For centuries, in some parts of the world, knowing and claiming one’s ancestry was a common practice in establishing one’s legal rights or other successions of entitlements sanctioned by law. In recent years, though, there has been a noticeable marketing effort to promote the search and discovery of one’s lineage for the purpose of establishing a sense of identity and social relatedness.
One popular method for identifying one’s ancestral roots is DNA testing. Many who search to answer the proverbial questions “Who am I?” or “Where did I come from?” assert that identifying the connection of genetic characteristics found in one’s family history will bring about a sense of well-being or completeness. Those embarking on this search cite a desire to discover similarities in culture and values, to ascertain a familial bond from which to build shared interests, to gain insight into one’s emotional proclivities, to predict one’s health and longevity, or to establish a sense of security or belonging.
Yet, to accept that our identity is governed by genetically controlled characteristics, and to believe that matter can contain or program itself to reproduce and sustain familial relations, only takes us deep into the belief that identity has its starting point apart from God. And accepting the conclusion that identity is transmitted from a mortal personality through laws of matter, makes us vulnerable and defenseless to all the varied beliefs associated with the so-called laws of heredity. To believe that matter or mortal personality is the origin and developing factor of good in our identity requires the corollary—that it can also be a source of evil, manifesting itself as hereditary disease, sickness, or any other physical or emotional malfunction or disorder.
The degree to which we unknowingly, but often willingly accede to hereditary beliefs is often very subtle. It may begin by comparing the physical characteristics, behaviors, or attitudes of someone to those of that person’s parent or other family member. Later, it may present itself as the self-admission of an individual who says, “I can’t help it; it’s just the way I am,” when trying to overcome unyielding patterns of disparaging attitudes or behaviors that are believed to have their origin in one’s family history. Consenting to the belief in heredity may also present itself as yielding to the temptation to capitulate to health-related challenges simply because of generational precedent.
Is there a viable path of healing for those seeking a permanent release from the enslavement of physical, mental, behavioral, or emotional consequences attributed to genetic theories? Or are we destined to hopelessly endure these consequences with no expectation for correction or resolution? Where can we turn to find answers of true relatedness that reveal a divine source of being and a birthright that is spiritually satisfying, health-giving, and enduring?
Through the study of Christian Science, we can begin to find healing answers to these challenging questions. Turning to the Bible, we find in the first chapter of Genesis that “God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” (verse 27). And since God is Spirit (see John 4:24), man’s true selfhood must be spiritual, Godlike, and entirely separate from the flawed and erroneous concepts arguing that man originates in and is derived from matter.
The Bible also declares: “This people have I [God] formed for myself; they shall shew forth my praise” (Isaiah 43:21). As cause and effect, as creator and creation, God and man are indissolubly united in a faultless bond of perfect reflection—God reflecting His own thoughts, and man being that reflection. And no theory of physical origin can invade or overthrow God’s uncontested law of spiritual relatedness. In the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy writes: “In Science man is the offspring of Spirit. The beautiful, good, and pure constitute his ancestry. His origin is not, like that of mortals, in brute instinct, nor does he pass through material conditions prior to reaching intelligence. Spirit is his primitive and ultimate source of being; God is his Father, and Life is the law of his being” (p. 63).
Learning that our identity is of spiritual origin, we can prove, by degrees, that there is no power or influence to dispute our God-ordained development. There is no source from which can emanate any persuasive claim of a counterfeit cause, presenting itself as prenatal trauma, arrested development, chronic illness, or any other discord or deformity that would prevent us from a full expression of our perfect selfhood. Man is never under an inevitable “family curse” or penalty, but is forever under God’s blessing of purity, completeness, and perfection. Refuting the assertion of human heredity, the prophet Ezekiel declares: “What mean ye, that ye use this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying, The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge? As I live, saith the Lord God, ye shall not have occasion any more to use this proverb in Israel” (Ezekiel 18:2, 3).
Man is never under an inevitable “family curse” or penalty, but is forever under God’s blessing of purity, completeness, and perfection.
