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Womanhood and the march of divine Truth

From the March 2019 issue of The Christian Science Journal

Throughout history, individuals and groups of people who have been marginalized by society have courageously spoken out, organized, and often caused movements to spring up to correct injustices. It’s a phenomenon that has enabled humanity to advance and achieve higher aims and goals for all members of society—not just for a select number. 

In the past year and a half, this has been exhibited in the movement against sexual harassment and assault. This movement has gained prominence in the United States and has taken root in other countries as well. 

The desire for individual worth to be acknowledged, respected, and realized in practical ways in our daily lives is innate to every man, woman, and child. But no matter how noble the human efforts to achieve this goal, they inevitably fall short of being totally triumphant. There’s always more work to be done and more battles to be waged. 

Perhaps the persistence of social injustice is rooted in how we’re looking at people. If our view of ourselves and others is based solely on outward appearances—gender, race, culture, socioeconomic status, education, and so forth—we will be hindered in our efforts to bring about reform. To achieve greater and more lasting results, we may need to rethink our starting point. 

The biblical record of creation in Genesis 1 sets forth the ultimate standard for mankind for all eternity. Verse 27 states, “God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” Then verse 31 says, “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.” 

This presents creation as flawless, wholly spiritual, and it includes everyone—no discrimination, no haves and have-nots, no disqualifying attributes apply. To behold the male and female that God sees requires looking beyond what the physical senses present and perceiving the infinite power and grandeur of His perfect, spiritual creation. And cherishing this standard of perfection in our individual lives will help alleviate injustices and promote greater peace, harmony, and healing. 

The Discoverer of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, learned the urgency and practicality of understanding one’s identity as wholly spiritual. In 1866 she experienced a remarkable healing as a result of turning to the Bible for aid and inspiration. This was followed by an in-depth study of the Scriptures to understand how she’d been healed. 

Then, after she was able to heal others successfully by putting into practice what she was learning, she went on to write an amazing book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. She also founded The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and established the denominational periodicals: The Christian Science Journal, Sentinel, and Herald, and the Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper—The Christian Science Monitor. And she taught thousands of students the Science of healing as practiced by Christ Jesus—all during a time when women hadn’t yet earned the right to vote in the United States. 

This New England woman’s revelation of the Science of the Christ, which came to her from God, was countering many prominent teachings of mainstream religions of her day, as well as prevalent beliefs about woman’s place in society. She perceived that each of God’s children is whole and complete, possessing both masculine and feminine qualities, including strength, wisdom, purity, tenderness, and love. Understanding the carnal mind’s resistance to this spiritual view, Mrs. Eddy wrote in Science and Health: “Materialistic hypotheses challenge metaphysics to meet in final combat. In this revolutionary period, like the shepherd-boy with his sling, woman goes forth to battle with Goliath” (p. 268). 

She did not allow limited perceptions about the role of women to hinder her God-given mission. Nor should women today allow such perceptions to stifle their progress in their daily

Early in my career, I had an experience that was particularly challenging for me as a young woman endeavoring to grow professionally. I gained a great appreciation for the spiritual strength and stamina Mary Baker Eddy exemplified in her leaning on God in the face of the oppressive and discriminatory behavior of her time. 

Both men and women deserve to be liberated from false, limiting labels imposed by materiality.

I’d been working in an office where all the managers were men. I loved my job, and the working relationship with my boss, who headed this office team, had always been positive and even fun. However, after I’d been in this position for several years, a new male manager was hired, and things began to shift dramatically. The mental atmosphere took on a different tone, growing more divisive and competitive. This man had an autocratic approach to management and was sending not-so-subtle messages that could be perceived as condescending to women. 

Even my relationship with my boss became less agreeable than before. Hierarchy now seemed more important than camaraderie and teamwork. I sensed that my value to the organization and to my boss was gradually being eroded.

As a student of Christian Science, I found myself turning to God prayerfully and consistently to deal with what I perceived as an increasingly toxic environment, especially for women. I felt it was imperative to pray specifically about my concept of womanhood and understand true worth and strength from a spiritual perspective. 

I knew there was no indication in the Bible that Jesus ever thought of women as less valuable than men. On the contrary, he elevated women’s concept of themselves on many occasions, as recorded in the accounts of his encounters with Mary Magdalene, including his pronouncement to her, “Thy sins are forgiven” (Luke 7:48), and his instantaneous healing of the woman with the twelve-year bleeding disorder, whom he tenderly referred to as “daughter” (Matthew 9:22). Jesus beheld each individual as the spiritual offspring of a loving God, made in His image and likeness—perfect, whole, and worthy of the utmost care. This is how he healed people and transformed their characters.

