Permission to express our true nature

A Christian Science perspective: Praying for broken families affected by infidelity.

The recent hack of a website whose motto is “Life is short. Have an affair” drew as much attention to the website’s premise as to the cyberattack itself. The Christian Science Monitor report included different views on the information leak: “the hack was seen by some as a kind of moral vigilantism. Others saw it more as blackmail or cyberterrorism” (see “Ashley Madison hackers reveal names of cheaters”).

However one views it, all might at least agree that a clever slogan justifying and giving permission to cheat cannot change the fact that marital infidelity brings devastation to marriages and families. Devastated by my own parents’ divorce caused by infidelity, I know that broken promises can be painful to our loved ones – a lesson that many are facing. My heart goes out in prayer to all the families concerned, because I know that healing can be found through the recognition of our innate purity as children of God, a teaching deeply rooted in the life and example of Christ Jesus.

By his example, Christ Jesus showed that we are God’s sons and daughters, made to be the express image of God’s being – loved, pure, and like Him (I John 3:1-3). With even just this simple truth of the pure nature of God and man, I see that justifying adultery, in any way, is contrary to God and our inherent nature as God’s children.

Throughout his teachings, Jesus explains that it is within us to overcome any behavior not in line with God, including adultery (see Matthew Chapters 5, 6, 7). We do this by first acknowledging our true nature as the image of God, who is divine Spirit, and then making that the model of our every thought and action. This is a form of prayer that replaces wrong or impure thoughts in order to make mental room for the true spiritual view of ourselves and others.

By this we begin to understand that giving ourselves permission to be unfaithful does not apply to us because we agree only with our Christlike identity. We start to treat others in accord with that same Christ-view of their identity – with honesty, unselfishness, mutual respect, and love. The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, gives this encouraging statement: “it is good to know that wrong has no divine authority; therefore man is its master” (“Message to The Mother Church for 1901,” p. 14).

It takes humility and a willingness to drop selfish and impure thoughts in order to prove our mastery over sin, and it is well worth the effort: Our actions show we are worthy of trust from those we care about and would never want to see harmed. This is the work of Christ – the divine message of our true identity as God’s likeness operating in our consciousness, elevating our thoughts and actions to purer desires, and bringing true redemption and healing.

Understanding God to be how the Scriptures describe Him – the redeemer of mankind (see Isaiah 44:6), Mrs. Eddy rhetorically asks in her book “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures”: “Is there no divine permission to conquer discord of every kind with harmony, with Truth and Love?” (p. 394). Through the many encouraging examples in the Bible we see that no one is out of reach of the redeeming influence of divine Truth and Love (see, for example, Luke 7:36-50 and Romans 6:14). Through God’s supreme power, divine Love, God, renews in us a desire for holiness; it allows no trace of its opposite element; it removes emotional scars. As Christ Jesus taught, it is by the love of our Father in heaven we have not only permission but divine power to think and act as the sons and daughters of God.

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

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