Phillip Gulley, a Quaker pastor and wonderful thinker about this thing we call religion, says the following in a piece he wrote called SPIRITUALITY VS RELIGION (PURITY AND MATURITY)
“…Most religions encourage its members to achieve a state of moral perfection and have developed a set of rules or doctrines for their members to follow which, if scrupulously followed, will make them pure. Every religion does this to one degree or another. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with purity, in and of itself, just so long as we remember that purity is impossible. Because purity is insisted upon, but still not possible, it gives birth to two destructive tendencies: guilt and self-righteousness.
He continues later in the piece…Now I want to contrast religion with spirituality. If religion is about striving for moral and spiritual purity, which is impossible, then spirituality is about permitting our mystical experiences, our joyous, beautiful, transcendent moments with God, to enliven, energize, and positively transform us. This is our deepest hope for you here. Not that you will become perfect little Quakers, but that you will become fully alive and engaged human beings, growing and maturing.
So this is one difference between religion and spirituality. The goal of religion, spoken or unspoken, is often purity, which is impossible to attain, and usually leads to guilt or self-righteousness, both of which are destructive.
But the goal of spirituality is maturity. Purity vs. maturity. We will never achieve purity. Early Quakers believed it was a possibility. They were mistaken. But maturity is a real possibility. It is our decision each day to grow, to evolve, to learn, to love, to include, to care. Will there be moments, or even long periods, of regression, when we fail to grow, fail to evolve, fail to learn? Yes, of course. And when we become aware of our immaturity, of our failure to grow and evolve, we say, “today is a new day. I will commit myself anew to my moral and spiritual evolution.”
Religion’s prize is purity. But the effort to be pure will make you miserable or arrogant, for purity is impossible. You cannot run a three-minute mile.
Spirituality prizes maturity. The effort to be mature will make you hopeful, for maturity is possible. It begins when we commit ourselves, throughout our lives, to our spiritual and moral growth, to the work of love, to the joy of learning, to the dream of each day expanding our hearts, minds and souls.
Alice, Jesus was one of greatest examples of what it means to be a mature, full human being.
May you too grow into your mature God Self Alice.