Those of us who choose the Spiritual But Not Religious path are confronted by snarky Christians with the same criticism over and over: “Religion comes from God, not people. Where’s the moral guidance? You’re just listening to your own voice. You’re just making it up to suit yourself.”
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Really, these Christians are describing themselves: Christianity was invented by people. It draws its authority from an old book—what is actually a collection of old books—written by many people over a span of millennia. And as for “just listening to your own voice,” the way Christians cherry-pick their Bible verses to justify their worst prejudices is downright Orwellian.
But the snarky Christians do have a point. After someone declares themselves to be SBNR, they go through the Fuzzy Period. I mean, once you unmoor yourself from religion, where do you go next? You take a meditation course at your local community college. You follow Richard Gere on Twitter. You go vegetarian. Or vegan. Or macrobiotic. Or the Neanderthal diet. Whatever.
But when the seeker finds a path with surer footing, that all changes. In the SBNR life, the structure and moral guidance comes from the nature of God Itself.
If I’m faced with an ethical conundrum—i.e., I’m thinking of doing a thing, but I’m not sure if it’s spiritually right—I don’t hold the proposed action up to some moral code invented by religious people. What possible use could that be? I hold it up to God.
Something people like me say to themselves all the time is, “How will this stand in God?” In other words, if I do this thing, will I be acting in harmony with God’s nature or will I be acting contrary to God’s nature? And, of course, if I decide that it’s contrary to, I just don’t do it. Because I know nothing good can come of that. I may outwardly appear to have made some short-term material gain, but I know that the Infinite has taken it out of my hide somewhere else. Skirting the divine nature is flatly impossible.
Of course, to make such a determination you have to know something about God in the first place. And religious people don’t know anything about God. Religious people know about their religion. They know about their holy book. They know what the rules are. Or, at least, what somebody told them the rules are. But God is a mystery to them.
Religion is a creaking, wheezing, steaming Rube Goldberg machine that plonks itself down between the individual and the Divine and says, “If you want to connect to God, you have to go through me.” SBNR people interact directly with Spirit without any external aids. We talk directly to the Infinite and we let It talk back. Or, more properly, we see It talk back. A two-way dialog with God is the core of the spiritual seeker’s life. And once you figure out how to initiate that conversation, religion becomes — at best — unnecessary. Your life is your real holy book. And once you learn how to read it, you and God will do just fine without the guy in the funny collar acting as middle-man.
So: are you still in your Fuzzy Period? Or did you escape? And if you escaped, how did you do it?
SHAMELESS SELF-PROMOTION: My book, GOD: A USER’S MANUAL tells you how to do all that.