Category Archives: The Ten Commandments

Teaching Children the Fifth Commandment

“Honour thy father and thy mother.”

 This essay on “Teaching Children the Fifth Commandment” is excerpted from the original essay “The Fifth Commandment – a Christian Science Perspective.”  There are a few revisions.  I am also keeping this part with the original essay, because so much of the information on Bible stories are of interest to adults as well as young people in Sunday School or the home who are being taught these lessons on the Ten Commandments.  You might wish to read that essay if you are searching for ideas to use in class to teach all ages.

These ideas are based on the teachings of Christian Science as taught by Mary Baker Eddy, who is the author of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.  Even if you are not a Christian Scientist, you might find some ideas worth sharing in your own Sunday School, especially in the essay mentioned above.  Just follow the link.  [Note:  For those unfamiliar with the religion of
Christian Science (which is NOT the same as Scientology!), you can read some basic information on this site at the Q&A page.]

Part of that essay in the section on the moral requirements of the Fifth Commandment are as follows:

I love how Mary Baker 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 not’s,” 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.  The Bible exhorts us to this obedience in so many ways:

“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)


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 Mary Baker 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.” 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.

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.

Any Christian Science 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 and discuss 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.


Throughout the preceding article on the Fifth Commandment were various ideas useful for discussions with your children or Sunday School pupils. Please refer back to those pages if you have come directly to this page seeking help for teaching the Fifth Commandment to children.

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 demonstrate our identity as 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 mentioned 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.


Imparting a clear and deep understanding of the Fifth Commandment may be one of the most important gifts we can give to our children, to ourselves, and to society.  It provides a solid foundation for a successful life.  Mrs. Eddy wrote this in Cosmopolitan in 1907:

“Dear reader, right thinking, right feeling, and right acting — honesty, purity, unselfishness — in youth tend to success, intellectuality, and happiness in manhood. To begin rightly enables one to end rightly, and thus it is that one achieves the Science of Life, demonstrates health, holiness, and immortality.”  (Miscellany 274)

And to the members of her church in her Message of 1901, Mrs. Eddy saluted those who obey the Fifth Commandment in this way:

“All honor and success to those who honor their father and mother.”

 Copyright 2002, 2010, 2018  Vicki Jones Cole

The Fifth Commandment – For Young Children – (from the book)

The Fifth Commandment – a Christian Science Perspective, Part One
[Background material useful in teaching older students.  Sections in Part One include the following:  Biblical Background; Jesus and the Fifth Commandment; Jesus Visits Jerusalem at Passover; The Wedding at Cana; Part Two includes:  Jesus Honors True Kinship; The Hypocrisy of Corban; Jesus and Mary at the Cross; Jesus and His Father;  Part Three includes: “Moral Obedience to the 5th Commandment; Honoring our Father-Mother God; Teaching the Fifth Commandment in Sunday School]

About this blog and a Welcome
Questions and Answers on Christian Science

Teaching Children the Sixth Commandment
Teaching Children the Ten Commandments

A good foundation for teaching all these lessons to your children or Sunday School pupils is to start with this essay on Teaching Children the First Commandment.  It contains ideas for helping children understand its deeper meaning and how to live “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” in daily life. See also the First Commandment daily lessons in Ten Commandments book.

For daily lessons on the Fifth Commandment found on this site in the book “First Lessons in Christian Science, Volume One: The Ten Commandments” – follow the link to the main page and scroll down to the links on the Fifth Commandment.  The other volumes in this series are
Volume Two:  The Beatitudes and Volume Three:  The Lord’s Prayer.  

List of Essays relating to teaching the Ten Commandments and other Bible subjects

Some of the essays useful for teaching children at home or in Sunday School:

Introducing Children to the Concept of God
Teaching Children about the Golden Rule
Teaching Children about Angels
Teaching Children the 23rd Psalm
Introduction to Teaching the Beatitudes to Children
The Beatitudes for Young Children
What Mary Baker Eddy Writes about Teaching Children

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The Tenth Commandment – A Christian Science Perspective

“Thou shalt not covet” 


Has anyone ever coveted or been envious of another because they had lots of number twos to use in their math applications?  Or the number five?  Or any number?  Probably not.  Why is that?  It is because numbers are not objects or images on a page of homework; they are ideas, ideas available to anyone at anytime at any place.  No one needs to feel deprived of numbers.  There is no reason to desire or covet them.  They are within consciousness, mental ideas.  This is a hint as to what Christian Science teaches about the ever-availability of spiritual ideas, the true objects and creation of the divine Mind, God.  More on that later.

As explained in my book for teaching children (First Lessons in Christian Science, Volume One: The Ten Commandments) found elsewhere on this site, this Tenth Commandment is unique because it forbids a certain way of thinking, rather than a certain way of acting.  This prepares us to learn that our thinking determines our experience.

Basically, what does “covet” mean?  It means to have an extremely strong desire, or wish, to possess something.  Most likely it is something owned by another person.  Covet is similar in meaning to other words, such as envy, desire, lust, and crave.  We will take a look at what the Bible and the writings of Mary Baker Eddy say about each of those terms as we go along.


The full text of the Tenth Commandment found in Exodus 20 (King James’ Version) reads:

“The shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbours.”

We find a helpful explanation in The Interpreter’s Bible:

“The Tenth Commandment – The word translated house really means ‘household,’ and the rest of the commandment is an explication of the scope of that word. . . . In the early days when the first Greek translation of the Hebrew text was made, the scholars used a word in Greek which clearly means ‘to set one’s heart upon a thing,’ and Deuteronomy uses another Hebrew word which makes it doubly sure that the intention here is to prohibit grasping thoughts that lead to grasping deeds.” (The Interpreter’s Bible: Volume One, p. 988)

One early Bible character that illustrates the negative consequences and shame of “grasping deeds” is David.  David is known as the courageous shepherd boy who challenged Goliath and was a devoted friend, among other good qualities.  He loved God.  He was made King.  But when he became besotted by Bathsheba, who was already married to Uriah, he forgot the Tenth Commandment and behaved horribly, against his better nature, and arranged for Uriah to go to the front of a battle, where he was killed.  David then took Bathsheba as his own.  But when the prophet Nathan confronted him about his deed, David was ashamed.  He and Bathsheba lost their first child, though later were blessed by the son Solomon, who became a wise king.  See this full story in chapters 11 and 12 of II Samuel.

Another “grasper” who coveted was Ahab, who wanted the vineyard of a neighbor, Naboth.  He tried to buy the vineyard from him, but Naboth explained that the vineyard had been an inheritance from his fathers and could not part with it.  Ahab’s evil wife, Jezebel, took matters into her own hands.  She arranged for Naboth to be wrongfully accused of blasphemy, for which he was stoned to death.  Afterward, Ahab, at Jezebel’s insistence, took possession of the vineyard he coveted.  This time God sent another prophet, Elijah, to Ahab.  The punishment was quite severed for both Ahab and Jezebel.  See I King, chapter 21 for the full story.

Covetousness can often be the motive behind greed, which is a quality of being extremely grasping.  The book of Proverbs warns of greed:

“He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own house.” (Proverb 15:27)

“The desire of the slothful killeth him; for his hands refuse to labour.  He coveteth greedily all the day long; but the righteous giveth and spareth not.” (Proverb 21:25, 26)

Why be greedy, when God tells us He will supply what we really need.  We just have to learn to trust Him, as the Israelites were taught:

“Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.  Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him, and he shall bring it to pass.”  (Psalm 37:4, 5)

The Interpreter’s Bible further explains the uniqueness of the Tenth Commandment and what it would have meant for the Hebrews of Old Testament times:

“The commandment is one of the early insights into the fact that the inner life of man determines destiny.  Here we step from the outer world of act and word, of crime and punishment, into the secret place where all good and evil begin, the heart of man.

“The inwardness of the last words of the Decalogue make them the very threshold of the New Testament.  There is no doubt that Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, had the Ten Commandments in mind.”  (The Interpreter’s Bible: Volume One, p. 988)


Jesus was very clear in his Sermon on the Mount that God should come not only come first in our hearts, but should be the one and only God we worship:

“No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other, or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other.  Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” (Matthew 6:24)

“Mammon” refers to wealth or riches.  We are not to make idols of wealth nor do we want to become slaves to it.  But does this mean we cannot have wealth?  God certainly would want His children to share in the abundance of His riches.  Jesus doesn’t preclude abundance, but he tells us what our priorities should be:

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33)

However, Jesus explicitly denounced the sin of covetousness.  In Luke 12, we read that Jesus was approached by a man who said unto him “Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me.”  Jesus replied:  Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you?”  Then he laid out this warning:

“Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of things which he possesseth.” (Luke 12:15)

In the Gospel of Mark, we see “covetousness” included in a list of evil things:

“Out of the heart of men . . . proceed evil thoughts . . . covetousness . . . these evil things come from within, and defile the man.” (Mark 7:21-23)

Again, we see the idea that while the motive of covetousness may be unseen by others, it is nevertheless harmful to man.

Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes in her textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures:

“Jesus declared that to look with desire on forbidden objects was to break a moral precept.  He laid great stress on the action of the human mind, unseen to the senses.” (Science and Health, p. 234)

It is not just material objects (or wives, or cattle, or houses!) that can stir up covetousness, but self-centered ambition for position or honors or attention can, as well.  For instance, the mother of two disciples of Jesus (James and John) appealed to Jesus for her sons to sit on his right and left sides “in thy kingdom” (see Matthew 20:20-28). Another account of the episode indicates James and John approached Jesus on their own (see Mark 10:35-45).  Jesus rightly refused to bestow this honor and the request stirred up resentment among the other disciples.

We also read in the New Testament what the Apostle Paul wrote in his Epistle to the Hebrews:

“Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have.” (Hebrews 13:5)


[NOTE:  For those unfamiliar with the religion of Christian Science, which is NOT
the same as Scientology!) you can read about it on the Questions and Answers page.]

In the first creation story at the beginning of Genesis, we read:

“And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31)

“Very good.”  In Christian Science, we learn this means that God’s man is complete, lacking nothing.  He is, as the first chapter of Genesis tells us, made in the “image and likeness” of God.  If this is true, how can this “reflection” be, or have, anything less than what God imparts to all?  God is Spirit, as the Bible also tells us.  Therefore, man is His spiritual idea, perfect as the Mind that made him and cares for him.

While mortals may feel lack and covet what others may seem to have, we each have a spiritual identity that includes all we need, especially qualities and talents uniquely expressed by each one.

In Christian Science, it is necessary to rid our thought of negative qualities that would hinder our spiritual growth, just as we would pull out weeds in a garden.  Covetousness is certainly a weed we would not want in our garden of thoughts.  Mary Baker Eddy writes:

“Envy, evil thinking, evil speaking, covetousness, lust, hatred, malice, are always wrong, and will break the rule of Christian Science and prevent its demonstration.” (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 19)

It is important in the practice of Christian Science that we obey the Ten Commandments and learn to discipline our thoughts so that our actions conform to these laws. In his book “The Decalogue; Its Spiritual Significance,” the author Ames Nowell writes on the Tenth Commandment:

“As long as one believes that there is something ‘out there’ apart from God, good, and one is coveting it, this Commandment is being broken . . . the allness of God is actually being denied.”

Mary Baker Eddy also writes:

“Self-ignorance, self-will, self-righteousness, lust, covetousness, envy, revenge, are foes to grace, peace, and progress; they must be met manfully and overcome, or they will uproot all happiness.” (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 118)

There are specific sins which can contribute to covetousness and are just as important to overcome.  These are greed, envy and jealousy, lust, and wrong desires.  We will take a closer look at these terms below:


Envy, like covetousness, is simply wanting what someone else has, but it often includes some resentment, or even hate, toward the person who owns what we would like to have.

From my book on the Ten Commandments, we also learn about jealousy:  “It is often confused with envy.  Jealousy is the fear that another person might take away something we believe belongs only to us (such as our best friend!).  Even though it is different from envy, it is still a negative emotion that we should cast out.  Shakespeare called these feelings ‘the green-eyed monster.’  It can sure seem that way!”  (“First Lessons in Christian Science, Volume One: The Ten Commandments,” p. 60)

“Pride, envy, or jealousy seems on most occasions to be the master of ceremonies, ruling out primitive Christianity.” (Science and Health, p. 64)

You might think, if envy and jealousy are only in my thoughts and I’m not hurting anyone, why are they wrong? Because we do hurt ourselves by indulging these sins.  And God needs you, His cherished child, to be pure of heart to be fit for service to mankind! Mary Baker Eddy lays it out:

Envy is the atmosphere of hell.” (Message of 1901, p. 3)

“Envy, the great red dragon of this hour, would obscure the light of Science.” (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 254)

“A moral question may hinder the recovery of the sick.  Lurking error, lust, envy, revenge, malice, or hate will perpetuate or even create the belief in disease.” (Science and Health, p. 419)

Fortunately for mankind, the teachings of Christian Science give us the tools we need to lessen and destroy these sinful thoughts.

“You must give much time to self-examination and correction; you must control appetite, passion, pride, envy, evil-speaking, resentment.” (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 137)

“The anatomy of Christian Science teaches when and how to probe the self-inflicted wounds of selfishness, malice, envy, and hate.” (Science and Health, p. 462)

“Man’s enslavement to the most relentless masters – passion, selfishness, envy, hatred, and revenge – is conquered only by a mighty struggle. Every hour of delay makes the struggle more severe. If man is not victorious over the passions, they crush out happiness, health, and manhood.  Here Christian Science is the sovereign panacea, giving strength to the weakness of mortal mind, — strength from the immortal and omnipotent Mind, — and lifting humanity above itself into purer desires, even into spiritual power and good-will to man.” (Science and Health, p. 407)

“Are we clearing the gardens of thought by uprooting the noxious weeks of passion, malice, envy, and strife?” (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 343)

There is that idea of weeding our “garden” of thoughts again.  Most everyone understands the need to keep weeds out of a beloved garden.  It is an on-going project, not something to do once and forget about it!  Daily prayer is where we tend to our thoughts in our communion with our Father-Mother God. One way to push out the weeds of envy is with an “attitude of gratitude”!

A grateful heart a garden is,
Where there is always room
For every lovely, Godlike grace
To come to perfect bloom.
— (Hymn 3, Christian Science Hymnal)


Already touched upon in the Biblical Background section, greed is similar to covetousness.  In First Lessons in Christian Science, Volume One: The Ten Commandments, I wrote:

“Covetousness is often the motive behind greed, which is a quality of being extremely grasping – taking, eating, or buying way too much, certainly beyond what anyone would normally need.  Greed, of course, is not a quality a Christian would want to express.”

We need to learn to trust God to give us what we need. Mary Baker Eddy offers this guidance:

God gives you His spiritual ideas, and in turn, they give you daily supplies. Never ask for to-morrow: it is enough that divine Love is an ever-present help; and if you wait, never doubting, you will have all you need every moment. What a glorious inheritance is given to us through the understanding of omnipresent Love! More we cannot ask: more we do not want: more we cannot have. This sweet assurance is the “Peace, be still” to all human fears, to suffering of every sort. (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 307)

 “At this immortal hour, all human hate, pride, greed, lust should bow and declare Christ’s power, and the reign of Truth and Life divine should make man’s being pure and blest.” (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 257)


Lust is an intense desire, or longing, for physical pleasure.  Our senses demand to be entertained!  We can become addicted to things we lust for, leaving us little time to think of anything else. Certainly this is something we need to master.  Mary Baker Eddy writes:

“The Scriptures say: ‘Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.’ That which we desire and for which we ask, it is not always best for us to receive.  In this case infinite Love will not grant the request.” (Science and Health, p. 10)

 “Lust, dishonesty, sin, disable the student; they preclude the practice or efficient teaching of Christian Science, the truth of man’s being.” (First Church of Christ, Scientist and Miscellany, p. 4)

 “The lust of the flesh and the pride of physical life must be quenched in the divine essence.” (Unity of Good, p. 39)

 “HELL. Mortal belief; error; lust.”  (Science and Health, p. 588)

 The Apostle Paul gave this advice:

 “Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.” (Galatians 5:16)

 As we “walk with Spirit,” which is God, we are protected from the myriad suggestions that would lead us into temptation of lustful practices.  But it takes moment-by-moment alertness and a desire to be obedient.


