Why Do Black Women Lose Their Faith?


For most black women church was an essential part of our childhood. Life just wasn’t life without it. Christianity wasn’t a choice. Your mother or grandmother or aunt weren’t trying to hear that you were looking at other options. Questioning was rebellion and doubt was a dirty word that you wouldn’t dare confess.

Leaving the church is one of the hardest decisions that a black woman can make. ‘Church’ isn’t just a building where you attend a meeting every Sunday. In the context of the black community, it is part of how you define yourself: first as someone’s child, then as a woman and finally as a member of the community. In many ways, losing your faith means leaving behind a belief about who you’ve always thought you were.

Related: How To Be Yourself

It always begins with doubt. You go through experiences that make you question whether God is really there. You wonder whether what you believe is really true. If you’re like me, you deal with those doubts silently because you’re a little bit ashamed of them and you worry that voicing them will lead to rejection. It’s a slow burn. The doubts grow until you decide that you can no longer pretend, so you take the leap because you’re tired of pretending to be a believer when you have no belief left.

I want you to know that you’re not the only one who has struggled with doubt. I think it’s time to bring our doubts into the open, recognise them for what they are and begin to understand them. And hey, I’m not here to judge or disrespect you. I’m here to speak honestly about something that’s important.

Related: Why Trusting God is Worth it Even If it Hurts

Why do we lose our faith in God? We all have different reasons but these are the most common that I’ve seen:

1. Our faith is not personal. 
If your family have been churchgoing, Bible-believing, demon slaying Christians for generations, then you are expected to be one too. You follow the rules, not because you love God, but to avoid hell or to spare yourself the wrath of your elders (which in some ways seems worse than the fiery pit). When you don’t have a relationship with God it’s impossible to work out your doubts with him because you think of him as a cosmic Santa in the sky who knows what you’ve been up to and is waiting to throw some lightning down to punish you, not as God the Father.

2. Our pain make us think.
If God is real how could he let this happen to me? Pain might move you closer to God or further away from him, but one thing is for sure: it will make you think. Your dad abandoning you will make you question the truth of God as a loving Father. Molestation and rape will leave you feeling violated and angry. A lover’s betrayal will mean you’ll struggle to trust. Our experiences confirm our doubts: God isn’t real and if he is, he doesn’t care.

3. Our pride won’t let us go deeper.
Spiritual pride is the belief that you have what it takes to run your own life, outside of God. ‘Who runs the world? Girls.’ We can make the money, raise the kids and lead nations. Take it further and we can define our own sense of self worth and meaning. Humility compels us to go deeper and find greater purpose outside of ourselves. Humility forces us to confront our limitations and pursue that greater value until we find him.

Where do we go from here? (Why’s my heart filled with so much fear?)

As I hum the tune to Deborah Cox’s song I’m thinking about the fact that there’s actually no such thing as ‘losing our faith’. What we’re actually doing is placing our faith in something else.

Underlying our doubt is a belief: the belief that God isn’t real. It’s still faith.

Where is your hope? That is the question. It’s the biggest question because the answer determines everything – what you spend our money on, what work you do, who you marry and how we live.

Related: The Absolute Futility of Friendship And Life Nje.

We need to live according to personal convictions. We need to wrestle with our pain. We need to lay down our pride and begin to question and search.

I want to continue this conversation with you. Subscribe by email to get my next post to your inbox. Want to get in touch with me? Email me at realmukoko[at]gmail[dot]com.

5 thoughts on “Why Do Black Women Lose Their Faith?

  1. where does the house! stand should be an individual question;the master of the waves and wind JESUS Himself said” two built houses, one on the sand and other on rock”;the wind and waves blew!;crucibles are allowed by JESUS at times to strengthen our faith,but at other times they come from the prince of darkness the devil and satan! but christ still allows them remember Job in the bible;
    then storms of life assail us like storms assail a ship on the literal sea!; storms of life assail us ‘ships’ on the sea of life where is our anchor?…in CHRIST ALONE AND HIS WORD;
    therefore when the wind blows from whichever direction;from God to test and give us life or from the enemy whose aim is to destroy! and kill!…THE HOUSE ON THE ROCKS STANDS FIRM COME RAIN,WAVES AND WINDS ALL TO THE GLORY OF THE FATHER OF CREATION, GOD BLESS FOR THE SHARING.


  2. Hi Zola
    I think most women grew up in a household u describe, church going and beliefs or religion enforced to us. But I feel what our parents failed to do is to make us (as children) understand God, to understand him as a loving Father, provider, protector and comforter that he is instead of Him as a “punishing” God should u not follow your parents teachings. When I decided to leave church, nezembatho zami (church uniform), it was because I had had enough of having elders force the “word of God” down my throat when I didnt understand it or when I could see that they themselves were not following it. I went into the world, questioning, doubting the existance of God. I never lost faith in him though, I still prayed and worshiped whenever I wanted to.
    I have since established a very personal relationship with the Father, I am at a place where I am able to trust without doubt, to love and live without fear for I know he is with me,BUT I still dont attend church every Sunday. Church for me these days is a place to show off,praise individuals and brag about what we have accomplish,which to me has nothing to do with Christ and religion.
    I realy hope I can guide my children and teach them about Christ the way I understand him and hopefully they will grow up and be able to make informed decisions when they decide what religion means to them.


    1. Hi Spume, I love your comment! So honest, you’ve said it like it is, thank you. Here’s what I’m thinking: Maybe our elders forced things down our throats because that’s what was done to them? They never understood God and His nature themselves and were doing their best with what they knew. It’s up to us to interrupt the pattern. I’m so glad that you’ve found God for yourself and I hope you don’t stop searching for an authentic community of Christians. There are some legit people out there!


  3. Hi Zola, this is another good subject I’d like to voice my opinion on. I grew up in the church (participating in youth choir, usher board, other groups etc) because that’s what my parents said I had to do (esp. my dad). When I started having children I made sure they attended, and all of the rest. But as I got older I didn’t feel the need to attend so much. I don’t think I necessarily lost my faith in God (because I didn’t) He’s been with me in every step of my journey and I don’t feel like attending a church every Sun. or whatever, lessens His love for me. He’s always there, always has been and always will be, even when we do stupid stuff like deny Him or question Him or his existence….He always forgives us, because that’s what a father does for his children he loves. The things we struggle with are all right within us, but we discover this at different times in our lives and it is so simple it is right in front of us. This is only my opinion because that’s the way it has seemed to work for me. I attend a church when I feel like I want to, but when I don’t I no longer beat myself up about it.


    1. Hey there, thanks for another great comment! I think guilty feelings when we’re not doing stuff like attending church (1) us thinking that God’s love for us is conditional, depending on how well we’re living the ‘Christian ideal’ and (2) our own people pleasing tendencies: we want people to like us, we want to be perceived as righteous. Like you pointed out, God loves us anyway! And what we need to pursue is NOT people’s approval, but authentic relationships with believers who can encourage us in our walk.


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