Monthly Archives: March 2017

The Sixth Commandment – A Christian Science Perspective, Part Two

Christian Science and the Sixth Commandment:

Holding before us this ideal of forgiveness as taught by Jesus, how could Christians
ever justify killing? Alas, there are many issues relating to “killing” that the world still
struggles with:

War
Suicide
Abortion
Genocide
Capital punishment
Euthanasia or mercy killing
Killing in self-defense or protection of others
Driving while under influence of alcohol, drugs, or anger

As mankind grapples with how to apply the Sixth Commandment to these issues,
some of which may seem justified at times, we must never lose sight of the original
ideal put forth by God to Moses, and then by Jesus in his teachings of mercy and
self-sacrifice. Simply put: Thou shalt not kill. One day, humanity will have grown
spiritually to the place where there is no longer a need to justify any form of killing.
Yielding to God’s will, we will find a better way to peace and harmony.

We are taught in Christian Science to literally obey the Sixth Commandment. How
this is applied in today’s society to the various issues listed above is something
each individual must pray about and demonstrate on his or her own. There is no
official church stand on political and social issues
. However, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, had strong views about war, in particular, as we shall see in upcoming citations.

The main thrust of Mrs. Eddy’s teachings regarding “Thou shalt not kill,” is the spirit
of this law: We must destroy the hate and anger which erupt in thoughts and acts of
violence. There are many ways to kill morally and spiritually, in addition to physically.
It is not enough to simply resist physically killing someone, if we are assassinating
his or her character in our conscience. We should also resist killing reputations,
opportunities, livelihoods, worthy goals, or anything that rightfully belongs to another.
We do not control or manipulate the lives of others for personal power. We do not
break or kill the “spirit” of anyone, especially children.

The world needs to grow into the spiritual maturity which will fulfill the Sixth Command-
ment. If someone stands in the way of what we think we want, we must learn to bow
in humility to God’s will, and wait for the proper flow of events that will bless everyone.
We must recognize the power of Love in the law behind the Golden Rule. Christian
Science gives us the mental tools to work with.

For a complete presentation of Christian Science, I recommend you read Mrs. Eddy’s primary work, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.” This is necessary to understand the basis upon which the citations and statements in this essay are based.

What does Christian Science bring to an understanding of the Sixth Commandment that is unique?

Christian Science, discovered by  Mary Baker Eddy in 1866, reveals the truth about God and man that has been demonstrated by thousands of spiritual healings. Research within the published testimonies of healings will show that many people have found Christian Science an aid in forestalling violence or recovering from the effects of it. Many have been healed of the hate and anger which could have exploded into harmful acts. People in wartime have been protected by an understanding of the ever-presence of divine Life and Truth and Love.

One truth that Christian Science proves is that God is infinite Spirit and is perfect, and man, His “image and likeness” (as the Bible teaches), is therefore spiritually perfect. God’s creation is therefore spiritual only, leaving what is called “matter” to have no real substance, life, or intelligence, except in the realm of mortal mind beliefs and illusions. Therefore, in spiritual reality (the only reality) man cannot kill or be killed. While that statement may seem delusional to those unfamiliar with how Christian Science works, it is the basis for demonstrating God’s power over evil.

Also, according to Christian Science, any attempt by a mortal to kill will be proven ineffective, since man never really dies. Life is eternal, because God is eternal. Man reflects this eternal Life as God’s “image and likeness.” If, from humanity’s earthly point-of-view, a loved one is killed, we can take comfort in the fact that God has preserved his or her life, in spite of what we seem to experience. This may be a tough fact to grasp, but many people have been healed of severe grief by accepting that Life is eternal. Jesus proved this for all time through his resurrection from the grave and his ascension above all material beliefs. Ultimately, mankind will be able to prove this as well. “Thou shalt not kill” means also “Thou cannot kill.”

One unique Christian Science interpretation of the Sixth Commandment can be found in Gilbert Carpenter’s book “Mary Baker Eddy: Her Spiritual Precepts, Volume IV.”  In it he writes:  “Once Mrs. Eddy interpreted the Commandment, ‘Thou shalt not kill, ‘ as ‘. . . shall not kill our insight into spiritual things — it would be the commission of the greatest sin, to kill the spiritual insight.'”

The whole of Christian Science itself is unique to other teachings and systems, not just in its Founder’s interpretations of the Commandments and other Bible verses.  Mrs. Eddy explains:

“What is the cardinal point of the difference in my metaphysical system? This: that by knowing the unreality of disease, sin, and death, you demonstrate the allness of God. This difference wholly separates my system from all others. The reality of these so-called existences I deny, because they are not to be found in God, and this system is built on Him as the sole cause. It would be difficult to name any previous teachers, save Jesus and his apostles, who have thus taught.”  (Un. 9:27)

Does God cause death?

