If you're a man living in a city, as I am, you may identify with the following predicament. You're walking down a lonely street after dark. You haven't got a single evil intention. You see a woman walking toward you from the opposite direction, or you need to overtake a woman walking ahead of you more slowly. All of a sudden, you feel like the shady character in a horror flick.
I was returning to my neighborhood one night, conscious that I was feeling this way - and a little fed up with it. I decided to pray about it.
The Bible says that all men and women are in truth children of God, made in His image. Since God is Spirit, and is infinite good, it follows that true manhood and womanhood are spiritual, not material; good, not evil; innocent, not guilty. God's sons and daughters are neither dangerous nor vulnerable.
With my prayers focused on seeing myself and everyone else as the child of God, an insight came to me: I should expect to appear to anyone I passed on my way home from the subway station to be what in reality I am - spiritual, totally innocent, pure.
By his life of loving, healing, and helping people, Christ Jesus showed conclusively that the power of God, and the understanding of spiritual innocence that leads to reformation, can cast guilt from our lives - even when it is logical to feel guilty because of one's past record. Suspicion and guilt have no place in the manhood and womanhood God created.
Mary Baker Eddy, explaining that there was a scientific basis for what Jesus taught and did, wrote in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" that "innocence and Truth overcome guilt and error" (Pg. 568). If the power of innocence and Truth, which is a synonym for God according to Christian Science, can heal a guilt that seems justified, how much more can such spiritual power be expected to erase unfounded guilt that's based purely on being male!
As I walked under an unlighted railway bridge around midnight, there was a teenage girl there. My worst case scenario for feeling unduly intimidating was upon me! Yet with my thought clearer from my prayer, I was able to discern that she was really upset.
I stopped and asked what was wrong. It turned out she had arranged to meet her boyfriend and go to a party. But while she was waiting for him at the bus station, a couple of rowdy guys had started harassing her. She was scared and ran away from the prearranged meeting place. Now she was even more scared of missing her boyfriend and being stranded.
I offered to walk back to the bus station with her and wait with her until her boyfriend arrived. She was visibly relieved, and accepted. After 10 minutes or so, her boyfriend turned up, and she went safely on her way.
What struck me, on reviewing this situation, was that by refusing to feel guilty of being threatening, I found this opportunity to be of service - to hear this stranger's mental call for help and to respond. Clearly, God had met the girl's need for protection. Even the two rowdy guys, who were still at the bus station when we returned, were saved from possible consequences of their own bad behavior by the way my prayer had put me in the right place - and in the right state of mind - to meet this stranger's need.
Spiritual innocence is the eternal, uninterruptible, status of all men and women as God has truly created them. When this spiritual truth is more widely understood and accepted, there will be less threatening behavior to need protection from. Right now, we can pray to better understand and exhibit this innocence in our own lives. This will help other people recognize it in themselves. The time will progressively arrive (or return!) when two strangers encountering each other on a city street will greet one another courteously, without any question of motives. Whatever their sex, race, or age. Be it day or night. Won't that be terrific?
There is no danger, and no need for suspicion, in God's creation. Though it may not be apparent, this spiritual universe is true and real. It is where you live, tonight.