December 9, 1997
Virginia S. Harris, Chairman
The Christian Science Board of Directors
175 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02115-3187
Dear Mrs. Harris:
With great care I shall explain why a life-long student of Christian Science felt compelled to withdraw from church membership while remaining loyal to the teachings of the Bible and Mary Baker Eddy and like so many, felt betrayed and abandoned by the church I love.
My background in Christian Science includes 17 years in the Sunday School, special training by The Mother Church addressing non-Christian Science audiences, (Ft. Lauderdale, 1969), and teaching the senior Sunday School class in Ninth Church, San Francisco, comprised largely of nursing students at Arden Wood. I was invited to serve on the last (and final) hymnal revision committee. I have researched, written articles and lectured on the early revisions of Mrs. Eddy’s poems as well as conducted numerous hymn sings throughout the country.
Along the way, I’ve been blessed with significant associations with Milton Simon, Arnold Exo, Inman Douglass, Ivimy Gwalter, Julia Johnston, George Aghamalian, Carl Welz, and Donald Lane. I flew often to The Mother Church Sunday School to be taught by Erwin Canham, Ralph Wagers and Cathryn Keith.
Withdrawing my membership was a difficult decision requiring the courage of my convictions, knowing full well that my articles no longer could be printed in the periodicals. Many of my articles have since been published outside the Publishing Society and have been commended for their metaphysics, scholarship and fresh approach. But more importantly withdrawal meant separating myself from the very church that saved my life.
So why withdraw from the church I loved so much? Because my integrity would not allow me to substitute loyalty to five persons on a board for fidelity to the teachings of Mary Baker Eddy. The decision of a Board of Directors to equate homosexuality with sin was so un-Christian, illogical and inconsistent with the teachings of Christ Jesus and Mary Baker Eddy, I felt I could no longer support or associate with The Mother Church.
When Mary Baker Eddy was with us, there were three simple requirements for church membership: to believe in the doctrines of Christian Science, to be free from member ship in another denomination, and to be at least twelve years of age. Those remain the only qualifications for membership found in the Manual of The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts.
Mrs. Eddy opened the doors of her church to those drawn to Christian Science. Yet, from time to time intrusive, irrelevant, self-righteous questions regarding “adultery, promiscuity and homosexuality,” as well as “alcoholic beverages, tobacco and drugs” have been added to the Mother Church application 1. Can there be some correlation between plummeting church membership, drastic loss of practitioners, and the unprecedented rate of church closings, and this highly restrictive Mother Church application (copied by most branch churches) apparent to every independent thinker?
Mrs. Eddy’s “A Rule for Motives and Acts,” read each month in our churches, should set the standard of compassion and non-judgmentalness for all Christian Scientists including the Board of Directors.
Neither animosity nor mere personal
attachment should impel the motives or acts of the members of The
Mother Church. In Science, divine Love alone governs man; and a
Christian Scientist reflects the sweet amenities of Love, in rebuking
sin, in true brotherliness, charitableness, and forgiveness. The
members of this Church should daily watch and pray to be delivered from
all evil, from prophesying, judging, condemning, counseling,
influencing or being influenced erroneously.
When this bylaw is obeyed, there can be no more justification for pointing an accusing finger at homosexuals than at heterosexuals. Sexuality is sexuality and sensuality is sensuality. When a remedy is found for heterosexuality, there will be a remedy for homosexuality as well. Why attack only half the issue with those you happen to disagree. At an annual international conference of gay people in Christian Science, the former editor of the Christian Science Publishing Society, Carl Welz stated: “wherever we find ourselves here, whether as men, women, single, married, heterosexual, homosexual, or transsexual, we cannot be completely satisfied until we attain the state where identity is no longer sexual. So I would say that any state of mortal belief can be healed. But there is a time for everything, and too soon is just as much a mess as too late.” On page 485 of the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy reminds us to “Emerge gently from matter into Spirit.”
Equating homosexuality with sin is no longer an issue. It has been well established and accepted by the scientific community that homosexuality is an orientation and not a choice. This is fundamental to understanding why homosexuality is not sin.