The most remarkable example of divine sonship is that of Christ Jesus. He continually referred to God as his “Father” and acknowledged Him alone as the origin and continuing source of his selfhood; and this was foundational to Jesus’ unparalleled healing mission. Thus, his inspiring counsel to us: “Call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven” (Matthew 23:9). In Science and Health, Mrs. Eddy elucidates Jesus’ statement: “Jesus acknowledged no ties of the flesh.… He recognized Spirit, God, as the only creator, and therefore as the Father of all” (p. 31). Jesus constantly ratified his own heritage as the Son of God. And he proved—by healing people of physical and mental disorders of all kinds—that we, too, have a scientific unity with God as God’s sons and daughters.
One such healing serves as a helpful rebuke to the claim that evil can be inherited. Jesus and his disciples encounter a man “which was blind from his birth” (see John 9:1–7). Seeking to establish a material cause for the man’s blindness, his disciples ask, “Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus immediately replies, “Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.” Refusing to yield power or consequence to the belief of inherited sin or to a justification for the generational recurrence of physical disorder, Jesus at once heals the man of his blindness, proving the fact of God’s creating and governing influence and His supreme authority over man.
Perhaps one of the more elusive and often insidious phases of genetic legacy is the belief in an extreme mental influence of mortal personality and its claim to manipulate or dominate another’s individuality. This belief claims that sin, disease, character traits, and moral deformity can be transmitted from one generation to another and that one’s identity can be involuntarily mapped out and controlled through mental manipulation. Yet, in Christian Science we can scientifically affirm and prove that nothing can come to us or go from us but what God alone expresses. In the chapter “Christian Science versus Spiritualism” in Science and Health, Mrs. Eddy addresses this dichotomy when she writes: “The belief that one man, as spirit, can control another man, as matter, upsets both the individuality and the Science of man, for man is image. God controls man, and God is the only Spirit. Any other control or attraction of so-called spirit is a mortal belief, which ought to be known by its fruit,—the repetition of evil” (p. 73).
In cases where a challenge appears to be unyielding or repetitive, there may be a specific need to insist that mortal personality or generational fears and beliefs are not being allowed into thought as authority or influence. What was never true in the first place cannot be made real by a belief of repetition; the repetition of a lie has never made a lie a reality. The Bible authoritatively states: “He [God] will make an utter end: affliction shall not rise up the second time” (Nahum 1:9).
The claim that genetic theories or ancestral patterns have power to proliferate their lies is annulled by the Christ, the Truth that affirms God as our eternal source of being, and true selfhood as His image and likeness. In this indestructible unity with our Father-Mother God, we discover a powerful and undeniable blueprint for perfect selfhood, which is the only identity we can ever wish for or have and is forever immune from any man-made theories, medical opinions, or so-called laws of genetic disorder or influence. Armed with this knowledge, we will not become gullible prey of the popular suggestion that an exploration of genealogy will make us satisfied or complete. True self-knowledge is the consistent knowing of ourselves as God conceives us, an awareness of our spiritual identity as God’s loved offspring. This recognition will always provide us with an understanding of our wholeness, health, and moral uprightness.
To the extent we accept, yield to, and assert this spiritual heritage, we are freed from any suggestion or tendency to explore the pitfalls of mortal derivation or to passively consent to wrongful suggestions of ancestral cycles, i.e., irreversible verdicts of poor health, entrenched patterns of disease, or models of destructive behavior. Evolutionary theories and beliefs of ancestry are proved powerless when we rightly understand God’s unerring laws that govern creation. We can accept and demonstrate step by step this scientific fact: “Eternal harmony, perpetuity, and perfection, constitute the phenomena of being, governed by the immutable and eternal laws of God; whereas matter and human will, intellect, desire, and fear, are not the creators, controllers, nor destroyers of life or its harmonies. Man has an immortal Soul, a divine Principle, and an eternal being. Man has perpetual individuality; and God’s laws, and their intelligent and harmonious action, constitute his individuality in the Science of Soul” (Mary Baker Eddy, No and Yes, pp. 10–11).
Each of us has a God-determined birthright that is whole, perfect, and complete; it is forever intact and can never be altered, destroyed, or rejected. This is the inheritance that is ours to prove and the only ancestry we need ever claim.
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