People often suggest that someone’s death may be “God’s will.” This is not a teaching of Christian Science. God is Love and Love never kills. We read in Science and Health:

“God, divine good, does not kill a man in order to give him eternal Life, for God alone is man’s life. God is at once the centre and circumference of being. It is evil that dies; good dies not.” (S&H 203:31)

“Does God send sickness, giving the mother her child for the brief space of a few years and then taking it away by death? Is God creating anew what He has already created? The Scriptures are definite on this point, declaring that His work was finished, nothing is new to God, and that it was good.

“Can there be any birth or death for man, the spiritual image and likeness of God? Instead of God sending sickness and death, He destroys them, and brings to light immortality. Omnipotent and infinite Mind made all and includes all. This Mind does not make mistakes and subsequently correct them. God does not cause man to sin, to be sick, or to die.” (S&H 206:19-31)

“In one sense God is identical with nature, but this nature is spiritual and is not expressed in matter. The lawgiver, whose lightning palsies or prostrates in death the child at prayer, is not the divine ideal of omnipresent Love. God is natural good, and is represented only by the idea of goodness; while evil should be regarded as unnatural, because it is opposed to the nature of Spirit, God.” (S&H 119:17-24)

What is “death” according to the teachings of Christian Science?

As we learn in Christian Science, man is more than what he appears to be to the five physical senses.  He is not mortal, but has a spiritual identity. We can also say of death that it is not what it appears to be to the physical senses.  Life cannot be destroyed by death, even though it seems that way to those experiencing it from a mortal viewpoint. Death is a mortal belief to be destroyed by spiritual understanding, just as sin, sickness, and disease are.  Jesus commanded that his followers “raise the dead.”  Christian Science shows us how to do that.

The Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, by Mary Baker Eddy, explains and develops this concept much better than can be done in this short space, but here are a few citations that touch upon the concept of death.  Each one tackles the beliefs of death from different angles, and require careful study to understand.

Mary Baker Eddy responds to this question by a reader:
“After the change called death takes place, do we meet those gone before? — or does life continue in thought only as in a dream?

“Man is not annihilated, nor does he lose his identity, by passing through the belief called death. After the momentary belief of dying passes from mortal mind, this mind is still in a conscious state of existence; and the individual has but passed through a moment of extreme mortal fear, to awaken with thoughts, and being, as material as before. Science and Health clearly states that spiritualization of thought is not attained by the death of the body, but by a conscious union with God. When we shall have passed the ordeal called death, or destroyed this last enemy, and shall have come upon the same plane of conscious existence with those gone before, then we shall be able to communicate with and to recognize them.

“If, before the change whereby we meet the dear departed, our life-work proves to have been well done, we shall not have to repeat it; but our joys and means of advancing will be proportionately increased.

“The difference between a belief of material existence and the spiritual fact of Life is, that the former is a dream and unreal, while the latter is real and eternal. Only as we understand God, and learn that good, not evil, lives and is immortal, that immortality exists only in spiritual perfection, shall we drop our false sense of Life in sin or sense material, and recognize a better state of existence.”  (Mis. 42)

“DEATH. An illusion, the lie of life in matter; the unreal and untrue; the opposite of Life . . . Matter has no life, hence it has no real existence. Mind is immortal. The flesh, warring against Spirit; that which frets itself free from one belief only to be fettered by another, until every belief of life where Life is not yields to eternal Life. Any material evidence of death is false, for it contradicts the spiritual facts of being.” (S&H 584:9-16)

“Matter has no life to lose, and Spirit never dies. A partnership of mind with matter would ignore omnipresent and omnipotent Mind. This shows that matter did not originate in God, Spirit, and is not eternal. Therefore matter is neither substantial, living, nor intelligent. The starting-point of divine Science is that God, Spirit, is All-in-all, and that there is no other might nor Mind, — that God is Love, and therefore He is divine Principle.” (S&H 275:1-9)

“Man in the likeness of God as revealed in Science cannot help being immortal.  Though the grass seemeth to wither and the flower to fade, they reappear. Erase the figures which express number, silence the tones of music, give to the worms the body called man, and yet the producing, governing, divine Principle lives on, — in the case of man as truly as in the case of numbers and of music, — despite the so-called laws of matter, which define man as mortal. Though the inharmony resulting from material sense hides the harmony of Science, inharmony cannot destroy the divine Principle of Science. In Science, man’s immortality depends upon that of God, good, and follows as a necessary consequence of the immortality of good.” (S&H 81:17-30)

“The fact that the Christ, or Truth, overcame and still overcomes death proves the “king of terrors” to be but a mortal belief, or error, which Truth destroys with the spiritual evidences of Life; and this shows that what appears to the senses to be death is but a mortal illusion, for to the real man and the real universe there is no death-process.