 There is nothing wrong with having desires, but they need to be right and worthy.  Our desires may not start off that way; they may be based on materialism.  It’s humanly natural.  But Christian Science teaches, as does Jesus, that we need a spiritual approach by turning to God first.

“Desire is prayer; and no loss can occur from trusting God with out desires, that they may be moulded and exalted before they take form in words and in deeds.” (Science and Health, p. 1)

 “Jesus declared that to look with desire on forbidden objects was to break a moral precept.  He laid great stress on the action of the human mind, unseen to the senses.” (Science and Health, p. 234)

 Sometimes the answer to our prayers is that we do not get what we desire.  We must humbly accept this.  Perhaps it is a matter of not being the right time. We must trust God.

“That which we desire and for which we ask, it is not always best for us to receive.  In this case infinite Love will not grant the request.” (Science and Health, p. 10)

 “Let the slave of wrong desire learn the lessons of Christian Science, and he will get the better of that desire, and ascend a degree in the scale of health, happiness, and existence.” (Science and Health, p. 407)

What, then, would be the right kind of desires to yearn for and pray for?  Mrs. Eddy tells us in the first chapter of Science and Health, “Prayer”:

“What we most need is the prayer of fervent desire for growth in grace, expressed in patience, meekness, love, and good deeds.” (Science and Health, p. 4)

 Elsewhere she writes:

“Prayer begets an awakened desire to be and do good.” (No and Yes, p. 39)

 “Soul is the infinite source of bliss: only high and holy joy can satisfy immortal cravings.” (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 287)

 “Happiness consists in being and in doing good; only what God gives, and what we give ourselves and others through His tenure, confers happiness.”  (Message of 1902, p. 17)

 In her autobiography, Mary Baker Eddy shares how her early desires guided her life:

“From my very childhood I was impelled, by a hunger and thirst after divine things, — a desire for something higher and better than matter, and apart from it, — to seek diligently for the knowledge of God as the one great and ever-present relief from human woe. The first spontaneous motion of Truth and Love, acting through Christian Science on my roused consciousness, banished at once and forever the fundamental error of faith in things material; for this trust is the unseen sin, the unknown foe, — the heart’s untamed desire which breaketh the divine commandments. As says St. James: “Whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” (Retrospection and Introspection, p. 31)


Prayer to our Father-Mother God will help guide us in our journey on earth,and prove that we do not need to covet whatever our brothers and sisters may seem to have that we think should be ours as well.  In one sense, it is right to claim our mutual heritage as God’s children, each having all the grace and blessings that God bestows on His creation. As God’s image and likeness, we reflect all that God is and has, seen and felt in the spiritual ideas within consciousness.  There we find peace.

“The sublime summary of an honest life satisfies the mind craving a higher good, and bathes it in the cool waters of peace on earth.”  (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 227

*   *   *
Copyright Vicki Jones Cole 2018

An essay on Teaching Children the Tenth Commandment will be coming in the future.  In the meantime, you can read the daily lessons on the Tenth Commandment for young people found in the book “First Lessons in Christian Science” on this site.  Go to the Ten Commandments page and scroll down to the Tenth Commandment section.  To learn more about this book, see the About page.

The Tenth Commandment – For Young Children  (from the book)

The books on the “First Lessons in Christian Science,” found on this site, provide daily
lessons for teaching children and teens at home or in Sunday School:

Volume One:  The Ten Commandments
Volume Two:  The Beatitudes
Volume Three:  The Lord’s Prayer

For a list of all essays and articles on this site, go to the Essays page.
Below is a sample of some of the essays useful for teaching young people.

Teaching Children about the Golden Rule
Introducing Children to the Concept of God 
Teaching Children about Angels
The 23rd Psalm – Commentaries
Teaching the Ten Commandments
Introduction to Teaching the Beatitudes to Children

Questions and Answers on Christian Science
About this blog and the Welcome page

The First Commandment – A Christian Science Perspective – [includes Christian Science is Monotheistic; Basic Definition of ‘Other Gods’; Who is ‘Me’?; ‘Other gods’ and How They Affect Us; Disobedience to the First Commandment; Obeying the First Commandment]

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Teaching Children the Eighth Commandment

“Thou shalt not steal.”

While the Eighth Commandment seems very direct and clear – “Thou shalt not steal” – the definition of stealing appears to be a rather murky one for some. Young people who would be shocked at hearing that an acquaintance robbed a bank, or took money from a friend’s wallet, may see no problem with shoplifting from a store, cheating on an important test (because everyone else is doing it), or manipulating someone into destructive behavior, such as drinking or drugs, that goes against their better instincts.

This is one commandment that depends a great deal upon the example set for children by their family members or adults they observe on a regular basis. If a parent uses manipulation to get what he or she wants from a spouse, or a sibling bullies and uses other violent tactics to successfully intimidate others, then a young child may grow up to use these same methods.

You may be wondering what that kind of behavior has to do with “stealing.” If you have come directly to this page, you might wish to read the full essay on the Eighth Commandment for background. Each of the Ten Commandments addresses more than the literal, obvious meaning, and the Eighth Commandment is no different. If we think of stealing as merely the attempt to rob another of some object, it is time to take a deeper look at its meaning, if you wish to live the spirit of this rule of God.

Most children are taught not to steal as one of their very early lessons. This usually consists in learning that it is wrong to take things that do not belong to them without permission. And if this lesson takes hold that is a major victory! But as they mature, children could benefit from learning what other actions might be considered stealing, so they can protect themselves and others from breaking the spirit of the Eighth Commandment.

In addition to some of the points made in the earlier essay on this Commandment, here are a few ideas suitable for discussion with individual children or Sunday School classes.


1. Simply ask your young pupils if it is right to take a toy from someone without permission. They will probably repeat what their parents have taught them. Ask them why it would be wrong. If they do not understand, do some role-playing. Give them the  words to use to ask to use or borrow something belonging to a classmate or sibling. Then, ask them how they would feel if someone took something special that belonged to them and refused to return it, and so on. Remind them of the Golden Rule, if they have already learned about it.

2. Explain to them that God has a big rule: “Thou shalt not steal.” It is found in Exodus 20 and is one of the Ten Commandments. Ask if they might know why this would be an important rule.

3. Explain difference between stealing on purpose and accidentally taking something thoughtlessly. Remind them that if they get permission from the rightful owner first, then that is not stealing.

4. Discuss ways that young children often try to get things that they want: by nagging, or sweet talking insincerely, bullying, trickery, or taking something secretly and hoping no one will notice. All of these actions are unloving, and break the Eighth Commandment.

5. Turn their thought to the positive side of this Commandment – to WHY we do not need to steal. Show them Genesis 1:31 in the Bible: “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.” God has only good planned for each of His children and no one is left out. We may have different things and different opportunities come our way. We can turn to God in prayer if we have a need, and learn to trust Him with our lives.

6. No one can steal from us what God gives. He gives spiritual ideas and qualities, and no one can take those from us. Ask if anyone can steal our “sense of humor,” for example. Why not? Does a playmate seem to be having a lot of fun playing with a certain toy that belongs to him? Would we be happy if we secretly stole that toy and took it home? No. Why not? Would we steal the playmate’s happiness if we took the toy, or does that quality come from God? Yes, we might make them sad, and we do not want to do that, but if they knew how to turn to God, they would see that God gives all spiritual good, and it cannot be taken from them. We can know that for ourselves, too, so that we would not be tempted to steal from another.


Older children and Sunday School pupils should be able to understand the ideas given in the essay on The Eighth Commandment. But there are certain situations that may be of greater temptation for those entering their teen years that should be discussed. For example:

Shoplifting and “borrowing” clothes: While most kids understand that shoplifting is wrong, there is a feeling that taking items from a store or company without paying does no harm to individuals, and therefore is not so bad. But they need to understand how this ends up costing them and consumers more money because of the losses to the store and the costs of insurance, which are passed along to shoppers. Therefore, it is stealing from the wallets of innocent, hard-working people. Also, there is a habit, not just with teens, of buying fancy clothes (often Prom or Homecoming dresses), wearing them once for the big occasion, and then returning them to the store. Explain that this, too, is stealing, because the dress then becomes “used,” and everyone loses money on it. Bring in the Golden Rule. Perhaps one day they will be shop owners, and would they want others stealing from them in this way? These store losses can affect the profits which are needed to raise families, and so on. The honest thing to do is to buy only what you can afford, and take responsibility for what is purchased, returning only what is truly defective. Explain that shoplifting is not a harmless game. It can land them in jail.

Cheating on Tests: Yes, this is stealing. By cheating on tests, students steal from others, their teachers, their school, and themselves. They deprive everyone of an honest assessment of whether or not the subject has been successfully taught and successfully learned. In some situations, students can be robbed of their rightful spot near the top of the class, by others who have cheated. Competition for college admissions does create a lot of stress for high school students, and there is a great temptation for them to do whatever is necessary to make good grades, but if they do not earn those high grades through honest methods, then they have certainly broken the Eighth Commandment. There are spiritual consequences to this that may not concern them now, but for those who love God and want see the benefits of obeying Him, there is a sense of peace for those who have honestly earned their grades.

Addictive behavior: Indulging in destructive habits such as smoking, drinking, drugs, or overeating is a form of stealing. These appetites can rob both mind and body of good health and proper development – spiritually and physically. Though Christian Science teaches that matter is only a false concept of the substance of Spirit, as long as we are human we do need to respect our bodies by taking common-sense care of them. Why give the poor body more than it can handle naturally? It breaks the Eighth Commandment when we steal this good health from ourselves, or encourage our friends to indulge with us.

Stealing friends: At a certain age, young people get very possessive about their friends. There can be a lot of manipulation among groups of friends to get best buddies or to exclude others from the clique. While friends cannot really be stolen, in the usual sense of that word, attempts to alienate the affections of one friend for another could be considered a form of stealing. True friendship and love is not personally possessive, and inspires confidence that friends can congregate and relate naturally, with no need to control others. Learning this discipline while young can prevent much heartache when romantic companionship become the coveted prize.

Stealing good reputations: It is also a form of stealing when one attempts to rob others of their good reputation by spreading gossip and falsehoods for whatever reason. This kind of character assassination is strongly rebuked in the Bible. And young people should know that in the adult world, slander is against the law, and there are serious consequences for spreading falsehoods about another. As always, the Golden Rule should be considered when tempted to control others through gossip or intimidation. This will be discussed again under the Ninth Commandment: “Thou shalt not bear false witness.” But malicious gossip can also be seen as a form of stealing.

Those are just a few of the areas of possible discussion with your children or Sunday School class. When other Commandments are broken, there may not be a social consequence. But many forms of stealing are against the law, and young people need to develop the discipline and instincts that will protect them from making destructive choices in the face of temptation.

For additional ideas for daily lessons, see the page for The Ten Commandments.  This will take you to the pages for First Lessons in Christian Science, Volume 1: The Ten Commandments.  Scroll down through the links to the lessons on the Eighth Commandment.

Copyright 2009 Vicki Jones Cole

The Eighth Commandment – For Young Children (from the book)

The Eighth Commandment – a Christian Science Perspective
[Background material useful for teaching older Sunday School students.  Sections include:  Biblical Background; Jesus and the Eighth Commandment; Christian Science and the Eighth Commandment]

Questions and Answers on Christian Science
About this blog and book plus a Welcome
Teaching Children the Ten Commandments

A good foundation for teaching all these lessons to your children or Sunday School pupils is to start with the essay on Teaching Children the First Commandment.  It contains ideas for helping children understand its deeper meaning and how to live “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” in daily life. See also the First Commandment daily lessons in Volume One: The Ten Commandments.

For a list of daily lessons useful for teaching children at home or in Sunday School,
from the book “First Lessons in Christian Science” go to the following:

Volume One:  The Ten Commandments
Volume Two:  The Beatitudes
Volume Three:  The Lord’s Prayer

For a list of all the articles and essays on this site go to the Essays page.

Here are a few essays useful for teaching children of all ages:

Introducing Children to the Concept of God
Teaching Children about the Golden Rule
Teaching Children about Angels
Introduction to Teaching the Beatitudes to Children
The Beatitudes for Children
Teaching Children the 23rd Psalm
Becoming a Living Monument to the Ten Commandments
What Mary Baker Eddy Writes about Teaching Children

The Ninth Commandment – a Christian Science Perspective
[Until the essay on Teaching Children the Ninth Commandment is finished, you can find background material useful for teaching older Sunday School students in this essay.  Sections include:  Biblical Background; The Ninth Commandment and the New Testament; Christian Science and the Ninth Commandment]

The Tenth Commandment – a Christian Science Perspective
[Until essay on Teaching Children the Tenth Commandment is finished, you can find background material useful for teaching older Sunday School students in this essay.  Sections include:  Biblical Background; Jesus and the New Testament; Christian Science and the Tenth Commandment; Envy; Greed; Lust; Wrong Desires]

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The Ninth Commandment – A Christian Science Perspective

“Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.”


There is something naturally appealing about truth.  Haven’t there been times when you hear a person speak forthrightly and you think, “It’s so refreshing to hear the truth”?  While not everyone would agree that the unvarnished truth is pleasant to hear all the time, those moments of plain speaking, free from “spin,” exaggeration, or withholding, can positively touch our hearts and minds.

Why is that?  Speaking from a spiritual perspective, it is because God is Truth and expressions of truth, sincerely given, connect us to our true selves and to divinity.  Truth is our natural habitat, the light that surrounds us, leads us, and helps us to see spiritual reality clearly.

Each of the Ten Commandments reveal, to some extent, an aspect of God’s nature.  The Ninth Commandment, ‘Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour,” is a first lesson given the Hebrews towards the goal of learning that God is Truth, His Word is all-powerful Truth, and His children, made in His image and likeness, walk in the light of truth, and are pure, upright, free from evil or errors.

The Bible shows in its evolving history of man’s progressive understanding of God that obedience to the Commandments offered protection and guidance until the Hebrews were taught by Jesus in New Testament times, to live love. The same is true for us today: humble obedience to the Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount is a saving grace, especially when done with love and selflessness.


Bible scholars tell us that the Ninth Commandment was about perjury rather than being a prohibition against lying in general.  Perjury, as defined by Merriam-Webster dictionary, is “the voluntary violation of an oath or vow either by swearing to what is untrue or by omission to do what has been promised under oath; false swearing.”

Today, many courtrooms around the world require witnesses in trials to swear an oath.  In American courtrooms, the oath is basically: “Do you solemnly swear that you will tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?”  If it is discovered that a witness has committed perjury, he or she may be punished with a fine or jail time.

This crime of bearing false witness under oath was considered to be so serious to the early Israelites that anyone caught lying about another under judgment would be given the same punishment normally given to one actually guilty of that particular crime.

“. . . and, behold, if the witness be a false witness, and hath testified falsely against his brother; then shall ye do unto him, as he had thought to have done unto his brother; so shalt thou put the evil away from you.”  (Deuteronomy 19:18-19)

In the story of Daniel in the lion’s den (see Daniel, chapter 6), we learn that after Daniel made it safely out of the lion’s den through his innocence and God’s protection, the false accusers were subsequently thrown into the lion’s den, along with their wives and children!   A lesson to ponder:  how often do our loved ones suffer for the consequences brought about by lying and false accusations by family members.

“Thou shalt not raise a false report: put not thine hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness.”  (Exodus 23:1)

While the interpretation of the Ninth Commandment in its original language may have indicated it referred only to false witness under oath, the above citation gives a slight indication that any kind of false reporting is wrong.  It also seems clear through the rest of the Old Testament that God condemned lying – especially gossip and slander.  Obviously, the fear of punishment did not stop God’s people from falsehoods, or there would not have been so many warnings against it.  Here are some of the main ones:

“A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall not escape.”  (Proverbs 19:5)

“Let the lying lips be put to silence; which speak grievous things proudly and contemptuously against the righteous.”  (Psalm 31:18)

“For he said, Surely they are my people, children that will not lie.”  (Isaiah 63:8)

“Whoso privily slandereth his neighbour, him will I cut off.”  (Psalm 101:5)

“A poor man is better than a liar.”  (Proverbs 19:22)

“He that hideth hatred with lying lips, and he that uttereth a slander, is a fool”  (Proverb 10:18)

So often we read in the Bible about certain vices or sins being “abominations” to God or hated by Him, as we learn from these verses:

“Lying lips are abomination to the Lord: but they that deal truly are his delight.” (Proverbs 12:22)

“These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:  a proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, an heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief.  A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.”  (Proverbs 6:16-19)

God’s command against gossip and slander is made very clear in Leviticus: “Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people.”  (Lev. 19:1)

By New Testament times, the Hebrews had so loaded down God’s laws with unmerciful punishment among themselves that practicing them became burdensome.  But Jesus inaugurated a new reign of love and mercy.

