Dear Dr. Ray,

My sister has little to do anymore with the Catholic faith. When the subject comes up, she says, “I’m spiritual, not religious.” What do I say?

At their core, in fact, such declarations are platitudes—full of superficial appeal but with little substance.

So, like a good therapist, ask her, “What do you mean by religious?” “If you were religious, what would you be like?” “What makes a person spiritual?” “Are there different kinds of spiritual?” “How does being spiritual show itself”?

For example, to her religious might mean “following rules.” Or it may imply rote, unthinking actions with little heart behind them.

Spiritual, to her, is a loftier word. It speaks of a connection, however loose, to another power, perhaps a higher one. What’s better, the power commands little obedience to traditional morals or worship……It can mean whatever one wishes it to mean. The spiritual one sets up his own terms; therefore, he follows them to the letter.

Suppose I announce to my wife, “Honey, from this point forward, I want to be more ‘marriage-minded’ and less married. I think the expectations and structure of marriage are impediments to our true selves. Let’s not stifle our relationship with rules. As long as we think lovingly about one another, we don’t have to do all the nitty-gritty of actual loving.” … Somehow, I don’t think my wife would be enamored with this philosophy.

When Faith Causes Family Friction: Dr. Ray Tackles the Tough Questions Pages 136-139
Copyright © 2015, Dr. Ray Guarendi
Servant Books