The Sixth Commandment – A Christian Science Perspective, Part Three

What does Christian Science teach about the faulty mortal thinking, or sinful qualities of thought, that tempt men to kill?

We are taught the need to recognize when sin is attempting to identify itself as our thinking, and to separate it from ourselves and others. Otherwise, we believe the impulses are our own, and are tempted to act out their suggestions. This is how evil operates. Christian Science teaches that we have the power to challenge sin, recognize its nothingness, and destroy it forever, one belief at a time, until we have overcome the material world, either here or hereafter. Bearing in mind that Mary Baker Eddy’s entire book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, is a full explanation of this process, and is the best source to understand these ideas, here are a few citations regarding the sinful thoughts and beliefs that might lead to acts of murder:

“A wicked mortal is not the idea of God. He is little else than the expression of error. To suppose that sin, lust, hatred, envy, hypocrisy, revenge, have life abiding in them, is a terrible mistake. Life and Life’s idea, Truth and Truth’s idea, never make men sick, sinful, or mortal.” (S&H 289:8-13)

“Genesis iv. 8. Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him. . . . The erroneous belief that life, substance, and intelligence can be material ruptures the life and brotherhood of man at the very outset.” (S&H 541:14-18)

“Matter is neither intelligent nor creative. The tree is not the author of itself. Sound is not the originator of music, and man is not the father of man. Cain very naturally concluded that if life was in the body, and man gave it, man had the right to take it away. This incident shows that the belief of life in matter was ‘a murderer from the beginning.’ (S&H 89:25)

“Self-love is more opaque than a solid body. In patient obedience to a patient God, let us labor to dissolve with the universal solvent of Love the adamant of error, — self-will, self-justification, and self-love, — which wars against spirituality and is the law of sin and death.” (S&H 242:15)

“The anatomy of Christian Science teaches when and how to probe the self-inflicted wounds of selfishness, malice, envy, and hate. It teaches the control of mad ambition. It unfolds the hallowed influences of unselfishness, philanthropy, spiritual love.” (S&H 462:25-30)

“Evil is a negation, because it is the absence of truth. It is nothing, because it is the absence of something. It is unreal, because it pre-supposes the absence of God, the omnipotent and omnipresent. Every mortal must learn that there is neither power nor reality in evil.

“Evil is self-assertive. It says: ‘I am a real entity, over-mastering good.’ This falsehood should strip evil of all pretensions. The only power of evil is to destroy itself. It can never destroy one iota of good. Every attempt of evil to destroy good is a failure, and only aids in peremptorily punishing the evil-doer. If we concede the same reality to discord as to harmony, discord has as lasting a claim upon us as has harmony. If evil is as real as good, evil is also as immortal. If death is as real as Life, immortality is a myth. If pain is as real as the absence of pain, both must be immortal; and if so, harmony cannot be the law of being.”  (S&H 186:11-27)

“He that touches the hem of Christ’s robe and masters his mortal beliefs, animality, and hate, rejoices in the proof of healing, — in a sweet and certain sense that God is Love. Alas for those who break faith with divine Science and fail to strangle the serpent of sin as well as of sickness! They are dwellers still in the deep darkness of belief. They are in the surging sea of error, not struggling to lift their heads above the drowning wave.

“What must the end be? They must eventually expiate their sin through suffering. The sin, which one has made his bosom companion, comes back to him at last with accelerated force, for the devil knoweth his time is short. Here the Scriptures declare that evil is temporal, not eternal. The dragon is at last stung to death by his own malice; but how many periods of torture it may take to remove all sin, must depend upon sin’s obduracy.”  (S&H 569:11-28)

“The belief of life in matter sins at every step. It incurs divine displeasure, and it would kill Jesus that it might be rid of troublesome Truth. Material beliefs would slay the spiritual idea whenever and wherever it appears. Though error hides behind a lie and excuses guilt, error cannot forever be concealed. Truth, through her eternal laws, unveils error. Truth causes sin to betray itself, and sets upon error the mark of the beast. Even the disposition to excuse guilt or to conceal it is punished. The avoidance of justice and the denial of truth tend to perpetuate sin, invoke crime, jeopardize self-control, and mock divine mercy.” (S&H 542:1)

“The intentional destroyer of others would destroy himself eternally, were it not that his suffering reforms him, thus balancing his account with divine Love, which never remits the sentence necessary to reclaim the sinner. Hence these words of Christ Jesus: ‘Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out.’ (Luke 13 :27-28.)  He who gains self-knowledge, self-control, and the kingdom of heaven within himself, within his own consciousness, is saved through Christ, Truth. Mortals must drink sufficiently of the cup of their Lord and Master to unself mortality and to destroy its erroneous claims. Therefore, said Jesus, ‘Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with.'” (My. 160:19 – 161:21)

What are Mary Baker Eddy’s teachings on suicide?

