Are you Spiritual or Religious?
By VL on the DL
I’ve always considered myself to be a spiritual person, not necessarily religious, but definitely spiritual. I’m the kind of person that’s always investigating religions, trying to figure out what attracts its members, what makes it different from other religions, just getting the basic scoop about others’ beliefs. I love reading about Jehovah’s Witnesses, Scientologists…you name it. I even began studying with the Mormon’s back in 1999, and was eventually baptized in the faith. I don’t attend church often, but still consider this my religion and on the few Sundays a year that I do attend church, it is the LDS Mormon church.
One thing I used to dislike about going to church when I was younger was the accusations by the preacher. “Some of y’all were at the club last night doing this and that”….or “some of y’all living with your boyfriends and girlfriends right now, unmarried, sinning”. I never understood the purpose of that. The way I see things – it shouldn’t matter where I was or what I was doing before this moment – I’m here now, trying to connect with God, trying to learn, trying to better myself or receive a message. I didn’t feel like I was personally being called out or put on the spot, but I always put myself in the shoes of others and thought, “What if I were the person who was doing these things?? Why would I want to come back to your church? Just accept me as I am and let me work on my faults.”
The constant corruption in religion doesn’t help: Pastors sleeping with their lonely female members, sexual abuse allegations against children, preachers stealing money or living in ridiculous sized houses with a ridiculous amount of cars while all of its members are barely surviving. It all gets to be a bit much and makes it hard to be devoted.
My belief in God is based solely on my relationship with him. The blessings I’ve received in my life are no doubt, a gift from God. It is not based on how much money I put in the offering basket, or if I attend all three services on Sunday. It’s based on how I treat others, my acts of kindness, and my day to day example of living as God would want – peacefully and with love. If you look for it, you will find an issue with each and every religion. My religion believes that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the Mormon Church) is God’s one true church on earth. Because I’m a member, I understand this thinking; however, I’m not prepared to state that every other church on the planet is “wrong”. I wouldn’t dare.
That’s why I prefer a spiritual existence. I’m aware that there is a higher being than myself. I understand that I’m expected to conduct myself in a respectful way and treat others with love, kindness, and humility. I understand that it’s better to give, than receive. I understand that God will judge me not just based on what I do, but also the intentions of my heart – things that I wish I could do for people, but I don’t have the resources. God knows all this. This is why homosexuality has always been such a sensitive subject to me. I can’t imagine a God who can look at a person who is kind, giving, thoughtful, hardworking, unselfish, honest, and loving and see them as a sinner with no hope. And that same God can look at the reverend that is sleeping with every lady in the pulpit and gambling away the offering money, and that person is okay in his eyes. How can this be? To me, the gay community is no different than the straight community – we have our good seeds and our bad ones, our chaste and our promiscuous, our honest and our liars. Yet, every religion turns its back on them. I’m not trying to turn this into a “gay is great debate”, just making a point about some of the ongoing issues I personally have with religion.
I think many more people, especially within our younger generations, can identify with spirituality much more than religion. With spirituality I think people look at the bigger picture of their life as a whole as opposed to feeling judged by one action at a time. I think spirituality relieves some of the guilt that often goes along with religion. I’m not saying that I choose spirituality so I can be wild and free and live a guilt free life, it’s just that spirituality allows me more freedom to accept people for who they are, to be less judgmental, and more open minded, and that’s something I appreciate.
Have you found yourself struggling with religion vs. spirituality? What are some of your thoughts? What are some of your reasons for picking one over the other…or do you combine the two? Looking forward to your feedback.