One afternoon after returning home from work, I was praying about a situation that had arisen with my boss that day. I don’t remember the details, but I do recall drawing upon a verse in Proverbs about the virtuous woman. It reads: “Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies” (31:10). This reminded me of my worthiness as God’s beloved daughter, expressing purity and goodness, and possessing tremendous value. 

The following day my boss and I were visiting in his office. After concluding our conversation, I turned to walk out, and he suddenly said, somewhat jokingly (he’d always had a good sense of humor), “Wait a minute, let me bless you!” He then reached into his desk drawer and, much to my surprise, pulled out a small Bible. He proceeded to read the same verse that I’d been praying with the day before, or one similar to it. Though he initially did this in a lighthearted, jesting manner, I remember his face remained down with eyes looking at the page, and I heard him say thoughtfully, “That’s true.” 

I left his office in awe. God was communicating directly to both of us. And why not, since we both were cherished and loved by the one Father-Mother God? This incident was a gentle reminder that God was present and the only real authority.

Another moment remains vivid in thought. Following a challenging day at work, I was feeling frustrated and found myself thinking, “Father, I don’t know why I keep having to pray about womanhood, but if that’s what You want me to do, then that’s what I’ll do.” It was a sincere acknowledgment that I was being called to stand firm for the spiritual, ideal woman of God’s creating, even though I didn’t fully understand why the demand persisted—and quite honestly, I was growing weary of the demand. But I was determined to obey! 

At one point, a female colleague made a comment to the effect that she respected my standing firm when I disagreed with or felt belittled by one or another of the men in the office. I was grateful my prayers were having an effect and the spiritual muscle I was developing wasn’t going unnoticed. 

On a subsequent occasion, this same woman approached me and asked to see my boss. When I replied that he wasn’t there, she rushed out of the office in tears and took off down the hall to the ladies’ room. I followed her to find out what was wrong, and her story came spilling out. She’d been facing sexual harassment from her immediate supervisor and was in dialogue with my boss about her concerns. 

In the ensuing days, this woman’s case rose to higher levels within the organization, and her supervisor was eventually removed from his job. Her courageous stand was proof of the power of true womanhood to confront and dethrone oppressive behavior.

Similar scenarios have played out again and again across the country and around the world, resulting in changes for the better. But the uncovering of evil isn’t about assigning blame to an individual, an organization, or a society. It’s about exposing and correcting erroneous beliefs that breed injustice. Science and Health explains: “Evil has no reality. It is neither person, place, nor thing, but is simply a belief, an illusion of material sense” (p. 71). 

The illusion is based on the false premise that creation is material. Scientific Christian reasoning always begins with God, good, and His perfect creation as the only reality. That God’s creation can either be a victim or a perpetrator can then be seen as illusory beliefs, as deceptions that must yield to spiritual fact, thus enabling harmony to be restored. 

A couple of years after the above-related situation, there was still dysfunction in the office, and I made the decision to leave. Had my prayers been futile? No! I’d experienced the tender, shepherding care of divine Love in this journey and had gained a spiritual concept of womanhood—strong, empowered, upheld and sustained by God. I had also grown in my conviction that God is all, and that my former coworkers—both male and female—and I had the same Father-Mother God. 

In the years since, I’ve had many happy and rewarding working relationships with men, both as coworkers and as bosses, without any repetition of the previous difficulties.

Steps of progress can be disruptive, but we should welcome the stirrings of human consciousness that force mankind to rise higher to behold God’s spiritual creation—loved, loving, and lovable. These movements of thought will uplift humanity and correct injustices, as the prophet Ezekiel promises: “Thus saith the Lord God; … exalt him that is low, and abase him that is high. I will overturn, overturn, overturn, it: and it shall be no more, until he come whose right it is; and I will give it him” (Ezekiel 21:26, 27). 

Both men and women deserve to be liberated from false, limiting labels imposed by materiality. How we identify ourselves and our neighbors is of vital importance. What is our starting point? Is it matter-bound or spiritually inspired? The answer to that question will determine our capacity to recognize true worth in ourselves and others. Matter-bound views weigh societies down and promote discord and disruption, while the spiritual view uplifts, frees, and harmonizes. 

Every member of society is blessed when injustices are corrected and the value of individuals, seen as the spiritual sons and daughters of God, is acknowledged, upheld, and vigilantly defended. The march of Truth, whenever and wherever it takes hold, deserves our support, our prayerful knowing, affirming, and rejoicing that God, the All-in-all, the one creator, is the only power that defines and governs mankind.

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