“The belief that matter has life results, by the universal law of mortal mind, in a belief in death. So man, tree, and flower are supposed to die; but the fact remains, that God’s universe is spiritual and immortal. “The spiritual fact and the material belief of things are contradictions; but the spiritual is true, and therefore the material must be untrue. Life is not in matter. Therefore it cannot be said to pass out of matter. Matter and death are mortal illusions. Spirit and all things spiritual are the real and eternal.  (S&H 289:14-30)

“Mortal belief says that death has been occasioned by fright. Fear never stopped being and its action. The blood, heart, lungs, brain, etc., have nothing to do with Life, God. Every function of the real man is governed by the divine Mind. The human mind has no power to kill or to cure, and it has no control over God’s man. The divine Mind that made man maintains His own image and likeness. The human mind is opposed to God and must be put off, as St. Paul declares. All that really exists is the divine Mind and its idea, and in this Mind the entire being is found harmonious and eternal. The straight and narrow way is to see and acknowledge this fact, yield to this power, and follow the leadings of truth.” (S&H 151:14-30)

“If you or I should appear to die, we should not be dead. The seeming decease, caused by a majority of human beliefs that man must die, or produced by mental assassins, does not in the least disprove Christian Science; rather does it evidence the truth of its basic proposition that mortal thoughts in belief rule the materiality miscalled life in the body or in matter. But the forever fact remains paramount that Life, Truth, and Love save from sin, disease, and death. ‘When this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality [divine Science], then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory” (St. Paul).’” (S&H 164:17-29)

While not every student of Christian Science has been able to prove that death is unreal by “raising the dead” as Jesus did, we accept that his resurrection and ascension demonstrated that death can be overcome. Our present demonstrations should at least consist of what Mrs. Eddy describes as “raising the dead, — those dead in trespasses and sins, satisfied with the flesh, resting on the basis of matter, blind to the possibilities of Spirit and its correlative truth.” (S&H 316:29)

That citation tells us that the healing of the sins of the flesh is chipping away at the
belief in death, and we can have faith that we are working toward the goal of
destroying the “last enemy” of death. That said, there are accounts of Christian
Scientists, including Mrs. Eddy, having brought people back from death’s door,
and perhaps a few steps beyond.

Even though today’s Christian Scientists may not be raising the dead on a
consistent basis at this period in history, the fact that “Life is immortal” is the
spiritual law that underlies the thousands of physical healings that have occurred
on a daily worldwide basis over the past century and more. As mankind grows
spiritually — both individually and collectively — there will be more and more proofs
that death, including attempts to murder, has no power to rob us of the life that
God has given us, and that He eternally sustains. Already, there have been
millions of people (according to Gallup Polls and other studies), who have
experienced “near deaths” (NDE’s), and have reported that life does indeed
continue after leaving their mortal bodies. The writer’s mother had such an
experience, which had a great impact on how she lived her life. She said she
never feared death after being allowed to make the choice to return in order to
care for her family.

While many people of various faiths also believe in an afterlife, students of
Christian Science have added to the proof that Jesus gave us, through an
understanding that man’s spiritual identity does not end because of a material
sense of death by those of us left behind when someone appears to die. This
truth, or law, can heal the belief of death here and now, just as it heals sickness
and sin, however modest that proof may be. Sooner or later, mankind will prove
that God’s kingdom is come on earth, as it is in heaven.

Does this teaching of Christian Science — that death is an illusion — mean that we can be indifferent to impulses to lash out in anger, or even to kill? After all, some might argue, we cannot really hurt anyone if matter is unreal!

No, this is not how Christian Science works. In our human experience, we must
discipline our thoughts and lives to conform to the laws of the Bible and the Christian
morals taught by Jesus. We must rebuke sin in ourselves and others, and we must
pay the penalties for sinful thoughts and acts until we cease sinning and destroy the
belief in its pleasures and pains. We must pray to understand the spiritual facts of
God, Truth. We use the truth about the unreality of sin to destroy it, not to justify it!
We do not indulge in sin and then claim it is “unreal,” pretending that we have
nothing to feel guilty about or be punished for. That is “mental quackery” and not
Christian Science. Mrs. Eddy comments:

“The evil-doer receives no encouragement from my declaration that evil is unreal, when I declare that he must awake from his belief in this awful unreality, repent and forsake it, in order to understand and demonstrate its unreality. Error uncondemned is not nullified. We must condemn the claim of error in every phase in order to prove it false, therefore unreal.” (Message for 1901 14:30-6)

“The notion that one is covering iniquity by asserting its nothingness, is a fault of zealots, who, like Peter, sleep when the Watcher bids them watch, and when the hour of trial comes would cut off somebody’s ears.” (Mis. 335:21-24)

Are there any specific directions about applying the Sixth Commandment to
impulses to kill, including self-defense?

Here are a few below. Mrs. Eddy’s statements on war and suicide are in separate sections.

