What constitutes our ancestry?

Many wish to better understand who and what they are, and some seek answers in genealogy. Today’s contributor explores this subject and presents a view of creation that starts and ends with God as its source.

Christian Science Perspective audio edition
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Who am I? Where do I come from? These are certainly important questions, and many people are seeking answers to them.

Recently, services have been promoted that provide analysis of an individual’s DNA at a nominal cost. This analysis of what modern science regards as the building block of material life purports to provide a comprehensive picture of who an individual is and where he or she comes from, based on ancestry.

These services can, in some instances, provide information that leads to uncovering and reuniting with lost relatives or discovering an individual’s ethnic heritage. But do such methods really supply the answer to searching questions about our origin and identity? Reducing an individual to his or her DNA puts identity into a finite framework, boxed in by limitation and mortality.

Christian Science offers a different view of creation and our identity, a view that may seem radical at first if we think of matter as the foundation of life. Through a spiritual discernment of the Bible, especially Jesus’ teachings, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, has presented to the world a God-centered understanding of what we are. She has shared the idea that the origin and identity of man (male and female) are spiritual and created by God, free of material trammels. In her primary work on Christian Science, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” she says this: “In Science man is the offspring of Spirit. The beautiful, good, and pure constitute his ancestry.… Spirit is his primitive and ultimate source of being; God is his Father, and Life is the law of his being” (p. 63).

Does realizing that our identity is spiritual mean that we will cease to value our relatives or stop trying to understand them? Of course not. There’s nothing wrong, and much that is right, in loving, appreciating, and caring for our family and being informed about these human connections. But taking a deep dive into our material ancestry and educating ourselves in that which common belief says constitutes our being – positive or negative – only reinforces a mistaken, limited view of ourselves as material. Along with that comes the general claim that we have to accept and live with inherited tendencies, proclivities toward certain diseases, and anything else negative associated with what the world says about heredity.

Planted on the biblical basis that our true identity is in God, Spirit, Christian Science teaches that it’s possible to find freedom from the challenges of heredity. Many individuals have proved this and testified to their healings in written form in Christian Science magazines. For example, high blood pressure that was medically diagnosed as a hereditary condition was healed (see Isikiah D. Wynn, Christian Science Sentinel, April 11, 1994), as were the symptoms of asthma in a child who had relatives on both sides of his family who had been medically diagnosed with the disease (see Olive Ratcliffe, “We have a heritage of freedom,” Christian Science Sentinel, May 28, 2012).

What we know of the life of Jesus shows that he didn’t limit his sense of identity to his connection to his relatives; he clearly understood his spiritual origin and knew that God was his Father. On one occasion, his mother and brothers wanted to speak with him while he was teaching. When someone told him this, he responded by indicating that his concept of family was larger than his relatives: “Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother” (Matthew 12:48-50). An appreciation of this larger definition of family today can provide new views of our relatedness, based on spiritual Truth.

Real and liberating answers to questions about origin and identity are found by seeking them from our spiritual source, God. Cultivating this understanding of our true origin ensures that our concept of family and ancestry will be expansive, health-giving, and good.

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