Religion vs Spirituality
“Religion is man-made: spirituality is between you and deity.”
I think that by now we have all seen multiple variations of that line, and we’ve all probably nodded our heads in agreement and we’ve all probably said it ourselves a time or two. But have we ever stopped to think about what it is saying?
“Religion is man-made.” Not natural? No, I don’t think that’s the point. I think that the point is that religion has rules – and the rules are man-made and not natural.
“Spirituality is between you and deity.” Spirituality – the acknowledgement of and connection to the divine. I think that spirituality has probably been around longer than religion – the awe of seeing a shooting star, or witnessing a birth… those are spiritual things, and awareness and acknowledgement of something beyond us, beyond the physical. Spirituality is natural.
And that, I think, is what gave rise to religion: the sense that there is something else out there – and a desire to connect to that something – led to a series of rites to try to forge that connection and a series of rules for how to maintain that connection. Sadly, those rules failed to acknowledge personal relationships with deity — somehow spirituality got lost in the rules or left out of the rulebook.
While I do agree with that line, I also have a problem with it, in that it seems to imply that the two are mutually exclusive, and this is simply not so: there are a great many people who are fully devoted to their religious path, yet are also incredibly spiritual, open to the truth that lies behind the rules.
They realize that the rules of their religion were created by humans, and that, therefore, they are not the final word on how to live life and interact with others — or even with deity.
I am thinking of a couple articles that I read recently in which ministers married gay couples despite their churches’ stances against it. They are now at risk of being stripped of their titles and the religious calling that they have dedicated their lives to, of having everything taken away from them, by people who are religious, but not spiritual.