Early in my career with the United States Navy, while in the process of reporting to my first submarine, I had to undergo a physical examination. I had gone through several such exams for the Navy at this point, which I viewed as something the military required to ascertain that I was healthy enough to do my job. But as a Christian Scientist, I knew that health actually has nothing to do with bodily conditions; it is a spiritual quality that belongs to each of us as God’s creation.
I understood my true identity to be the reflection, or expression, of God
—something a physical exam cannot define or capture. So I was not concerned when the squadron medical officer told me my lab results indicated a potential problem with my prostate. I mentally declared that a medical exam could not reveal anything about my true spiritual nature, which is always perfect. It was important to me to demonstrate the healing efficacy of Christian Science, so I declined the prescription the medical officer gave me and told her I wanted to rely on prayer to resolve this situation. I then left to return to my submarine.
But the medical officer was concerned that I was defying her authority and undermining her responsibility for the health of everyone in the squadron. By the time I stepped back on board my submarine, she had called my executive officer, who was waiting for me. He listened to my explanation of the situation and made a call to the squadron chaplain. My commanding officer also expressed concern that I would not follow a medical regimen if he deemed it necessary for crew safety while at sea. It seemed that my challenge had grown from a lab analysis of a minor abnormality to having upset my superiors, thus starting my submarine assignment on the wrong foot.