‘The “male and female” of God’s creating’
The divine Science of Christ, discovered by Mary Baker Eddy, has demanded of me that I make a fundamental change in the way I look for and find answers to challenges—the challenges we all face in one way or another. Take the issue of gender, for example. It’s such an intimate and personal thing, having to do with how we feel about ourselves, how we act, how we relate to others, and how they relate to us. While society has often been inclined to make rash judgments concerning what is right or wrong, and while individuals have often been inclined to try to get others to see things a certain way, it’s been helpful to me to leave the court of error—of reasoning and judging on the basis of physical personality—and to develop within myself a spiritual view of existence from which to understand myself and others.
On all issues, including the issue of gender identity, I find it essential to start by turning to God, Spirit, the all-knowing Mind for guidance—for, as the prophet Isaiah observed, God is saying, “Before they call, I will answer” (65:24). It’s comforting to me to realize that God has already supplied the fundamental truths I need, and that He has given all of us the spiritual sense to discern these truths. Whenever I turn to Him with an open mind and an open heart, satisfying answers come; I find a sense of peace concerning my own identity, and the grace, compassion, and wisdom to respond to others in loving and helpful ways.
For example, the very first chapter of the Bible turns me directly to God. It says, “God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” (Genesis 1:27). To understand the nature of God’s image, of course, one needs to understand God’s nature. But as humans we have generally tried to understand God through the material senses. Observing the physical personality, we’ve reasoned that God must be like a human being, and this has left us with a manlike God, instead of a Godlike man—and with so many unanswered questions.
Christ Jesus gave us the better way. His teachings always direct us to look away from the human physique and personality to the worship of God as Spirit—to find our own true identity, and to understand the true identity of others.
We begin to see more and more clearly the purely spiritual identity of ourselves and others—as Jesus saw men and women.
Following Jesus’ lead, here’s how the divine Science of Christ has been helping me know how to turn to God and hear His answers: It explains that the divine Spirit, God, is not the creator of matter. Spirit is infinite, fills all space, and is the only cause and creator. And Spirit is one, not two; there is not one God who is male and another God who is female. The one Spirit includes all male and female qualities, and Spirit’s image, man (the generic term for all men, women, and children), includes all these qualities, as well. So man in God’s image is not divided into male and female, but each of us is actually the complete and perfect spiritual reflection of God, including strength, beauty, grace, intelligence, the warmth of divine Love, the integrity of divine Principle—all the good, spiritual qualities that God expresses—and also the satisfaction emanating from the one divine Soul, who dearly loves each one of us.
No one knew better than Christ Jesus that man’s spiritual identity has to be cherished, nurtured within our individual hearts and minds, and lived in lives of integrity and moral uprightness—in order to raise the level of spiritual understanding and loving for ourselves and for the world. That’s a tall order—and it takes plenty of prayer, and an ongoing, sincere revising of our thoughts and opinions in response to Christ’s transforming power. The dedication we need in order to grow in our own understanding of God, and of man as God’s spiritual image and likeness, takes not only humility and spiritual discipline, but a deep and abiding love and compassion for others that can support and encourage them.
The wonderful thing is that we each can be baptized into Christ, the spiritual Truth Jesus both taught and embodied—the Truth that can free us from the problems and anxieties accompanying a material view of identity. Mrs. Eddy gives us the spiritual sense of baptism in the Glossary of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: “BAPTISM. Purification by Spirit; submergence in Spirit” (p. 581). This baptism is not a one-time event. It is a continuous—day-by-day—submergence in Spirit, whereby we come to cherish and embody the spiritual sense of God and man taught by Christ Jesus, as presented in the Bible and explained in Science and Health. The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Christians in Galatia, encouraged us in this direction. He wrote: “As many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:27, 28).
As we proceed along this unselfish spiritual adventure, pursuing God’s answers and following His guidance, we begin to see more and more clearly the purely spiritual identity of ourselves and others—as Jesus saw men and women. The Bible speaks of Jesus as the Lamb of God, partly because he was so purely spiritual in his thoughts and actions; he turned away from all belief in materiality in his mental identification of others—in order to let the healing power of divine Love shine through him on them, and to give to us even today the answers we need.
It was certainly because my thoughts, and the thoughts of my fellow Christian Scientists, were grounded in a spiritual understanding of identity, and of Christly love, that we were able to very naturally embrace and love a beautiful young woman, whom we had known as a boy who had blossomed into a fine young man, and love having her with us in our gatherings.
I continue my efforts to keep my gaze steadily turned toward God as I live my life. Mrs. Eddy has given us such loving encouragement: “Look long enough, and you see male and female one—sex or gender eliminated; you see the designation man meaning woman as well, and you see the whole universe included in one infinite Mind and reflected in the intelligent compound idea, image or likeness, called man, showing forth the infinite divine Principle, Love, called God,—man wedded to the Lamb, pledged to innocence, purity, perfection” (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, pp. 268–269).
Looking to God for the answers we need, individually and as a society, does call for enormous sacrifices of material reasoning and judgment on our part. But making the effort to “let the ‘male and female’ of God’s creating appear,” as Mrs. Eddy calls on us to do in Science and Health (p. 249), leads us each to a higher and more satisfying understanding and demonstration of our own true Godlike identity, and also to a higher appreciation and love for one another as God’s likeness.