A Christian Science perspective: Praying to see through misogynistic attitudes toward women.
The acrimony of the 2016 American presidential primary campaign has more recently brought the issue of misogyny – the hatred and distrust of women – onto center stage worldwide.
For those who have perhaps experienced even the mild effects of the hatred of women – or for those who wish to be free from perpetrating it – how can we heal this hatred?
We look to an understanding of God, good, to establish and maintain equality, and therefore harmony, between the sexes – and not only between the sexes, but between people and nations. Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy writes: “One infinite God, good, unifies men and nations; constitutes the brotherhood of man; ends wars; fulfils the Scripture, ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself;’ annihilates pagan and Christian idolatry, – whatever is wrong in social, civil, criminal, political, and religious codes; equalizes the sexes; annuls the curse on man, and leaves nothing that can sin, suffer, be punished or destroyed” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 340). In my own experience, I have found that praying with the idea that we all have one God, good, has brought healing.
When I first encountered sexism, I felt stymied by the unfairness I was experiencing. I was uncomfortable and upset. But soon I realized that the spiritual truth I learned in Christian Science could have a healing effect if properly applied. But how could I be guided to pray effectively?
As a student of Christian Science, I knew that God is defined in part as Mind, the source of all intelligence. I also knew that I am created by God, as His child. So, I acknowledged that, as the child of God, I naturally inherit Mind’s intelligence, so I could respond in the best way possible to challenges. Praying this way helped me remain calm and hopeful despite the frustrations I had been experiencing.
As I continued with my prayers, I felt I needed to understand myself and others better. I took the opportunity to affirm that God creates and maintains everyone as “very good” (Genesis 1:31); this “very good” couldn’t mean that one individual was better than another. Male and female are equal in the eyes of God. This God-derived truth was a powerful antidote to the belief that, as the supposed “weaker sex,” women must suffer domineering attitudes from men.
As I opened my thought to listen to the Christ – which Mrs. Eddy describes as “the divine message from God to men speaking to the human consciousness” (Science and Health, p. 332) – additional truths I needed to know became apparent: God is Love and God’s child is created by God, divine Love, to be loving. I therefore saw that no child of God could be deluded into hating; therefore, sexist attitudes could have no power or reality in my life. In God’s creation, no individual can be the victim of hate or suffer from the impulse to hate because under spiritual law each child of God is complete and fulfilled. As misogyny includes the belief that there can be an advantage or satisfaction in being cruel or prejudiced toward others, this prayerful inspiration helped me wake to the healing realization that there could be no truth in that stance, because as God’s children, we were made to do and be “very good.”
In every encounter of this form of hate and oppression, I began to find that I was no longer upset or affected by others’ attitudes. I even found myself no longer being a target by the other individuals. They had stopped their behavior. This evidence of God’s care has freed me substantially from misogyny.
As the general election draws nearer, prayer can be a powerful tool to continue purifying public discourse of this behavior toward women. Seeing the sexes as equal while we affirm that we all have one God, who is good, enables us to bring healing to hateful attitudes, demonstrating that God’s intention is freedom and equality for all.