“‘Thou shalt not kill;’ that is, thou shalt not strike at the eternal sense of Life with a malicious aim, but shalt know that by doing thus thine own sense of Life shall be forfeited.” (Miscellaneous Writings 67:10-13)

“The Christianly scientific man reflects the divine law, thus becoming a law unto himself. He does violence to no man.” (S&H 458:23-25)

“Love metes not out human justice, but divine mercy. If one’s life were attacked, and one could save it only in accordance with common law, by taking another’s, would one sooner give up his own? We must love our enemies in all the manifestations wherein and whereby we love our friends; must even try not to expose their faults, but to do them good whenever opportunity occurs. To mete out human justice to those who persecute and despitefully use one, is not leaving all retribution to God and returning blessing for cursing.” (Mis. 11:14-23)

“As I now understand Christian Science, I would as soon harm myself as another; since by breaking Christ’s command, ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself,’ I should lose my hope of heaven.” (Mis. 311:19-22)

“The Jewish religion demands that ‘whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed.’ But this law is not infallible in wisdom; and obedience thereto may be found faulty, since false testimony or mistaken evidence may cause the innocent to suffer for the guilty. Hence the gospel that fulfils the law in righteousness, the genius whereof is displayed in the surprising wisdom of these words of the New Testament: ‘Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.’ No possible injustice lurks in this mandate, and no human misjudgment can pervert it; for the offender alone suffers, and always according to divine decree. This sacred, solid precept is verified in all directions in Mind-healing, and is supported in the Scripture by parallel proof.” (Mis. 65:30-66:13)

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The Sixth Commandment – A Christian Science Perspective, Part One

The Sixth Commandment – “Thou shalt not kill”

INTRODUCTION

Christ Jesus did not seem to spend a lot of his time preaching “Thou shalt not kill.” Instead, he went right to the root of the problem and pulled it out of the soil of material thinking. We read in his Sermon on the Mount:

“Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.”
(Matthew 5:21-22) 

Self-righteousness, self-will, self-love, anger, and prejudice are what Jesus condemned. These loveless, nonspiritual attitudes toward God’s children – our brothers and sisters – are the killers. An outward murder is the result of an inner motive, as our courts of law recognize. It is the inner motive, the heart of man, that breaks the Sixth Commandment. Murder is the un-restrained physical expression of qualities such as hate, fear, envy, jealousy, lust, or greed.
In the textbook of Christian Science, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, the author, Mary Baker Eddy, writes:

“Our courts recognize evidence to prove the motive as well as the commission of a crime. Is it not clear that the human mind must move the body to a wicked act? Is not mortal mind the murderer? The hands, without mortal mind to direct them, could not commit a murder.

“Courts and juries judge and sentence mortals in order to restrain crime, to prevent deeds of violence or to punish them. To say that these tribunals have no jurisdiction over the carnal or mortal mind, would be to contradict precedent and to admit that the power of human law is restricted to matter, while mortal mind, evil, which is the real outlaw, defies justice and is recommended to mercy. Can matter commit a crime?  Can matter be punished? Can you separate the mentality from the body over which courts hold jurisdiction? Mortal mind, not matter, is the criminal in every case; and human law rightly estimates crime, and courts reasonably pass sentence, according to the motive.” (S&H 105:3-15)

The term “mortal mind” is meant to convey what the Apostle Paul called the “carnal mind.” In Christian Science, it is the term for the beliefs of material sense as opposed to the spiritual sense of man bestowed by his Creator. Mortal mind is not part of God’s creation – His spiritual ideas – but is a false negative sense of what is divinely real and positive. It is the source of evil motives as opposed to the natural graces of love that spring from man’s spiritual identity. Mrs. Eddy writes:

“As of old, evil still charges the spiritual idea with error’s own nature and methods. This malicious animal instinct, of which the dragon is the type, incites mortals to kill morally and physically even their fellow-mortals, and worse still, to charge the innocent with the crime. This last infirmity of sin will sink its perpetrator into a night without a star.”  (S&H 563:3-9)

Biblical Background:

The Commandment “Thou shalt not kill,” has evolved in its meaning over the centuries. As civilized society has developed morally and spiritually, it has gained new perspectives of this Law that were not necessarily shared by the nation of Israel at the time of Moses. One Bible commentary describes what the Sixth Commandment meant to the early Hebrews:

“The commandment is concerned with the protection of human life within the community of Israel, against destruction by fellow Israelites. The verb is not limited to murder in the criminal sense and may be used of unpremeditated killing (Deut. 4:42). It forbids all killing not explicitly authorized. This means that in Israelite society it did not forbid the slaying of animals, capital punishment, or the killing of enemies in war. It had no direct bearing, either, on suicide.” (The Interpreter’s Bible, Volume 1, pg 986)

For a commentary on the Sixth Commandment that includes information on how the Jewish nation applied it to their system of justice, you might wish to read William Barclay’s book on “The Ten Commandments,” originally published in 1973, and republished in 1998 by Westminster John Knox Press. Here are a few citations from his 31 page essay on the Sixth Commandment:

