Religion Vs Spirituality 1
As you've probably noticed I'm writing quite a bit about religion. There are a few reasons. One of them being my need to become more peaceful. Not spiritual but peaceful and loving and open minded to other people's beliefs. I've never felt the need to shove religion down people's throats even though I'm a christian. I've always felt that whatever is in their heart is between them and God, not between them and me. I'm in no position to judge or act as executioner although some seem to believe they have been given that right by God.
In this article I'm going to talk about the differences between religion and spirituality and note that whichever one you choose is up to you. It is your business and no one else has the right to tell you that you are wrong although some will try. What you choose and what you do is between you and the creator of this universe.
In fact you can choose to be both spiritual and religious and remember both are supposed to be about love and tolerance although sometimes neither make this distinction.
"Religion says that we must make their choices and act their way, depending upon a given religious denomination’s belief systems." I can't disagree with this statement although I go and don't agree with everything they teach. I don't have to, it is up to me what I choose to believe. However, some denominations require that you strictly adhere to their teachings and not sway from them and when you witness and attempt to convert people their beliefs and teachings are the ones you are supposed to push not your own. This is pretty much the way it is across the board with religion.
Case in point: My husband was told he was antagonist by one of the elders at the church because he doesn't agree with all of their teachings. I can't say I do either. This particular denomination teaches from a point of view which teaches you must make yourself worthy to be saved and God must choose you. So in essence you could everything good and right and still not be chosen by God to be saved and still end up dying and going to Hell. I don't agree with this logic and never will.
Another case in point: A few years ago I enjoyed frequenting christian discussion boards and discussing a variety of topics. There was one I liked as it was for singles and I was single at the time. The downside was if you said anything that disagreed with the beliefs of the woman who ran the forum you were booted off immediately. You were censored and essentially told what you could and couldn't say. She was from a pentecostal background and it became apparent very quickly that she was for lack of a better word a religious fanatic. I don't know anything about pentecostals or what denomination she was raised from and have nothing against them. Unfortunately, I encountered a number of fanatics on this one board. So I went to another board and encountered even more.
The common theme was you had to agree with whatever teaching they were pushing. It didn't matter if it was right or wrong, what mattered was that you agreed.
I remember once several board members got into a discussion over women wearing head coverings. I personally have never been to a church where women wore something on their head but a few here did attend such churches and they loudly proclaimed that many of the societal problems we are experiencing especially the divorce rate and broken homes had to do with women not wearing head coverings. It was a sign of obedience and submission they claimed.
I once got into an argument with a woman over submission to the husband. Her beliefs stated that no matter what the man said to do whether it was right or wrong she was to go along and support him. Now this might be okay if the pair are buying a fan or a set of pots and pans but what about major purchases? What about very serious issues?
So I asked this woman, "What if my husband decides he wants to rob a bank and tells me I'm to drive the getaway car, what about a situation like that? I stated that I would tell him I wasn't and would inform the police. I admit I was a little shocked at her answer being that it was submission stated that I had to do what he asked even though it was the wrong thing to do.
Up to that point I had never been exposed to fanaticism that heavy. Sure I had known people who didn't believe in women wearing pants because the bible stated that women were not to wear men's garments or they didn't believe in watching TV for whatever reason or didn't believe in listening to rock music because it was devil music but even this shocked me.
Now granted, the majority of christians do not have such strict beliefs or are as fanatical as the ones I've encountered but this doesn't negate the fact that you still must agree with whatever they say regardless of whether they are right or wrong or just plain don't know.
Another case in point: Not too long ago my husband got into a discussion with people from our church over carbon dating, dinosaurs and the age of the earth. They stated that the earth was only a little over 5000 years old and they didn't care what scientists said. The bible says 5000 years and that's what they are sticking to. The carbon dating is wrong and dinosaurs roamed this earth just 5000 years ago.
Later I brought this up to my aunt because she is christian and I wanted to hear what she had to say on the matter. She too agreed that carbon dating is wrong because that's what the churches teach. But her next statement almost made me fall out of my chair with laughter. She stated there is a good possibility that dinosaurs lived on this earth at the same time as Adam and Eve. It is possible but in my opinion not very likely.
I love my aunt dearly so I just let the subject drop. Unfortunately, she is a product of the church that doesn't allow for free thinking. They tell you how to think and you mindlessly follow.
