Life beyond stem cells
Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life
The present public debate rests on a momentary plateau, but it is not over. To try to pick apart a conscientiously reached decision on the limits of the use of stem cells for genetic and medical research is not productive. There has been genuine care and consultation and prayer on the part of President Bush, scientists, physicians, clergy, and concerned citizens from a wide range of experience and interests. Whatever our individual positions, it is helpful to know something of the motive, care, and reasoning that have been brought to the use of human embryos in genetic and medical research.
From her article titled "Wedlock," Mary Baker Eddy provided this conclusion about human decisions: "Wisdom in human action begins with what is nearest right under the circumstances, and thence achieves the absolute" (Miscellaneous Writings, pg. 288).
Research will continue. Government funding will support it within the defined limits. Researchers will, as always, push those limits and will formulate arguments to widen the fields of research and the funding to support it. A front-page article in last Friday's Monitor says we have just begun to deal with the ethical issues involved in biogenetic study. More decisions - personal, corporate, and governmental - will face us. Beyond the present plateau, debate, searching, and deep deliberations will take place on all these levels. A thoughtful, engaged citizenry will be a necessity.
Then, what is the "absolute" to be achieved - the absolute that follows the human action that is "nearest right"?
Earlier words from the same article quoted above bring modesty to a present answer to this question: "Even your sincere and courageous convictions regarding what is best for others may be mistaken; you must be demonstratively right yourself, and work out the greatest good to the greatest number, before you are sure of being a fit counsellor."
Curing ills and sustaining the highest possible quality of life appear to be the most noble of the motives for genetic research. These same motives are also at the heart of those who are finding that drawing closer to God in prayer brings cure and well-being. God nourishes and encourages the steps taken to achieve that healing closeness. Words from the Bible's book of James, "Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you," (4:8) have comforted many along the way to that practical relationship with God.
Identity and health are found in drawing "nigh to God." Health is a quality of God and a fact of life in all of God's creation. Jesus healed the sick through his knowing of God's presence and care. He restored sanity through his full grasp of the true identity of a man trapped in the throes of insanity.
The exploration of the spiritual means of health maintenance and restoration is worthy. The Bible shows the origins of this way to health. The book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mrs. Eddy is, today, a presentation of the divine rules or system Jesus employed and that Mrs. Eddy discovered and carefully tested. This healing method is utterly individual in its opportunities. It meets the need of men and women and children, and is accessible in the laboratory of life - wherever there is a need. Spiritual healing glorifies identity and being. It amplifies individuality. It restores energy and strength. It is normal and natural. It does not have to take from one person to benefit another. It doesn't have to wait to become effective. Drawing "nigh to God" is a very present and powerful spiritual activity. Prayer plays a part in this action. A willingness to begin to understand even a little of the goodness of God, and a trust in the truth of that growing understanding, brings healing to the body and vigor to identity.
Christian Science and its textbook constitute an ethical and practical pathway to the understanding of the "absolute" that brings freedom from sickness and freedom of being to humanity. Step by step, or even suddenly, it brings the absolute truth of God and man to the attention, rescue, and certain benefit of mankind.