Here is her response to a question on suicide that was originally published in the Christian Science Journal:

“If this life is a dream not dispelled, but only changed, by death, — if one gets tired of it, why not commit suicide?

“Man’s existence is a problem to be wrought in divine Science. What progress would a student of science make, if, when tired of mathematics or failing to demonstrate one rule readily, he should attempt to work out a rule farther on and more difficult — and this, because the first rule was not easily demonstrated? In that case he would be obliged to turn back and work out the previous example, before solving the advanced problem. Mortals have the sum of being to work out, and up, to its spiritual standpoint. They must work out of this dream or false claim of sensation and life in matter, and up to the spiritual realities of existence, before this false claim can be wholly dispelled. Committing suicide to dodge the question is not working it out. The error of supposed life and intelligence in matter, is dissolved only as we master error with Truth. Not through sin or suicide, but by overcoming temptation and sin, shall we escape the weariness and wickedness of mortal existence, and gain heaven, the harmony of being.” (Mis. 52:18)

The last 100 pages of Science and Health contain testimonies of healings from those who had read early editions of the textbook. One of them illustrates how the truth contained in this book rescued a reader from thoughts of suicide:


“A few years ago, while under a sense of darkness and despair caused by ill health and an unhappy home, Science and Health was loaned me with a request that I should read it.

“At that time my daughter was given up by material medica to die of lingering consumption, supposed to have been inherited. My own condition seemed even more alarming, as insanity was being manifested, and rather than go to an insane asylum, it seemed to me the only thing to do was to commit suicide.  Heart trouble, kidney complaint, and continual headaches caused from female trouble were some of the many ailments I had to contend with. My doctor tried to persuade me to undergo an operation as a means of relief, but I had submitted to a severe operation ten years previous, and found only additional suffering as a result, so I would not consent.

“When I began with Science and Health, I read the chapter on ‘Prayer’ first, and at that time did not suppose it possible for me to remember anything I read, but felt a sweet sense of God’s protection and power, and a hope that I should at last find Him to be what I so much needed, — a present help in time of trouble. Before that chapter on ‘Prayer’ was finished, my daughter was downstairs eating three meals a day, and daily growing stronger. Before I had finished reading the textbook she was well, but never having heard that the reading of Science and Health healed any one, it was several months before I gave God the glory.

“One by one my many ailments left me, all but the headaches; they were less frequent, until at the end of three years the fear of them was entirely overcome.

“Neither myself nor my daughter have ever received treatments, but the study of the Bible and Science and Health, the Christian Science textbook by Mrs. Eddy, has healed us and keeps us well.” (S&H 637:14 – 638:19)

What are Mary Baker Eddy’s teachings on war, peace, and national defense?

In an article titled “Prevention and Cure of Divorce” published in the Boston Herald newspaper in 1905, Mrs. Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, wrote:

“Divorce and war should be exterminated according to the Principle of law and gospel, — the maintenance of individual rights, the justice of civil codes, and the power of Truth uplifting the motives of men. Two commandments of the Hebrew Decalogue, ‘Thou shalt not commit adultery’ and ‘Thou shalt not kill,’ obeyed, will eliminate divorce and war.” (My. 268:11-17)

There is a chapter in the book First Church of Christ, Scientist and Miscellany (pages 277-285) titled “Peace and War” which contains reprints of a number of Mrs. Eddy’s remarks on war published in newspapers. Near the end of her earthly career, Mrs. Eddy was a famous and distinguished citizen, known world-wide. As head of a growing religious movement in Boston, her views were often sought by the editors of various newspapers and magazines. Here are a few selections of
her letters to editors, which show her strong feelings about war:

“[Boston Herald, March, 1898]

“In reply to your question, ‘Should difficulties between the United States and Spain be settled peacefully by statesmanship and diplomacy, in a way honorable and satisfactory to both nations?’ I will say I can see no other way of settling difficulties between individuals and nations than by means of their wholesome tribunals, equitable laws, and sound, well-kept treaties.

“A bullet in a man’s heart never settles the question of his life. The mental animus goes on, and urges that the answer to the sublime question as to man’s life shall come from God and that its adjustment shall be according to His laws. The characters and lives of men determine the peace, prosperity, and life of nations. Killing men is not consonant with the higher law whereby wrong and injustice are righted and exterminated.

“Whatever weighs in the eternal scale of equity and mercy tips the beam on the right side, where the immortal words and deeds of men alone can settle all questions amicably and satisfactorily. But if our nation’s rights or honor were seized, every citizen would be a soldier and woman would be armed with power girt for the hour.

“To coincide with God’s government is the proper incentive to the action of all nations. If His purpose for peace is to be subserved by the battle’s plan or by the intervention of the United States, so that the Cubans may learn to make war no more, this means and end will be accomplished.