This in my opinion doesn't allow for learning. It doesn't allow someone to explore their own spirituality or decide what they want to believe in or how to believe, perhaps reject some stuff, it only allows for compressed thoughts stuffed in the brain by someone else. In essence your spirituality is provided by someone else and you are manipulated whichever way they see fit and controlled by a handler. This is religion but it isn't spirituality. Or more specifically organized religion because there are many people who consider themselves religious but are more aptly spiritual because they choose their beliefs not someone else.
In another church the people were told how to vote and who to vote for. So much for separation of church and state. And this just doesn't just go on in one or two minority churches it happens in alot more than you think.
"The theme of spirituality is fellowship through the employment of unconditional love. The theme of religion is fellowship through fear and guilt." These two statements couldn't be more true. Fellowship in the modern church is more about fear and guilt than love. It is about repenting for the sins you've committed that week or confessing your sins depending on your religion. If you've sinned you are chastised by others that have probably commited bigger sins than you and if that isn't enough to get you on the right path then having to listen to the gossip behind your back most assuredly will. So many people hide their sins from others. They are your typical sunday christians.
And if these measures fail at getting you on the right path then you are just run out. You are not asked to leave like a store manager who doesn't want you in his store so he bluntly tells you to leave. No you are talked about behind your back, people are snotty and rude, often times letting you overhear what they are saying about you. Of course they will never say in to your face only behind your back like a little kid on a playground. People will lie about you making sure everyone who will listen hears the lies so you are openly condemned in the places you frequent or worse at another church you may decide to attend. And this is all done in the name of love because they are trying to make you see the error of your ways and get you to repent for your sins. It's all about repenting for your sins and they decide what sins you need to repent for not you.
This isn't love. Love is not about forcing someone to repent for his/her sins. And it's definitely not talking about someone behind their back and spreading lies and rumors about the person and it's not about telling the person if they express a belief different from the church that he/she is wrong. It's not about squashing a person down, disallowing any kind of critical thinking and screaming about Hell and damnation. It's not about God being angry and wrathful and striking you down with a hot sword if you don't repent or throwing you into a lake of fire after the lions have half eaten you because of nonrepentance.
These are things man would do. In the biblical days it was perfectly acceptable to stone a woman to death if she were not a virgin. Man is about fire and damnation to get his point across.
In my opinion this isn't God, this is man. And I'm allowing for the fact I could be wrong but if I am then what is all this talk about God being a loving God? How can God be loving and wrathful at the same time? How can God love his children then cast them into a fiery lake?
Of course I know the religious answer to this question. God is loving if you worship him in a church and repent in the church and donate to the church. If you don't do these things then God is wrathful. It's more about you and the church than anything.
If you happen to worship God by another name then you are worshipping an idol and will be cast into Hell.
This is the common theme in most every church. "You are sinning, you must repent or be cast into Hell," Now please give us some money to keep the church up.
I want to compound on this last statement a little further. Now most people assume the money they give goes to help the needy and some of it does but a bigger portion goes to keeping the church up and paying staff. Because people don't come to the church out of the goodness of their heart and play the music or look after the children. No, there is a salary involved. And of course the pastor has to be paid wages high enough so he doesn't have to find a second job. Wages, job, salary are all words associated with a business not a spiritual organization, not even a religious organization. The whole concept of religion and spirituality has been terribly skewed in my opinion.
I don't know how giving works in other areas but where I live the church helps the needy by giving money to an organization that is supposed to help the needy and is supported by several churches and the local supermarkets who donate food and walmart who gives them discounts on paper products, etc.
Before receiving any kind of help you must supply your credentials such as your driver license and social security number and in many cases supply a copy of a tax return to prove you are needy. After three to four visits you are essentially cut off. Basically you are told that after this particular visit you can no longer receive help.
In essence they run it like a government welfare office and they have no compassion whatsoever.
They are associated with the local mission. They have had complaints of food being donated yet the needy have not received any of it.
So this is love, empathy and compassion all in the name of religion.
"Spirituality does not require us to make donations. Religion has become a big business." Unfortunately, I can't disagree with this statement. When I started this article I wanted to be fair and give some credence to religion and some to spirituality. That is, I wanted to find at least one or two things wrong with spirituality. But there is nothing wrong with spirituality. I wanted to find a few things right with religion but so far I haven't been able to find much of anything good about religion other than they worship God.
My intent here is not to make people who are religious feel bad about their choice. There is certainly a modicum of spirituality in religion.
Unfortunately, religion has become terribly skewed in an attempt to turn it into a money making business and the business of telling people how to live, vote, act, believe, etc. And this business has an agenda. This agenda is not about God, Jesus, love or peace.
I will talk more about that in another post.