No, the title of this blog post doesn’t describe me. Or, maybe it does kinda. But in any case, I hate the phrase “I’m spiritual, but I’m not religious” with a passion. I don’t truly hate much of anything in life—and I really shy away from hating people—but if a phrase could be beaten, bloodied, throttled and flayed to within an inch of its life, I would be doing the honors for this monstrosity.
In a sense, the phrase could mean something positive, as in “I have very strong faith beliefs, but I don’t feel that the institutional establishments for my religion are doing their job right, so I avoid them whenever possible.” That is something I could respect, because I often feel the same way. And that’s why I say that it sort of describes me.
The trouble is, when you get down to it, 90% of the time when someone utters that phrase, though, he or she is either a non-Christian who loves almost every religion but Christianity…or is a Christian who wants to pick and choose out of the Bible what to believe, and twist the Word of God to justify all or most of his or her actions.
First, the misguided Christians. Yes, I understand that the Bible, depending on which part you are reading, was written between 2,000 and 6,000-ish years ago. And so you take exception to things that don’t seem “hip with the times.” But you don’t get to claim Jesus and say God is your father and then systematically ignore their Word. Like it or not, there are rules in life, both in terms of things spiritual and worldly, and if you aren’t going to follow the rules or at least acknowledge that you’re breaking them and feel at least a little bad about it, you shouldn’t be calling yourself a Christian. The Bible is not a damned buffet you can pick and choose from. There are places where there is room for interpretation, but some of that stuff is clear as day and no amount of twisting is going to change it.
Now, for the non-Christians who wield this phrase with wild abandon. I am amazed at how many people rail on about how intolerant Christians are and how many wars were waged in the name of Christianity and all that bullshit—and then suddenly treat you like a leper if you so much as mention the name Jesus—yet they listen with rapt attention about any other religion.
Even in post-9/11 America, a huge percentage of people (OK, more accurately, a huge number of people who are college educated or are moderate/liberal—and yes, I’m in that demographic) would rather listen to a Muslim share his or her beliefs than give a minute of real attention to an evangelistic Christian. They want to hear from the Wiccans about their beliefs and practices. They feel honored if a Jewish friend invites them over for Passover Seder. They want to find out what Scientology is all about. They flock to self-help gurus who masquerade as Christian pastors (I’ll get to you in another blog, soon, Joel Osteen—and maybe you’re just misguided rather than deceitful, but you’re wrong regardless for undercutting Jesus and the Holy Spirit in your church). They love to find their spiritual center through religious types of Yoga or chanting mantras but wouldn’t crack open a Bible unless threatened to at gunpoint. They admire Madonna for being bold enough to study Kabbalah.
The Christian is proselytizing. Everyone else is sharing.
Christianity is intolerant and narrow-minded and evil. Everyone else is supposedly one of the many legitimate paths to the divine.
I’m not saying that a lot of evangelists and other Christians aren’t assholes. Sure, we have our share of them. And even well-meaning Christians can sometimes come across too bluntly or too gratingly when they try to share the Gospel. But I have seen (and before I was born again, I had done this myself) nice people who are full of sincerity and goodwill suddenly get treated like booze-soaked transients for daring to mention Jesus or explain/defend Christianity. People instantly shut them off and shut them out. It’s amazing, and disheartening, to see how often folks who say they are supportive of tolerance and diversity do this to Christians. It makes me sick—perhaps all the more so because I did it myself and I can’t go back and undo any of it or apologize to the random people I did it to. It’s an example of how the most liberal worldviews are often just as mean-spirited and oppressive as many people consider uber-conservatives to be.
Oh, and don’t get me started on the people who say, “Yes, Jesus was a good man and I follow his example, but I don’t believe he was divine. When he said he was the son of God, he meant in the way that we’re all sons and daughters of the divine personage.”
Jesus himself said he was the only way to God (and the gospels were written very close to the time of Jesus’ ministry, so that, along with other reasons I’ll get into one day, is reason enough to trust the accuracy of words attributed to Jesus). Given that he said he was the divine son of God, you can’t go taking away his divinity and saying he was a “good man,” because that makes him a liar or a lunatic.
If you make a habit of following the examples of lunatics or liars, you belong at a David Koresh Appreciation Association meeting or a Democratic or Republican political convention, respectively.