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Ask An Evangelical: Spiritual, not Religious

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What do you want to know about Evangelicalism? Submit your question here.

By Scott McIntyre

Do you think ‘spiritual not religious’ is a real thing?

There is clearly a simple ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ answer to this question, in my opinion.  According to Merriam-Webster. ‘religious’, can mean “devoted to religious beliefs or observances” while ‘spiritual’ can signify being “concerned with religious values.”  For people living out their lives based on those definitions, I would say the ‘spiritual not religious’ lifestyle isn’t a real thing.

On the flip side, there’s an aspect of ‘spiritual’ that can make a ‘Yes’ answer to the question almost impossible to avoid, and I say that from personal experience.

The definition of ‘spiritual’ can include “affecting the spirit,” and for me, sometimes religion had little or nothing to do with my spirit.  The most common way this plays out is in ‘mandatory’ church attendance on Christmas and Easter.  The Urban Dictionary terms them, ‘chreasters’, but I took that a step further.

My Church Experience

When I began falling in love with my wife, who I just celebrated 50 years with, it was all about being around her.  She was a faithful church goer and I attended regularly with her, even promising her pastor that I would raise our kids in the faith.  Once we were married, my church attendance immediately dropped way off.  And when we did go, I found multiple ways to be negative about those who did attend; often indicting myself with the critical comments I was making about them. 

For me, this somewhat religious and almost non-existent spiritual lifestyle, was due primarily to not being a Christian.  A few years after we married, my faith changed from faker/chreaster to truster/believer and the ‘religious not spiritual’ thing became just a distant memory…I wish.

I can still hang my spiritual hat on religious ‘acts’ that do little or nothing to affect my spirit.  Going to church because it’s Sunday and not because I want to worship the almighty God who loves me, is one, embarrassing to say, example.  It will probably always be that way because I’m human and one thing I share with others of my species is a deep imperfection.

Spiritual not religious, to me, is simply taking care of who we are as spiritual beings with the right motive in mind. 


Scott McIntyre

About Scott McIntyre

Scott McIntyre is glad his parents didn’t name him Vladimir or he’d be listed last on this page. While a long time California resident, he was the Oakland Spirituality Examiner for Examiner.com from 2011-12 and about the same time began blogging on several topics. The first, teaching Christians how to lovingly share their spiritual beliefs, emphasized skills that can benefit all forms of one-to-one interaction. He also writes on marriage, travel, downsizing, humor, and the motive behind people’s words and actions. After retiring in 2016, Scott embarked on some major ‘R & R’; Relocating and Rebranding. Following in his sister’s footsteps from the early 80’s, and later in the decade, his parent’s, Scott left the Golden State to become a Washingtonian in a small town just west of Spokane County.

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