“For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.”  (John 1:17)


One difference between the Old Testament and New Testament is that fear and warnings of dreadful consequences were used in the early days to keep the children of Israel in line, while the New Testament writings show that Jesus, his disciples, and the Apostle Paul exhorted their followers to treat others through the motives of love, truth, and mercy.

A thorough reading of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) shows what Jesus thought of hypocritical behavior – in our thoughts, speech, and action.  Hypocrisy is a form of lying and being a false witness – but with ourselves as a living lie.

Jesus spoke only indirectly of the Ninth Commandment’s warning about what we swear to, or say. But in doing so he stressed an even broader meaning: that we should limit what we say to such absolute truth that our words would be examples of refreshing brevity:

“Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, “Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths:  But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne: Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King.  Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black.  But let your communication be, Yea, Yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.”  (Matt. 5:33-37)

Jesus, of course, was the target of false accusers, many of whom knew the holy scriptures thoroughly.  Yet their fear and jealousy of this Christly son of God blinded them to their duty to uphold God’s commandment.  It is possible they must have endured mental or physical suffering after the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.

In the letters of Paul to the early Christians, he urged everyone to keep to the faith by living and speaking the truth only:

“Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds.” (Colossians 3:9)

“Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.” (Ephesians 4:25)

“Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.”  (Ephesians 4:29)

“Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law” (Romans 13:10)

“Charity . . . rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth.”  (I Cor. 13:6)


[NOTE:  For those unfamiliar with the religion of Christian Science (which is NOT the same
as Scientology!) you can read about it on the Questions and Answers page on this site.]

Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, was raised in an early Nineteenth Century New England family that was devoted to the Bible.  She grew up with a deep love of its teachings and naturally adhered to its moral lessons.  She loved Jesus and did her best to follow his example.

However, good morals and simple honesty did not protect her from a life of ill-health and frailness.  It took the experience of a profound spiritual healing of a serious injury, after turning to her beloved Bible when at the seeming threshold of death, to open her eyes to a revelation that would change the course of her life and bring health and happiness to others.

Mary Baker Eddy spent the next few years searching the Bible for answers and for the confirmation of what she had seen in that burst of light and healing.  She describes it this way in her textbook Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures:

“When apparently near the confines of mortal existence, standing already within the shadow of the death-valley, I learned these truths in divine Science: that all real being is in God, the divine Mind, and that Life, Truth, and Love are all-powerful and ever-present; that the opposite of Truth, — called, error, sin, sickness, disease, death, — is the false testimony of false material sense, of mind in matter; that this false sense evolves, in belief, a subjective state of mortal mind which this same so-called mind names matter, thereby shutting out the true sense of Spirit.”  (Science and Health, p. 108)

Lies of the “Serpent”

Notice in that last statement that Mrs. Eddy refers to error, sin, sickness, disease, and death as “false testimony of false material sense.”  This gives an indication of a spiritual or metaphysical interpretation of what the original Ninth Commandment was pointing the way for mankind to eventually understand; that not only is it important to be honest, but to recognize that we are falling into a conspiracy of lies, by believing in the false testimony of the material senses.  We must learn protect ourselves from the suffering this “false witnessing” seems to cause.

Whether we notice it or not, we are challenged every day by false accusations. Why is that?  We can go back to the Bible which offered the first explanation. It all started with the serpent in the allegory of Adam and Eve.  Mary Baker Eddy describes it as follows:

“In the Greek devil is named serpent – liar – the god of this world; and St. Paul defines this world’s god as dishonesty, craftiness, handling the word of God deceitfully.  The original text defines devil as accuser, calumniator; therefore, according to Holy Writ these qualities are objectionable and ought not to proceed from the individual, the pulpit, or the press.”  (Message for 1901, p. 16)

Mary Baker Eddy had a term for these devilish accusations that bombard us:  aggressive mental suggestion.  Her followers are urged to defend themselves daily against these false suggestions, by watching our thought and rejecting any “lies” that come to us.  Sometimes the lies are from others, sometimes the lies appear as our own thought.  Because their source is not from God, the infinite divine Mind, who is Love only, the lies can be rejected. Sticking to God’s truth can bring healing.

Living the Christ, Truth

The teachings of Christian Science help us learn how to understand God, not merely to believe in Him, by praying to know Him better, and studying the Bible with a new perception of the spiritual meaning behind familiar stories and passages.  In Christian Science, one of the names for God is Truth.  The infinite manifestation of Truth is the Christ, the impersonal image of God, which comes to mankind to bless and heal, which was embodied by Christ Jesus.  But Truth is also the “Comforter” which Jesus promised would come to us when he was no longer physically present with us.  Mary Baker Eddy discovered this Truth and devoted the rest of her life in demonstrating and teaching this revelation so that we can all heal sickness and sin as Jesus did.

Students of Christian Science understand the need to obey the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount in their daily lives.  This helps to purify consciousness and provide the ability to be alert to falsehoods, both in our dealings with others, as well as the lies of evil and errors that oppose God’s goodness and supremacy.  Mrs. Eddy writes:

“Thou shalt not bear false witness; that is, thou shalt not utter a lie, either mentally or audibly, nor cause it to be thought.  Obedience to these commandments is indispensable to health, happiness, and length of days.”  (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 67)

Plato said: “What thou seest, that thou beest,” a truth that aligns with the spiritual view of the Ninth Commandment, in that we do not want to judge falsely anyone, which by doing so we show forth what we ourselves are.  For example, in Christian Science practice, if we see a sick man, and do not mentally reject the picture, we are believing that sickness is a God-made reality and therefore might make us vulnerable to the same belief, as well.  But both situations are false beliefs ready to be destroyed by truth.  The work of denying this error and affirming God’s truth, has proven to be an effective healer since Mary Baker Eddy’s discovery in 1866.  We have learned not to “bear false witness” for others as well as ourselves.  It can be, of course, a struggle to do this constantly, and there are certainly times we do not ignore wrong-doing or an illness that does not get healed immediately, but our goal is to try to see our fellow man as God’s child, His image and likeness as stated in Genesis as much as possible.  This may take consecrated prayer and much study of the Bible and the writings of Mary Baker Eddy to educate ourselves and grow spiritually, but the results are worth it.

“The Christianly scientific man reflects the divine law, thus becoming a law unto himself.  He does violence to no man.  Neither is he a false accuser.”  (Science and Health, p. 458)

“This Science requires man to be honest, just, pure; to love his neighbor as himself, and to love God supremely.” (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 367)

Telling the truth is so important that Mrs. Eddy put a rule in her Church Manual stipulating that in the offices of the Publishing Society where her periodicals were prepared and sold: “No idle gossip, no slander, no mischief-making, no evil speaking shall be allowed.”  (Church Manual, p. 81)

In addition, Mary Baker Eddy wrote: “But all people can and should be just, merciful; they should never envy, slander, hate, or try to injure, but always should try to bless their fellow-mortals.”  (Miscellaneous Writings, pg 32).  It is no surprise, then, that when she established her newspaper, The Christian Science Monitor, she chose as its motto, “To injure no man, but to bless all mankind.”

Judging Others

In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught:  Judge not, that ye be not judged.” (Matthew 7:1)

When judging others, our human opinion may not necessarily be the truth, so we must be willing to withhold our opinion when not needed.  Of course, there are times we are in a position to have to wisely use our discernment in judging others, such as in a court of law, or when hiring someone for a job, but speaking harshly to another in the name of “I’m just being honest!” is no excuse for hurting another.  A sympathetic or diplomatic approach may be the most loving thing to do.

Mary Baker Eddy writes of judgment:  “No mortal is infallible, — hence the Scripture, ‘Judge no man.’” (Miscellany, p. 364)

“He who judges others should know well whereof he speaks.  Where the motive to do right exists, and the majority of one’s acts are right, we should avoid referring to past mistakes.  The greatest sin that one can commit against himself is to wrong one of God’s ‘little ones.’” (Miscellaneous Writings p. 130)

“Students are advised by the author to be charitable and kind, not only towards differing forms of religion and medicine, but to those who hold these differing opinions.  Let us be faithful in pointing the way through Christ, as we understand it, but let us also be careful always to ‘judge righteous judgment,’ and never to condemn rashly.”  (Science and Health, p. 444)

Spiritual Sense versus Physical Senses

How do we know what is spiritually true about anyone, if we are witness to problems with our eyes and ears, etc. and it all seems so real?  We learn in Christian Science – and indeed through the examples of Jesus and other Bible healers – that we do not gather facts solely from the physical senses when it comes to metaphysical healing.  We must learn to elevate thought to see with the spiritual senses. We all have access to a spiritual sense, because we reflect Spirit, God, as His image and likeness.  In the book of Job, he describes it this way:

“But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding.” (Job 32:8)  Mary Baker Eddy defines it:  “Spiritual sense is a conscious, constant capacity to understand God.” (Science and Health, p. 209)

As we practice demonstrating the truths of Christian Science, in addition to living the Ten Commandments and the teachings of Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount, thus purifying consciousness, we cultivate spiritual sense until it becomes natural to turn to it when needing to accurately judge a situation.

Mary Baker Eddy writes about spiritual sense versus the physical senses:

“The five material senses testify to truth and error as united in a mind both good and evil.  Their false evidence will finally yield to Truth, — to the recognition of Spirit and of the spiritual creation.”  (Science and Health, p. 287)

“What is termed material sense can report only a mortal temporary sense of things, whereas spiritual sense can bear witness only to Truth.  To material sense, the unreal is the real until this sense is corrected by Christian Science.”  (Science and Health, p. 298)

“Science reverses the false testimony of the physical senses, and by this reversal mortals arrive at the fundamental facts of being.” (Science and Health, p. 120)

“The use of a lie is that it unwittingly confirms Truth, when handled by Christian Science, which reverses false testimony and gains a knowledge of God from opposite facts, or phenomena.” (Unity of Good, p. 36)

“The opposite of Truth, — called error, sin, sickness, disease, death, — is the false testimony of false material sense, of mind in matter.”  (Science and Health p. 108)


The textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, offers a treasure trove of ideas about the perfection of God, man, and the universe that enable us to rise above the false witnessing of the “serpent” – the evil and the erroneous testimony of the physical senses — that seeks to punish God’s children rather than bless His creation, and seeks to mesmerize them into believing its lies and acting upon them.  This is the essence of the Ninth Commandment.  Simply, we do not disobey God by telling or believing in lies.

We could say that Truth is reality as God knows it.  So, to “get real,” let God alone bear witness to you and your neighbor in Truth and Love.

As St. Paul exhorted: “Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.”  (Eph. 4:25)

“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.”  (III John 1:4)

* * * * * * *
Copyright 2018 Vicki Jones Cole

An essay on Teaching Children the Ninth Commandment will be coming in the future.  In the meantime, these essays are based on the lessons found in the book “First Lessons in Christian Science.”  To see the lessons for children on the Ninth Commandment go to the Ten Commandments page and scroll down to the Ninth Commandment list. See the About page for information about the book.

The Ninth Commandment – For Young Children  (from the book)

Next;  The Tenth Commandment – a Christian Science Perspective – [Includes Biblical Background; Jesus and the New Testament; Christian Science and the Tenth Commandment; Envy; Greed; Lust; Wrong Desires]

“How I Told My Kids the Truth about Santa without Robbing Them of the Joy of Christmas”

Questions and Answers on Christian Science
About this blog and book and a Welcome!

For a list of daily lessons from the book “First Lessons in Christian Science,” found on this site, that are useful in teaching children at home or in Sunday School, visit these pages:

Volume One:  The Ten Commandments
Volume Two:  The Beatitudes
Volume Three:  The Lord’s Prayer

For a list of all the articles and essays on this site, visit the Essays page.

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The Eighth Commandment – A Christian Science Perspective

“Thou shalt not steal.”


In an ideal world, everyone would be completely satisfied with what they have.
No one would feel a need to steal in order to feed a family or a drug habit. No
one would need to steal another’s spouse to find a mate. There would be no
temptation to stoop to larceny or corruption in business, government, churches,
or charitable organizations. There would be no scams, schemes, phony offers,
bait and switch ads, or cynical con artists preying upon the innocent and elderly.

There is such an ideal world. It is called the kingdom of heaven. This realm of
harmony can be experienced now – here on earth – when mankind is willing to
seek it. Jesus told us: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness;
and all these things shall be added unto you.”
(Matthew 6:33)

When we become convinced that there is no lasting pleasure in material appetites
or passions, which often bring pain and suffering in their wake, we will be ready to
seek the kingdom of God. The Ten Commandments help to discipline our thoughts
and actions as a foundation for spiritual growth.

One of the first lessons of childhood is that we should not take things that do not
belong to us. Parents or guardians who insist that this code of conduct become
deeply ingrained in the moral character of their children are fulfilling a vital
responsibility. The laws of good government also support this ideal. The Eighth
Commandment is the foundation for this important moral law. But it is not just a
simple rule to live by – it is a spiritual promise!

The Eighth Commandment is not just about stealing from our fellow man. In the
book of Genesis, we learn that “God saw everything that he had made, and,
behold, it was very good.”
(Genesis 1:31) Is it possible that we “steal” from
God, when we attempt to take away the wholeness, unity, and perfection of
God’s “very good” creation by portraying it as being divided into the haves and
have-nots, the deserving and the undeserving, the promising and the washed-up,
the plentiful and the depleted – beliefs which set us up as potential thieves or the
victims of thieves?

That is a limited way of looking at God’s universe, which is based upon the
testimony of the physical senses. By lifting up and improving our concept of God
and His “image and likeness,” we can gain a more expansive spiritual outlook
which would eliminate any need to steal or any reason to be a target of theft.

The Bible makes a promise in Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians:

“And it is in God’s power to provide you richly with every good gift; thus you will have ample
means in yourselves to meet each and every situation, with enough 
and to spare for every good cause.” (II Corinthians 9:8, New English Bible)

All things spiritual come from God, Spirit. Our needs, both human and heavenly,
are met by God. We do not need to steal from others. We only need to develop a
deep trust in God, our true Father-Mother, to provide us with everything we need at
the proper time. This requires faith in God, but most importantly, this faith requires
an enduring trust built upon a spiritual understanding of Him.

Before we can gain this spiritual understanding of God that unlocks the treasures
of heaven, harmony, in our lives, we must learn to be obedient to the laws of God
that spring from this heavenly Principle. The Eighth Commandment, “Thou shalt
not steal,”
was given to mankind to protect us from unintentionally breaking the
law of Love, which supports us, just as a loving parent would do. God is Love, and
Love gives to all freely, unconditionally, abundantly. A heart that lives this divine
Love has no fear or anxiety. It is generous with all, resists selfish motives, and is
never tempted to take what belongs to another. How much better it would be to
live in a world where no one ever steals, because everyone is satisfied and
content with the riches given to us by divine Love.

If this sounds like the kind of world you would like to experience, you can start by
digging deeper into the meaning of the Eighth Commandment, until its essence
permeates your consciousness and your life.

We will now take a step toward that deeper look at the Eighth Commandment,
first by exploring how it is taught in the Bible and, secondly, how it is applied in
the spiritual and metaphysical demonstrations of Christian Science, as taught by
the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science: Mary Baker Eddy.

[NOTE:  For those unfamiliar with the religion of Christian Science (which is NOT the
same as Scientology!) you can visit the Questions and Answers page on this site.]


A study of this theme in the Old Testament shows that the Eighth Commandment,
“Thou shalt not steal,” is not simply about property rights, or about those who “have not”
trying to take from those who “have,” but is also about greed, ingratitude, and a fear of
lack versus satisfaction, gratitude, and a trust in God’s care for all.