The concept that homosexuals choose to be gay is erroneous. There is no more choice of one’s sexual orientation than there is choice of gender, race or country of birth. Why would anyone choose to be gay? Would you choose to be teased unmercifully while growing up, want to be physically beaten, tormented or tortured, the object of hate crimes, oppression, job and housing discrimination, not to mention condemnation by the church? I don’t know anyone who would choose to possibly lose his father’s love, break his mother’s heart, and be ostracized from his family. Growing up with no role models, feeling isolated, living “in the closet” with a deep secret, isn’t easy. A career in the military, or a run for the vice presidency, would certainly be very poor career choices.
I did not choose to be gay. While in junior high school, my mother and father enlisted the aid of a Christian Science practitioner and teacher, Pauline Rader, CSB, to heal me of my erroneous “choice.” I remember well her loving reassurance to my mother and father: “it happens in the best of families.” After exhaustive Christian Science treatment, I felt coerced into accepting a more socially acceptable behavior, in short, “forced” heterosexuality. The result of the healing work was that my heart opened; I began to appreciate my inherent self-worth, individuality, creative potential and authenticity. I began exercising my integrity, dignity, and honest feelings. I recognized that what I was didn’t necessarily define who I was. Love was reflecting itself through me because I was the loved, connected, accepted child of a loving Father-Mother God. My healing was complete. Regarding my sexual orientation, sexual behavior and sexual identity, my litmus test was always the answer to the question: does this thought or action bring me more or less peace of mind, and, am I living up to my highest sense of right at this moment.
Ignorance is the parent of fear, and fear is the parent of hatred. Please understand that sexual orientation, sexual behavior and sexual identity are not the same. I’m happy to tell you that my “coming out” or “healing” in Christian Science was through the demonstration of this liberating passage from our textbook, Science and Health page 571:
At all times and under all circumstances,
overcome evil with good. Know thyself, and God will supply the wisdom
and the occasion for a victory over evil. Clad in the panoply of Love,
human hatred cannot reach you.
Just like the anonymous young lady whose so-called “healing” appeared in the August 1997 issue of The Christian Science Journal, I too, “declared the truth of spiritual man, namely that man can only experience attraction to good, to right ideas,” (page 43); I was healed and my healing has been permanent. For thirty five years, I’ve been happy, gay, well adjusted in a committed relationship with another gay student of Christian Science, (more than twenty-five years), and am a contributing member to my social and spiritual community, and yes, I served my country honorably in the military. In his outstanding Christian Science article entitled: “Homosexuality,” Bruce A. Lehman summarizes the truth of my healing in this paragraph:
The means by which we exchange loneliness
and separation for joy and completeness is Love. Expressing Love begins
with loving ourselves for what we are. Then we may permit that love,
selflessly, to encompass another. As gay men and lesbians that is our
task. (EMERGE! July 1989)
I am unaware of any authentic healings of homosexuality. I am, however, well aware of denial, coercion, suppression, and faith healing, which are temporary. Forced “conversions” to a heterosexual life style are the result of pressure from family, friends, employers, church and society. Attempts to “change” are usually short-lived and often hurt and scar the gay person as well as their partner. On page 5 of Miscellany Mrs. Eddy refers to marriage as being “synonymous with legalized lust.” To the question, “What do you think of marriage?” Mrs. Eddy replied:
That it is often convenient, sometimes
pleasant, and occasionally a love affair. Marriage is susceptible of
many definitions. It sometimes presents the most wretched condition of
human existence. To be normal, it must be a union of the affections
that tends to lift mortals higher. (Misc. Writings, p. 52)
A good friend of more than twenty years sought healing from the “belief” of homosexuality from several Christian Science Journal-listed practitioners and a teacher of Christian Science. After exhaustive treatment, he married a Christian Scientist. Although they were the best of friends, he remained homosexual within a heterosexual setting. After six stressful years of strain and struggle over his “healing,” they were divorced. He is now happy and at peace having accepted his natural gay sexual orientation. On page 290 of Miscellaneous Writings Mrs. Eddy writes:
A third person is not a party to the
compact of two hearts. Let other people’s marriage relations alone: two
persons only, should be found within their precincts.
