Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Spiritual but not Religious

I know I have written a few posts regarding this subject, so I do apologize if I repeat myself, but I feel a very strong need to write about this topic once again...

First, for those who don't know, allow me to explain the concept of Spiritual but not Religious. These are the people who do believe in God, or at least in a higher power, but do not believe in organized religion. In my 42 years (yes, I just admitted my real age) I have spent at least half that time as one who did not participate in organized religion, and a bit more than that as one who did not believe in it... or at least, has realized that organized religion is not a requirement, and can indeed be a hindrance to true spirituality.

Now, before you start throwing stones, allow me to explain...

In my 42 years and 4 churches, I have witnessed the following (note: these are not all things that happened to me specifically, but are definitely things I have witnessed)....

Girls from age 2 (maybe younger) to 10 (at least) were knowingly being sexually molested by a member of the church, and the church members didn't just ignore it - they specifically told the families to ignore it and not report such abuse. Those who did cause waves were chased out of the church and eventually the community.

Children (ages birth to teen) were being beaten to the point of bruises, breaks, bleeding, unconsciousness, etc by their parents, to the knowledge of church members and the pastor. Children who came to the pastor or other leaders with this information were told to honor their parents.

Families - some active, some not as much - were criticized and made to feel unwelcome by church leaders/members because those families could not contribute much financially.

Children (ages 6-10) were caught drinking alcohol in a park by church members. Instead of seeking help, these members chose to gossip about the worthlessness of the parents.

Young ladies turned to church members about their desire to cut or harm themselves. Instead of seeking help, these members chose to slander these young women. When some of these young ladies ended up pregnant out of wedlock because of their search for someone to care/listen, they were pushed out of the church because of the gossip and slander.

Young men who were trying to take care of their family after the death or injury of their father were criticized because they weren't doing well enough, or were told their father is worthless.

Women were being beaten and raped by their spouse, to the knowledge of church members/leaders, and were given no support or care. Instead, they were gossiped about and slandered.

Friendships were made that were needed and healthy, especially because of many of the above scenarios, but church members chose to slander those God-centered relationships and spread lies of sexual relations and adultery.

Dead men and women, and their families, were spoken ill of because they had a funeral at a church of which they weren't active members, or weren't members of at all. 

I could go on for days about the mistreatment I have witnessed within the church. But I'll stop here. I think I made my point.

For those who didn't get the point........

Many churches are like this. They either turn a blind eye or they gossip and slander.

Please... tell me how organized religion - how the supposed Church/House of God - is better than being spiritual?

The Church is supposed to be a place not just to worship. And definitely not a place we show up to on Sundays so we can get into heaven. It's supposed to be a safe place. It's supposed to be a place of comfort, support, and love. It's supposed to be a place of love - the love of Christ. A place of forgiveness. A place we can go where we know we're forgiven children of God.

Instead, it is often a place of bigotry. It's a place where we point fingers at the poor, saying they don't contribute enough and don't belong. It's a place where we shake our heads at having a funeral for someone who wasn't a member (or an active member), saying they don't deserve our time be given to them, and that they don't deserve to be given a proper funeral. It's a place where instead of helping an abused or molested child, we make judgements against their family. It's a place where we ignore the depression and abuse another person faces, and instead say that person or family isn't worth our time. It's a place where we'd rather condemn good friendships because we don't understand the importance of those than embrace and imitate such relationships.

The Church has become a place where love is lost. It's now a place where Christ is lost.

Yes, I attend a Lutheran Church. Three of the four churches I have ever been a member of have been Lutheran churches. That does not make me a Lutheran. And it does not make me proud to be a Lutheran, or a part of any church. I'm ashamed of it actually. I'm ashamed of what the church has been for me and those I know. I'm ashamed that there is no true spirituality within the church. There is no community. There is definitely no love.  There is no Christ.

So yes, I am spiritual but not religious. Because THAT is what it means to follow Christ. It is not about following religious traditions. It IS about showing Christ's love and forgiveness and acceptance. And if I, or anyone I know, is going to be persecuted by anyone for that, the persecutor might want to actually tend their own soul.

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