To emphasize the importance of this Commandment, it is repeated a number of
times and a number of ways throughout the Old Testament (KJV). We are told:

“And the Lord spake unto Moses saying: . . . Ye shall not steal, neither deal falsely, neither
lie one to another.”
(Leviticus 19:1, 11)

“Neither shalt thou steal.” (Deuteronomy 5:19)

“Then said he [an angel] unto me, This is the curse that goeth forth over the face
of the whole earth: for every one that stealeth shall be cut off as on this side
according to it.” (
Zechariah 5:3)

“And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying . . . The people of the land have
used oppression, and exercised robbery, and have vexed the poor and needy:
yea, they have oppressed the stranger wrongfully. . . . Therefore have I poured
out mine indignation upon them; I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath:
their own way have I recompensed upon their heads, saith the Lord God.”
(Ezekiel 22:23, 29, 31)

The Bible makes clear that stealing is a sin which will bring punishment. And yet,
it is a sin which comes with a very clear path to redemption, as outlined in the Old
Testament. The Bible scholar William Barclay writes:

“The law of the Old Testament does not simply condemn stealing; it has much to
say about the penalty for it. The law of the Old Testament never fails to insist that
restitution has to be made; in fact, the restitution is usually the punishment. One
of the notable features of the Old Testament law is that it is just as eager to see
that the victim is compensated as that the criminal is punished.”
(Barclay, William:
“The Ten Commandments,” Westminster John Knox Press, 1998 edition, pg. 162)

This is illustrated in the book of Exodus 22:1-12, in which Moses outlines in detail
the punishments and compensations for stealing. Part of it reads:

“If a man shall steal an ox, or a sheep, and kill it, or sell it; he shall restore five oxen
for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep. . . . If a man shall deliver unto his neighbour
money or stuff to keep, and it be stolen out of the man’s house; if the thief be found,
let him pay double.”

We also learn that there is a very harsh penalty for stealing a man in order to sell him
into slavery:

“And he that stealeth a man, and selleth him, or if he be found in his hand, he shall
surely be put to death.”
(Exodus 21:16)

“If a man be found stealing any of his brethren of the children of Israel, and maketh
merchandise of him, or selleth him; then that thief shall die; and thou shalt put evil
away from among you.”
(Deuteronomy 24:7)

What is also interesting in the Old Testament is the nature of certain crimes
considered stealing. Both usury – the lending of money at interest – and
manipulating weights and measures, were severely condemned. God is shown
as caring for the poor and needy and demanding that those in a position to help
should do so without exacting too much in return:

“If thou lend money to any of my people that is poor by thee, thou shalt not be to
him as an usurer, neither shalt thou lay upon him usury. If thou at all take thy
neighbour’s raiment to pledge, thou shalt deliver it unto him by that the sun
goeth down: For that is his covering only, it is his raiment for his skin: wherein
shall he sleep? and it shall come to pass, when he crieth unto me, that I will hear;
for I am gracious.”
(Exodus 22:25-27)

“And if thy brother be waxen poor, and fallen in decay with thee; then thou shalt
relieve him: yea, though he be a stranger, or a sojourner; that he may live with
thee. Take thou no usury of him, or increase: but fear thy God; that thy brother
may live with thee. Thou shalt not give him thy money upon usury, nor lend him
thy victuals for increase.”
(Leviticus 25:35-37)

William Barclay has some interesting comments on usury that show a principle
beneath the commandment:

“Is this a total prohibition of lending money at interest? The real principle of this
goes much deeper than that. It is not simply a prohibition of lending at interest;
it is the commandment of God that no man must ever take advantage of his
brother’s misfortune. No man must, to put it in modern language, cash in on his
brother’s need. There are times when it is possible to drive a hard bargain, or
to charge a high price, simply because someone desperately needs something.
The law of the Bible is that no one must ever take advantage of another’s need,
and use that need for his own profit and enrichment.”
(The Ten Commandments,
pg. 170)

The Old Testament has at least five instances of condemning stealing by the
use of false scales and measurements, such as the verses below:

“Thou shalt not have in thy bag divers weights, a great and a small. Thou shalt
not have in thine house divers measures, a great and a small. But thou shalt
have a perfect and just weight, a perfect and just measure shalt thou have: that
thy days may be lengthened in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee. For
all that do such things, and all that do unrighteously, are an abomination unto
the Lord thy God.” (Deuteronomy 25:13-16)

“A false balance is abomination to the Lord: but a just weight is his delight.”
(Proverbs 11:1)

“Divers weights are an abomination unto the Lord; and a false balance is not
(Proverbs 20:23)

We start to get the point that even in the smallest of details we must be honest
and forthright. Taking advantage of others is a form of stealing that is an
“abomination” to God. Barclay comments further:

“It may seem a quite extraordinary thing that the Bible should take up so much
space to speak about weights and measures, and the accuracy of scales and
containers and units of measurement. It is intensely significant that the 
is that God is interested in these things, and that careful justice 
and meticulous honesty
in these things is the natural and essential expression 
of true religion.

“The Bible lays it down that there is something badly wrong with the religion of
the man who will worship on the Sunday and who will then go out to be a careless
or a dishonest tradesman, robbing others by offering less than his best, or a
man in any kind of business indulging in smart practice to make a quick profit,
or a clever opportunist using someone’s need as a chance to make more for
himself, or an employer who is blind and unsympathetic to his employees’
needs.” (The Ten Commandments, pg. 171)

It is not enough to avoid stealing from our fellow man; we must see to it that we
do not steal from God. According to the Old Testament, God seemed to take
notice when tithes were withheld or shortchanged (a tithe being one-tenth of
one’s goods or earnings):

“Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we
robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have
robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse,
that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the
Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a
blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”
(Malachi 3:8-10)

In the “Glossary” of the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key
to the Scriptures,
by Mary Baker Eddy, we read part of the metaphysical definition
of “tithe” as used in the Bible:

“TITHE. Contribution; tenth part; homage; gratitude.” (S&H, pg.595)

This indicates that the qualities of homage and gratitude are what God is
expecting us to contribute. Gratitude can be symbolized by the giving of material
goods or financial offerings, but sincere thankfulness should be the motive from
our heart, and giving money should not be done as a superficial exhibition.
Withholding heartfelt honor and gratitude for all the good that God has given is
a form of stealing, and would therefore be one way to break the Eighth

We now move into the New Testament to see how Christ Jesus taught and
demonstrated the Commandment, “Thou shalt not steal.”


After Jesus was baptized by John, he was led into the wilderness where he was
tempted by the devil. The very first temptation that Jesus had to face down was using
his Christ-power to create a comfortable material life. We read:

“And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that
these stones be made bread. But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not
live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”
(Matthew 4:3-4)

This is a temptation that faces every spiritual seeker at some point. How shall we use
our developing spiritual sense, understanding, and power? Shall we use them in
turning stones into bread, so to speak – using prayer mainly for personal material
gain and satisfaction – or do we seek Truth for Truth’s sake, feeding upon the Word
of God which nourishes our spiritual identity, something matter alone could never do.

While the New Testament does not indicate that Jesus spoke much about the Eighth
Commandment, it does show us that he strived to teach us about the evils of greed,
ingratitude, and lust – all qualities that could lead to stealing. Jesus urges us to turn to
God, and trust Him for our needs. Some of his miracles directly relate to this law of
abundance: he turned water into wine; he fed thousands with just a few loaves and
fishes; he paid taxes with a coin found in a fish’s mouth.

Jesus taught that if we put God first in our lives, we would have no desire to steal, and
we would also not set ourselves up to be victims of those who would steal:

“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and
where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven,
where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor
steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
(Matthew 6:19-21)

We also get an idea of how strongly Jesus felt about keeping our consciousness –
which is our true spiritual temple or church – free from those sins which would attempt
to rob God and invade His rightful territory, in this episode at the temple in Jerusalem:

“And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in
the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that
sold doves, And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of
prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.”
(Matthew 21:12-13))

How often do we let the thieves of daydreaming, fear, worry, and other sinful
thoughts, set up tables in our temples of prayer or meditation? Are we accomplices
to these thieves, or do we overthrow them?

“Be faithful at the temple gate of conscience, wakefully guard it; then thou wilt know
when the thief cometh.”
(Mary Baker Eddy – Message of 1901 18:1)

We may think we do all the right things – perhaps we have never stolen anything, or
shoplifted, or cheated on taxes – but Jesus tells us that stealing is an evil thought,
which would defile us if left unchallenged in our conscience, whether we act upon it
or not. Evil thoughts must be condemned before they take root in thought and spring
into action. Jesus once explained:

“For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications,
THEFTS, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man: but
to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.”
(Matthew 15:19-20)

Jesus taught that we must be grateful to God no matter how little we may seem to
have. In Luke we see that Jesus taught that our motive means more than money:

“And he looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury. And he
saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites. And he said, Of a truth I
say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all: For all these have
of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast
in all the living that she had.”
(Luke 21:1-4)

Not long after Jesus completed his earthly mission, the Apostle Paul would write to
the Christians at Ephesus: “Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour,
working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that
(Ephesians 4:28)

As the above citation indicates, God’s goodness can come to us through what
appear as normal human avenues. We may be given opportunities to earn money
to buy what we need, or we may be able to barter for goods or services in exchange
for what we can offer. Sometimes our needs may be met by inheritances or gifts
from others, and maybe, just when our prospects seem bleak and all doors of
opportunity seem shut to us, we just might find what we need in a fish’s mouth!

Mary Baker Eddy writes: “What hinders man’s progress is his vain conceit, the
Phariseeism of the times, also his effort to steal from others and avoid hard work;
errors which can never find a place in Science.”
 (Miscellaneous Writings 234:12-15)

What about those in extreme poverty, who might be tempted to steal just to meet
basic needs? It would be hard to blame them, wouldn’t it? And certainly we want to
have mercy on such brothers and sisters who have found themselves in dire
circumstances, and help them in any way we can to improve their lives. But stealing
is rarely justified, if ever, and would prevent us from seeing the opportunities God
provides His children through infinite avenues, even if it is the temporary willingness
to accept charity, when necessary. Our real need is for trust in God, divine Love.

There is always a better way than stealing for getting to where we need to be –
whether that need is having food, housing, or a sense of the kingdom of heaven on
earth. As we read earlier, Jesus instructed us how to begin this better way when
he said:

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things
shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow
shall take thought for the things of itself.”
(Matthew 6:33-34)


There is a beloved statement in the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health
with Key to the Scriptures
, by Mary Baker Eddy, which says:

“Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need.” (S&H 494:10)

Thousands of Christian Scientists have put this promise to the test during times they
needed to look away from fearful thinking about some lack in their lives. Knowing
that God is Love, and that by expressing more Love in our lives, we can find answers
to every problem. Mrs, Eddy tells us further:

“God gives you His spiritual ideas, and in turn, they give you daily supplies. Never
ask for to-morrow: it is enough that divine Love is an ever-present help; and if you
wait, never doubting, you will have all you need every moment. What a glorious
inheritance is given to us through the understanding of omnipresent Love! More we
cannot ask: more we do not want: more we cannot have. This sweet assurance is
the ‘Peace, be still’ to all human fears, to suffering of every sort.”
Writings 307:1)

The Bible teaches that God is Spirit. We are taught in Christian Science that God
is also infinite Mind. Both are synonymous names for God in Christian Science.
Therefore, the substance of Mind is Spirit. What Mind, Spirit, creates must be of
the same substance; it must be spiritual. God’s creation, therefore, consists of
spiritual ideas – not dying mortals or material objects subject to loss or decay.
God’s highest creation is man, His “image and likeness.” Man’s identity is spiritual,
and God has created each of His children to be complete, perfect, wanting nothing,
and including all that is needed to fulfill God’s plans for His infinite universe
throughout eternity.

If we do not see this spiritual perfection now (and the five physical senses do not
bear witness to spiritual reality), we will start to grasp it when we begin to spiritualize
our thinking by bringing it in line with God’s ideas of good. A daily study of the Bible
and Science and Health helps us in this spiritual journey.

These spiritual ideas that God gives us, come to us in forms we can see and utilize,
even though they are in reality forms of Spirit. What is happening is that God’s ideas
are present, but our interpretation of them may be cloudy or obscured by material
thinking and fears. In the book of Genesis, this obscurity is symbolized by the
“mist that went up from the earth.” As our thinking becomes more aligned with
spiritual truth, we will experience more divine ideas in consciousness – ideas that
are more beautiful, more tangible, and more abundant than our material senses
have ever known.

With this habit of thinking, any temptation to steal from others simply vanishes. We
see that stealing not only breaks the Golden Rule, but is an attempt to rob God of
His perfect “image and likeness.” We lose opportunities to witness God’s care
for us and others when we attempt to take matters into our own hands by stealing.

Soul is a name for God which indicates the sinless, infinite Consciousness that is
aware of all creation, all identity, all beauty and goodness. In Science and Health,
Mary Baker Eddy, writes of Soul:

“Soul has infinite resources with which to bless mankind, and happiness would be
more readily attained and would be more secure in our keeping, if sought in Soul.”
(S&H 60:29)

If mankind would look through the mist of materiality to see this vision of God – the
Supreme Being with infinite resources to shower upon His children – there would be
no desire to steal from others. Everyone would find that God, who “saw everything
that he had made, and, behold, it was very good,”
has already provided each one
with all that we need to live well. Christian Science teaches us how to do that.

One of the first lessons in getting to know God as the source of all our needs, is
learning to discipline our thinking with the Eighth Commandment. We must be
willing to obey this law in humility and trust. We must ponder the lessons of Jesus
about greed and ingratitude. Christian Science builds on these foundational lessons
by showing that the law behind these teachings is divine. For instance: God is good.
God is infinite. All is infinite good. There is nothing good lacking in God’s kingdom.
God’s children are given all good to use and enjoy. But good is Spirit – it is not to
be found in matter, materiality, or the physical senses. We seek God’s kingdom
through our spiritual sense, through our thoughts of good that come to us from
God, the divine Mind.

These spiritual concepts are taught in Science and Health, and many new readers
of this textbook have found their lives redeemed, regenerated, and blessed with
abundance. They discover that their search for God and a quest for meaning in their
lives, has taken them to a new way of thinking about things. They learn that Spirit is
the only reality; that matter is not what it appears to be to the physical senses, but is
merely a false sense of the substance of Spirit. While the belief of matter is limited
and capable of being lost or destroyed, Spirit is limitless, permanent, eternal good.
In a paragraph subtitled “Self-completeness,” Mary Baker Eddy writes:

“As mortals gain more correct views of God and man, multitudinous objects of
creation, which before were invisible, will become visible. When we realize that Life
is Spirit, never in nor of matter, this understanding will expand into self-completeness,
finding all in God, good, and needing no other consciousness.”
(S&H 264:13)


Most everyone agrees that stealing is wrong. Society could not function well over the
long term if people’s property rights were not respected and protected. The fact that
Moses heard this as one of God’s commands shows that the choice to resist stealing
is based upon divine law.

Jesus taught that our motives and thoughts are just as important as any act of sin.
We can break the Eighth Commandment mentally as well as physically. Therefore,
we should discipline thought towards the notion that man must earn or be given his
possessions, rather than take them forcefully or deceitfully from others. And we
should rise above all pettiness of thought – be generous and honest with others,
never stealing their time or opportunities, their reputation or character. We do not
steal by gossiping (see the Ninth Commandment!), and we do not steal our own
valuable time coveting what others have (see the Tenth Commandment!).

Mrs. Eddy stresses this in one of her comments on the Eighth Commandment:

“‘Thou shalt not steal;’ that is, thou shalt not rob man of money, which is but trash,
compared with his rights of mind and character.”
(Miscellaneous Writings 67:7-9)

Christian Science teaches that man and the universe are in reality spiritual ideas of
the infinite divine Mind, and include all that they need, all that God has given, through-
out eternity. We should look to God, to Truth, to reveal our perfect completeness.
We must learn to claim our right to have a sense of abundance by seeing no limits to
God’s infinite ideas of goodness which thrive in the atmosphere of the kingdom of
heaven here on earth.

As humanity struggles to get in touch with its spirituality and to purify consciousness
in order to see and experience God’s kingdom, there certainly will be times we
“miss the mark.” We should not condemn ourselves or others if we have fallen victim
to the temptation to steal. We must recognize the sin, and denounce it. But, through
the understanding of man’s true identity as taught in Christian Science, we can turn
from this sin as no part of our spiritual nature. “Go, and sin no more,” as Jesus said
to the adulterous woman he had just forgiven.

When we no longer believe that God creates a capacity to steal, we shall no longer be tempted to believe in this sin’s power to harm. Divine Love is in control – on earth, as it is in heaven. Love is the great Giver, and bestows its blessings fairly and abundantly.

