When the Lord asked Cain where his brother Abel was, the world's first murderer cried, ''I know not: Am I my brother's keeper?'' n1
n1 Genesis 4:9.
As the series on arms control beginning in today's Monitor indicates, this anguished cry of Cain has been given global breadth with the development of atomic weapons. To be our brothers' keeper in the nuclear age is to face the stark immorality of Cain's deed while trying to achieve global stability for all mankind.
Writing of Abel's death, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, says, ''The erroneous belief that life, substance, and intelligence can be material ruptures the life and brotherhood of man at the very outset.'' n2
n2 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, m p. 541.
To overcome the immorality of murder -- whether in the form of war or as an individual act -- we need to learn that, as the Bible teaches, man's life is actually spiritual. It is the outcome of God, of divine Spirit, and is completely governed by God's law. As we realize in prayer the supremacy of divine law and live in accord with it, we understand more and more clearly that God's love is infinite and inextinguishable. We realize that divine law is unopposable.
The linchpin of our efforts is Christ Jesus' statement, ''This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.'' n3 As we put off, through prayer and through Christly love for God and man, the essentially immoral belief ''that life, substance, and intelligence can be material,'' we gain dominion over the destructive forces that would push us into a nuclear holocaust.
n3 John 15:12.
The more obedient we are to divine law -- loving when we are tempted to hate, for instance -- the less likely we are to be swayed by mortal characteristics such as greed, rabid nationalism, racial hatred. And our moral behavior in particular instances tends to beget morality on a larger scale. This outlook is based on a growing knowledge of man as spiritual, loving, and intelligent.
Atomic weapons would convince us that power is in the hands of mortals who can unleash it at any moment. This is the Cain view of life, not the Christly one that Jesus demonstrated to perfection. Jesus knew that there is just one Life, God, and that man is inseparable from Him. Through prayer and spiritual living we can follow the Master and prove that life, substance, and intelligence are spiritual. We can also demonstrate God's power to preserve us at every moment. In truth, man is always secure in the care of his Maker, and by identifying ourselves as this spiritual man, we can begin to feel and prove our invulnerability to harm.
It is often easy to say that everyone is peace-loving and rational in one's own country, but then to dwell on or expect evil actions elsewhere. This attitude opens the door to the suggestion that God's omnipotence has holes in it through which material forces would operate.
I learned better when I had to do research in Northern Ireland during a particularly troubled period. Many people told me I would be in danger. As I prayed about complications arising in connection with the trip, I realized that I had been thinking of the kingdom of God as present everywhere but in Belfast! I immediately corrected this mistake by recognizing that God, good, is omnipresent Love and that in truth no one could ever be separated from this Love. The complications cleared up within hours.
We can deal effectively with the nuclear threat by spiritually outgrowing it. As we put Christly love for our neighbors into practice wherever we are, we begin to know, and prove, that God's love is always with us.
It is important to recognize that Spirit is actually the only real power, the one, infinite, good cause; that man's actual selfhood is spiritual, indestructible. Jesus proved this through his crucifixion and resurrection. He proved that we are not truly isolated mortals, trembling before darkness, but spiritual man, supported by the all-power and presence of God. As we face the seeming monolith of nuclear war, we can know this to be the fact and live with dominion. Doing so, we will help bring to light, and support, steps that will lead us progressively out of reliance on nuclear arms and into lasting peace. DAILY BIBLE VERSE There is no power but of God. Romans 13:1