the shackles of archaic bronzed age superstitions which still actively influence us today, and move beyond such backwards ideas. So I wanted to advocate reason and equip them with the most powerful tool they’d ever need. I want to share the enlightenment I have undergone, because it was so liberating, but not only this, it also saved me and turned my life around.

Psychologist Darrel W. Ray in The God Virus has a great chapter on how religion perverts the normal psychology of sex, distorts it into something wicked, and depicts how it tries to interrupt your life and strives to retard an otherwise healthy sex life by seeking to control one's sexuality. I found that I experienced many of the same negative influences at the hands of faith and it made me utterly miserable. A good book for anyone who wants to see the psychological scary side to religious indoctrination and belief might be interested in this book.


  1. Hi Tristan:
    As you know I (a Christian) married a non-Christian as well... although in my case I never doubted God's existence or love for me (just how some people had interpreted the Bible), and Ryan became a Christian a few years after we married. Also, I have never been a very "religious" person but have always had a relationship with Christ---there IS a difference. I can appreciate what you have gone through but... I love my husband while maintaining my faith as well.

  2. I have been involved with a non Christian for 14 years.... I never had faith to begin with. However, I would never ask, nor expect him to accompany me on any type of religious experience outside of his beliefs. I have found that with most interfaith couples, the only way that you are successful is if you do one thing together, or nothing together, you will be happy. Anything else is misery. Or, one converts to the other. I am lucky. He is only involved enough to pacify his family. Other than that, it has no bearing on our life together whatsoever.

  3. Hi Michelle,

    First, welcome to the dark side of the web! Fancy meeting you here. And thanks for being the first to post a reply!

    I understand where you're coming from, but at the same time I just want to make a few points, without demeaning your experience.

    The first point is, I don't think we've had the same experience at all. Not even close.

    You're husband, a great guy, would do anything for you. Maybe even take up your faith. But that's easy, because you're both of the same culture and race, and you live in a Christian area, and you have that community to support you.

    Take that all away, plop yourself in a country without any of that, a person who is not of your people or culture, who comes from a different worldview, and is with a different faith entirely! Now fall in love.

    See, the difference here is staggering. Because where it was easy for your husband to become a Christian since he didn't really subscribe to any belief to begin with, I was not about to force my beliefs on somebody who already held radically different beliefs from me. I'm not a theocratic oppressor, and I certainly wouldn't expect my wife to submit to me. She's my equal (which is what Christianity says she isn't).

    So where I was challenged to re-examine the Bible and get real with what it taught, you were able to avoid the critical evaluation because you weren't faced with the same situation.

    I'm glad you can keep your faith, but all I can see it as is a faith where you've never sat down to seriously think about what that relationship with Christ entails and what it is predicated on. I ask the question, based on what?

    Eventually you have to go back to the Bible to answer that question, and then that's where I have to challenge you yet again with 300 years of Biblical criticism and historical investigation which have yielded a lot about the Bible... and I can't derive a faith from a book which utterly fails the test of standing up to scrutiny.

    So where my faith sent me on a search for answers, your faith kept you contented without having to critically take apart your faith in order to salvage your love.

    Although I respect your position, I just don't think it's a case that ever asked you to doubt your faith. Mine did.

    Thanks for stopping by. I really do appreciate it.

  4. @Tink-

    You bring up a good point. If two people aren't extremely serious religious then they can just ignore their doctrinal faith and stick with a stripped down or superficial variety.

    But if people are fundamental with their religiosity or extremist zealots, then having opposing views often causes much more friction than a docile sort of piety.

    As you pointed out, many people end their relationship for just this reason, my cousin had this happen to him. So I think in my case I had to make judgment call, and I chose love over faith, but only because it was the reasonable and rational choice. There are some religious types who will choose to safeguard their beliefs rather than open their outlook and broaden their thinking, and this is a regrettable bias (stemming from indoctrination) which I find corrupts a lot of people's thinking.

    And for me this is the point where religion can become an unhealthy delusion. It can ruin people's lives, or else, potentially cause you to behave in a way which (you feel is right by God) but that actually causes a lot of grief and anguish for others. Just think of the unconstitutional Prop. 8 which and gay hate-speech coming out of religious people all over America today, as one example. Or Pat Robertson types saying hurtful and stupid things, because in his mind that is his Christian duty, and there is a never ending example of this sort of bad behavior in religious communities, so it is something I must to criticize, because it can't just go ignored.

  5. Yes, I am lucky.But, I agree with you and your perspective. And, a choice did have to be made, and from all appearances, you made the right one. I think, that in the end, different positions of faith ends one of two ways. No divergence, break up. Or, one comes to the other ones position and a conversion is done.

  6. T

    Sayaka is a very beautiful person. Her looks are obvious and the way you describe her, seems that her inner qualities match the cover.

    I see Michelle working and I like it. That whole religion V. relationship thing. It's a tough one.

    There are some things clearly in scripture that would make me call some things a sin. However that doesn't give anyone the right to teach or preach any inkling of hatred.

    Love and cherish your wife, but if I was you I would thank God for her as well. For real dude, I mean just look at yourself. (hehe)


  7. But then I met Sayaka, and suddenly, an eternity in hell seemed like a risk worth taking.

    You know, it's immature to think that "appearance" is what makes us fall in love with a person (and want to be married to them). But the beautiful picture of your wife and the above quote got to me :)

    Great story

  8. Whateverman-

    Thanks. I am glad to have touched so many lives... I guess. lol. Thanks for the comments.


    As always, thank you for your kind words. See you around.

  9. I have been trying to write a bit about fundamentalism and the "unequally yoked" thing and a friend pointed me to this post. Beautiful and eloquent story, very moving. You overcame the fears fundamentalists preach and made the right choice for your life, instead of throwing it all away for a dogmatic belief system, way to go!

  10. atimetorend-

    I appreciate your comments! And to tell you the truth, I'd make the exact same choices I did in a heartbeat!

    My Christian friends all have the condescending attitude, and this may be unintentional, that I turned my back on my faith or rejected it in apostate fashion, but they just don't see what I see. I didn't fail my faith, it failed me.

    My worldview was uneven and crippled by my faith, and my lovely wife showed me a different way of looking at things, and this blew my world right open! In fact, after I shed my religious affiliations, I felt truly free for the first time. The overwhelming sense of liberty and freedom is so immense I can't even put it into words.

  11. Interesting story. Sayaka is very pretty. My wife's grandmother hails from Japan, and I'd love to visit there with her some day. Her name is Kinuko and she married an American GI as a result of her (Japanese Army nurse) treating battle-wounded American Kenneth.

  12. Mike--

    Thanks for stopping by and sharing!


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