In summary: There is no cause, no motive, no need, no desire to steal, because man’s true selfhood is spiritual and complete.

As we reach out in earnest communion with our Father-Mother God, with the humble request of the Lord’s Prayer – “Give us this day our daily bread” – divine Love responds with an angel message: you already have it!

Copyright 2008 Vicki Jones Cole


Teaching Children the Eighth Commandment 

The Ninth Commandment – a Christian Science Perspective – [includes:  Biblical Background; The Ninth Commandment and the New Testament; Christian Science and the Ninth Commandment; Lies of the ‘Serpent’; Living the Christ, Truth; Judging Others; Spiritual Sense versus Physical Senses]

Questions and Answers on Christian Science
About this blog and books and Welcome

For a list of daily lessons found in the books on the “First Lessons in Christian Science,” which
will include lessons on the Eighth Commandment, go to these pages:

Volume One:  The Ten Commandments
Volume Two:  The Beatitudes
Volume Three:  The Lord’s Prayer

For a list of all the articles and essays on this site, go to the Essays page.

Return to Top of Page

Teaching Children the Seventh Commandment

[Note:  This essay is based on the teachings of Christian Science. For those who are not familiar with the religion of Christian Science (which is NOT the same as Scientology!) you can check out the Questions and Answers page.  The teachings are Bible-based.]

“Thou shalt not commit adultery.”

It may seem like an uphill battle to protect the innocence of modern young people. Some parents may give up too soon, thinking it an impossible task, or that it doesn’t really matter in today’s world. But purity and innocence are very important in our spiritual development. Jesus tells us in his Sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” This Beatitude means that our understanding of God requires a purity of thought and motive.

The pleasures of the senses would adulterate, or muddy, our clear sense of God and His universe. We would continue to walk blindly through the mists of earth, if we did not attempt to rise above the clouds of sin. We must strive to teach our children how to avoid the temptation of adultery, if we want them to be happy and successful in life.

Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes:

“Too much cannot be done towards guarding and guiding well the germinating and inclining thought of childhood. To mould aright the first impressions of innocence, aids in perpetuating purity and in unfolding the immortal model, man in His image and likeness.” (First Church of Christ, Scientist and Miscellany 261)

Although many parents and Sunday School teachers see the need for teaching the Seventh Commandment to young children, some may feel uncomfortable talking about this subject, and are looking for a way to approach this Commandment without bringing up the subject of sex. They may simply choose to skip this one!

However, Mary Baker Eddy does not exclude this Commandment in her requirement for young Sunday School pupils to be taught the “first lessons,” and that is wise. There is no need to avoid the subject of adultery, since there is a way to discuss its meaning with young ones without having to first explain “the birds and the bees.”

If you will first read my  previous essay on the Seventh Commandment, you will see that there is a broad meaning that covers physical, moral, and spiritual stages of thought, seen through the teachings of Christian Science. It is not just about sex! In that essay, you will find background material and ideas that would be appropriate for sharing with older children and teens.  You might also wish to see the Questions and Answers on the Seventh Commandment found in my book “First Lessons in Christian Science, Volume One: The Ten Commandments, found elsewhere on this site.  Go to the About page to begin and then to the Ten Commandments page for a listing of Q&A’s.

It is never too early to begin the quest of inoculating our children against the virus of lust and adultery. Mrs. Eddy tells us:

“Dear reader, right thinking, right feeling, and right acting — honesty, purity, unselfishness — in youth tend to success, intellectuality, and happiness in manhood. To begin rightly enables one to end rightly, and thus it is that one achieves the Science of Life, demonstrates health, holiness, and immortality.” (Miscellany 174)

For Young Children:

When children are old enough to understand what it means to “keep a promise” – that when we agree with someone to do something, we must do it – they can be taught that this is part of what the Seventh Commandment means. That would be a good start. They can practice this Commandment by being loyal and obedient to their parents and family members, as well as being taught how to be loyal and obedient to God. Little children can also be taught how to keep out the impure thoughts that would make them rebel against their parents. They can be told that it is natural for them to love to do good and be good. You can play a game with them by pretending to be a “devil” or “angel,” and asking which thoughts to let in. Students can also learn to “stand porter at the door of thought.” (see Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, by Mary Baker Eddy, 392:24)

To help get you started with introducing the Seventh Commandment, you might read or explain to children it in the following way, or something similar:

“‘Thou shalt not commit adultery’ means that we should not bring impure thoughts and behavior to our marriage. When a man and woman marry, they make a promise to love and honor each other. If one of them breaks that promise, by going to someone else for the kind of love and affection they should be getting only from their marriage partner, then it might be said that they are ‘committing adultery.’ In the same way, we also do not let impure thoughts muddy the understanding of ourselves as the ‘image and likeness’ of God.”

“The Seventh Commandment, ‘Thou shalt not commit adultery’ helps us to keep our families together and to draw us closer to God. Adultery poisons the marriage relationship. Everyone suffers in some way. But think how happy a family would be if everyone was trusted to be loyal to the family. In the same way, we must be true and loyal to ourselves and to God. We must not look for happiness outside of our relationship with God, good. Learning to turn away from wrong behavior while young, helps us gain the self-discipline which will protect us from committing adultery. This will keep our lives pure and in obedience to God.” (Cole, Vicki Jones: “First Lessons in Christian Science, Volume One: The Ten Commandments”)

To help both young and older children grasp some of the concepts involved, you can try to illustrate the problems that occur when things that need to remain pure are made impure. For instance, show how adding something such as dirt to a pure glass of water will cause the liquid to look or taste different. The impurity can spoil the drink. The drink of water becomes useless to humans who need pure water for nourishment or cleansing. Some children may understand a discussion on environmental pollution, and how that affects the quality of life on earth.

When the children see this cause and effect of mixing pollutants with pure water, discuss how God’s children, who were created pure and innocent, need to keep their thoughts and their hearts pure, as well, so that they can fulfill their purpose in life. Ask what kinds of thoughts or activities could poison their purity. Relate this to the Seventh Commandment, which tells us not to adulterate our relationships, or to break our promises. Ask your children or students why it is
important to keep our relationship with God pure. What would try to interfere with our unity with God? Can we hear or see God if our thoughts are clouded with wicked or impure suggestions?

For Older Children:

In addition to the above, you can discuss the importance of loyalty in our relationships with our friends. Older kids are learning what it means to be a true and loyal friend. They certainly know when others have betrayed them, even if they do not yet see how they could be guilty themselves! Ask for examples of loyalty or disloyalty in action. Perhaps they have felt let down or abandoned by others, or they have been the victim of gossip, teasing, or being ousted by a
new clique. Ask how they feel when this happens. Do they feel sorry when they have broken their own promises to a friend? How can they make it up? How often should they forgive another for a seemingly disloyal act? Discuss the Golden Rule and its relation to the Seventh Commandment.

Show how our friendships give us opportunities to practice the qualities that will prevent us from breaking the Seventh Commandment when we are older. We should be true and loyal friends — unselfish, humble, gracious, and self-controlled — so that we can be the same with any future marriage partner, and with God. Learning to obey all of the Ten Commandments, not just the Seventh, will be a shield and armor in life.

Older children can also benefit from the following areas of discussions, some of which are included in the lessons in my book, and most of which are explored in-depth in my previous essay on the Seventh Commandment:

1. Choosing friends. We need to make wise choices in friends, so that we are not tempted to spend our time in activities which would harm our purity, our morals, our intelligence, and integrity. Point out Mrs. Eddy’s quote: “Never breathe an immoral atmosphere, unless in the attempt to purify it.” (S&H 452)

2. Marriage. The Christian Science textbook has an entire chapter on the subject of “Marriage,” and older children and teens can begin to study Mrs. Eddy’s practical advice and spiritual interpretations on this special relationship. They will find in there this statement, which can be a springboard for further discussion:

“Marriage should improve the human species, becoming a barrier against vice, a protection to woman, strength to man, and a centre for the affections. This, however, in a majority of cases, is not its present tendency, and why? Because the education of the higher nature is neglected, and other considerations, — passion, frivolous amusements, personal adornment, display, and pride, — occupy thought.” (S&H 60)

3. Atonement. In addition to the chapter on “Marriage,” the chapter “Atonement and Eucharist” in Science and Health, introduces the subject of our “at-one-ment” or unity with God. This unity is the real covenant or bond that is never to be adulterated. Older kids ready to explore this truth of “Principle and idea” being One (See S&H, pg 465), can begin to understand the “Law of Love” that necessitates the Seventh Commandment.

4. Male/female qualities make up our completeness. This is discussed in the chapter “Marriage,” and throughout the textbook. See my previous essay for how this relates to the Seventh Commandment and for suggested citations to read.

5. Divorce and sexual affairs. Some children and teens are forced to deal with this up close and personal in their own families. Each situation needs to be handled according to the need, and with God’s guidance. Mercy and forgiveness is usually called for. Point out how Jesus handled the woman caught in the act of adultery (John 8). Teach kids how to turn to their Father-Mother God for stability and comfort.

6. Influence of the media. While premarital sex and adultery certainly existed before the advent of books, movies, television, and the Internet, the onslaught of sexual images in today’s media cannot help but overwhelm young minds with ideas they are not prepared to handle. Since parents cannot always be around to monitor what their children watch, it is wise to at least try to teach children and teens the reasons why they should want to avoid explicit images of sex and violence on their own. Teach them to value innocence and purity, and to protect
these qualities as aggressively as they would protect their lives or their treasured possessions. If they can experience Christian Science healing, or the joys of a Christian outlook, they may want to keep their minds free from the sins that might muddy their vision of God, good, in their lives. As they learn more about Christian Science, they will begin to see the claims of power that unGodlike images have on our physical and mental health, and they may willingly avoid media that is obviously harmful to their peace of mind.

7. Happiness. Explain that those who search for sex or love outside of marriage, are not usually bad people, but are often simply victims of ignorance. They are “looking for love in all the wrong places.” Our happiness is not found in sex, or from the adulation of other people, but in Soul, God. Mary Baker Eddy writes:

“Soul has infinite resources with which to bless mankind, and happiness would be more readily attained and would be more secure in our keeping, if sought in Soul. Higher enjoyments alone can satisfy the cravings of immortal man. We cannot circumscribe happiness within the limits of personal sense. The senses confer no real enjoyment.” (S&H 60-61)

“Unselfish ambition, noble life-motives, and purity, — these constituents of thought, mingling, constitute individually and collectively true happiness, strength, and permanence.” (S&H 58)

“Happiness consists in being and in doing good; only what God gives, and what we give ourselves and others through His tenure, confers happiness; conscious worth satisfies the hungry heart, and nothing  else can.” (Message for 1902 17)


There appears to be so much immorality and sensuality abroad in the world, that getting through to our children sometimes may seem like trying to fill a leaky bucket with water.  However, if we can recognize the innate innocence and purity of God’s child that is the true identity of each and every one of us, and claim this forcefully in our daily prayers for our children, we can take heart that the Truth is doing its work to counteract the suggestions of evil. God’s angels are also on guard to protect the innocent ones, and will always come to the rescue of a receptive thought.

Children can be taught to love good and reject the temptations of evil, because they are naturally attracted to spiritual ideas.  God works with us; we just have to be willing to put in the effort and expect successful results!

To any earnest heart, young or old, the message is clear:

“Beloved children, the world has need of you, — and more as children than as men and women: it needs your innocence, unselfishness, faithful affection, uncontaminated lives. You need also to watch, and pray that you preserve these virtues unstained, and lose them not through contact with the world. What grander ambition is there than to maintain in yourselves what Jesus loved, and to know that your example, more than words, makes morals for mankind!”  (Miscellaneous Writings  110)

Copyright 2006, 2017  Vicki Jones Cole

The Seventh Commandment – For Young Children (from the book)

The Seventh Commandment – a Christian Science Perspective – Part One
[Background material useful for teaching older Sunday School students; Part One includes sections on:  Biblical Background; Covenant with God; Betrothal and Adultery; Jesus and the Seventh Commandment; Part Two includes:  Early Christianity and the Seventh Commandment; Part Three includes: Christian Science and the Seventh Commandment; The Moral Demand of the Seventh Commandment; Meeting the Moral Demands; Christian Science and Marriage; Part Four includes:  Dealing with the Temptation of Adultery]

For a complete list of daily lessons on the Seventh Commandment found in the book “First Lessons in Christian Science” on this site, go to the Ten Commandments page and scroll down to the Seventh Commandment.

Teaching Children the Eighth Commandment
Teaching Children the Ten Commandments
Questions and Answers on Christian Science

About this blog and books plus a Welcome

A good foundation for teaching all these lessons to your children or Sunday School pupils is to start with the essay on Teaching Children the First Commandment.  It contains ideas for helping children understand its deeper meaning and how to live “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” in daily life. See also the First Commandment daily lessons in Volume One: The Ten Commandments.

Daily lessons from the books “First Lessons in Christian Science” on this site:

Volume One:  The Ten Commandments
Volume Two:  The Beatitudes
Volume Three:  The Lord’s Prayer

Essays useful in teaching children at home or in Sunday School:

Introducing Children to the Concept of God
Teaching Children about the Golden Rule
Introduction to Teaching the Beatitudes to Children
The Beatitudes for Children
Teaching Children about Angels
Teaching Children the 23rd Psalm
Becoming a Living Monument to the Ten Commandments
What Mary Baker Eddy writes about Teaching Children

List of all the Essays on this site

Return to Top of Page

The Seventh Commandment – A Christian Science Perspective, Part Four

Part Four – return to Part Three


Hormones on a rampage are pretty difficult to deal with, it seems. Sometimes, even the best-intentioned Christians get knocked off-balance when they find themselves uncontrollably attracted to another. It is even more troubling when that object of desire is someone either married to another, or is not your own spouse. Perhaps you have already found yourself in this situation. Whether or not you succumbed to temptation, God’s mercy is always available to those who are willing to repent, and “sin no more.” We need to take a mental stand against adultery and lust before the next test comes. If your conviction is solid that purity and obedience to God is the only wise and loving course of action, you can protect yourself and
others from the inevitable suffering and sorrow that adultery brings.

In your struggle to withstand the onslaught of aggressive mental suggestions that would mesmerize you into justifying a sexual affair, it helps to listen to God’s angel messages that come to uplift, inspire, and protect. That’s what divine Love is there for! You can also stick with one simple basic Christian rule: the Golden Rule.

“Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 7:12)

You can apply the Golden Rule in some of the following ways:  Think how this act of adultery or fornication that you are contemplating will affect your innocent spiritual selfhood, and the pure innocence of the person whose body you plan to use to satisfy your sexual desire. Think of those you may hurt by this act. Think of how you would feel if you were a husband or wife being cheated against. Think how disappointed your parents might be. How would you feel if one of your children were being seduced into an adulterous affair? Consider what you would do if you came face to face with Jesus during your tryst. How would you feel if the affair were videotaped and broadcast over the internet.

Developing empathy and compassion for how others feel — or how you would feel, if caught —can help us put the brakes to behavior that might hurt others. You may try to justify a situation by saying that you and your sex partner are single adults, and no one is getting hurt. This is short-sighted. Few women can avoid emotional entanglements with those they have sex with; men can eventually begin to lose a sense of integrity when they wake up to the fact that they may have selfishly abused a friendship by taking something that does not morally or legally belong to them.

Along a similar line, many people may find themselves caught up in affairs, not for the sex, but simply because they have a need for romance, intimacy, or personal validation, and have developed the mistaken notion that they can only find such affection or attention by agreeing to a sexual relationship with someone before the couple has had a chance to form a mutual bond of love.  Women, especially, can be easily seduced by the right words whispered at the right moments, without using their logic to realize that there is no foundation to safely stand upon. Men may feel they have to prove their manhood in a sexual way to win the love of a woman they desire, or to gain bragging rights to impress their guy friends. People want to be loved so much,  they can justify actions for themselves, or others, they might not otherwise choose in the cold light of day.   But using sex in this way is just plain dangerous – physically, emotionally, spiritually.

We’re not talking here of only the obvious things that can go wrong and bring hurt to all:  unwanted pregnancy, sexually-transmitted disease, lowered self-esteem; guilt.  We’re talking of how sex outside marriage affects yourself and others in ways you may not be thinking about at the time of your affair.  A loss of trust and trustworthiness is a sad thing.

