What Are The Differences Between Faith, Religion, and Spirituality?

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“All major religious traditions carry basically the same message, that is love, compassion and forgiveness…

The important thing is they should be part of our daily lives.” —Dalai Lama

Faith, Religion, and Spirituality (FRS) – is a deep subject for such a short blog, but ohhhh what an important one. In my experience, many parents teach their children about religion, but great parents teach their children the differences between faith, religion, and spirituality. That’s why KIDmandment 10 is Faith, Religion, and Spirituality.

It is important that we teach our kids how to understand these sometimes complex and confusing ideas – and how they fit into their lives. Why? Because if they don’t understand the differences and get frustrated with one, chances are they will throw all three out the window and we can’t let that happen! Having FRS in your life is way too critical to finding happiness and purpose, and when we understand the differences between them and are at peace with our faith, we can build truly meaningful lives. I say “truly meaningful” because having a strong foundation and basis for believing, we will have a much better chance of sharing our purpose and meaning with our families, communities, and the world around us.

Faith

Faith is our belief and trust in a Higher Power, even when there is no empirical proof. It is believing in things we cannot perceive through the five senses, but which can be felt through the sixth sense: intuition. Our intuition tells us that there is something bigger than ourselves — the signs of this are everywhere if we open our souls to them — and faith is our belief that this is true.

Faith is not something that we only experience on Sundays when we are sitting in a pew at church; it is something that we carry with us at all times in our hearts and souls. We may feel most connected to a Higher Power while surrounded by our community at church, or we may feel it when we are by ourselves. Some people experience this connection when they are out in nature, some feel it stirring when they witness great human achievements, and many find it most strongly in their love for others.

When I say a “Higher Power,” I am referring to the term that allows people of all belief systems to associate with the God, Goddess, or Supreme Being of their choice. While I personally believe in Jesus Christ and believe in Him as my savior, I use the term Higher Power to be inclusive of all faiths. While I wish everyone was a Christian, what is more important to me in this message is that teaching your kids to have faith will provide them strength in times of crisis, peace when life is complicated, and/or guidance when we do not know where else to turn.

It was found in data from the National Study of Youth and Religion that 82 percent of children attached great importance to their beliefs and were active in their congregations when they were raised by parents who talked about faith at home. This statistic allows us to see physical evidence of the impact that we can have on our children. The benefits of faith are immense, as it can provide all of the things mentioned above, and faith is one of the greatest gifts we share with our children.

Religion

According to religioustolerance.org, religion may be defined as, “Any system of belief about a deity, often involving rituals, a code of ethics, a philosophy of life, and a world view.” It is straightforward and can be experienced through our senses. Religion gives us a sense of belonging to a community of like-minded individuals who worship a Higher Power in the same way and refer to it by the same name. Because of this, religion is easy to embrace, but also easy to reject.

Unfortunately, more and more young people today are turning away from organized religion, often because they view it as too strict or old-fashioned. This is why I feel it is so important to know the difference between religion, faith, and spirituality. I think it’s vital that those who feel religion isn’t a good fit for them understand that they can still have faith and spirituality play a large part in their lives. However, I believe that the community and support offered by religion remain very important to living a life of happiness, purpose, and meaning.

Spirituality

Spirituality brings purpose and meaning to life. It helps us understand our place in the world and honor the thing that are greater than just us — community, service to others, and a relationship with a Higher Power. Here is how Megan Davies Mennes describes it in a Huffington Post article in which she explores spirituality with her family,

“In other words, I don’t really care what they choose to believe so long as they’re thinking about it, questioning it, and ascribing to a system of beliefs that honors kindness, empathy and compassion for those around them.”

Keeping the lines of communication open is key to allowing our children to express their feelings, curiosities, and uncertainties. All of these things will inform their own spiritual development. But without religion, spirituality does have the ability to separate us from one another when we all create our own image of God. Therefore, we want to celebrate the way God made Himself without restricting how we teach our children to believe. By doing this, we give them a foundation for lives full of purpose and meaning.

Bringing FRS Into Our Children’s Lives

Faith, religion, and spirituality date back to the beginning of time. By teaching the importance of FRS to our children, and the differences of each, they can better understand what they truly mean. Whether that is through family, history, definitions, or how each part can play into their daily lives, by incorporating faith, religion, and spirituality into our family life, we are not only setting them up for successful relationships throughout their lives but also giving them a deeper understanding of the world that we live in.

In The 10 KIDmandments, I repeat the theme that our example is the most powerful gift we can give our children. By sharing our faith with them, incorporating them into our religious communities, and empowering them to develop their own spirituality, our example enables them to pursue lives filled with purpose and meaning.

How does your family bring FRS into your everyday lives? Tweet @JeffOddo to share your story!