Many years ago, a woman who had been recently widowed was experiencing increasing soreness in her pelvic bone, making it painful for her to walk or sit easily. One morning as she prayed about this condition, she saw the need to reject every argument of the material senses that she originated and lived in matter; and to adhere with uncompromising fidelity to the truth of her immortal spiritual identity originating in, and inseparable from, the divine Mind, God.
Several times during that day she returned to these powerful spiritual facts. And then, suddenly, the words no borrowed bones came to thought. As she pondered the unusual message, she began to realize that it referred to a passage in the second chapter of Genesis: "And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman" (verse 22). The connection was clear: the allegorical first woman, Eve, had been formed from a bone borrowed from the first man, Adam, implying that womanhood had been removed from the man to make a woman, leaving both the man and the woman incomplete.
The woman then concluded that the physical condition she suffered from could well be rooted in the age-old mental concept that a woman simply isn't whole without a man. And that, logically, the only antidote for this erroneous concept was to stick to the truth that she was not modeled after Eve at all, but after the pattern of spiritual womanhood stated in the first chapter of Genesis, in which "God created man in his own image . . . male and female created he them" (verse 27). Here, in the only real creation, man and woman spring from Mind simultaneously through the perpetual action of divine law, not through any physical process. Each reflects the completeness of the divine nature, lacking nothing, and embodying both masculine and feminine qualities, true manhood and true womanhood. And each is at one, right now, with divine Love.
As this woman affirmed these truths, the symptoms began to fade, and soon she was completely well.
Certainly it would be absurd to think that the all-knowing, all-powerful Mind, the infinite Soul of all, would need to borrow something from one entity in order to produce another! And the conclusions drawn from this absurdity are of enormous and universal significance to both men and women. These are among the most significant:
1. That woman was the only being in all of creation not fashioned directly by God, but formed instead from something already made;
2. That the creation of woman was not worthy of original thought, and was even an afterthought—making woman the only afterthought in all of creation, and therefore arguably the least loved entity in creation;
3. That man, instead of God, was the starting point of woman, thereby linking woman directly to man. This included the linking of her fulfillment to her husband (see Gen. 3:16), and also her knowledge of right and wrong, since woman had not yet been created when God gave instructions concerning the forbidden tree;
4. That woman was designed and ordained to serve and submit to a man instead of to God, giving her no truly individual purpose;
5. That woman has no direct relationship or link to God (is even named by Adam instead of God), but instead relates to her Maker only through an intermediary—a man. This latter conclusion denies the coincidence of divinity with human womanhood, and bases a patriarchal creation eternally dominated by the man.
Considering that nothing has genuine value and authority, or even health and well-being, unless it derives directly from God; and considering that some 54 percent of the world's population (Christian, Jewish, and Islamic) accepts the second chapter of Genesis as the explanation of creation (with most of the remaining religions embracing theological or cultural views of women as inferior to men), then one can see why this facet of the Genesis 2 myth has had devastating consequences throughout human history for women all over the world.
To name just one of countless examples, the killing of baby girls has been practiced for thousands of years, the outcome of a cultural or religious preference for male children, a practice found mainly in patriarchal societies where the line of descent passes through the men.
Without question, it takes radical, deep Christian metaphysics to penetrate to the root of such an egregious and entrenched evil. What are the core spiritual facts, then, on which to base our prayer? What divine truths, or laws, are embracing precious human womanhood right now—laws that, when applied, must overcome the inequality, degradation, and persecution of women?
First might be the truth of the masculine and feminine nature of God, whose fullness is reflected by His/Her entire creation. Since man was created male and female in the image of God, it follows that woman could only have emanated from a God whose being is both masculine and feminine, Father and Mother—the motherhood of God being equal to Her fatherhood. In fact, Christian Science often refers to God, the divine Principle, Love, with the dual and united name of "Father-Mother." Then, since God's motherhood and fatherhood are equal—and must necessarily express that equality on earth as in heaven—why doesn't the motherhood of God have a more substantial, literal presence in the Bible—apart from simile and metaphor? Actually, it does.
When the wives of the patriarchs—Sarah, Rebecca, and Rachel—and later Hannah (the prophet Samuel's mother), also Samson's mother, and even Elisabeth, John the Baptist's mother—were one after another found to be barren, their communion with God resulted in conception. These events have been traditionally viewed as instances of divine intervention in the physical process of human conception.
But God, Spirit, does not "intervene" to enable mortals to create other mortals. Spirit alone originates and develops all individualities. True reproduction, here and now, is the mental manifestation, or reflection, of divine creative power, and is not linked to matter or material forces.
Thus, for all of these barren women, difficulty in conceiving a child was not a condition of matter, but might be seen as a woman's separation from God, the Mother of all. Their healings of barrenness tell the story of God's motherhood, unfolding the demand on human consciousness to see that a woman's ability to be a mother is linked foremost to her unity with God, divine Life. And they also provide glimpses of causation as entirely separate from matter and material sense, gently opening the way for human consciousness to accept the virgin birth of Jesus.
The angel Gabriel revealed to the Virgin-mother that she would spiritually conceive the man Jesus, who would be the Savior of the world—who would save humanity from the belief of life and mind in matter. But in order for her to be the human mother of this divinely conceived child, woman's direct, unbroken unity with her divine Principle, Love, the Father-Mother of all, had to have been established. The scientific link that eternally exists between God and woman (as declared in Genesis 1) was demonstrated when Mary yielded to the overshadowing presence of the Holy Ghost, the law of Love, and conceived.
