To be made free—morally and physically
In the small coastal town where we lived in the United States, preparations were underway for the annual, weeklong Fourth of July Independence Day celebration, which includes a parade on the last day. It was our first summer in our first house, and this promised to be a wonderful affair!
With three small children anxiously awaiting to join in on the fun, the countdown to the parade had begun. On Sunday, July 1, I was looking forward to attending church at the Christian Science Society near my home, which included crossing the border into Canada. But that day I had to decide if I was up to the trip, because since early morning I hadn’t been able to shake some discomfort in my side. Although I was praying to see the impossibility of anything getting in the way of keeping my commitment to church and the upcoming festivities, I hadn’t felt much relief.
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I decided to go ahead with the drive. However, as I approached the border I noticed a wonderful difference on the other side. To my surprise, Canadian flags were swirling just above every doorstep and lining newly decorated streets.
At the border crossing, during the guard’s inquiry as to why I was coming into Canada, I asked why there were so many flags flying. He leaned down and chuckled, “It’s Dominion Day, don’t you know that?”
Dominion Day! What a concept. On July 1, 1867, Canada became a self-governing territory (dominion) of Great Britain, thus the name “Dominion Day” (in 1982 the name was changed to Canada Day). Aside from this rather abrupt history lesson at the border, this simple idea of “dominion” really touched my thought.
Through my study of Christian Science, I had learned that in the spiritual record of creation (see Genesis 1), dominion is given to man by God. I continued my drive to church declaring my own dominion, and as I made my way into the parking lot a few blocks away, any discomfort I was feeling had completely faded away.
I knew that my health and well-being were dependent on God.
Freedom from physical discomfort is an undeniable divine right under the government of God. In fact, this freedom goes hand-in-hand with our God-given dominion. You can’t have one without the other! Taking a stand for the Fourth Commandment, “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8), I was already exercising my dominion over and freedom from both the fear and the pain that attempted to hold me back from worshipping God. I knew that my health and well-being were dependent on God.
This quick healing allowed me to feel a greater sense of joy and dominion through the action of the Christ. Christ is essential to healing in Christian Science. Christ is the divine and immortal idea of God. In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy writes, “Christ presents the indestructible man, whom Spirit creates, constitutes, and governs” (p. 316). Through Christ we gain an understanding of God’s presence and love. On that Sunday many years ago, I felt the presence of Christ, Truth, lift my thought through that simple Christlike concept of God-given dominion.
But does our dominion as God’s children include only physical freedom? What about moral freedom? Through a genuine study of the Bible and Science and Health, one is able to understand the nature of God better. This leads to understanding the laws of God, and the fact that these laws are all in place to protect not only our health, but our morals too; in other words, our ability to think and act rightly—with purity and integrity.
Moral freedom is undoubtedly our right as God’s spiritual ideas. After all, God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses, which are given to us as moral laws. They are a guide to living in accord with the divine right here in the human experience. These laws, when obeyed, are intended to protect our humanity and honesty, and uphold order among mankind. The spiritual integrity we express in keeping them is not to appease Deity; it is inherent in our nature—a declaration of our obedience to Him, and in turn a protection to us. This obedience proves that morality is our natural right, not just words in a book!
As a middle-schooler, like any one of us, I wanted to have friends. But any good qualities I had to share were overshadowed by a deep desire to be popular. This desire began to bring out cravings for acceptance and attention from others, which included smoking and drinking as a means for acceptance. These behaviors eventually became addictions that defined my social behavior into adulthood.
The thought that begins with self is personal sense. Personal sense includes worrying about what others think, and letting actions be determined by a desire for acceptance, and this is far from God-centered thinking. When we listen to personal sense and compromise our integrity, we lose sight of our spiritual dominion and freedom. We’re essentially consenting to the belief that life is separate from God, divine Love. This belief makes idols out of people. It invites unhealthy behavior that never guarantees a positive result.
Moral freedom is our right as God’s spiritual ideas.
This behavior lasted until I discovered how to exercise my dominion through spiritual and not personal sense. Science and Health states simply, “Spiritual sense is the discernment of spiritual good” (p. 505). Spiritual sense rouses our thought to an understanding of God’s abundant presence and love. Since God is infinite, how can our lives be confined to dependence on foreign substances or the approval of others? When we are awake to our God-given dominion and moral courage, we are protected from making immoral choices.
Instead of enabling these addictions and indulging in personal gratification, I learned to stand up for purity with spiritual clarity. I was willing to let go of relationships that conjoined smoking and drinking with friendship, and I made new friends who appreciated my spiritual qualities. I studied the Bible and Science and Health daily, coupled with prayer, establishing my day as God-centered.
This lifestyle change continues to establish a beautiful foundation for true freedom. I had chosen the better part—purity and sobriety—which restored genuine balance to my life. I had learned to demonstrate the moral freedom that man is given by God. By my clinging to God, any false sense of security once gained from outside influences was doomed. I welcomed the Christ, the presentation of that “indestructible man whom Spirit creates, constitutes, and governs,” and I accepted this true idea of man as true for me.
In Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896, Mary Baker Eddy writes: “The spiritual sense of Life and its grand pursuits is of itself a bliss, health-giving and joy-inspiring. This sense of Life illumes our pathway with the radiance of divine Love; heals man spontaneously, morally and physically,—exhaling the aroma of Jesus’ own words, ‘Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest’ ” (pp. 19–20).
Strengthening our spiritual sense through Christian Science brings healing to moral as well as physical challenges. As we claim this sense, we naturally grow spiritually and become more grounded in our trust in God, good. Each time a healing takes place, we become more assured of the power of Truth and Love to overthrow whatever would try to shut out the goodness, purity, and freedom that belong to man as God’s child.