“The government of divine Love is supreme. Love rules the universe, and its edict hath gone forth: ‘Thou shalt have no other gods before me,’ and ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself.’ Let us have the molecule of faith that removes mountains, — faith armed with the understanding of Love, as in divine Science, where right reigneth. The revered President and Congress of our favored land are in God’s hands.”

“[Boston Globe, December, 1904]

“Follow that which is good. A Japanese may believe in a heaven for him who dies in defence of his country, but the steadying, elevating power of civilization destroys such illusions and should overcome evil with good. Nothing is gained by fighting, but much is lost.

“Peace is the promise and reward of rightness. Governments have no right to engraft into civilization the burlesque of uncivil economics. War is in itself an evil, barbarous, devilish. Victory in error is defeat in Truth. War is not in the domain of good; war weakens power and must finally fall, pierced by its own sword.

“The Principle of all power is God, and God is Love. Whatever brings into human thought or action an element opposed to Love, is never requisite, never a necessity, and is not sanctioned by the law of God, the law of Love. The Founder of Christianity said: ‘My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you.’

“Christian Science reinforces Christ’s sayings and doings. The Principle of Christian Science demonstrates peace. Christianity is the chain of scientific being reappearing in all ages, maintaining its obvious correspondence with the Scriptures and uniting all periods in the design of God. The First Commandment in the Hebrew Decalogue — ‘Thou shalt have no other gods before me’ — obeyed, is sufficient to still all strife. God is the divine Mind. Hence the sequence: Had all peoples one Mind, peace would reign.

“God is Father, infinite, and this great truth, when understood in its divine metaphysics, will establish the brotherhood of man, end wars, and demonstrate ‘on earth peace, good will toward men.’”

“[Boston Globe, August, 1905]

“‘Official announcement of peace between Russia and Japan seems to offer an appropriate occasion for the expression of congratulations and views by representative persons. Will you do us the kindness to wire a sentiment on some phase of the subject, on the ending of the war, the effect on the two parties to the treaty of Portsmouth, the influence which President Roosevelt has exerted for peace, or the advancement of the cause of arbitration.’

“Mrs. Eddy’s Reply

“War will end when nations are ripe for progress. The treaty of Portsmouth is not an executive power, although its purpose is good will towards men. The government of a nation is its peace maker or breaker.

“I believe strictly in the Monroe doctrine, in our Constitution, and in the laws of God. While I admire the faith and friendship of our chief executive in and for all nations, my hope must still rest in God, and the Scriptural injunction, — ‘Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth.’

“The Douma recently adopted in Russia is no uncertain ray of dawn. Through the wholesome chastisements of Love, nations are helped onward towards justice, righteousness, and peace, which are the landmarks of prosperity. In order to apprehend more, we must practise what we already know of the Golden Rule, which is to all mankind a light emitting light.


“The Christian Science Journal, May, 1908


“For many years I have prayed daily that there be no more war, no more barbarous slaughtering of our fellow-beings; prayed that all the peoples on earth and the islands of the sea have one God, one Mind; love God supremely, and love their neighbor as themselves.

“National disagreements can be, and should be, arbitrated wisely, fairly; and fully settled.

“It is unquestionable, however, that at this hour the armament of navies is necessary, for the purpose of preventing war and preserving peace among nations.”

Conclusion of The Sixth Commandment essay:

The Sixth Commandment is based upon a divine law which holds man secure in God’s love and protection. Humans experience this whenever they put themselves in the “secret place of the Most High.” (Ps. 91)  This “secret place” is the lofty height of spiritual understanding, which destroys the erroneous suggestions and illusions of mortal mind. As we also read in Psalms:

“He delivereth me from mine enemies: yea, thou liftest me up above those that rise up against me: thou hast delivered me from the violent man.”   (Psalms 18:48)

That “violent man” may, at times, be our own selves. God can lift us up to that secret place of spiritual understanding, where we will know for certainty that we are protected from others, as well as ourselves. We will see that God, Truth, does deliver us from the temptation of the self-will that is at war with Spirit. This evil will lose the battle in its own inevitable self-destruction. Man will shine forth in freedom from fear and the terrorism of evil beliefs. There will be no more violent man, only the spiritual, perfect man, made in God’s image:

“Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace.” (Psalms 37:37)

In Christian Science, we are not only expected to obey the Sixth Commandment, “Thou shalt not kill,” but to prove that, in spiritual reality,  it can never be broken!

“The dream of death must be mastered by Mind here or hereafter. Thought will waken from its own material declaration, ‘I am dead,’ to catch this trumpet-word of Truth, ‘There is no death, no inaction, diseased action, overaction, nor reaction.’”   (S&H 427:29)

Copyright 2006, 2017  Vicki Jones Cole



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