Innocence is a lot more than simply being not guilty of a crime. In its highest sense, it is spiritual, an irrevocable law of God, an active force. When seen as such, it can destroy whatever attaches itself unlawfully to our concept of man. God-given innocence is righteous power, and it means freedom from sin and sickness.
In this sense, then, active innocence heals mental retardation. It does this by-bringing the spiritual concept of purity— the perfection of God and His idea, man, as revealed in Christian Science—to victims of mental retardation.
Many of Christ Jesus' healings demonstrate this law of innocence at work. We find a healing of this sort in Mark. It involved a young man afflicted with a dumb spirit. To those who knew the boy, the evidence must have seemed conclusive and long-entrenched. To all appearances this lad's true individuality had been completely swallowed up by this disturbance.
But not so to Jesus. He applied the spiritually scientific law of innocence to the situation, for he understood the absolute impossibility of the slightest partnership between this boy's true Godlike nature and the devil, or evil belief, which plagued him. The Master challenged the error as something entirely apart from the boy. "Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him." Mark 9:25; And the lad was healed.
Fundamental to Christian Science healing is the spiritual fact that all disease, physical disability, mental and moral illness, regardless of how closely intertwined with their victims they may seem to be, are totally apart from God's man.
God, the one creative Mind of the universe, bestows every aspect of His creation with absolute perfection. Man, the offspring of this one Father-Mother, is pure in his expression of the divine Principle, God.
God, the flawless source of intelligence, manifests Himself in perfect spiritual man. Upon this basic truth rests the practice of Christian Science. One of the many references Mrs. Eddy makes to the perfection of God and man reads, "The great truth in the Science of being, that the real man was, is, and ever shall be perfect, is incontrovertible; for if man is the image, reflection, of God, he is neither inverted nor subverted, but upright and Godlike."Science and Health, p. 200;
Man is healthy, beautiful, intelligent, and complete. This is the truth of each one of us. Sickness and sin, war, pain, hunger, despair—all the wretched plagues attaching themselves to men—are distortions of the basic perfection of God and man. They are beliefs. When applied, the fundamental truth of man's unchangeable perfection destroys the false belief we see as sickness.
A shadow on the hillside never actually blends into the grass. The chalk on a blackboard never becomes part of the blackboard. And this false belief calling itself sickness and deformity is not part of man.
Mental retardation is just such a wrong belief about man's relation to God. It stems from the false assumption that each one has his own mind, apart from God, and that this mind can be disordered, deranged, immature—depending, in varying degree, on human parentage, the child's early environment, or just plain chance.
Mental retardation showing itself in a variety of physical, intellectual, and emotional abnormalities can be healed. The truths of Christian Science reverse and destroy these claims. Science makes clear that the one Mind is the divine Parent of man. Thus man inherits only the attributes of this Mind, such as completeness, control, and intelligence. Regardless of what we may see as detrimental in the human environment surrounding a victim of mental retardation, neither he nor anyone else is ever outside the pure, health-giving environment of the divine Mind. And an understanding of God, Life, as divine Principle, destroys any tendency to view life as depending on chance. For every physical or emotional abnormality, Christian Science offers the corrective counter-fact that destroys the error.
Mental retardation is a belief of evil that the all-encompassing divine Mind destroys. The descriptions "retarded child" or "the mentally retarded" appear to seal these individuals into permanent categories. But these simply do not exist. What we are actually working to correct is the specific impersonal error calling itself "mental retardation." Thus, such terms as "mentally retarded child" or "retarded children" are always improper—neither Christian nor scientific. The term "mental retardation," if viewed as an error of belief which Love destroys, is accurate only in specifying and disclosing a lie.
One way—the mortal way—of looking at this problem is that here is a "mentally retarded child," an innocent mortal child, small and helpless, who may or may not be the object of God's mercy. The scientific view—the one seeing mental retardation as an impersonal error—understands man's God-given innocence as a spiritual, healing force that attacks and destroys the mental lie. Those who espouse this view reason from the rudimental perfection of God and man.
When working with someone under the belief of mental retardation, our living and loving of the truth of man establishes a base from which we can see this truth manifested in the apparent victims. This living and loving demands a constant expectancy of good on our part, and the ready provision of appropriate channels through which this good can be illustrated in the lives of those suffering.
Thus, if the claim is one of dullness and inactivity, and if we are praying steadily to realize man's inclusion of progressive activity, we may provide ample opportunity for challenging activity suitable for a particular child. More than this, we can join with the child in a joyous way as he masters each small step. Activity and purpose destroy dullness and inactivity.
Or, if the claim is one of apparent helplessness and extreme mental dependence, and our prayers affirm that divine Mind's completeness is expressed in all its individual ideas, we may show our love for this truth by channeling the child into well-thought-out situations requiring greater and greater degrees of mental independence.
Of course, in all these situations, our metaphysical work is to correct our own concept of man. We do not give Christian Science treatment to others unless specifically asked.
In my teaching work with those apparently mentally retarded, several instances stand out as proof of the divine Mind's control. In one case a particular child appeared to have no bladder control, and I found myself changing him four or five times daily. But through the steady work of a Christian Science practitioner, who had been called by the child's mother, this problem was resolved quickly.
Of course, I didn't sit on the sidelines, metaphysically, during this time. I prayed for myself, to see God as present in every corner of being.
Another healing involved sluggishness and dull repetition, which gripped my class. Though it seemed the students were the ones manifesting these things, I knew the healing was needed in my concepts of the class and my teaching.
I prayed to see more of the depth and splendor of the one Mind, God—to see creativity, originality, and inspiration as natural results of realizing Mind's allness. I strove to illustrate these in my classroom by using some of the many fresh learning activities right before me, most of which required materials we already had.
The class lost its dull look as activity picked up. Several students reached new levels of alertness and vitality, and the teaching itself became a real adventure.
True innocence—the purity and perfection which God maintains in His spiritual children—excludes mental retardation. As we see this, the various claims of mental retardation, which may have loomed large, begin to diminish. Mrs. Eddy says: "Divine Science shows how the Lamb slays the wolf. Innocence and Truth overcome guilt and error." ibid., pp. 567-568.
Interested in more more Journal content?
Subscribe to JSH-Online to access The Christian Science Journal, along with the Christian Science Sentinel and The Herald of Christian Science. Get unlimited access to current issues, the searchable archive, podcasts, audio for issues, biographies about Mary Baker Eddy, and more. Already a subscriber? Log in