My Spiritual Journey

My inquisitive nature and my need to seek out the truth have me on a journey. That journey has led me to part ways with organized religion, the Church, and to a large degree – Christianity.

Writing that last sentence was as hard as it was frightening.

Before now, I have shared my beliefs with only two people, both of whom have been extremely supportive. One is a “faithful Christian”, who withholds any judgment, and the other was not raised in church and thereby was never “indoctrinated” (his word) with Christian teachings. It is through the many conversations with both individuals that have helped me sort though the thoughts in my head and realize that I am not crazy nor am I alone.

I am reminded of the Dr. Benjamin Mays quote,

“I’ll rather go to hell by choice then heaven by following the crowd.”

A former classmate stated on Facebook, “It’s difficult being an Independent thinker and existing in a world committed to the herd.”

I agree wholeheartedly and I forge ahead.  Take a walk with me…

Watching TV one Sunday morning, I caught a Bishop delivering a sermon. Something he said resonated with me. He was stating his case against individuals who choose not to worship God in a “church”. In essence, claiming that if you are a part of the vine (the body of Christ), you must remain connected with the source (God, i.e., the church) in order not to wither and die.

He went on to say that what makes the church “holy” is the alter and if your home does not have one it is “insufficient”.

Well, I beg to differ. The church is a building and the “act” of attending Sunday service is a “religious practice” and has very little to do with an individual’s spirituality or their relationship with God.

This was not the first time I found myself at odds with what I have heard preached and taught from the pulpit. Not long ago, this same Bishop delivered a sermon centered on adultery. In this sermon he gave his definition of adultery to be any sexual intercourse between people who are not married to each other. A big departure from Webster’s definition:

Voluntary sexual intercourse between a married man and someone other than his wife or between a married woman and someone other than her husband; also: an act of adultery

So according to this Bishop, if I have sex with a single man we are committing adultery. Who knew…all of these years I’ve been an adulterous Jezebel – not a fornicator.

Another point made in that same sermon was on the word infidelity. Again the Bishop conveyed his definition telling the congregation infidelity is based on the word “infidel” when means no belief in God.

Again we have another departure from the true definition an origin.

Merriam-Webster defines infidel:

1: one who is not a Christian or who opposes Christianity
2 a: an unbeliever with respect to a particular religion b: one who acknowledges no religious belief
3: a disbeliever in something specified or understood

It struck me sitting there in the choir loft that the majority of the congregation will listen to this erroneous information and internalize it as truth, the gospel, without any further investigation or questions. My next thought, or question, was how long I would continue to participate in religious practices that I could no longer reconcile with my inner beliefs.

Not long after that Sunday, I stopped attending church.

For a very long time I found my beliefs to be in direct opposition to what I have been taught in the Christian religion. As I have matured and grown, I have become less afraid and guilt ridden to express my beliefs and live my life accordingly.

What are those beliefs? Glad you asked.

  • The major tenet of Christian teachings is that there is only one way to God and that is through your belief in Christ and if you don’t believe, you’re going to hell and will never see God.
    My, how we limit God and place him in a box when God is much larger than that. I think it is nothing short of arrogant for me to say to my Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Agnostic, et al, brethren they are going to hell simply because they do not believe in Christ. What if as Christians you have it wrong?
  • The Bible is the word of God. The word of God translated thousands of times for well over 2,000 years. My thoughts are there is a LOT lost in translation and I question the motives of those original authors.
    I also put it into the context of the times it was written. All you have to do is read the Old Testament or textbooks on the history of Christianity to understand where I’m coming from. How do we know the original intent of God? How can I trust the sources? Flawed men who historically used their position to control and instill fear to keep order.
  • Creationism vs. Evolution…and evolution loses despite all the published scientific data. I think there is room for both. Dyed in the wool Christians do not. Is it not possible that the author of the book of Genesis, in his limited scientific knowledge, attempted to describe the creation of the universe the best way he knew how, albeit rudimentary?

So where does that leave me? Am I a semi-Christian? Agnostic? An infidel? What?

Honestly, I have no answers. However, I resist the urge to label myself – to limit my thinking or place God in this neat little box.

I am an Independent thinker and existing in a world committed to the herd.

I am a person on a spiritual journey hoping to get it right…

Aren’t we all?

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15 thoughts on “My Spiritual Journey”

  1. Oh how i love that the google ad on the bottom of this posts says “become a pastor” and a link to study online. Your journey is not one taken alone 😉

  2. When I was 13 I realized I didn’t believe in god. I remember one of the people I told said to me, “If you don’t believe in god you have no morals.” This person was at least 20 years older than me, but I looked at them and I said, “What the hell does not believing in god have to do with morals?” Just because I don’t believe in god doesn’t mean I don’t want to be a good person, or that I have no sense of right and wrong. There are plenty of people who take human lives in service of one god or another, and I think non-crazy people would be hard pressed to excuse their actions.