But why has this deep truth of God's motherhood been so hidden? Perhaps it is because womanhood is the spiritual idea of divine Love, the idea most hated and persecuted by the carnal mind. Science and Health explains, "The serpent, material sense, will bite the heel of the woman,—will struggle to destroy the spiritual idea of Love; and the woman, this idea, will bruise the head of lust" (p. 534). Love is the carnal mind's destroyer, the holy weapon of spiritual warfare. All evil falls—is proven powerless and unreal—before divine Love. Our Master, Christ Jesus, taught and fully proved that divine Love alone overcomes the world.
Spiritual oneness includes the promise of woman's freedom from women's diseases.
In her book Unity of Good, under the heading "What say you of woman?" Mrs. Eddy answered: "Man is the generic term for all humanity. Woman is the highest species of man, and this word is the generic term for all women; but not one of all these individualities is an Eve or an Adam. They have none of them lost their harmonious state, in the economy of God's wisdom and government" (p. 51).
Remarkably, the Biblical symbol in the book of Revelation dealing specifically with the oneness of God and generic man is a woman—"a woman clothed with the sun" (Rev. 12:1)—the woman whose significance, when fully demonstrated, will end the mythical reign of Eve and Adam on earth. I feel that by revealing and interpreting this spiritual symbol, Mrs. Eddy provided the antidote for each of the egregious errors that have led to woman's degradation. First she writes: "The woman in the Apocalypse symbolizes generic man, the spiritual idea of God; she illustrates the coincidence of God and man as the divine Principle and divine idea" (Science and Health, p. 561). Doesn't this help destroy the age-old belief that woman has no direct link to God?
Second, Mrs. Eddy writes: "As Elias presented the idea of the fatherhood of God, which Jesus afterwards manifested, so the Revelator completed this figure with woman, typifying the spiritual idea of God's motherhood" (Science and Health, p. 562). This may deal specifically with the Genesis 2 implication that God had no motherhood or feminine nature to express specifically as woman.
Third, Mrs. Eddy states, ". . . the spiritual idea is typified by a woman in travail . . . " (Science and Health, p. 562) unfolding the woman in terms of human motherhood, and decisively showing the connection between divine and human motherhood. This concept, conclusively linking God, the divine Principle, Love, with human womanhood, accords woman on earth the full blessing that belongs to every child of God. To me, this illustrates every woman's privilege to break the Eve syndrome, to affirm and express the authority, power, dignity, position, and unique individuality that comes from woman's oneness with God. And this spiritual oneness includes the promise of woman's freedom from so-called women's diseases, including the beliefs of bone loss and menstrual suffering.
We know that Adam certainly did not represent the ideal man to whom Mind gave dominion over the whole earth. Christ Jesus was that ideal man. In completely solving the problem of Adam, Jesus opened the way for every man and woman to work out the Science of being, to demonstrate his or her wholeness, and the dominion ordained for us by God.
But the specific, scientific liberation of human womanhood from the bonds of Genesis 2 necessitated that a woman follow the path carved out by Christ Jesus—a woman who could break those bonds herself by revealing and demonstrating the Science, or law, of Jesus' teachings and practice. As I see it, this liberation needed a human woman to stand as an example and a promise to every woman on earth that all women have the ability to prove their original oneness with God that puts the moon, or matter, under their feet (see Science and Health, p. 561). A woman who would illustrate the authority of a woman whose humanity coincides with divinity, whose every accomplishment would be the outcome of her demonstrated unity with her Maker.
One could say that Mary Baker Eddy, as the Discoverer of the Science of Christianity, as Founder and Leader of the Christian Science movement, has given humanity the purest possible example of the demonstration of spiritual womanhood. Mrs. Eddy's obedience to God, divine Love, enabled her to conceive and bring forth her child—Christian Science. Speaking of the Scriptural metaphor of the woman in travail, Mrs. Eddy wrote in Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896, "Do the children of this period dream of the spiritual Mother's sore travail, through the long night, that has opened their eyes to the light of Christian Science?" (p. 253).
Not only is Mrs. Eddy's message precious, but as the precious messenger, her own remarkable human journey illustrates the fact that woman has never in reality been an Eve—inferior to man, weak, dependent, despised, or downtrodden. Her life illustrates the lifting up of both womanhood and manhood from the mortal to the immortal—doing this entirely through divine, not human power.
The importance of Mrs. Eddy's demonstration of spiritual womanhood cannot be overestimated. Armed with her developing understanding of the Science of being, she worked against opposition and scorn from family and society, against terrible loneliness, mockery, persecution, fear, illness, the betrayal of friends, students, and even some of the people she had healed. She carved a place for her discovery and founded her worldwide church in a country where women still could not vote. And most important, she accomplished everything through spiritual means alone, on the basis of her demonstrated spiritual individuality, not personal power or education or social position.
Every step of her human experience, every trial and every triumph, symbolized the journey all men and women can make out of the most entrenched theological and cultural traditions and beliefs—journey out of darkness into light, out of bondage into freedom, out of subjection into authority, into the understanding of humanity's dominion over the whole earth.
Mrs. Eddy showed all humanity that our dominion is the reflection of God's dominion. But this dominion isn't gained through self-assertion, which claims a competent personal self apart from God that must achieve ascendancy through feminine wiles, manipulation, or aggressiveness, or through masculine pressure and domination. Instead, it's gained through the self-denial that abandons material personality and recovers one's original being—his/her unique spiritual individuality in the likeness of the one Ego, God.
Divine Science reveals the great spiritual fact that men and women are each linked directly to their dear Father-Mother God; that woman was not made from a man, and has never borrowed nor had to appropriate a single element from him; that each woman's individuality is, right now, infinitely loved, protected, empowered, glorified, because each woman, just like each man, is eternally inseparable from God, her divine Principle, Love.
Barbara Cook Spencer is a Christian Science practitioner. She and her husband, Jim, live in Brookline, Massachusetts.
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