Long answer: By the time I got to age 17 or 18, I expressed it like this:
“I certainly believe in God. I just don’t know what I believe about God.” I’m not sure what the term for this might be – it likely falls somewhere on the agnostic spectrum. I know with visual certainty there is life after death but what that entails is still foggy. But beyond that? It’s not like I can’t tell when it comes to mores around things not involving violence – like sex – somebody somewhere made up a bunch of bullshit rules because s/he didn’t like something even though s/he isn’t harmed by it. I’ve seen Mean Girls. I’ve lived Mean Girls. So I know exactly how these people got away with establishing a cultural system based on shaming people and making them miserable for being who they are. That’s not God, that’s monkey. Big Human monkey bullshit.
The situation has always made me think traditional faith as it is most vocal in the states is actually for the permanently juvenile. Mature people can dislike something, recognize it’s not harmful and move on. Immature people, it often seems, join churches. They proceed to march around demanding absolutely everyone in their path live by THEIR rules and their rules only, with no regard for whether those rules are beneficial to the people they’re essentially assaulting. (This is sweeping and offensive and at least partially untrue. But it’s how it looks to me.)
My childhood God was one of those gods. My biggest mistakes in life, the ways I’ve hurt others the most, always came from my belief in that particular version of the Christian God. I practiced the faith sincerely as a teenager – and in the process hurt and alienated a lot of people going through some really bad stuff. I was hurt in turn.I was hurt more, I think, by persistent atmosphere of hypocrisy in the house I had to live in as a child. At my church, God loved everyone. In my house, God loved us all but really only if we were white, acted like ladies, avoided happiness, never expressed anger, voted Republican and let our parents make all our decisions forever. God, in that house, was a prima donna that no one could please.
Sex and religion merited a whole other discussion- especially since it was very clear to me very early that there was a whole lot of preaching and absolutely no practicing in that department. I’ve actually started and stopped several essays on that subject. My mother’s and sister’s interest in my sexual development is extremely disturbing and a bit triggering; religion was part of it – but not really. I knew it was mostly them, making things up to control me and suit themselves.