Women and leadership

A Christian Science perspective.

Eleanor Roosevelt’s statement “You must do the thing you think you cannot do” would not be a surprise to the women emerging worldwide as leaders in government, nor to women in other powerful and visible roles where, in the not-too-distant past, they were generally unseen.

Balancing leadership between the sexes is a normal effect of improving and enlightened thinking. It seems likely that over time, men and women in many cultures and in every corner of the earth have silently, prayerfully, protested inequity, and thereby contributed to the better balance we are now seeing.

Opening new vistas for women, which inherently benefits men as well, was familiar territory for Mary Baker Eddy, who founded the Monitor in 1908. Seeding the ground for useful and necessary changes in the future, she wrote in the textbook of Christian Science, “Civil law establishes very unfair differences between the rights of the two sexes. Christian Science furnishes no precedent for such injustice, and civilization mitigates it in some measure. Still, it is a marvel why usage should accord woman less rights than does either Christian Science or civilization” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 63).

It is gratifying and progressive to see balance in every arena of life, and it is abnormal for societies to be deprived of the full range and representation of masculine and feminine attributes, which complement and enhance wise and thoughtful decisionmaking. While this visible sign is a vast improvement, progress, as defined in Christian Science, is God’s law, and is therefore unstoppable.

For several years I lived in a country considered to be “a man’s country.” When this was pointed out to me before we moved there, I decided to pray to see that, in fact, all things belong to God. Though this was tested, holding to the spiritual view and seeing in each instance God’s limitless likeness, I felt safe and unrestricted while living there. As people continue to prayerfully protest such limitations, we will see imposed and traditional limitations fall away.

There exists an even greater opportunity than the benefit of simply seeing a more balanced representation of men and women, and that is for each of us to express the full range of God’s qualities.

In Genesis the Bible states that “God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” (1:27). Each of us, as God’s creation, includes qualities attributed to the masculine, as well as those thought to be almost exclusively feminine. Men will at some point no longer be assigned and limited by a narrow range of talents and qualities, just as women will no longer be similarly restricted. The lessening of these strictures is the result of spiritual growth. Spiritually considered, womanhood includes courage, strength, and reason; and likewise, manhood encompasses tenderness, gentleness, and affection. These spiritual attributes are not confined by gender, but belong to all the children of God.

This higher order and balance we can all strive for is proclaimed by Mrs. Eddy in Science and Health: “Let the ‘male and female’ of God’s creating appear” (p. 249).

Rebecca Odegaard

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