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What is The Mother Church’s policy on sexuality and membership?

From the February 2014 issue of The Christian Science Journal

Q. What is The Mother Church’s policy on sexuality and membership?

A. The Clerk’s Office is sometimes asked about various types of sexual relationships and whether they should affect membership in The Mother Church. While on the surface of things it would seem as if these questions could be answered by a simple yes or no policy, our Church is committed to something deeper—to uniting with those who are “newborn of Spirit” (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 35).

When you think about it, would anyone really want to join a church that believed membership was simply a matter of coming up with a list of accepted and non-accepted behaviors and then deciding whether you agreed with them? For the Apostle Paul, the entrance of Christ into one’s heart (and isn’t that really what joining Church should be about?) demanded a whole new way of identifying ourselves: “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26).

Of course, our own new birth in Christianity doesn’t mean we abandon the moral demands of human relationships, but it heightens our commitment to expressing purity, love, and chastity within them. In that same letter to the Galatians we read, “Brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh” (5:13).

Those who join The Mother Church do so because they have caught some measure of the vision that is at the heart of Mary Baker Eddy’s discovery—“man is not material; he is spiritual”—and they want to unite with others who are working to demonstrate this great fact. Even when they fall short of the ideal, they still realize their heart’s desire is to overcome any mortal definition of self in order to follow Jesus’ example and teachings as the way of bringing to light our true spiritual identity. And they realize no one can do it for them.

Christian Science is, you might say, “grown up” Christianity. Its members aren’t expecting others to tell them how to think or act, but are turning daily to the Bible and the writings of Mary Baker Eddy to discern the unchanging moral and spiritual ideals that enable them to move forward amidst the ever-changing sexual norms and practices of today’s societies. Many have found timeless direction and guidance in the chapter on “Marriage” in Science and Health (pp. 56–69); articles in Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896, such as “Wedlock” (pp. 285–290), “A Christian Science Statute” (pp. 297–298), “Fidelity” (pp. 339–344); and “Prevention and Cure of Divorce” in The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany (pp. 268–269).

The Church Manual requires that an applicant “be a believer in the doctrines of Christian Science” (p. 34). And so the approver naturally turns to the Bible and the writings of Mary Baker Eddy for guidance on moral standards and spiritual demands. While we all have growing to do, it is important for the approver to be assured that the applicant is demonstrating enough of the ideal to move forward into membership and to continue to make progress. This step then leavens the membership and the world.

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