Monday, September 05, 2005

Tackling sin

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Let's tackle something fun today: sin.

One of the running jokes among Christian Scientists is quoting Mary Baker Eddy's wonderful line about sin in Science and Health out of context. She says at one point: "What a nice thing is sin!" And before that really confuses you, here's that line in context:

The false evidence of material sense contrasts strikingly with the testimony of Spirit. Material sense lifts its voice with the arrogance of reality and says:

I am wholly dishonest, and no man knoweth it. I can cheat, lie, commit adultery, rob, murder, and I elude detection by smooth-tongued villainy. Animal in propensity, deceitful in sentiment, fraudulent in purpose, I mean to make my short span of life one gala day. What a nice thing is sin! How sin succeeds, where the good purpose waits! The world is my kingdom. I am enthroned in the gorgeousness of matter. But a touch, an accident, the law of God, may at any moment annihilate my peace, for all my fancied joys are fatal. Like bursting lava, I expand but to my own despair, and shine with the resplendency of consuming fire.

Spirit, bearing opposite testimony, saith:

I am Spirit. Man, whose senses are spiritual, is my likeness. He reflects the infinite understanding, for I am Infinity. The beauty of holiness, the perfection of being, imperishable glory, — all are Mine, for I am God. I give immortality to man, for I am Truth. I include and impart all bliss, for I am Love. I give life, without beginning and without end, for I am Life. I am supreme and give all, for I am Mind. I am the substance of all, because I AM THAT I AM.

--Science and Health

So basically, in context, she's saying that sin lies. It doesn't deliver on its promises.

My definition of sin as it has evolved through my study of Christian Science is this:

Sin is
trying to fulfill a spiritual yearning
through material means.

The true punishment for sin, then, is the bitter disappointment that comes from how this consistently fails and you're left with nothing. And it's at that point when you become receptive to the spiritual solution that will fulfill you, heal you, and free you from the effects of sin.

I have direct experience with this. For me, the sin was enthusiastic sensuality. I was a child of the '70s, and really took to heart the "free love" ethic. You know the song: If you can't be with the one you love, honey, love the one you're with. I still rock out to that song, but have learned a bit more about love.

My error, or sin, was believing that love could be found through physical means. What I was always searching for was love. The human explanation might lie in my family make-up at the time, or in my own biology, or the climate of thought, or whatever. It doesn't really matter why I felt this dearth of love and went on the warpath to find it. The point is all the suffering I went through stemmed completely from thinking the answer lay in materiality. If I could just get one of those guys to really love me, I'd have all the love I need.

So I tried every which way from Sunday humanly. Guys who had been friends for a long time, guys who I felt an instant attraction to, camp guys, guys at college, guys in the shows I was in. I even got one of them to marry me, but that didn't work. Then it was, most unfortunately, married guys, and guys at work, guys at church. Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

I didn't necessarily sleep with all of these fine young men, but I will admit to approaching each relationship with the cat and mouse of sexual tension. Of course every failed relationship led to emotional pain for me. I didn't become more hardened to this as I grew older, but became more and more needy. Relationships cycled through ever more rapid trajectories but the heartbreak became even worse.

Finally came the moment of receptivity. I remember sitting near a pier in Marina Del Rey on Saturday morning after seeing the most recent love-of-my-life who had just dumped me. In complete despair, I finally finally finally turned to God with the big question: Who is the right guy for me? Who am I supposed to be looking for? Who is it?

And the answer was this simple: It's Me, Laura. It's always been Me.

Can I describe how I sat there staring at the boats with my mouth hanging open? The sun streamed down on me and the grass glowed brilliant green, the water lapped soothingly and I felt Loved. And the wild joke that I'd always been Loved made me start laughing with delight.

I felt like I was being filled from toe to head with beams of Love, filling up every nook and cranny of my being the way water fills up a fluted vase of lilies and daisies and eucalyptus and roses and babies' breath… I was magnificent in my Loveliness, and was being Loved by the One who would never disappoint me or leave me or hurt me or get tired of me.

Did I mention from then on it became very easy to drop the sensuality? When I saw the glaring error of trying to find love in the physical, I no longer looked for it there. I stopped attempting it, and no longer suffered for it. I have felt consistently Loved ever since. Now, when I love whomever I'm with, it's real Love not burdened with physicality. Free, if you will, from sin.

I think this applies to every yearning we have. As I recognize that all my yearnings are really spiritual ones, meaning I'm being pulled Spiritward, I look for fulfillment in the right direction. To look in the wrong direction is the sin, and it brings its own punishment — disappointment. To look in the right direction brings answers. It's that simple.

We acknowledge God's forgiveness of sin in the destruction of sin and the spiritual understanding that casts out evil as unreal. But the belief in sin is punished so long as the belief lasts.

--Science and Health

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At 9/05/2005 02:06:00 PM, Anonymous Stephanie said...

This is wonderful! I copied your definition of sin into my science and health book. Thanks for sharing your revelations.




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