Morality. The word may conjure thoughts of kindness, honesty, justice, integrity, and safety. On the other hand, it could also bring to mind a sense of judgment, relativity, and restriction. When approached positively, morality can help provide a framework for societal norms and relationships. When approached negatively, it can foster distrust and division.
Through my study of the Bible and the teachings of Christian Science, I have gained a fresh perspective on morality, one that has withstood life’s challenges and doesn’t assume a standard that’s impossible to live up to. It comes from a deeper understanding of our identity as the children of God and of how that understanding can be applied in our life.
My study began with the account of creation in the first chapter of Genesis in the Bible. It presents God, Spirit, creating the spiritual universe, where man – all of us as the sons and daughters of God – is made in God’s image and likeness and where God saw “every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good” (verse 31).
I’ve found that understanding the first account of creation unlocks the truth of my – and everyone’s – identity. We’re not sinners, powerless humans tossed to and fro by temptation, left alone to figure out what to do. Instead, we’re God’s children, expressing joy, freedom, and goodness. This spiritual reality gives us a strong foundation to resist and overcome the belief that evil can have dominion over us. We’re safe to be ourselves – to express our spiritual identity – and see how living our inherent integrity actually brings freedom.
I experienced this in my own life when I found myself in a tricky business situation. It became clear that I needed to disclose certain information, but I was afraid that doing so could end the deal. However, in the same instant that this temptation came to my thought, I recognized that omitting this information was the equivalent of lying. Lying didn’t represent the principled and loving child of God that I cherish as my, and others’, true identity.
With this realization my anxiety about what would happen lifted, and I immediately disclosed the information. I was so grateful I had not succumbed to the temptation to act contrary to my real, spiritual nature! Furthermore, the response to what I’d shared was one of reassurance and protection of the deal, which went through to all parties’ benefit.
Inspiration from Christ Jesus has helped me in demonstrating how a spiritually based sense of morality brings healing and freedom. On one occasion a group of men brought to Jesus a woman accused of adultery (see John 8:3-11). After pointing to what the law said was the traditional punishment for adultery, they waited to see what he would do. Jesus quietly prayed. Then he told the waiting crowd, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”
This wasn’t the kind of response the men expected. It was a simple request for them to be honest with themselves, an appeal to act more consistently with their higher, sinless nature as the children of God. The crowd dispersed, and Jesus said to the woman, “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.”
Jesus both recognized and demanded that the right view of God and man be seen and expressed. Doing so brought repentance, redemption, and healing – as it still does today. Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science and founder of this newspaper, writes in her book “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” “There is moral freedom in Soul” (p. 58). Understanding our identity as the beloved, pure, whole, and spiritual offspring of God, divine Soul, enables us to act consistently with our true nature and feel the freedom and joy that naturally results.