If you and your friend are single, consider that you may be committing adultery against a future partner, even if you do not yet see how you are committing adultery against God and yourself. Future husbands and wives can feel the same type of jealousy over previous sex partners their spouses may have had, that they might feel about recent ones. If they are being honest, few people want to compete with the memories of previous lovers!

Virginity is a special gift to bring to a marriage, even in this day and age, and is one that should be more highly valued by both partners, and by society at large. At the very least, sexual discipline, as opposed to promiscuity, needs to be an active goal for both men and women. It is never too late to begin. It will save a lot of emotional torment and regrets for everyone involved. Through the teachings of Christian Science, we learn that innocence and purity are mental states found in our reflection of Soul, and are not just physical conditions that can be lost in a
one-time event. We always have the opportunity to be re-born, regenerated, washed clean from the impurities of past sins, when we are ready to let go of the false sense of ourselves (remember the Prodigal son!), and return home to our true heritage as the pure sons and daughters of God.

When those who are married and have children commit adultery, they are not just being disloyal to their spouse (and God!); they are being disloyal to their whole family! The children are being robbed of a stable, secure home environment. They are being affected, no mistake about it. They can feel the tension when their parents’ relationship is floundering. They may blame themselves for any marriage break-up. No amount of physical pleasure found outside the home is worth the loss of a child’s respect and trust.

In his book on The Ten Commandments, William Barclay, the Scottish New Testament scholar, steps outside of his Bible commentary for a moment, to answer in his own way the question of why adultery or sex before marriage is wrong. He suggested that if it is accepted as normal, the whole institution of the family is radically altered; that to demand premarital sex is to demand privilege without responsibility; and that it is wrong to demand sexual rights without
commitment. Unfortunately, even today, many do not see how true Barclay’s opinions are, and that we must regain a higher standard.

Learning to put the Golden Rule to use, and to love others more than ourselves, is what is needed. By studying the teachings of Jesus or Christian Science, we learn the rules to obey; plus we learn why adultery is wrong on both a moral and spiritual level. We learn that while our purity and innocence are never really adulterated — because of the fact that God, Spirit, is infinite — mortals will suffer the punishment of adultery as long as they hold onto it and believe it is pleasurable and a part of man’s real nature. As Christian Scientists, we must resist the temptation to believe we are material creatures, with appetites and passions that are uncontrollable. We must affirm our spiritual identity that is created and preserved by God. We must see that we are naturally attracted to Spirit, not to the world’s sensual pleasures. We must understand that our sense of completeness, worth, and satisfaction are in good, God.

Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer and founder of Christian Science,  writes:

“Happiness consists in being and in doing good; only what God gives, and what we give ourselves and others through His tenure, confers happiness: conscious worth satisfies the hungry heart, and nothing  else can.” (Eddy, Mary Baker:  “Message for 1902,” pg. 17)

It can seem like a mighty battle, or a long struggle, to fend off the temptations of sexual relations outside of marriage, or even lust within marriage. But God, our divine Father-Mother, would not have created us incapable of obeying any of His laws or commandments; and Jesus, our brother, would never have taught us to think and live with an attitude that is unnatural to our innate being. We are spiritual, not material. We are the “image and likeness” of the Father-Mother God, and therefore have the male and female qualities that make us complete and satisfied with a life of purity and goodness. We are embraced by divine Love that loves us
unconditionally; we do not need to seek love through physical bonds, although these bonds can benefit from the pure, sweet affections of love that can be brought to marriage.

We can trust God to control all of our relationships throughout time and eternity; we do not have to force or manipulate or use others to make us feel loved or attractive. There is no pleasure in sin. We can turn from sin, and look to the light of Truth for all our needs. God will supply the opportunities we need in order to share our love with mankind, and therefore feel that oneness and unity that we are truly searching for. These ideals have often been proven in the lives of Christians and Christian Scientists.

“Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.”
“Judge not, that ye be not judged.”

What about the constant pressure of the human sexual drive? Should we blame ourselves or others if we cannot overcome sexual urges that are “natural” to man, whether those urges are heterosexual or homosexual?

First off, we are taught by Jesus not to judge others; that is not a responsibility God has given us. Instead, we should always show mercy to those struggling with the temptations of the flesh, in whatever form that seems to be. We all have the problem of being to work out in “earth’s preparatory school.” If we are merciful with others, we can humbly expect mercy to be shown us whenever we manage to mess things up.

Is it possible, in our human experience, to gain complete dominion over the sexual drive, or to prove its “unreality” as a God-given function? That task may be too great for many at this point in time, but we can make a worthy start by disciplining the cravings for the so-called pleasures of the senses. Just as we must often deny our brains and stomachs the pleasures of certain foods, alcohol, or drugs, when offered to us socially, we should be able to resist temptations to indulge in sex presented to us as easy opportunities. It is okay to just say no!

We can also re-think just what it is that motivates us, and others, to do what we do. Self-knowledge or self-awareness is always useful. With that in mind, an interesting spiritual interpretation of the human sex drive is seen in the following recorded statement of Mary Baker Eddy’s:

“What is the scientific realization of which sexual intercourse is the counterfeit? It is the recognition and realization through communion with God of man as a perfect, complete idea, masculine and feminine. That which is true of yourself as a complete reflection of Father-Mother God, is true of every individual in the universe and reveals God and His creation, perfect and eternal. Mortals are struggling for completeness and hope to find it through sexual intercourse; when in fact this desire
is simply the divine idea, struggling to express itself in completeness. A recognition of this brings compassion, tenderness, and love for the poor struggling heart and conviction that there is no sin.” (DCGC 224)

This insight can help us show mercy towards those caught up in the belief of lust or adultery. The underlying drive, though unrecognized, is a divine one. The natural desire for completeness has been inverted by material sense (a.k.a. the “devil,” “Satan,” “the serpent”) into a search for physical satisfaction. The sin is a belief in separation from our true identity, and from God. When Jesus told the adulterous woman to “Go, and sin no more,” he saw that there was no evil heart that needed to be stoned; she was merely mesmerized by her belief in lack of completeness, whether that was lack of money, companionship, or her spiritual unity with God. But her false belief was no excuse for her to keep sinning; she needed to go back and ponder her healing, and see that the Christ had just lifted her into a higher sense of her true identity, which would not need to, or want to, commit adultery.

“Overcome selfishness and you bring out unity. Overcome sensuality and you bring out purity. Overcome sexuality and you bring out the God idea.” (DCGC 211)


One day there will be no temptation of adultery, because man will have risen to see that the only true marriage covenant is between God and man: His child, His reflection, His image. There is nothing that can separate, or come between, “Principle and its idea.” All is One. There is nothing to spoil or adulterate this divine relationship. We can begin to prove this in our lives now, by being loyal to those we have committed our hearts to, and those to whom we have promised our love. Is a “piece of paper” the only proof that a bond, or covenant, exists?
No. Adultery, as we now see it from a more spiritual altitude, can happen anytime we have broken a mutual promise, or covenant, that we have made with another – whether that is a promise to follow Christ, or to honor a personal commitment built upon trust. Our motives, our heart, can make a covenant; they can break one, as well.

Mary Baker Eddy once wrote:

“This time-world flutters in my thought as an unreal shadow, and I can
only solace the sore ills of mankind by a lively battle with ‘the world, the
flesh and the devil,’ in which Love is the liberator and gives man the
victory over himself. Truth, canonized by life and love, lays the axe at
the root of all evil, lifts the curtain on the Science of being, the Science
of wedlock, of living and of loving, and harmoniously ascends the scale
of life. Look high enough, and you see the heart of humanity warming
and winning. 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.
Then shall humanity have learned that ‘they which shall be accounted
worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither
marry, nor are given in marriage: neither can they die any more: for they
are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God.’ (Luke 20 : 35, 36.)
This, therefore, is Christ’s plan of salvation from divorce.

All are but parts of one stupendous whole,
Whose body nature is, and God the Soul.
(First Church of Christ, Scientist and Miscellany, 268)

Copyright 2006, 2017  Vicki Jones Cole

Return to Part One or Part Two or Part Three

 Teaching Children the Seventh Commandment

The Eighth Commandment – A Christian Science Perspective – [includes Biblical Background; Jesus and the Eighth Commandment; Christian Science and the Eighth Commandment]

Questions and Answers on Christian Science
A list of other Essays on this site
Becoming a Living Monument to the Ten Commandments
Welcome to this blog
About this blog and book

Return to Top of Page

The Seventh Commandment – A Christian Science Perspective, Part Three

Part Three – Return to Part Two

[NOTE:  For those unfamiliar with the religion of Christian Science (which is NOT the same as Scientology!) you may want to look at the Questions and Answers page.]


Christian Science demands adherence to the moral and spiritual law of “Thou shalt  not commit adultery.” The demand is upon both men and women, inside and outside of a marriage relationship. The principle behind God’s Commandment includes Jesus’ teaching on lust, and anything that would stain or invade the purity of one of God’s children, or the purity of man’s relationship with God. We will explore both the moral and spiritual concepts of the Seventh Commandment, and see how the idea of our unity with God — our “at-one-ment” — is the true
Covenant which is not to be adulterated.

“‘Thou shalt not commit adultery;’ in other words, thou shalt not adulterate Life, Truth, or Love, — mentally, morally, or physically.” (Eddy, Mary Baker: “Miscellaneous Writings,” pg. 66)

The Moral Demand of the Seventh Commandment:

Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures:

“Infidelity to the marriage covenant is the social scourge of all races,‘the pestilence that walketh in darkness, . . . the destruction that wasteth at noonday.’ The commandment, ‘Thou shalt not commit adultery,’ is no less imperative than the one, ‘Thou shalt not kill.’”

“Chastity is the cement of civilization and progress. Without it there is no stability in society, and without it one cannot attain the Science of Life.” (S&H 56-57)

Committing adultery is a moral wrong according to Christian Science. Good morals provide a foundation for our spiritual growth and ability to heal. Maintaining chastity, and turning from the temptations of adultery, will also keep us from much personal sorrow.

“You must control evil thoughts in the first instance, or they will control you in the second. Jesus declared that to look with desire on forbidden objects was to break a moral precept. He laid great stress on the action of the human mind, unseen to the senses.” (S&H 234)

“In order to heal by Science, you must not be ignorant of the moral and spiritual demands of Science nor disobey them. Moral ignorance or sin affects your demonstration, and hinders its approach to the standard in Christian Science.” (S&H 483)

“Emerge gently from matter into Spirit. Think not to thwart the spiritual ultimate of all things, but come naturally into Spirit through better health and morals and as the result of spiritual growth.” (S&H 485)

“Never breathe an immoral atmosphere, unless in the attempt to purify it.” (S&H 452)

“It were better to be exposed to every plague on earth than to endure the cumulative effects of a guilty conscience. The abiding consciousness of wrong-doing tends to destroy the ability to do right. If sin is not regretted and is not lessening, then it is hastening on to physical and moral doom. You are conquered by the moral penalties you incur and the ills they bring. The pains of sinful sense are less harmful than its pleasures. Belief in material suffering  causes mortals to retreat from their error, to flee from body to Spirit, and to appeal to divine sources outside of themselves.” (S&H 405)

Meeting the Moral Demands:

As many already know, forced long-term celibacy is a pretty hard task. During much of history, social pressures kept many people from committing adultery, or engaging in premarital sex. By the end of the 20th Century, most of these pressures were gone. Birth control pills and abortion prevented unwanted pregnancies outside of marriage. The rights of illegitimate children were
enforced, and the stigma associated with illegitimacy faded. Women’s legal and economic independence fostered a more carefree attitude about sex, and easy, no-fault divorce gave both men and women an escape from unhappy marriages.

With social pressures gone from much of Western society, and sexual freedom seeming more and more acceptable, why would a person care about meeting Old or New Testament standards of morality? Remember from citations quoted in an earlier post, how the Jews often committed adultery even though they risked being stoned to death if caught? Today, in most societies, severe public consequences are gone. So what is there to restrain us from indulging in sex outside of marriage? There may be many individual reasons for abstaining from sex, but a solid, permanent reason is clear: Love — pure love for God and man. Many Christians do want to be obedient to God. They do want to respect and honor others. And, many Christian Scientists do yearn to heal others spiritually, and are willing to stay pure to do so.

Where once the expectations of society and family kept premarital sex and adultery somewhat under control, we are now left alone, with few social stigmas, face-to-face with our conscience and with God. How do we fend off the temptations of lust and adultery in today’s modern society?

Christian Science offers a way to lift thought above the material senses to see our lives “hid with Christ in God.” We do have a spiritual covenant with God, our Father, and as we grow in our understanding of His nature and our relationship to Him, we find a special unity with Him that cannot be broken, divorced, or adulterated.

What keeps us from consistently being the good, moral people we may long to be? The Apostle Paul expressed his frustration in this way:

“For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.” (Romans 7:19-20)

According to Christian Science, lust and sensuality are evidence of a mind mesmerized by the material senses. Paul called it the “carnal mind.”  Because human procreation seems necessary to perpetuate this so-called carnal mind, the suggestions of lust seem to be the most powerful sin of all to conquer.  But, in reality, sinful qualities are not natural to God’s children, and need to be targeted by spiritually scientific prayer. It does seem to be a struggle, but we are given encouragement in Christian Science that we can be successful, since there is no divine law supporting lust or sensuality.  Any indulgence in them can cause a belief in separation from God, good, and may bring us much needless suffering.

Let’s take a look at how lust and sensualism are viewed through the lens of Christian Science, as taught by Mary Baker Eddy:

“A moral question may hinder the recovery of the sick. Lurking error, lust, envy, revenge, malice, or hate will perpetuate or even create the belief in disease.”  (S&H 418)

“Self-ignorance, self-will, self-righteousness, lust, covetousness, envy, revenge, are foes to grace, peace, and progress; they must be met manfully and overcome, or they will uproot all happiness. (Miscellaneous Writings 118)

“Until he awakes from his delusion, he suffers least from sin who is a hardened sinner. The hypocrite’s affections must first be made to fret in their chains; and the pangs of hell must lay hold of him ere he can change from flesh to Spirit, become acquainted with that Love which is without dissimulation and endureth all things. Such mental conditions as ingratitude, lust, malice, hate, constitute the miasma of earth. More obnoxious than Chinese stenchpots are these  dispositions which offend the spiritual sense.” (Unity of Good 56)

“Sensuality palsies the right hand, and causes the left to let go its grasp on the divine.” (S&H 142)

“Sensual treasures are laid up ‘where moth and rust doth corrupt.’ Mortality is their doom. Sin breaks in upon them, and carries off their fleeting joys. The sensualist’s affections are as imaginary, whimsical, and unreal as his pleasures. Falsehood, envy, hypocrisy, malice, hate, revenge, and so forth, steal away the treasures of Truth. Stripped of its coverings, what a mocking spectacle is sin!” (S&H 241)

“Selfishness and sensualism are educated in mortal mind by the thoughts ever recurring to one’s self, by conversation about the body, and by the expectation of perpetual pleasure or pain from it; and this education is at the expense of spiritual growth. If we array thought in mortal vestures, it must lose its immortal nature.”  (S&H 260)

“Sensualism is not bliss, but bondage.” (S&H 337)

We are promised that beliefs of sin and evil can be overcome, and Christian Scientists are encouraged — commanded, even — to take up the fight against lust. The following citations offer insights to how we might overcome this sin step-by-step:

“Christian Science commands man to master the propensities, — to hold hatred in abeyance with kindness, to conquer lust with chastity, revenge with charity, and to overcome deceit with honesty. Choke these errors in their early stages, if you would not cherish an army of conspirators against health, happiness, and success. They will deliver you to the judge, the arbiter of truth against error. The judge will deliver you to justice, and the sentence of the moral law will be executed upon mortal mind and body. Both will be manacled until the last farthing is paid, — until you have balanced your account with God. ‘Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.’ The good man finally can overcome his fear of sin. This is sin’s necessity, — to destroy itself. Immortal man demonstrates the government of God, good, in which is no power to sin.” (S&H 405)

“If a man is an inebriate, a slave to tobacco, or the special servant of any one of the myriad forms of sin, meet and destroy these errors with the truth of being, — by exhibiting to the wrong-doer the suffering which his submission to such habits brings, and by convincing him that there is no real pleasure in false appetites. A corrupt mind is manifested in a corrupt body. Lust, malice, and all sorts of evil are diseased beliefs, and you can destroy them  only by destroying the wicked motives which produce them. If the evil is over in the repentant mortal mind, while its effects still remain on the individual, you can remove this disorder as God’s law is fulfilled and reformation cancels the crime. The healthy sinner is the hardened sinner.” (S&H 404)

“We cannot build safely on false foundations. Truth makes a new creature, in whom old things pass away and ‘all things are become new.’ Passions, selfishness, false appetites, hatred, fear, all sensuality, yield to spirituality, and the super-abundance of being is on the side of God, good.”
(S&H 201)

“Evil thoughts and aims reach no farther and do no more harm than one’s belief permits. Evil thoughts, lusts, and malicious purposes cannot go forth, like wandering pollen, from one human mind to another, finding unsuspected lodgment, if virtue and truth build a strong defence.” (S&H 234)

Prayer, as taught in Christian Science, enables us to destroy sinful beliefs, such as lust, by daily denying their reality. They are not real because God did not create them! We pray to not be led into the temptation of believing that evil has power, or is “real” in God’s kingdom, which “has come.”  We also affirm the spiritual good that God did make, and ask to be fed with this daily bread of Truth. We affirm our spiritual innocence and purity.