    Basically what I’m trying to say is, that regardless of where your journey leads you, I think you’re amazing for having the strength to go on it. Don’t let other people dictate how you feel, or push you into a corner with their judgements. I’m sorry that you’ve had so many judgemental people in your life. I’ve been lucky that despite almost everyone I know believing in god, none besides that one person when I was 13 (who I no longer speak to) have ever pressed me to share their beliefs or have ever judged me because of what I don’t believe.

    I’m sure it’s a million times harder for you than it was for me, but stay strong and know that I support you too. That may not mean SO much, since we haven’t known each other for that long, but I thought you should know.

    *hugs*

  3. Hiya Choc. My, you were much more calm towards that pastor than I would be! Ignorance is bad enough, but wilful ignorance….? I’m an ex-Catholic. As I’m sure it’s said about every major religion, I’ve heard that one can never be an ex-Catholic. Bunk that, I am. I still have agnostic elements clinging on by their fingernails, but the grip becomes more tenuous each time I think about it or read on the subject. It’s not just organised religion, it’s belief in a god per se. Like yourself, I’m way too inquisitive to settle for what I’ve been told. Plus, I’ve been raised a sceptic, so questioning things comes naturally to me.

    You continue on your journey. It will probably sometimes be a frustrating one as you try to resolve things inside you, but it’ll certainly be worthwhile. If Zuly don’t mind, I’ll stand foursquare with her, in full support of a person I’ve not known that long either.

  4. Religion can mess up a soup sandwich can’t it lol

    For what it’s worth…I believe in God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit…I’ve had an interesting journey and met some really interesting people along the way…maybe that’s what got me to the place I am today…

    But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have questions….do they shake my faith….sometimes they do…but for me…something always happens to put me back “on track” if that makes sense…

    I wish you well on your journey sis…

    I can’t really add much more…

  5. I have to agree with Beth in that I believe in God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Your beliefs are your beliefs and I offer no argument.

    As for adultery the Bible definition is stated (to cite just one) in Matthew 5:28 “but I say unto you, that every one that looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” That means that even in the Bible, words have different meanings for different occasions . . . adultery is not referring to married people only, but, to all, Webster’s definition notwithstanding.

    Romans 10:24-25 says: “and let us consider one another to provoke unto love and good works; not forsaking our own assembling together, as the custom of some is, but exhorting [one another]; and so much the more, as ye see the day drawing nigh”. There are reasons for “going to church”, as in “the building”, (such as it may be, for the Bible also says “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”). One reason is to uplift one another.

    All of that is to address some points that you brought up, not to argue against your new-found spiritual journey. None of it means anything if one has lost faith in the very essence of our belief: the Bible.

    One last thought, as goes translations and questioning of the original authors, Roman 10:17: says “faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God”, which, simply put, means that there is no proof to be found anywhere, that belief on God and following His word comes without questioning and without any proof whatsoever.

    I trust that you will find the answers that you seek and being an all-believing Christian myself, I trust that your faith and belief in God will soon be restored. Peace.

    1. And you have responded as most dyed in the wool Christians do…quoting scriptures and chosing not to “hear” what I said. At no point in my post did I say I had lost faith in GOD nor that I didn’t believe in God. What I did say is that I no longer believe there is only ONE way to him. So you trusting that something will be restored…well it’s futile.

      I know you mean well but therein lies yet another issue I have with “well meaning Christians” who despite all else long to have you believe as they do and if you don’t you’re considered a “lost” soul.

      ::deep sigh::

  6. I guess, then, that we are all most predictable considering you response. I did not, however, predict that you would be as illogical as your response presents itself. I always thought that your blog, as most, was a forum for open discussion. As such, points are presented and are countered with other points. In most cases, the responder “cites” something or another as a method of validating their idea. I thought that was what I did. You brought up the ideas of why one should go to church (the building, as it were), the definition of adultery as opposed to fornication, and finally, the authors of the Bible and the resulting, and ofttimes misleading, translations. Thus, with this being a discussion on religion, I responded with quotes from the Bible. That makes me a “dyed in the wool” Christian? Where should I have quoted from? Bill Gates? An encyclopedia? Why is it so preposterous to you that in responding to religious ideas that someone would quote the Bible?

    We did not just meet. We have been back and forth to one another’s blog for a very long time. You’ve seen my blog, you’ve read it, and come to know me and my ideas quite well (at least I would hope so). That having been said, I find it highly dubious that you would believe that I come off as an over zealous Christian.

    As for my misunderstanding of your words, I must pass, as a response from my end would open a whole other can of worms which I haven’t the energy to delve into. I will, however, revise my words to say that it is my hope that you find satisfactory answers to the questions that present. As always, it is never my intent to bring anyone over to my way of thinking, merely to present opposing ideas, or to show that I am in agreement. Peace.

