Women and Health

THE discussion about equality of the sexes is turning now to include health. Is health care for women getting as much attention as men's health? This is a question that public and private agencies are asking as they try to redress what some advocates see as a health-care gap between the sexes.In light of this current issue, it is interesting to think about women and healing in Christ Jesus' time. The gospel accounts show Jesus' healing of women to have been substantial. There was no prejudice toward one gender in the redemption and healing he brought to people. Why do we seem to have trouble today living up to the standard of impartial love and healing that Jesus set for his followers? Perhaps it is because we aren't giving the same devotion that he did to the things of God. Jesus' understanding of the nature of God and man went far beyond the traditional belief of men and women as unequal. When he said, as he healed the crippled woman, "Ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day? he was declaring her to be worthy of healing despite the religious and societal conventions of the day. Jesus' healing works are the practical illustration of the fact that every individual is in truth the beloved of God--spiritual and whole. Though human perception tends to divide people into physical categories--such as gender, race, and age--a spiritual appraisal of man starts from a wholly different position. It begins with God as the Father and Mother of man. Man's nature, then, is spiritual, consisting of the masculine and feminine qualities that reflect divine Spirit, his Maker. Man's spiritual wholeness can't be divided into men's and women's health and somehow separated from its source in Spirit. Health--because it is a mental quality of Spirit, God, and not a physical state--belongs to every individual's real identity as the reflection of the creative Mind. In Christian Science healing, the restoration of health takes place in the spiritualization of thought. As prayer brings us the assurance that God is all-power and man is His likeness, then the fear, sin, and ignorance of God that are the roots of sickness don't occupy our thinking so exclusively, and the normal condition of health returns. When Mary Baker Eddy discovered and founded Christian Science, women's rights were being hotly debated. Her contribution to women's emancipation was to liberate both women and men from the stereotypes placed on them. She writes in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: "Human codes, scholastic theology, material medicine and hygiene, fetter faith and spiritual understanding. Divine Science rends asunder these fetters, and man's birthright of sole allegiance to his Maker asserts itself. Part of the discrimination that infuses our decade is the theory that women are restricted by biological functions and timetables. Humanity can start breaking away from that concept as it gets a truer estimate of women's worth. The fear that women are suffering from neglect needs to be replaced with the knowledge that God cherishes our individuality and no one is outside the care of divine Love, God. Reserves of love, patience, endurance, and intelligence are commonly associated with women, though these qualities are actually native to all God's children. God loves His children equally, gives them health, and confers on all of His creation goodness and immortality. He knows us, not as physical beings but as His spiritual ideas. A more spiritual view of who we are liberates both women and men to find health and a fuller recognition of their equality.

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