Christian Science and Marriage:

Mary Baker Eddy offers an entire chapter on the subject of “Marriage,” in the textbook, Science and Health. The chapter contains both practical and moral advice to those who are seeking to improve their concept of marriage and family relationships. But tucked in-between these helpful, down-to-earth comments, will be found ideas and statements meant to lift thought that is ready for it, to a higher ideal of true marriage. We can find in the teachings of Christian Science the remedy for that feeling we are somehow not complete, and need a mate to make us so. We learn that adultery is more than disloyalty to a human institution; it is disloyalty to God and to our spiritual integrity.

Most Christian religions see in the Bible’s words God’s blessing of marriage; however, Christian Science picks up on the message of Jesus to his disciples as it was recorded in Luke:

“And Jesus answering said unto them, The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage: But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage.” (Luke 20:34-35)

While Christian Science does not teach that its followers abandon marriage at this period, as it certainly provides for stability in homes and families, we are given indications throughout the writings of Mary Baker Eddy, that Jesus meant what he said. The question to ponder then, is why does he say that?

Does God’s divine plan for man include the human institution of marriage? We get the first indication that marriage may not ultimately be a divine requirement, in this early paragraph from the chapter “Marriage,” which has the marginal heading “marriage temporal.”

“Marriage is the legal and moral provision for generation among human kind. Until the spiritual creation is discerned intact, is apprehended and understood, and His kingdom is come as in the vision of the Apocalypse, — where the corporeal sense of creation was cast out, and its spiritual sense was revealed from heaven, — marriage will continue, subject to such moral regulations as will secure increasing virtue.” (S&H 56)

It appears that as long as mankind still believes in the need for human procreation, marriage will be needed to protect families. But the idea is introduced here that would indicate there will come a time when this human marriage may no longer be necessary. The question may then be asked:  where will future children come from if marriage is no longer necessary?  The answer may be found through an in-depth study of the textbook of Christian Science — Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures — for an explanation of the true nature of man as an infinite reflection and “image and likeness” of God, and how God is the only Creator of man and the universe.  There will never be a shortage of God’s children!

The chapter on “Marriage,” introduces the concept that “completeness” — which we usually hope to find in marriage — does not come from such a ceremony or oath, but is rather a compound idea of mental elements:

“Union of the masculine and feminine qualities constitutes completeness. The masculine mind reaches a higher tone through certain elements of the feminine, while the feminine mind gains courage and strength through masculine qualities. These different elements conjoin naturally with each other, and their true harmony is in spiritual oneness. Both sexes should be loving, pure, tender, and strong. The attraction between native qualities will be perpetual only as it is pure and true, bringing sweet seasons of renewal like the returning spring.” (S&H 57)

Seeking for such spiritual qualities in a partner, rather than superficial traits such as money, looks, status, etc., is a more promising way to start a marriage. But, we are also shown an even higher spiritual outlook:

“Marriage should signify a union of hearts. Furthermore, the time cometh of which Jesus spake, when he declared that in the resurrection there should be no more marrying nor giving in marriage, but man would be as the angels. Then shall Soul rejoice in its own, in which passion has no part. Then white-robed purity will unite in one person masculine wisdom and feminine love, spiritual understanding and perpetual peace.” (S&H 64)

Is there any Biblical authority for this idea? Mary Baker Eddy points us to the story of creation in Genesis. It is there we read:

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” (Genesis 1:27)

We see in Genesis that God has created man in His image. We learn in Christian Science that God must be both Father and Mother; otherwise, God could not create man both male and female. The divine Mind, or Spirit, must include the substance of that which He creates! But, was His “male and female” divided into two separate “genders”? Mrs. Eddy writes of the concept of “gender”:

“Gender means a kind. Hence mankind — in other words, a kind of man who is identified by sex — is the material, so-called man born of the flesh, and is not the spiritual man, created by God, Spirit, who made all that was made.” (Miscellany 239)

“God determines the gender of His own ideas. Gender is mental, not material. . . Gender means simply kind or sort, and does not necessarily refer either to masculinity or femininity. The word is not confined to sexuality, and grammars always recognize a neuter gender, neither male nor female. The Mind or intelligence of production names the female gender last in the ascending order of creation. The intelligent individual idea, be it male or female, rising from the lesser to the greater, unfolds the infinitude of Love.” (S&H 508)

The following words of Jesus are part of the traditional Christian marriage ceremony:

“What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”  (Matt.19:6) 

Was Jesus referring only to the act of mortal men and women being joined together, or was he suggesting something more spiritual?

We learn in Christian Science that male and female qualities are found in each
individual. Just as God is Father-Mother, so His children reflect this Fatherhood-
Motherhood. So, perhaps these are the elements that “God hath joined together,”
and these masculine/feminine qualities make up the complete spiritual identity of man
that he is not to “put asunder.” Or, we could also consider what Mrs. Eddy once wrote:

“We are joined by God, divine Science, to Himself, His power and love. And what God hath joined no man can put asunder.” (quoted in Divinity Course and General Collectanea, pg 43)

The above quotation is from a collection of writings, letters, and statements of Mary Baker Eddy titled Divinity Course and General Collectanea, compiled by Richard Oakes. Elsewhere in the book is an example of how Mrs. Eddy suggested that these new concepts about gender and completeness be applied in our thinking and prayers:

“This is my support, that the male and female natures are equally expressed, coexistent in me. This is the way that I exist and is the reason I never lack. It is because I am of the nature of infinite completeness; there is never anything in my experience in which the male and female qualities are not infinitely at one, supporting each other. It is because my spiritual inspiration is perfectly balanced with scientific understanding; because my joy is perfectly balanced with courage, and because my love is perfectly balanced with strength. My tender emotional nature is perfectly balanced with thought, reason and understanding; therefore I am a state of perfect protection, perfect substance, and I am supported by my own infinity. I am the presence of substance, because there is no unsupported idea in me.

“My manhood takes care of my womanhood, defends, protects, and supports her. My joy is defended and protected by my courage. My love is protected and defended by my understanding, by the strength of my scientific understanding which is omnipotence. I am never undefended and my womanhood cherishes my manhood. My tender affection cherishes my scientific understanding and unfolds love to it, takes care of it, watches over it with love, and gives it every opportunity to unfold
and demonstrate itself in perfect harmony, unity, equality, and unfoldment. 
So my nature is complete.” (DCGC 73)

Mrs. Eddy comments on male/female natures again in the chapter “The Apocalypse,” in the Christian Science textbook, when discussing the symbolism of the “Lamb” and the “Lamb’s wife” in the book of Revelation:

“The Lamb’s wife presents the unity of male and female as no longer two wedded individuals, but as two individual natures in one; and this compounded spiritual individuality reflects God as Father-Mother, not as a corporeal being. In this divinely united spiritual consciousness, there is no impediment to eternal bliss, — to the perfectibility of God’s creation.” (S&H 577)

What does all of this have to do with adultery and the Seventh Commandment?

What this spiritual truth does, is to question the old Biblical concept that adultery is only the breaking of the marriage covenant between two humans, and shows that there is a spiritual covenant with God that man breaks whenever he accepts, or acts upon, the belief that 1) man is both spiritual and material; 2) that man is separated from his Father-Mother God, the source of all spiritual qualities; or that 3) man’s complete spiritual nature reflecting male/female qualities, can be inverted and separated into mortal men and women needing to find each other. Gender is really a human concept, as we read earlier. When this is all understood and accepted into consciousness, the animal instinct that drives people to lust after one another — searching for happiness and physical satisfaction in sexual relationships — will diminish, or be mastered.
It is recorded that Mrs. Eddy once explained the Seventh Commandment against adultery this way:

“Unity. Knowing that we reflect the male and female, we must not adulterate this idea by supposing that each of God’s children is not complete, infinite. Seeing this purity, we are partakers of the marriage supper of the Lamb, the unity of man with the spiritual idea.” (DCGC 233)

Unity. Completeness. Purity. These ideals are themes throughout the writings of Mary Baker Eddy. We find our authority for these truths in the teachings of Jesus.

“Atonement is the exemplification of man’s unity with God, whereby man reflects divine Truth, Life, and Love. Jesus of Nazareth taught and demonstrated man’s oneness with the Father, and for this we owe him endless homage. (S&H 18)

This unity, or oneness, with our Creator, is the true marriage that must not be adulterated by the false beliefs that we are “animals,” that we are made of matter, that we are self-created through a sexual act, or that evil, sin, disease, or death can adulterate the pure, innocent spiritual children of God that we are.

Just as the early Hebrews and other ancient people were concerned with the “seeds” of foreign men falsely impregnating their women, and perhaps resulting in illegitimate children claiming the inheritance that rightfully belonged to others, so we need to be just as alert to the seeds of evil invading consciousness through mental adultery.  These seeds of evil could result in the false fruits of sin, disease, and death, which would pretend to be legitimate, but are the carnal mind’s attempt to rob God’s natural children of their rightful heritage.

Do all of these spiritual ideals outlined above mean that we must give up the human institution of marriage at this point in history? No, as was earlier explained; but, for those who are ready to ponder the issues, Christian Science offers suggestions for how mankind might work up to it. Mrs. Eddy writes:

“Until time matures human growth, marriage and progeny will continue unprohibited in Christian Science. We look to future generations for ability to comply with absolute Science, when marriage shall be found to be man’s oneness with God, — the unity of eternal Love. At present, more spiritual  conception and education of children will serve to illustrate the superiority of spiritual power over sensuous, and usher in the dawn of God’s creation, wherein they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels. To abolish marriage at this period, and maintain morality and generation, would put ingenuity to ludicrous shifts; yet this is possible in Science, although it is to-day problematic.” (Miscellaneous Writings 285)

End of Part Three of Four

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The Seventh Commandment – A Christian Science Perspective, Part Two

Part Two – return to Part One.


The early Christians embraced Jesus’ teachings on purity and adultery. While those who had come to Christianity as Jews understood the importance of chastity and the family bond, not everyone lived up to the ideals. And, remember, Palestine was then under the control of the Roman Empire, with its particular cultural ideas on marriage and fidelity.

“In the time of Jesus marriage in Palestine had nearly broken down and the treatment of women was shameful indeed. It is never to be forgotten that it was against that background that Jesus made his demands for chastity. . . . It is genuinely doubtful if there ever was such a cataract of immorality in any age as in the years when Christianity first came into the world. . . . Christianity confronted that situation with an uncompromising demand for purity.  Immorality and all impurity are not even to be named among Christians.” (Barclay, William: “The Ten Commandments,”1973; pg. 105)

The Greeks were notoriously indifferent to the marriage bond with regard to sex, which was considered to be acceptable and normal outside of marriage. The Romans took marriage more seriously, but after they had conquered and assimilated the Greeks, they unfortunately assimilated their moral laxity. It was said: “Rome had conquered Greece, but Greek morals had conquered Rome.” Against this backdrop, the early Christians took their stand.

“Let marriage be held in honour among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled; for God will judge the immoral and the adulterous.”  (Hebrews 13:4- RSV)

There are two concepts we will here consider with regard to the early Christian community:
1) their sense of the body; and 2) their ideas about marriage, and whether or not it was appropriate for a Christian to marry at all. William Barclay offers this commentary on the body:

“We must begin with the simple, and yet far-reaching, fact that the Christian respected the body. To the Greek the body was no more than the prison-house of the soul, and from it came all the ills of life. The world at that time was deeply infected with Gnostic thought, which believed that only spirit is good and that all matter is incurably and irremediably evil. . . . The inevitable conclusion of this is that the body is evil. If the body is evil, two courses of action are possible.  First a man can adopt a complete asceticism in which he denies every desire and deed of the body. Second, he can say that, because the body is evil, it does not matter what we do with it, and that therefore we can sate and glut it and it does not matter, because it is evil anyway.”

“But the Christian came with a new conception of the body. For the Christian the body is designed to be nothing less than the temple of the Holy Spirit (I Cor. 3:16).  ‘Do you know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?’ The Christian must, therefore, glorify God in his body
(I Cor. 6:19, 20).  It is not only 
possible, it is an obligation, to present the body as a sacrifice and
an offering to 
God (Rom 12:1). Christianity came with a view of the body which was bound to revolutionize the ethics of sex for the Hellenistic world.”  (Barclay, William: “The Ten Commandments,” pg. 125)

Some people, who have not studied Christian Science carefully, have likened it to the Gnostic thought mentioned above. They may assume that because we challenge the reality of matter as the true substance of Spirit’s universe, we must feel there is no reason to care what we do to the body, or with it. This is false. While we appear to be living in our human bodies, we must take care of it. If we abuse it, we are not demonstrating the unreality of sin.

Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science and the author of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, explains:

“Expose and denounce the claims of evil and disease in all their forms, but realize no reality in them. A sinner is not reformed merely by assuring him that he cannot be a sinner because there is no sin. To put down the claim of sin, you must detect it, remove the mask, point out the illusion, and thus  get the victory over sin and so prove its unreality. The sick are not healed merely by declaring there is no sickness, but by knowing that there is none.

“A sinner is afraid to cast the first stone. He may say, as a subterfuge, that evil is unreal, but to know it, he must demonstrate his statement. To assume that there are no claims of evil and yet to indulge them, is a moral offence.  Blindness and self-righteousness cling fast to iniquity.  When the Publican’s  wail went out to the great heart of Love, it won his humble desire. Evil which obtains in the bodily senses, but which the heart condemns, has no foundation; but if evil is uncondemned, it is undenied and nurtured. Under such circumstances, to say that there is no evil, is an evil in itself. When needed tell the truth concerning the lie. Evasion of Truth cripples integrity, and casts thee down from the pinnacle.”  (S&H 447)

The great Apostle Paul gave marriage advice in his letter to the Corinthians. In it, he appears to suggest that it was good not to marry if you weren’t already married. He urged those that were married to remain faithful to each other.

“Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.  Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. . . . For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that. I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I. But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.” (I Cor. 7:1-3;7-9)

In “Marriage, a History,” we read:

“What distinguished early Christianity from Judaism in its approach to marriage and family was the belief that the kingdom of God was close at hand, and people must therefore break with worldly ties to prepare for the imminent arrival of God’s kingdom. In subsequent centuries this aspect was played down, but early Christianity was hostile to marital and kinship obligations to a degree unimaginable to any previous reformers aside from Plato.

“The founders of Christianity agreed with Jewish scholars that it was better to marry than to be preoccupied with lust. But their acceptance of marriage was much less enthusiastic. ‘It is better,’ Paul grudgingly conceded, ‘to marry than to burn’ (I Cor. 7:9).” (Coontz, Stephanie: “Marriage, a History,” pg. 85-86)

William Barclay believes that we find in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, written nine years after his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul’s true view of marriage, in which he appears to validate it. Paul writes:

“For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.” (Ephesians 5:31)

The Apostle Peter also gave marriage advice in one of his letters. He urged the expression of those lovely qualities which could keep married Christians happy and away from the temptation of adultery. This translation is from “The Message,” by Eugene H. Peterson:

“The same goes for you wives: Be good wives to your husbands, responsive to their needs. There are husbands who, indifferent as they are to any words about God, will be captivated by your life of holy beauty. What matters is not your outer appearance – the styling of your hair, the jewelry you wear, the cut of your clothes – but your inner disposition.

