Saturday, February 20, 2010

"I'm not religious, I'm just spiritual"

This morning I stumbled upon a BlogFrog discussion that I found to be interesting. The title was "I'm not religious, I'm just spiritual" and the woman asked, "I hear this quoted a lot by Christians. What do you think? Can you follow the tenets of a world wide religion without being religious? (I'm pretty sure this will just come down to semantics, but I'm curious what everyone thinks.)"

Which got me to thinking. Have Christians made the word "religious" into something that it's not? So I looked it up to see what it's true definition is (out of curiosity...sorry, Josh...I know you hate it when speakers/preachers say "Webster defines such-and-such as...) and it said:

Main Entry: 1re·li·gious

: relating to or manifesting faithful devotion to an acknowledged ultimate reality or deity
: of, relating to, or devoted to religious beliefs or observances
: scrupulously and conscientiously faithful

I guess #2 would be where some Christians would say "we're not religious" because we don't want it to be about a bunch of observances and rules. It's about the relationship with have with our Lord?

But #1 and #3 describes me, doesn't it? Shouldn't it? Shouldn't I have faithful devotion to my Lord and Savior? Shouldn't I be conscientiously faithful?

I guess I never really thought about it, and now I do wonder if it just comes down to semantics. Just playing word games and trying to make ourselves sound like we're better than someone who describes themselves as religious.


On a side note, the ones who said they described themselves this way in the discussion (as spiritual not religious) said they do not subscribe to any organized religion, that they believe in a higher power, the collective universe, etc.



Melissa said...

I think this "saying" stems from the Pharisees (sp?) in the New Testament. Jesus would talk about how they were following all the laws, but their hearts were not right. They followed all the rules, but did not love people like they should. I think that's how "being religous" got its bad rap. You're right though. According to the definition, I would say I am religous.

Chrissy said...

Great insight, Melissa! :o)

Debbie said...

Why don't you just say that you are a born-again believer? Doesn't that cut through the semantics? Were the Canaanites spiritual? Were they religious? Were the Pharisees spiritual? Were they religious?

Momof3inVA said...

I think I am a Christian that could somewhat say this (not that I believe I have said it directly as I am somewhat religious...really #1)...but, I posted my reasoning behind this on the thread.

Chasity said...

I was going to say something similar to what Melissa said. I don't really like to use the term religious because, to me, it sounds like you go through the motions, you are committed to doing all the right things, and stay away from all the wrong things. But it doesn't, to me, necessarily imply that your heart is in the right place...that you truly have a relationship with Christ. However, obviously, if someone does choose to use the word religious, it doesn't mean that they undoubtedly do not have a relationship with Christ. So, yeah, it's pretty much sematics. Am I making any sense?? ;)

Miss Erin said...

My husband and I always debate this when this terminology comes up. We attend church, a fairly liberal church to be honest, but on with very traditional foundations. That said, when I think of someone who is "religious" I would point to any number of more "evangelical" people I know either IRL or bloggers. I don't talk about religion or my beliefs openly and freely, it's between me and God and it's just part of my life- just like I don't talk about what happens in my bedroom. I do get a bit ruffled when people tell me that I'm not a real Christian- that somehow because I'm not outwardly sharing my walk with others I am masquerading. Because I allign myself with rules and a religious hierarchy I am somehow less pure in my beliefs. There is only one judge. And this "debate" is all about semanitcs- people have made "religious" a four letter word, but when you look at the definition, you really can't deny that it fits pretty perfectly those who wish to distance themselves from it.

Susan said...

Thanks for the thoughts and discussion, Chrissy! I asked the question because I do struggle with what the world perceives religion to be in this day and age. I've heard the comment so many times I just had to pick at some brains to see what they meant by it.

Oh, and Traveling Light has to be one of the best books I've ever read! :D

e said...

Well, my assumption of the meaning was that anyone who believed in a god was religious (i.e. religion) and anyone who didn't believe in a god, but believed in some sort of supernatural force was spiritual. I looked up the definitions of religion and spiritual and they're synonymous.

In any case, I've never thought either one of them sounded particularly dirty. ;)

I didn't know that Christians, in particular, used both words competitively or that being one word was technically "better" than the other.

That's one benefit of being an atheist: there are no semantics. LOL!

Debbie said...

You defined what religion was. You defined what spirituality was. Could you please define the gospel for me?

Causey Fam said...

I like what Josh McDowell says in his book, More Than a Carpenter..."Christianity is not a religion. Religion is humans trying to work their way to God through good works. Christianity is God coming to men and women through Jesus Christ."


"Christianity is not a religion; it's not a system; it's not an ethical idea; it's not a psychological phenomenon. It's a person. If you trust Christ, start watching your attitudes and actions because Jesus Christ is in the business of changing lives."

He also makes another good point..."The very name of Jesus seems to bother people. It embarrasses them, makes them angry or makes them want to change the subject. You can talk about God and people don't necessarily get upset, but mention Jesus and people want to stop the conversation..."

GapGirl said...

Good points! Just in my opinion, I have met so many people who are "religious" in the worldly definition. They just follow rules. Go to church because its SUnday and would never ever curse but would gossip to the point of ripping someones life apart. But they have no personal relationship with Jesus. I often cringe if someone calls me religious. (because of that negative connotation.) I want them to see me as having a spiritual connection with our Lord. But your definitions will make me re-think. Either way, non-christians who don't really know the difference usually point and call me religious anyway.LOL

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