TODAY doctors are doing new studies into finding what characteristics and diseases people are apt to inherit. Through biological research, they are looking for genetically determined causes.
Christian Science gives a different premise on which to base prognoses for our well-being. In her book Miscellaneous Writings, Mary Baker Eddy wrote, ''God is our Father and our Mother, our Minister and the great Physician: He is man's only real relative on earth and in heaven'' (p. 151). This echoes the words of Christ Jesus, ''Call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven'' (Matt. 23:9). A central theme of Christianity is that God is our only Parent. You might say we can inherit only what comes from God. And can this include a proclivity toward disease? Hardly, if we accept the Bible's message that God is good.
When I first read that God is man's only relative, I questioned it; surely that could not mean we are unrelated to others in some special way. Was this telling me that our human families are unimportant? That didn't make sense. So what, then, was all this saying? As I prayed, it came to me that Christian Science identifies fatherhood and motherhood with qualities, not personalities.
Jesus held his mother, Mary, in special regard; at the time of his crucifixion he specifically appointed John, his beloved disciple, to care for her as his own mother (see John 19:26, 27). Here is proof that Christians are to value and cultivate familial bonds-ones that include the spiritual qualities of love and care.
Human relationships can be viewed, practically, in the light of man's relation to the one Parent-God. We can identify and seek to express the spiritual qualities of God's fathering and mothering, whether our human parents be biological or adoptive, and whether or not they are still with us.
The teachings of Jesus do not indicate any necessity for sickness, sin, or death. His lifework consisted of destroying all three. Genes and heredity did not usurp his power to heal. He saw more clearly than anyone else his origin in God, and taught this to be true of everyone else as well. When his disciples brought to Jesus a man suffering from congenital blindness, they asked him, '' . . . who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?'' Jesus replied, ''Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him'' (John 9:2, 3). And Jesus healed the man.
Where in the plan of God do we find a programmed defect? If we knew that we were, in reality, spiritual, not material, what a difference it would make. The evidence of evil heredity must give way to the spiritual fact that we are all created by God, in His image and likeness, as the first chapter of Genesis declares.
If we were all to trace our roots through human ancestry, we would sooner or later find sick people, sinning people, and other despicable characters, along with the more honorable ones. But God did not give any of His children a mixed blessing. He gives only what is good. Knowing this acquaints one with spiritual identity and harmonizes his or her life. It brings out only the qualities of God in all of us, qualities that are unsullied by sin, deformity, or ugliness. This knowledge can heal current problems as well as show us that the only true and enduring traits of our ancestors are good ones-those that reflect God.
Disturbing ancestral traits and physical problems are not realities of being. We can know ourselves and others as children of none other than one good God, who knows no evil. The prospects for health, longevity, and well-being are never in the genes, because they are in God.
This is my covenant with them,
saith the Lord; My spirit
that is upon thee, and my words
which I have put in thy mouth,
shall not depart out of thy mouth,
nor out of the mouth of thy seed,
nor out of the mouth of thy seed's
seed, saith the Lord, from
henceforth and for ever.