“The Hebrew verb implies . . . ‘violent and unauthorized killing,’ not killing in general.” (page 52)

“. . . the real reason for the commandment, as the Bible sees it, is the story of the words of God to Noah after the flood: ‘Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for God made man in his own image.’ (Gen. 9:6) Since man is made in the image of God, then the taking of a single life is the destruction of the most precious and the most holy thing in the world.” (pg. 52)

“Within the Jewish legal system it was never even suggested that this commandment forbade what may be called judicial killing.” (pg. 53)

“Jewish law made special provisions for what might be called non-deliberate killing, killing which happened by accident, or as the result of a blow or an attack which was not meant to kill. For men involved in this, six cities of refuge were set apart to which they might flee if they killed ‘without intent,’ but, if the killer was not inside one of these cities of refuge, the avenger of blood might take his life. (Numbers 35:9-28)” (pg. 53)

Barclay’s essay describes the various ways of carrying out judicial death sentences, such as stoning, burning, beheading, and strangling, but then notes:

“We must go on to see how the mercy of Jewish law in fact made it next to impossible to carry out the death penalty at all.’ (pg. 55)

“The all-important thing was the motive. If it was deliberate killing, coming from acknowledged hatred, then the killer’s life was forfeit.” (pg. 56)

“No man could be condemned on any evidence less than that of two eye-witnesses. Circumstantial evidence was not valid in a Jewish court.” (pg. 56)

The rest of Barclay’s essay offers information, history, and opinion on such subjects as capital punishment, euthanasia, suicide, and “just wars,” all of which he personally renounces as anti-Christian.

The Old Testament offers a number of stories and lessons on the consequences of breaking the Sixth Commandment. A good one to study is the life of David. Here is a man who killed for both “just” reasons and very wrong reasons, yet at times showed great mercy when others might have taken revenge. You can read about David in the books of I and II Samuel, I and II Kings, and I and II Chronicles. Other suggestions for Bible stories to study relating to “Thou shalt not kill,” will be found in the section on “Teaching the Sixth Commandment to Children,” (coming up in a later post).

Jesus and the Sixth Commandment:

Jesus brought fresh inspiration and spiritual insight to the all of the Ten Commandments, which, over the centuries since Moses, had become weighed down with burdensome and endless rules. Harsh punishments were meted out by hypocritical Pharisees and others authorized to administer the Jewish law. As we read at the opening of this essay, Jesus warned his followers not of killing, but of anger and self-righteousness. But that did not mean Jesus was going to let people ignore the original intent of the Commandments. Jesus said: “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.” (Matt. 5:17)

As with all his teachings, Jesus demonstrated these laws of God for his followers. With gentle exhortations, as well as strong rebukes, he set forth the requirements for those who would be called Christians. These included the qualities and actions that would prevent killing.

In the Beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught us to be merciful and to be peacemakers, promising the rewards of mercy for ourselves, and the honor of being called God’s child. He also said in the Sermon:

“Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.” (Matthew 5:38-39)

“Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”  (Matthew 5:43-45)

In the Lord’s Prayer, he urged us to pray daily to forgive those who may owe us something, and to pray to be delivered from the temptations of evil. By forgiving others, rather than seeking so-called justice for “debts” not paid, and by turning away from the temptations of human will, we can help put out the fires of anger, greed, or fear that would burst into acts of murder – physical or mental.

“The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”  (John 10:10)

Could not the “thief” be the carnal, or mortal, mind that Paul spoke of, which seems to be the avenue for evil thoughts and motives? Jesus is here telling us he has brought the good news that it is not God’s will that anyone should have their life destroyed or depleted.

In spite of his divine source, Jesus had a human side which also struggled briefly with a personal will. Self-will is often the engine that drives us to murder, and it needs to be challenged and subdued. In the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus had his greatest war to wage with self-will on the night of his arrest, Jesus asked God to “remove this cup.” Mrs. Eddy comments on his victory over self:

“When the human element in him struggled with the divine, our great Teacher said: ‘Not my will, but Thine, be done!’ — that is, Let not the flesh, but the Spirit, be represented in me. This is the new understanding of spiritual Love. It gives all for Christ, or Truth. It blesses its enemies, heals the sick, casts out error, raises the dead from trespasses and sins, and preaches the gospel to the poor, the meek in heart.” (S&H 18)

This “new understanding of spiritual Love” is what will eventually dissolve all desire to murder, to hate, to be angry, and to be unforgiving. Love will destroy the fear that others might harm us. Mrs. Eddy writes: “Clad in the panoply of Love, human hatred cannot reach you.” (S&H 571:18-19)

Following our Master, Christ Jesus, we will see that Truth, God, is all we need, whether to defend ourselves from others, or to prevent ourselves from acting aggressively or violently:

“Judas had the world’s weapons. Jesus had not one of them, and chose not the world’s means of defence. ‘He opened not his mouth.’ The great demonstrator of Truth and Love was silent before envy and hate. Peter would have smitten the enemies of his Master, but Jesus forbade him, thus rebuking resentment or animal courage. He said: ‘Put up thy sword.'” (S&H 48:17)

What gave Jesus such courage? Why did he not take revenge on those who would harm him? Jesus knew that life is eternal, that it can never be destroyed, no matter what the material senses, or mortal mind, would claim.