    1. Let me start by apologizing for my response to you on my blog. After commenting and reading it several times, I realized that I reacted out of an emotional place and not a logical, rational one. In no way do I want you or anyone else who visits my blog to feel as though there can’t be a civil discourse on any given topic regardless if we agree or not.

      With my recent departure from Christianity and the Church, I have found that my feathers are easily ruffled when presented with responses such as yours, and quite frankly, they should not be. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and I respect that…and you my friend.

      I think, no, I’m sure that will come when I am more comfortable with where I find myself and my beliefs.

      Please consider this my mea culpa. ::hand over heart::

  7. Thought provoking post. I am one who does believe in a higher source but lately (like the past 4 yrs), I find myself questioning that story of “Christ”. The same events can be said about Khrisna, Horus and so forth. I think the expression is; “all paths lead to Rome”. Having survived some extremely tough times in my life I do feel like something much higher than man has ‘watched over me’. But I’ve never been one to be follow the herd either. Not sure that this will apply (entirely), but peep this one day: http://yoy50.wordpress.com/2010/06/18/boy-oh-boy-is-it-really-time-for-people-to-wake-up/. It’s an angle I think is used effectively on many ‘christians’ who believe in a ‘damning god’. Like you mentioned (paraphrasing); the concept of god is much broader than the human mind can perceive.

    I agree wholeheartedly that lots of scriptures should definitely be questioned (consider the source type of scrutiny) but there is one that I do ‘cling’ to; “people perish for lack of knowledge” because seeking Truth does lead to answers. We are born knowing right from from wrong but we follow the herd more often than not. The heart knows something more than we are taught and will lead you down the right path is my own belief. And the guilt you’ve been made to feel over the years is man-made IMHO so shame on the many who only added to your struggle. They have no right or authority. Once I started to question, query theologians, friends and even family, I got the side eye BIG time but my journey is between me and my ‘god’– trust your journey, lady. The word ‘religion’ is a peculiar word itself. It’s sort of like the word ‘history’ or “his-story”…

    Big hugs. If it should so move you– this is worthy of a part 2 one of these days. Welcome back btw…

    Jazz (oh yeah, excuse all typos) 😉

  8. Many people are so confused when it comes to understanding the Bible and its teachings. I’m sorry that your pastor, himself, didn’t realize that by his misunderstanding misapplication of the scriptures, he discouraged you and even misguided you. I think he confused adultery with fornicate, which comes from the greek word pornea. Pornea covers all forms of sexual acts, single or married. Adultery is comitted only when a marriage vow is broken.

    The scripture at Acts 17:24 tells us plainly, depending on your version, that God does not dwell in handmade temples….or church. So my dear, you don’t have to attend his church or any other to receive his recognition. I’m not sure about the infidelity part but I do know that God is jealous when it comes to sharing our worship with any other thing besides him.

    I’m not of any religion at the moment, but I’m an avid reader and student of the Bible. If I dont know or understand something, I research it and pray about it deeply until it makes sense. Of course, there are things that will never quite make sense. Like, why we grow old, get sick, and die. Or even, why God allows such wickedness. Such things involve faith and patience.

    We all get a little discouraged from time to time on our spiritual journey. Its ok and its human. Many prohets like Jeremiah, Ezekial, or even Daniel, got discouraged and even questioned God. He is that loving that he hears our prayers for guidance and direction. Let him guide you. I hope that you will find the truth that you are looking for one day. I promise you when you do, no one can tell you different.

    My studies have led me to many different conclusions no realizations about religion. Man created religion not God. So our frustration and irritations really are with men…meaning mankind. I don’t believe Jesus is God like christian faiths want us to believe. The Bible really makes that clear who he was. So when we pray to Jesus, we cant possibly think we’re praying to God. God has a name and he wants us to use it, Psalms 83:18. Also, hell is just a common grave of man…we all go there when we die. No torture or burning for its not a tangible place and our bodies can’t burn forever. Its just a resting place, Hades. Its just our grave. Those are just a few. I can’t explain to you the peace I felt when I learned those simple truths. Its like a veil had been lifted.

    I know you can find your joy again in spiritual things. Don’t let anyone discourage you from keeping on your spiritual path. No blogger, pastor, or anyone.

  9. A really thought-provoking post which in many ways describes a journey similar to my own. While I, too, still believe in a “High Power” I found too much convoluted smugness in the church of my childhood to look to it for more than nostalgic comfort from time to time. Like you, I question the the accuracy of biblical translations, but also the politics that saw some book added whilst others were swept under the carpet. I question the reason why people feel they can argue some things based on Scripture (e.g. their stance against homosexuality), but completely ignore the message contained in a verse four lines down.

    I know I am late to this party, so I will not make a sermon out of this comment. Just wanted to say that I am glad I wondered over here tonight (my 1st time), and that I plan to come back…

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