Defending true manhood
So much of what we see in the news is about violent crimes committed by men—murder, rape, assault, domestic abuse. If we take these reports at face value, masculine strength often seems to take the form of brutality. But Christian Science teaches us how to prayerfully defend ourselves, and men in general, against this mistaken concept of manhood.
Since God is pure good Himself, He never sees man in any other light.
The true view of man as created by God can be found in the first chapter of the Bible. Referring generically to all men and women, it says: “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth” (Genesis 1:26). This is the real man, whose strength is God-given and spiritual. The same chapter of the Bible says, “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good” (verse 31).
In Christian Science we learn that God’s man is the only man we are to acknowledge, the only man there really is. This is exactly why Jesus came to us—to demonstrate what the real man is, and that his true purpose is to be Godlike! If we truly worship God, then our praise for Him includes seeing all His sons and daughters as God created them—naturally doing good, because God is good and man is the reflection of God. God’s man was formed to do His will, in expressing God’s strong, loving nature, which naturally protects and whose activity is always right. Since God is pure good Himself, He never sees man in any other light.
It is this truth that sustains me when working at our Christian Science Reading Room in Auckland, New Zealand. One day a powerfully built man stood at the window, apparently reading a verse from the very large open Bible we keep visible from the sidewalk. But suddenly he began pounding on the window with both fists so hard that it appeared the glass would break.
As we pray for guidance, God leads us individually to do whatever is needed in our situation. In this case, recalling Christ Jesus’ statement that “no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6), I felt led to go outside, stand beside the man, and greet him.
When I introduced myself and asked him his name, he answered, “Legion!” He then put forth the most vulgar language and images. But I knew that was not what God was presenting to me about manhood. God was loving this man right then and there, and I told him so. I also told him he did not need to fear the vulgar things he was telling me about. He calmed down and began to ask me what one Bible verse meant that he had read through the window.
We talked quietly for a few minutes, and then the man calmly continued on his way along the sidewalk. I was grateful for this immediate proof of the truth that divine Love is governing and upholding the true nature of His sons and all His universe at all times.
A similar experience my mother had has always been an inspiration to me. One dark winter night, Mom drove into the church parking lot early to serve as an usher at a Wednesday testimony meeting. No one else had arrived yet, and as she got out of her car, she was confronted by a man with a gun. Immediately Mom told the man to “put that toy away,” and she began to cross the parking lot to the church door.
“This is no toy!” he responded angrily. Mom stopped in her tracks, but she remembered that she had come to church to pray and share fellowship. So she decided to begin prayer and fellowship right there, with that man standing next to her.
As she prayed silently, her heart filled with compassion for the man. She turned to him and said: “Let me help you. What can I do for you?” With that, the man looked shocked. He shoved the gun into his pocket and simply ran away.
Often, women and men confronted by a would-be attacker have turned those situations around by acknowledging the power of God.
Mary Baker Eddy writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, “… Love is reflected in love; …” (p. 17). As a mirror reflects the person in front of it, man can reflect only the pure and perfect qualities of his creator. So in reality, there is no criminal man, no brutish man, only the son of God, who is incapable of evil. When we carry this idea with us wherever we go, we are blessing and defending everyone within the range of our thought. Daily knowing this truth is obeying the two most important commandments Jesus commended to us—to love God above all, and to love our neighbor as ourselves.
Over more than a century, the Christian Science periodicals have related healings that occurred when someone understood the truth of God’s idea, man. Often, women and men confronted by a would-be attacker have turned those situations around by acknowledging the power of God, who fills all space, expressing Himself in perfection and right activity. They prayerfully lifted off of a seemingly ill-motivated man any idea of evildoing and discovered before them a good and innocent man.
That’s the effect of the Christ, the ever-present transforming power of Spirit, God, in whom we live and move. Science and Health states, “The harmony and immortality of man are intact” (p. 521). This is ours to know and to demonstrate always.