“‘This is life eternal,’ says Jesus, — is, not shall be; and then he defines everlasting life as a present knowledge of his Father and of himself, — the knowledge of Love, Truth, and Life. ‘This is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent.’ The Scriptures say, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God,’ showing that Truth is the actual life of man; but mankind objects to making this teaching practical.”
(S&H 410:4-13)

As mentioned earlier, Jesus provided a new and improved version of the Commandments. His life provided a model for how to live them. Mrs. Eddy describes it this way, especially as it relates to so-called justified killing:

“Rabbi and priest taught the Mosaic law, which said: ‘An eye for an eye,’ and ‘Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed.’ Not so did Jesus, the new executor for God, present the divine law of Love, which blesses even those that curse it.

“As the individual ideal of Truth, Christ Jesus came to rebuke rabbinical error and all sin, sickness, and death, — to point out the way of Truth and Life. This ideal was demonstrated throughout the whole earthly career of Jesus, showing the difference between the offspring of Soul and of material sense, of Truth and of error.” (S&H 14-25)

At the end of this earthly career, Jesus demonstrated how his refusal to call down “legions of angels” to assist him escape his ordeal of crucifixion, and his forgiveness of all who played a role in this crime, would lead to his resurrection. This is what it means to be a follower of Christ: complete self-abnegation in the service of God and mankind. We are to bless and help reform those who fall prey to the sin of hate, anger, greed, and murder. We are to also help those who may be suffering from depression or mental illness that would prevent them from thinking rationally about suicide or murder. If we are not in a position to offer practical help, we must at least show mercy for their struggles. We are to champion Love, not war or revenge.

This is not to say that kind of universal brotherly love is easy. It takes self-sacrifice and commitment to discipline those animal instincts which mortals wrestle with, that would cause us to react in fear and anger. In spite of his teachings and examples of mercy, Jesus had to rebuke his own disciples when they thoughtlessly forgot about the law of the Sixth Commandment. For instance, we read this episode in Luke:

“And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem, And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him. And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem. And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did? But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. And they went to another village.” (Luke 9:51-56)

Jesus also had to rebuke Peter when he slashed off the ear of the high priest’s servant who had come with the soldiers to arrest Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Peter had already been given the lesson he needed to use in this moment, as we read in Matthew:

“Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.” (Matt. 18:21-22)

It is said that the number seven in the Bible symbolizes “completeness,” in which case Jesus is telling Peter, and us, that we must always forgive. We must always restrain ourselves from using violence to get even or harm another.

End of Part One

The Fifth Commandment – A Christian Science Perspective, Part Three

This Part Three, also includes ideas for teaching the Fifth Commandment to children.

MORAL OBEDIENCE TO THE FIFTH COMMANDMENT:

We have seen from the example of Christ Jesus that we can honor both God and our earthly parents. And this is also seen in the teachings of Christian Science.

In Christian Science, we are taught that God is our true Father-Mother, the only Cause and Creator. We are to honor and obey Him. But, this does not mean we are not to honor our moms and dads, especially young children. Mary Baker Eddy made this even clearer in a letter dated May 19, 1893: “The advice of loving your loving parents who have more experience than their children, is of great importance; remember this. All remember the commandment ‘Honor thy father and thy mother,’ etc. Not for the world would I have you break one of the Commands in the Hebrew Decalogue, it would unfit you for Christian Science, it would darken your mind so that you could not comply with the requirements of Christ in healing the sick and casting out error.”

In notes recorded by Dr. Alfred E. Baker, MD, CSD, during his association with Mrs. Eddy, we find this “Child’s Prayer” attributed to Mrs. Eddy : “Dear Father, I want to love Thee supremely; I want to be unselfish, temperate, pure and good; I want to love and honor my earthly parents, and so be able to uplift humanity. I know that God is good, and that He hath made me in His own likeness, harmonious and immortal; and I will strive daily not to make myself appear otherwise. I thank Thee now and forevermore. Amen.”

A child or adult sincerely living up to that simple prayer, could not help but honor both God and earthly family. All efforts to be the “image and likeness” of God will help us to claim “the land” — the firm foundation in spiritual understanding — that God promised to us in the Fifth Commandment. His promise that “thy days may be long” will be fulfilled.

Another prayer written by Mrs. Eddy as a gift for “the little children,” may help turn their thoughts to God as Father-Mother. It can be found in Miscellaneous Writings, page 400, or in Poems by Mary Baker Eddy, on page 69.

