Raising the standard for email

A Christian Science perspective: Email messages, often spread far and wide, can be written with love and respect.

A woman who is a casual acquaintance from church said to me, “I enjoy the e-mails you forward.” I smiled and thanked her, but inwardly I felt a little uneasy. She wasn’t on my e-mail contact list. I was surprised to realize how far forwarded e-mails could carry my name and words through cyberspace.

While I was certain that I never e-mailed anything intentionally offensive, I began to consider that it wasn’t always my intention to share everything with everyone. From time to time, though, I might have taken a little more liberty with friends I felt closer to. After all, my friends know me well and wouldn’t misunderstand what I share. The woman’s comment inspired me to be more alert to what I was sending to others. I considered that I shouldn’t voice anything to anyone if I didn’t feel it morally right to voice it to everyone.

So I began to examine the whole e-mail thing from a more spiritually loving perspective. This became increasingly significant to me when I came upon this instruction from the Bible: “Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ” (Phil. 1:27).

Whenever I want to be more loving, I turn to God for guidance. I‘ve come to trust the divine Mind to be the source of all intelligence, so I listened quietly for ways that I could express more spiritual love through my use of e-mail. Here are some of the ideas that came to thought: Before sending on e-mails that include humor, I’ve begun to ask myself: “Is this really funny?” “Do these ideas elevate thought or pull it down?” “Does this humor defame the human, belittling any particular group of people?” “Does this glorify evil, or does it celebrate good?”

I also thought about those e-mails that threaten or promise that if you do or do not send them on, something good or bad will happen. I find little value in encouraging others to believe that any power but divine Love governs or controls life.

I love the promise Christ Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount includes about peacemakers – that they are children of God. So if I want to be a peacemaker, I wouldn’t want to share e-mails that invite people to lose their peace. For instance, messages that hold our government or elected officials up to ridicule do little to support the holy demand of the golden rule to love humanity – our brothers and sisters – as we would want to be loved.

Because it is a joy for me to celebrate that God, divine Love, is everywhere, why would I want to make room in my day for any thought or action that isn’t loving? By not passing along a contentious e-mail, I feel that I am, at least to some degree, honoring the example of a great spiritual healer who loved humanity, Mary Baker Eddy. She understood and shared how the power of love favorably affects life. She wrote: “I will love, if another hates. I will gain a balance on the side of good, my true being. This alone gives me the forces of God wherewith to overcome all error. On this rests the implicit faith engendered by Christian Science, which appeals intelligently to the facts of man’s spirituality, individuality, to disdain the fears and destroy the discords of this material personality” (“Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” pp. 104-105).

I, too, can add to “the side of good” by taking a few minutes to consider, “Is there a holy, loving purpose to my sharing this e-mail message?”

E-mail is a form of publishing. Mrs. Eddy, who founded the Monitor, established it to provide the public with a newspaper whose objective is “to injure no man, but to bless all mankind” (“The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany,” p. 353). One way that I can help “bless all mankind” is to more consistently make choices that prove that because God is Love, He never stops loving. To the degree that I let myself be governed by His tender grace, neither will I.

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