Christian Science and medicine--err on the side of compassion
I had a nice long chat with Vicki from First Lessons in Christian Science yesterday. She had written to me after noticing Dennis’ comment from the other day about her site saying that it's unethical to treat yourself prayerfully if you’re using medicine. With her permission, I thought I’d share some of what she wrote to me.
Hi. I was reading your blog this morning, and I was alarmed when I read the comment by Dennis, which indicated that he had read on my web site that we should not pray for ourselves while taking medicine. I thought "why would I say that?! I believe we can pray anytime!" Since I wrote that about six years ago, I had to go back through it to find what I did say. … I suppose [it] was written awkwardly. I thought I was saying you could pray for yourself, but wanted to get across that if you believe the problem is real and are taking medicine to cure it, then it would be at cross-purposes to do a specific CS treatment—even for yourself. … Maybe you can help me find a better way to explain this, and I can change the web site.
… I would never want to discourage anyone from praying for themselves, no matter the circumstances. A paragraph [on my site] states this:
“For those who do choose to go to doctors, or need to in an emergency, you can also use the First Commandment. God never abandons us, no matter the situation. We can know that because there is only one Mind, there is no other mind separate from Him. Therefore, all the doctors and nurses involved in your case can only manifest perfect intelligence, perfect intuition, perfect skills, etc., as they diagnose and treat you. You can pray to know that because there is only one Spirit, or substance, and that is under God's control, then matter cannot have the intelligence to act by itself; it is under the dominion of God. Because God is the only source of Life, matter does not have life in it. You cannot lose your life as long as God is the only Life. Do not make matter or your body another god. Obey the First Commandment by sticking with God.”
Anyway, I just wanted to let Dennis know that I would not want to discourage anyone from praying for themselves.
In a subsequent email, Vicki said:
I've still been thinking over what I wrote—and the reason it gives me pause is that I have conflicting feelings about the medicine-CS thing. I know what Mrs. Eddy taught, but I also know how horrible it is to find oneself having to choose medicine or die, and being abandoned by the [spiritual healing] community just when you need help the most. But, I also saw how effective Christian Science prayer can be for one in a hospital situation—where the doctors were amazed at the progress—and this was combined with some medicine. So, what's the answer—is there ONE for all?
This last question is the crux of the matter, at least to me. Do any of us have the authority or wisdom to say there’s one right way for everyone? Doesn’t it depend on where one is on the spiritual path? Can we ever truly see into the heart of another and judge for them what they should do?
I’ve often asked myself this question as well: What has done the most damage to the Christian Science movement—people using medicine, or people ostracizing those who do? I almost think we need to do some catch-up in this area, to again make it clear that Christian Science is about love not judgment. Perhaps this means we have to err on the side of tolerance of each others’ choices for a time while we again shore up what it means to heal spiritually. At this time, it seems to me that expressing compassion, love, harmony, and brotherly kindness as the hallmark of Christian Science will do more for the health of the movement than unbending rules and regulations.
I welcome your thoughts on this! Someday maybe we’ll have a Website where we can discuss these issues freely. In the meantime, feel free to share your ideas here.
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