Cop Out

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By Tom Holmes

Contributing Reporter / Religion Blogger

cop·out (k%u014Fp'out')
n. Slang

1. A failure to fulfill a commitment or responsibility or to face a difficulty squarely.

2. A person who fails to fulfill a commitment or responsibility.

3. An excuse for inaction or evasion.

"I'm spiritual but not religious," is what I hear from many people.  I think, in my cases, that's a cop out.

I think it's naïve to think you can be spiritual on your own.  Few of us or so spiritually intuitive that we can access the divine or whatever you want to call him/her/it on our own.  Most of us learn channels to the Spirit from some kind of organized body of thought or practice.  What most of us mean, I suspect, by saying we're spiritual but not religious is that we want to feel loved without being committed to a relationship. 

I don't mean to say that many of our faith communities don't need to be reformed, if you want to use a Protestant term.  But when I was married and my wife and I had problems, we went for therapy.  We finally did get divorced, but what I experience now without that relationship I would a cease fire or a kind of peace, but I wouldn't call it love.  I experience love with my adult children, because we've maintained a relationship with a lot of ups and downs for more than thirty years.  Thank God I have them.  Without them, I would not be able to experience love on a profound level.

I have many friends I get along with—for a few hours or a weekend—but using the word love

to describe those relationships is a misuse of the term.  It's like saying that I love chocolate ice cream.

I'm not being self-righteous here.  I've gone through two divorces, and I dearly miss what could have been.  I've learned to be OK alone, but I'd rather be married. 

Many of us, I suspect, have gone through divorces with the religions we group with.  I certainly have no right to judge anyone, but I can say from experience that just as profound love is not possible except in a committed relationship,  being spiritual without being part of a faith community is like trying to experience love at deep levels without being married.  That arrangement might be necessary for a time but it shouldn't be held up as an ideal.


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