“Cultivate inner beauty; the gentle, gracious kind that God delights in. The holy women of old were beautiful before God that way, and were good, loyal wives to their husbands. Sarah, for instance, taking care of Abraham, would address him as “my dear husband.” You’ll be true daughters of Sarah if you do the same, unanxious and unintimidated.

“The same goes for you husbands: Be good husbands to your wives. Honor them, delight in them. As women they lack some of your advantages. But in the new life of God’s grace, you’re equals. Treat your wives, then, as equals so your prayers don’t run aground.” (I Peter 3:1-7) (Translation: Peterson, Eugene H.: “The Message”)

To the early Christians, chastity was just as important as marital fidelity:

“Freedom from unchastity was one of four minimum entrance requirements for aspiring candidates to Christian groups, as stated in a letter sent from the elders and apostles at Jerusalem to Antioch Christians via Judas Barsabas and Silas.” (Harper’s Bible Dictionary, pg 206)

We read about those four minimum entrance requirements in Acts:

“For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.”
(Acts 15:28, 29)

The choice of these four minimum requirements was reached after fierce debates by the elders regarding what they would require of the new non-Jewish converts to Christianity. Should the Gentiles be required to be circumcised, was one question, for instance. In the end, only a few rules regarding food remained, plus the one moral rule: no fornication. This is sex outside of a marriage relationship. The elders had taken Jesus’ teaching to heart, that to indulge in lust, inside or outside of marriage, was as sinful as the act of adultery.

William Barclay quotes the historian J.D. Unwin, who had studied over 80 different civilizations, and from his study Unwin discerned the following pattern:

“Every civilization is established, and consolidated by observing a strict moral code, is maintained while this strict code is kept, and decays when sexual license is allowed. . . Any human society is free to choose either to display great energy or to enjoy sexual freedom; the evidence is that it cannot do both for more than one generation.” (Barclay, William: “The Ten Commandments,” pg. 141)

You can find numerous articles on the Internet that quote Unwin’s study, and those of other sociologists concerned with the impact of moral laxity on society. Some sources theorize that it would take several generations to see the impact of this sexual freedom.

If you are interested in learning more about the history of marriage, divorce, and sexual relations, from ancient times up to the present day, you can find detailed information in “Marriage, a History: From Obedience to Intimacy, or How Love Conquered Marriage,” by Stephanie Coontz; 2005)

End of Part Two 

Go to Part Three – [Part Three includes:  Christian Science and the Seventh Commandment; The Moral Demands of the Seventh Commandment; Meeting the Moral Demands; Christian Science and Marriage; Part Four includes: Dealing with the Temptation of Adultery]

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The Seventh Commandment – A Christian Science Perspective, Part One

“Thou shalt not commit adultery.”

The Seventh Commandment is not just about sex. Adultery is not just about the breaking of marriage vows. As with the other Ten Commandments, there is both a moral and a spiritual meaning to the Seventh Commandment. Both meanings are based upon a universal divine Principle that underlies the Law that was revealed to Moses.

Because of that universal divine Principle, which could be called “the Law of Love,” people’s efforts to dismiss this particular Commandment as outdated, useless, unenforceable, forgettable, or not applicable to modern man, will, at some point, prove as harmful as assuming that one can defy gravity by jumping off a cliff. It hurts!

Adultery, seen from a spiritual perspective, may be thought of as looking outside of our relationship with God for our completeness, our happiness, our satisfaction, our salvation. God commands us to be loyal to Him. We practice this solemn loyalty by taking our promises seriously, and disciplining ourselves to be faithful to those who are trusting in us to uphold our oaths. We learn in the Bible that the marriage covenant was considered to be of utmost importance. Purity, chastity, and virtue, both in and out of marriage, were highly valued. We shall see that in today’s world our thinking must also remain pure, by keeping it free from sinful beliefs which would muddy or spoil our spiritual vision. God’s Seventh Commandment, “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” speaks to us on many levels, and offers guidance to keep us safe,
and on track, in our spiritual journey.

We will be exploring these concepts in the sections below [and in upcoming posts]. A separate article with ideas for teaching the Seventh Commandment to children and Sunday School pupils will follow.


There was already a moral code against adultery in ancient civilization before God gave Moses the Ten Commandments. For example, in the story of Joseph and Potiphar’s wife (see Genesis 39), Joseph knew that it would be a “sin against God” to have sex with another man’s wife. This was hundreds of years before Moses led the Hebrews out of Egypt, and received the Ten Commandments. However, not everyone considered adultery a sin against God – it was more of a crime against property rights!

In those ancient times, a woman was considered to be the property of her father, and later of her husband. A loss of affection had little to do with the crime of adultery. Property rights were involved, especially when it came to the legitimacy of children. Husbands had to be very careful to make sure that the children his wife bore were his, since his possessions were to be passed along to them. This was serious business!

“Because women could bear a child with an ‘impure’ bloodline, introducing a ‘foreign interest’ into a family, their sexual behavior tended to be more strictly supervised, and females were subject to severe penalties for adultery or premarital sex. The laws and moral codes of ancient states exhorted men to watch carefully over their wives ‘lest the seed of others be sown on your soil.’” (Coontz, Stephanie: “Marriage, a History,” 2005; pg. 46)

“By the time we have written records of the civilizations that arose in the ancient world, marriage had become the way most wealth and land changed hands. Marriage was also the main vehicle by which leading families expanded their social network and political influence. It even sealed military alliances and peace treaties.” (ibid)

That is why the early Jewish definition of adultery is very specific. Jewish law states that adultery is the intercourse of a married woman with any man other than her husband. It was not considered adultery if a married man had sex with an unmarried woman, such as a concubine. An example is the relationship Abraham had with Hagar, who gave birth to Ishmael, Abraham’s first child. (see Genesis 16).

Chastity before marriage was also important in early Hebrew history. In his book, The Ten Commandments, William Barclay writes:

“The supreme importance that the Jewish mind attached to chastity can be seen from the passage in Deuteronomy which provides for the trial of a bride whom her husband suspects of not being a virgin at the time of her marriage, and for her death by stoning if the charge is proved.”  (Barclay, William: “The Ten Commandments,” pg. 88)

The early penalty for adultery was also stoning. We read in Leviticus 20:10:

“The man that committeth adultery with another man’s wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.”

So, why, if the penalty was so severe, would any two people risk death to have sex?  It’s a question still being asked today. As Barclay puts it:

“It is the paradox of human nature that there was no sin regarded in Judaism with greater horror than adultery, and there was no sin which, to judge by the rebukes of the sages and prophets, was more common.”  (Barclay, William: “The Ten Commandments,” pg. 84)

Barclay explains the influences in the regions surrounding the Hebrews. Ancient people worshipped the power of reproduction, because it was so strong. Men visited cult or temple prostitutes. Sex with them was “regarded as an act of worship of the reproductive force.” Barclay goes on to write:

“To the modern mind the connection of prostitution with religion is shocking; but it was extremely widespread in those days; and it is perfectly understandable when it is understood as the worship of the life and reproductive force. Human nature being such as it is, it is easy to see the attraction of this form of so-called worship; and the basic purity of Jewish worship is in such an environment all the more wonderful, and we shall see later that the Christian ethic was faced with exactly the same problem. The wonder was not that sometimes the Jews drifted into sexual irregularity; the miracle is that in such an environment the ideal of disciplined chastity ever came into being at all, and that in the end the ideal of purity won the day.”  (ibid, pg. 89)

Covenant with God

A covenant is a bond or agreement made between individuals. In the Bible, God made special covenants. For instance he made covenants with Noah (Genesis 9:13) and Abraham (Genesis 15:18-21; 17:4-14). In Exodus 24, we read of the first covenant God made with the Hebrews.

Throughout the Old Testament, we see the accusation of “adultery” leveled at the Hebrews when they were guilty of worshipping idols, or breaking trust with their promises to God to obey His laws. Adultery and fornication were useful symbols for getting the Israelites to understand the crime of idolatry. We read, for instance, in Ezekial 16:

“Wherefore, O harlot, hear the word of the Lord: Thus saith the Lord God; Because thy filthiness was poured out, and thy nakedness discovered through thy whoredoms with thy lovers, and with all the idols of thy abominations, and by the blood of thy children, which thou didst give unto them; Behold, therefore I will gather all thy lovers, with whom thou hast taken pleasure, and all them that thou hast loved, with all them that thou hast hated; I will even gather them round about against thee, and will discover thy nakedness unto them, that they may see all thy nakedness.”

The Old Testament records the tribulations of the Israelites as they wander for forty years in the wilderness, their takeover of the Promised Land, and then the continuing problems they had keeping their part of their covenant with God. When they were obedient to God’s laws, their society flourished; when they were disobedient, they brought punishment upon themselves. But God’s mercy was ever available:

“The New Covenant of the prophets grew up in the centuries after Israel had entered Canaan, and through experiences of personal and national suffering attained a spiritual awareness of the need for salvation. Israel had broken her covenant with God, but He was willing to write in their hearts a new compact (Jer. 31:30) which would be universally available.” (Harper’s Bible Dictionary)

We read in the book of Jeremiah: “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
(Jeremiah 31:31-34)

In the first Covenant, God was a “husband” to the Hebrews. They believed that He promised protection in exchange for loyalty and obedience. Although adultery was a strong symbol to the Israelites, the principle behind the idea of a “covenant” does suggest that adultery is more than just illicit sexual relations between men and women.

In the New Covenant, man is expected to look within consciousness for God’s law.  Just as Joseph was able to understand intuitively that adultery was wrong, even though he did not have a tablet of stone with such a commandment inscribed upon it, we can be sure that the Ten Commandments are within consciousness, and operate as spiritual law. If we live in harmony with God’s law, we prosper; if we try to set ourselves apart from the law, or above it, we bring discord into our lives. This is true of breaking the Seventh Commandment.

Betrothals and Adultery

Before moving to the teachings of Jesus, there is some interesting commentary on the subject of “betrothals” at that time, which sheds some light on the situation faced by Mary and Joseph. The Hebrew custom was to have three steps: first, an engagement; then a betrothal, lasting about a year; then the wedding ceremony. William Barclay’s book on the Ten Commandments provides details of what these three steps entailed, but here is a brief segment on the betrothal:

“Betrothal was as binding as marriage. A betrothed girl who was unfaithful was treated in the same way as an adulterous wife. Betrothal could only be ended by divorce. During the time the couple were known and regarded as man and wife. Should the man die, the girl was known as a widow, and in the law we find that curious phrase, ‘a virgin who is a widow.’ This explains the relationship of Joseph and Mary as we find in the first chapter of Matthew. In verse 18 they are betrothed; in verse 19 Joseph is called Mary’s husband, and he is said to wish to divorce her.” (Barclay, William: “The Ten Commandments,” 1973, pg. 100)

Thankfully, Joseph listened to the angel message, and took Mary as his wife rather than divorcing her; or worse, having her stoned. Joseph willingly obeyed God’s commands, proving that his allegiance to his covenant with God was more important than Jewish tradition. His purity of thought allowed the angel message to be heard.


As we have learned in our study of the other Ten Commandments, Jesus usually raised the bar with regard to the meaning or standards required of each Commandment. It is not enough to abide by (or ignore!) the literal interpretation only, we must be willing to see the moral and spiritual principle behind the Commandment.

We find our first message from Jesus on adultery in the Sermon on the Mount:

“Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.”
(Matthew 5:27-30)

Jesus has set the new standard: it is not enough just to avoid the legal definition of adultery; we must avoid indulging in lust. He tells us that this is so important we should go so far as to “pluck out an eye” that is being used for lustful gazing.  Barclay explains:

“Of course, the words of Jesus are not to be taken with a crude literalism. What they mean is that anything which helps to seduce us to sin is to be ruthlessly rooted out of life.” (Barclay, William: “The Gospel of Matthew, Volume 1,” pg. 148)

Barclay comments on the use of the term “lust” by Jesus:

“It is necessary that we should understand what Jesus is saying here.  He is not speaking of the natural, normal desire, which is part of human instinct and human nature. According to the literal meaning of the Greek the man who is condemned is the man who looks at a woman with the deliberate intention of lusting after her. The man who is condemned is the man who deliberately uses his eyes to awaken his lust, the man who looks in such a way that passion is awakened and desire deliberately stimulated. . . . In a tempting world there are many things which are deliberately designed to excite desire: books, pictures, plays, even advertisements. The man whom Jesus here condemns is the man who deliberately uses his eyes to stimulate his desires; the man who finds a strange delight in things which waken the desire for the forbidden thing. To the pure all things are pure. But the man whose heart is defiled can look at any scene and find something in it to titillate and excite the wrong desire.”  (ibid, pg. 147)

Clearly we can see how the use of pornography is lust. Jesus tells us this is adultery of the heart. If we are Christian, we will want to avoid pornography, explicit books, movies, and so we must “pluck out that eye,” so that we are not cast into “hell.”   We learn in Christian Science that part of the definition of hell is “self-imposed agony.”  Mistaking material pleasures as a source of happiness can bring self-imposed pain to the body.

Barclay’s comment above that Jesus was not speaking of the “natural, normal desire which is part of human instinct and human nature,” at first glance seems reasonable. In the time of Jesus, this was a huge step forward in man’s spiritual journey – to see that over-indulgence in lust is a form of adultery. But, there is a further step – a spiritual one – that challenges the notion that desire for sex is a natural or normal part of man’s spiritual identity. This will be explored under the section on Christian Science.

An important part of Jesus’ teachings was his explanation of motives. We learn that adultery and lust stem from sinful motives. Jesus told them:

“But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders,  adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.”  (Matthew 15:18, 19)

Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, would later write:

“Jesus knew that adultery is a crime, and mind is the criminal. I wish the age was up to his understanding of these two facts, so important to progress and Christianity.” (Eddy, Mary Baker: “Christian Healing,” pg. 7:22)

The following episode from Matthew, chapter 19, contains a teaching that most Christians were not able to comprehend at the time, much less were prepared to follow. But it shows Jesus’ teaching on adultery and divorce in its original state, “unfettered by human hypothesis.” It has to be contemplated and prayed about by individuals, without being dictated to by others on how they should act upon it:

“The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery. His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry. But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given. For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.”

There is one well-known story, found only in the Gospel of John that shows Jesus dealing with a woman caught in the act of adultery (notice that the man was not brought before him!). Actually the main point of the episode, it has been said, is to show how Jesus handled the Pharisees’ attempt to catch him being disobedient to the Jewish law, but it also says a lot about how Christians are to show Christly compassion in such situations with possible adulterers. We read:

“And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more. (John 8:3-11)

While Jesus showed mercy to the adulterous woman, notice an important point. She was told to “sin no more.” We must learn that we are not to abuse God’s mercy, by continuing to sin and hoping for forgiveness, but we are to set ourselves on a path of redemption as soon as we recognize the sin for what it is.

“Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” (Matthew 5:8)

There are three separate Gospel accountings of an episode in Jesus’ life in which he is asked about marriage in the resurrection by a group of Sadducees, who are trying to trick him. His ending message shows a remarkable thought. The statement in Mark simply tells us there will be no marriage in the resurrection; but the statement in Luke appears to be saying that his followers should not marry at all!

“Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.” (Matthew 22:29, 30)

“And Jesus answering said unto them, The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage: But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage.” (Luke 20:34, 35)

With that in mind, it is interesting to read that the first noteworthy act of Jesus in his ministry is the turning of water into wine at the wedding in Cana, recorded in John. This would indicate at least some sort of approval for the institution of marriage. Perhaps he is urging those who are ready, to consider deeply what he is saying about the spiritual nature of man even now.

Mary Baker Eddy has a lovely comment germane to this. It is from the chapter “Marriage” in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, and has the marginal sub-heading, “Blessing of Christ.”

“Experience should be the school of virtue, and human happiness should proceed from man’s highest nature. May Christ, Truth, be present at every bridal altar to turn the water into wine and to give to human life an inspiration by which man’s spiritual and eternal existence may be discerned.” (S&H 64)

[NOTE:  For those unfamiliar with the religion of Christian Science (which is NOT the same as Scientology!) you might wish to check out the Questions and Answers on this site.]

End of Part One of Four

Go to Part Two – [Part Two includes:  Early Christianity and the Seventh Commandment; Part Three includes:  Christian Science and the Seventh Commandment; The Moral Demand of the Seventh Commandment; Meeting the Moral Demands; Christian Science and Marriage; Part Four includes: Dealing with the Temptation of Adultery]

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