A VERSE
Mother’s New Year Gift to the Little Children

“Father-Mother God,
loving me, —
Guard me when I sleep;
Guide my little feet
up to Thee.”

Even though we teach our children that God is our Father-Mother, and we are to develop a close relationship with Him, Mrs. Eddy also makes clear that children are to be obedient to their parents. She writes: “Children should obey their parents; insubordination is an evil, blighting the buddings of self-government.” (S&H 236)

Just before that citation, Mrs. Eddy indicates the importance of “mothers” in the life of children: “A mother is the strongest educator, either for or against crime. Her thoughts form the embryo of another mortal mind, and unconsciously mould it, either after a model odious to herself or through divine influence, ‘according to the pattern showed to thee in the mount.'” (S&H 236)

Mrs. Eddy elsewhere defines the proper education for children: “The entire education of children should be such as to form habits of obedience to the moral and spiritual law, with which the child can meet and master the belief in so-called physical laws, a belief which breeds disease.” (S&H 62)

We can see from the above that we are not serving our children well if we allow them to grow up without learning how to be obedient to their parents, and treating them with respect, and to honor them. Naturally, parents would also want to do their best to be worthy of such obedience, honor, and respect, and to treat their children with love.

That reminds me of a prayer I’ve been seeing around recently:

“Dear Lord, please help me to be the kind of person my dog thinks I am!”

One of the lessons in my book on the Ten Commandments begins with this question:  “What about children who are being raised by foster, adoptive, or step-parents, or their own parents do not behave as normal parents should?” This is a question that would be of interest to most Sunday School classes, since so many children today are faced with this issue, or have friends who are. In my book, I stated, in part:

“It is sad to be separated from one, or both, of our parents. It is also hard if we have a parent or guardian who is abusive, or less than loving to us, and who does not seem to deserve being honored. Either way, it is an opportunity to turn with our whole heart to God, and acknowledge Him as our one true Parent, the Father-Mother of us all. God’s loving embrace includes the wisdom and guidance we need to get along with others, and find a sense of warmth and belonging. His angel messages can point us to the human footsteps to take, if we need help or intervention . . . Rarely is there a reason not to honor and obey those who are given the responsibility to care for us in our childhood on earth. We can pray to God, and trust Him to guide our family, no matter what form it seems to take — big, small, ‘blended,’ ‘chosen,’ or ‘temporary.’  (First Lessons, Volume One: The Ten Commandments, pg. 36, by Vicki Jones Cole)

What about those specific times when children may feel their parents are doing something that does not feel morally, legally, or spiritually right, and the children feel forced to participate? Are they bound by the Fifth Commandment to always go along with their parents unquestioningly? This is not easy. It’s a situation that calls for prayer and maybe a little prayerful intervention by adults close to the situation. When a child is old enough, this counsel of Mrs. Eddy should be considered:

“To the child complaining of his parents we have said, ‘Love and honor thy parents, and yield obedience to them in all that is right; but you have the rights of conscience, as we all have, and must follow God in all your ways.” (Miscellaneous Writings, pg. 236)

I love how Mrs. Eddy supports the ideas behind the Ten Commandments, including the fifth one, by encouraging us to obey the moral requirements of God’s law as outlined in the Bible. Even though our goal is to demonstrate our spiritual perfection, and not needing a bunch of “thou shalt nots,” we all have to start our spiritual journey somewhere. The Commandments help to guide us along until we can commune easily with God and get our daily guidance direct from Him. As material beliefs fade away, we will start to see what it means to have God as our Father-Mother. As our understanding of God’s nature deepens, we will have further enlightenment about God and man. But, until then, our relationship with our earthly parents is a wonderful training ground, rich with lessons to learn. Obedience to the Fifth Commandment is one of them.

We honor our earthly parents by being obedient to them, respecting them, expressing our gratitude and appreciation for them, and doing our part to make the family circle a happy and harmonious one. We honor them by separating from them and taking care of ourselves when grown, and not putting burdens on them needlessly. We honor them by making sure they are taken care of in their senior years, if they become unable to manage on their own. We do this with love and gratitude, not grudgingly.

“Honour thy father and thy mother, as the Lord God hath commanded thee; that thy days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with thee, in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.” (Deuteronomy 5:16)

“Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.  Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.” (Col. 3:20-21)

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:1-4)

And, again: “All honor and success to those who honor their father and mother.”  (Mary Baker Eddy in Message to The Mother Church 1901, pg. 29)

HONORING OUR FATHER-MOTHER GOD

In an earlier quote, we saw that Mrs. Eddy tells us that “after we have honored our father and mother, then comes the next step — forsaking the flesh for Christ.” This is telling us that we must eventually learn our true identity — that we are the offspring of God — “heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ.” We have to forsake our old beliefs and be receptive to the message of Christ.

