A Test of Manhood

IN a recent magazine article, an officer was quoted as saying of a military operation: ``The...invasion was a test of manhood.''1 I'm sure he was sincere; to many, success in combat is a sign of manhood. But his comment raises important questions. Is our sense of manhood, or of courageous womanhood for that matter, one simply of physical prowess and cunning? Is the ``real man'' the one with physical force or the soldier firing at the enemy? Strength and courage are fine qualities, but should they be so readily measured in such aggressive physical terms?

Nearly two thousand years ago, Christ Jesus revealed to the world a higher concept of selfhood, one that finds its roots in the very first chapter of the Bible, which tells us, ``God created man in his own image.''2 Jesus taught that man -- the true selfhood of both men and women -- is the child of God, spiritual and in God's image. And he taught that we must obey God, good, and love unconditionally at all times. We must even love our enemies.

Christ Jesus was ridiculed, and finally crucified, for his message. Yet he rose from the grave through his understanding of spiritual manhood. Christian Science, based on the words and works of the Master, teaches this spiritual sense of manhood. Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, includes a description of man that states in part: ``The Scriptures inform us that man is made in the image and likeness of God. Matter is not that likeness. The likeness of Spirit cannot be so unlike Spirit. Man is spiritual and perfect; and because he is spiritual and perfect, he must be so understood in Christian Science. Man is idea, the image, of Love; he is not physique.''3

Obviously, we seem to the physical senses to be material and very imperfect. But our innate spiritual sense confirms the message of the Bible that man's nature is not summed up in flesh and bones. If we, men and women, want to demonstrate real selfhood -- integrity, strength, character -- we don't need to perfect our physiques; we need to express Love, God, divine Mind. We need to live the spiritual qualities that constitute our true selfhood. A sentence in Science and Health gives guidance in how to do this: ``Both sexes should be loving, pure, tender, and strong.''4

Instead of requiring a military invasion or some other situation demanding brute force to test our mettle, we are provided with continuous ``tests'' of our manhood. We have daily, hourly, opportunities to prove who we really are as God's offspring. And our ability to express qualities of strength and worth are not limited by physique -- nor by background, job, marital status, or any other material consideration. We all have an equal, ongoing opportunity to express God. In fact, because each one truly is God's expression, our ultimate success in proving our genuine manhood is assured -- as we understand and demonstrate more and more what it means to be the child of God.

A passage in Ephesians explains that all will discover and express their true manhood as they understand and follow Christ: ``Unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.... Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.''5 We all can come ``unto a perfect man''; we can prove in greater and greater degree that we are God's man, loving and beloved of God.

1Time, January 8, 1990, p. 43. 2Genesis 1:27. 3Science and Health, p. 475. 4Ibid., p. 57. 5Ephesians 4:7, 13.

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