Catching good health, not swine flu

A Christian Science perspective.

Debate continues to swirl around the topic of the H1N1 virus. Polls indicate that on the one hand people are concerned about the projected pandemic of swine flu, but that on the other hand they're not convinced the vaccine is effective and safe.

Others point out the role of people as "carriers" of disease, and view the "vaccine versus no vaccine" dilemma as a tug of war between personal interests and the welfare of society. While we all must look into our hearts to answer these questions for ourselves, some have found that a different kind of protection has proved effective.

Projections about impending plagues have overtly and covertly sown seeds of fear since time began. In biblical times, many people greatly feared leprosy. In more recent years, AIDS, bird flu, tuberculosis, as well as the swine flu, have generated fear. Many people have found that prayer can effectively quiet that fear and bring about healing.

One of the things I love about prayer that's based on the principles of Christian Science is that it starts with God as Spirit, and with the man and woman He created as His image and likeness. This completely changes the way one responds to disease.

As the idea of Spirit, one isn't a material being who can be attacked by, or the host and carrier of, disease. Further, as not just a good God but as good itself, God would never create any painful or destructive element such as a virus. The book of Genesis, recounting the perfection of God's creation, declares, "And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good" (1:31). And since God made the whole universe, a virus must be a counterfeit view of what's true – in short, a belief with nothing to back it up. Prayer enables us to prove this to be the case, even in the face of the threat of disease.

Through her study of the Bible and her own healing work, Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, was able to prove that disease has no foundation in God. She wrote in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" that "disease arises, like other mental conditions, from association. Since it is a law of mortal mind that certain diseases should be regarded as contagious, this law obtains credit through association, – calling up the fear that creates the image of disease and its consequent manifestation in the body" (p. 154).

We believe that if we breathe the air of certain sick people, we can catch the same illness. Science and Health illustrates this with a story of a man who was told that he was occupying the same bed as someone who had died of cholera. Immediately, the man manifested the same symptoms and died – even though no cholera patient had ever been in that bed. Cholera hadn't killed the man, but his own belief or fear had (see p. 154).

Listening to the plethora of fearful talk that is currently in the news, it's tempting to get swept into believing that contagion is unavoidable. But to be subject to any claim of disease, contagious or not, we must consent to accepting the disease as a reality. Even if large numbers of people give their collective consent to a particular disease, this situation can't impinge on someone who understands that real being is spiritual.

It really is possible to challenge the belief with the conviction that God is the wholly good Supreme Being, in whom "we live, and move, and have our being" (Acts 17:28). This realization serves as an impenetrable immunity.

I saw proof of this at a time when I confronted a series of contagious illnesses. As soon as I got over one, I'd be hit with another. This went on for weeks. When I really understood that a good God didn't author any of these conditions, but was well able to lift me out of this mistaken belief in sickness, the vicious cycle broke and I was completely healed.

Contagion needn't breed fear, no matter what name is given to it. Rather, it's possible to mentally challenge the belief that one is susceptible to disease with the assurance that God never made it, and that for this reason it has no origin and no capacity to debilitate. When we understand that we live within God's infinite goodness, we no longer need to be afraid. All we can truly expect to catch is what's real to God: goodness, health, well-being.

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