Taking a stand for fidelity
A Christian Science perspective: Some insights on the spiritual foundation of fidelity in light of the scandal in Washington, D.C., involving David Patraeus.
The recent infidelity scandal involving top US government and military personnel continues to grab headlines. When the news first broke, I was feeling bad for everyone involved – betrayed spouses, embarrassed family members, colleagues who had respected and looked up to these individuals, people with careers of so much goodness that were now in ruins, and our whole country; it seems that so often when we hold someone up as a good role model, we find their feet are made of clay.
Then, a couple of days ago, as I was doing my early morning praying, I mentally heard a spiritual command: “You must take a strong stand for fidelity.” I recognized this as a message from God to pray for this situation – to do more than just feel bad over lost trust and lives in shambles. On one level, I knew this was a command to take a stand for the importance of marital fidelity. Nineteenth-century reformer Mary Baker Eddy declared: “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” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 57).
I also realized that at a deeper level, this message from God involved a more fundamental demand for fidelity – a demand to be faithful to God and to what God sees and knows about each of us as His pure and innocent spiritual ideas. It was a demand to take a stand for God’s fidelity in unfailingly caring for and upholding His entire creation, because the greatest despair in all of this would be to believe that God has left us on our own as fatally flawed mortals who cannot help failing and falling.
As I continued in prayer, Bible verses that assured me of God’s faithfulness in caring for His ideas came to thought:
- “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22, 23).
- “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)” (Hebrews 10:23).
- “Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever” (Jude 1:24, 25).
As I considered these Bible verses, I began to think about how God’s faithfulness to His sons and daughters is like the faithfulness of an original governing its reflection in a mirror. The original never fails to govern the reflection, and the reflection can’t help being the expression of the original. It can never take on flaws on its own or act separately from the original. Neither can it be affected by something other than the original. So victimization, impact, and influence from without cannot touch the reflection of God. A line from a hymn then came to thought: “Faithfully to Him reflected,/ One with Him forever near” (Fay Linn, “Christian Science Hymnal,” No. 237).
But what about the harm done? Does seeing man as the pure reflection of God allow the offender to get off without correction? Then I remembered something I had read once in the Christian Science Sentinel. In essence it said that when we get caught doing something wrong, it is actually the Christliness within ourselves – the truth of who we really are as God’s children – that arrests us, even if it appears that others have exposed the wrongdoing. I love this, because it is the harbinger of good, right where things seem messy. Right where character seems besmirched, there is the affirmation that it is the individual’s very goodness that is asserting itself.
So, I reasoned, bearing witness to one another’s true nature does not pass over needed correction, but helps expedite true reform in those who have made mistakes. And similarly, bearing witness to man as the pure reflection of God supports the capacity of those whose trust has been betrayed to refuse to take on another’s mistake as collateral damage, but to realize calmly and clearly that all worth, dignity, joy, and progress are found in one’s relationship to God.
It is such a comfort to grasp even a little of the fact that no matter what another has done to us, we are, as Mrs. Eddy says, “tributary to God, Spirit, and to nothing else” (Science and Health, p. 481). No matter what course corrections seem necessary and no matter what punishment is leveled, it cannot destroy the opportunity to be more faithful to God and to feel how faithfully God is upholding us all with tender care. And this is what turns calamities into victories.
My prayers have led me to take a strong stand for fidelity. The human promise to be faithful is clearly not enough. But the divine fact of God’s faithful expression of us as His ideas is here to rescue us from infidelity and its corruption of our hearts and minds. And when we begin to realize even a little of how we are God’s reflected idea, we are strengthened to faithfully witness to one another’s purity and innocence and to act with integrity and trustworthiness.