Recently, I’ve read stories in this newspaper about the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests in China, the 75th anniversary of the World War II Allied D-Day invasion in Europe, and the millions of people in Hong Kong protesting against a proposed extradition law that would have violated Hong Kong’s judicial autonomy. I’ve been struck by a common thread through all of them: the expression of moral courage.
Moral courage enables us to expose what’s wrong and to take a stand for the truth that corrects it. Mary Baker Eddy was certainly a morally courageous woman, as the discoverer of Christian Science and founder of this newspaper, and she writes in her seminal work “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” “Moral courage is requisite to meet the wrong and to proclaim the right” (p. 327).
But what is moral courage, and what does it mean to express it? Studying the Bible has offered me a thought-provoking take on these questions.
For instance, I think of Christ Jesus as the most morally courageous individual who has ever lived because of the stand he took for God, for good. He rebuked oppressive religious laws that dishonored God, divine Love, and helped people see what they truly are: the blessed children of God, made in the spiritual image and likeness of the Divine. This understanding has brought healing, freedom, and reformation to so many people.
Jesus faced intense hatred for taking this stand for good, but instead of reacting emotionally or being content in righteous indignation, he expressed compassion. The basis of all this was his realization that he was the Son of God, and his obedience to God. He said, “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does” (John 5:19, New International Version). He acted in accord with His divine Father’s loving nature, expressing a higher understanding of our God-given dominion and harmony, which overcomes evil.
Jesus’ example has served as a wonderful guidebook for me to nurture this kind of moral courage. It helps me overcome the temptation to react adversely, rather than to respond thoughtfully, to unjust situations or personal attacks. It has shown me how to uncover an underlying problem and acknowledge God’s law of good as able to bring about healing results in a challenging situation.
A few years ago, shortly before I was to go on a trip, I became ill and incapacitated for a few days. Based on previous healings experienced through Christian Science, I turned to God in prayer to gain a clearer sense of God’s love and care for me.
As I prayed, I saw clearly that the tumult I was experiencing in my body was related to a sense of righteous indignation and uncertainty I felt about a number of things going on in my life.
I realized I had a choice to make. I could indulge my righteous indignation, or be morally courageous by taking a stand for God’s goodness and governance of His creation. I could affirm that evil is not real or powerful, because God’s goodness is infinite. The more we discern this spiritual reality, the more we see and experience evidence of it around us.
In this case, the tumult in my thinking ceased, and I was healed. I also felt a sense of peace and joy that I just couldn’t contain; I had to share it with others. I was able to get on a plane and enjoy the trip.
Each of us can take a stand for God, good, even in the face of things that don’t seem good at all, and act accordingly – following Christ Jesus’ example. Expressing moral courage in this way opens the door for comfort, healing, and solutions.