We know from the Bible that Jesus honored God and called Him, “Father.” In Christian Science, we are taught that God is also our Mother. Our authority for this is in Genesis. If God was able to create man both “male and female,” and man was made in “our” image, not just “my” image, then God must be Mother as well as Father. This interpretation was revealed to Mrs. Eddy and to others who also see God as Mother. A fuller (and better!) explanation of God’s motherhood is found throughout Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. Simply put, God’s motherhood is seen in Her nature as divine Love, that aspect of God which comforts, governs, inspires, plans, leads, completes, and fulfills.

Any Sunday School discussion of the Fifth Commandment, would want to include the idea that God, the divine Mind, should also be the focus of our “honor” that is due a parent. Some citations to study are:

“Mind is the grand creator, and there can be no power except that which is derived from Mind. If Mind was first chronologically, is first potentially, and must be first eternally, then give to Mind the glory, honor, dominion, and power everlastingly due its holy name.” (S&H 143:26-31)

“If Christian Science dishonors human belief, it honors spiritual understanding; and the one Mind only is entitled to honor.” (S&H 183:29)

“Honor thy Father and Mother, God. Continue in His love.”  (Miscellaneous Writings, pg. 154:23)

In 1885, Mary Baker Eddy was allowed ten minutes on the platform at Tremont Temple in Boston to answer the criticisms that had been put forth in a public letter by the pastor. Her answer to one question helps us to see her thought about God as Father-Mother, and how this concept evolves through spiritual understanding:

“Do I believe in a personal God? I believe in God as the Supreme Being. I know not what the person of omnipotence and omnipresence is, or what the infinite includes; therefore, I worship that of which I can conceive, first, as a loving Father and Mother; then, as thought ascends the scale of being to diviner consciousness, God becomes to me, as to the apostle who declared it, “God is Love,” — divine Principle, — which I worship; and after the manner of my fathers, so worship I God.'” (Miscellaneous
Writings, pg. 96)

Exploring the concept of God being our Father-Mother is an on-going discovery. The Bible is full of examples of God’s care for us. The writings of Mary Baker Eddy contain countless ideas on this subject. Once we know for sure we are God’s offspring, we will want to find practical ways to honor Him in our lives. How to do that would make a good Sunday School discussion. The next section includes ideas on teaching the Fifth Commandment to children.

TEACHING THE FIFTH COMMANDMENT IN SUNDAY SCHOOL

In addition to the ideas presented already in Parts One, Two, and Three, below are a few more ideas for sharing with Sunday School children, in the light of the teachings of Christian Science.

After explaining the concept of “honor,” ask the class to come up with the qualities that would make an ideal mom and dad — ones that children would want to honor. Perhaps record the ideas on paper. Discuss the synonyms of God, and how the qualities that originate in these different aspects of God’s nature can be expressed by man. Get across the idea that we never lack these qualities in our experience since they come from God and do not originate with “persons.” Ask the kids how they might want to share these same qualities with their families and others.

Focus a class on the idea of Love — Mother — as “leader.” Look up citations that support the idea that Love leads. “Lead us not into temptation.” “Love…designates and leads the way;” Mrs. Eddy as “Mother,” then “Leader.” We honor Love for leading us. Ask them to consider the possibility of being a “mother” to themselves, when needed. How might we do this? Role play the “self talk” needed to use this concept in certain situations.

Discuss the concept of “reflection” with regard to our relationship to God. What does this mean? How should a reflection or expression of God behave? Or think? Or reason? Or pray? How does reflection “honor” God or our parents? Discuss honoring the qualities of Life (Father) and Love (Mother) in our own thoughts. How can we learn to listen and obey (honor) these qualities? How do we put down the undisciplined animal instincts in order to become willing pure reflections of Life and Love? How do we stand up for God in the face of aggressive mental suggestions to disobey Mind? Is thwarting this activity of animal magnetism a form of obedience to the Fifth Commandment? Why?

For little children, ask what kind of family rules they have in their home. Discuss the good that comes with obedience, then talk about the consequences of disobedience. Tell them that if we try to obey all of the Ten Commandments from God, then we will be obeying the Fifth Commandment, since we will be honoring God when we follow His rules for His family. We also obey the Fifth Commandment when we follow the commands of Jesus, our brother, who came to show us what our Father-Mother God is like.

Little kids are very keen on the word “promise.” “But, you PROMISED me we would go to the zoo if I was good.” Show them that promise in the Fifth Commandment. Discuss the power and presence of God and how it would be impossible for Him to break a promise. But what is our part of the deal? Perhaps make a list of things they promise to do the next week that would exercise their ability to obey their parents. Or, list one or two ways they could improve their obedience to one of the Ten Commandments, such as telling the truth or not taking things that do not belong to them.

For more Questions and Answers you might choose to use in teaching your children or Sunday School pupils, please see the Lessons elsewhere on this site on the Fifth Commandment.