According to Dr. John Boswell, professor of history at Yale University, “Blessing of committed lesbian and gay relationships in the Christian Church goes back to the Sixth Century, predating by several centuries the institution of heterosexual marriage in the Church. Although the rite declined in usage after the period of anti-gay hysteria began in the Church in the 12th century, it continues to be used in parts in Eastern Europe today.” (Emerge! November/December 1988). Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe, by Dr. John Boswell, 1994, Villard Books.
The Bible has long been quoted to justify anti-Semitism, sexism, war, slavery and murder. Why is the “literal” word of the Bible always invoked when it comes to its rare justification of homophobia and heterosexism? Isn’t this disobedience to Mrs. Eddy’s first tenet of Christian Science found on page 497 of Science and Health?
As adherents of Truth, we take the inspired Word of the Bible as our sufficient guide to eternal Life.
Nowhere in the Bible or in the writings of our leader can a single healing of, or reference to homosexuality be found. And yet, we see countless attempts by the Bible Lesson Committee to correlate the literal word of the Bible to our Leader’s words. My wonderful Sunday School teacher and friend, Priscilla Sanborn Simon, pointed out during her many years on the Christian Science Bible Lesson Committee the great temptation to slip into the literal word, rather than remain true to the inspired word of the Bible. She often referred to page 139:15-22 of Science and Health.
The decisions by vote of Church Councils as to what should and should not be considered Holy Writ; the manifest mistakes in the ancient versions; the thirty thousand different readings in the Old Testament, and the three hundred thousand in the New, — these facts show how a mortal and material sense stole into the divine record, with its own hue, darkening to some extent the inspired pages.
Never during the years of our association did she ever abuse her position, imposing upon readers of the Bible lesson sermon any of the “The Big Eight Passages” found in the Bible to condemn homosexuality. Further on in the textbook, on page 241, Mrs. Eddy writes:
Take away the spiritual signification of
Scripture, and that compilation can do no more for mortals than can
moonbeams to melt a river of ice.
From a scholarly standpoint, it troubles me how Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13, (part of the Holiness Code), “written primarily as a ritual manual for Israel’s priests,” can be used to condemn homosexuality while ignoring “the other rules and rituals described in Leviticus.” In her article: “The Bible And Homosexuality” author C. Ann Shepherd continues: “Among other things, the Bible prohibits: sexual intercourse during a women’s menstrual cycle, tattoos, wearing certain types of jewelry, eating rare meat, wearing clothing made from blended textiles (cotton-polyester blends), cross-breeding livestock, sowing a field with mixed seed, eating or touching the dead flesh of pigs, rabbits, and some forms of seafood, men cutting their hair or shaving their beards. The Holiness code also endorses polygamy and requires Saturday to be reserved as the Sabbath.”Mrs. Eddy assures us that:
One infinite God, good, unifies men and
nations; constitutes the brotherhood of man; ends wars; fulfils the
Scripture, “Love thy neighbor as thyself;” annihilates pagan and
Christian idolatry, — whatever is wrong in social, civil, criminal,
political, and religious codes; equalizes the sexes; annuls the curse
on man, and leaves nothing that can sin, suffer, be punished or
destroyed. (Science and Health page 340)
Jesus was the “son of David,” David who as a lad, slew the Philistine Goliath, to become one of Israel’s greatest kings, warriors and male role models. In I Samuel 18:3 we learn of David’s covenant (a pledge or type of committed relationship) with Jonathan, the son of King Saul. How tragic that students of the weekly Bible lesson have been deprived since February 1, 1981 of the profound, heartfelt love and affection between two men found in I Samuel 18:1-4. Between 1965 and 1981, this important story was chosen (four out of five times) to support the lesson on “Love.” Here is the text with correlative passages taken from the (July) 1966, (July) 1967 and (February) 1969 Christian Science Quarterly.
THE BIBLE I Samuel 18
1 And it came to pass, when he had made an
end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the
soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.
2 And Saul took him that day, and would let him go no more home to his father’s house.
3 Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul.
4 And Jonathan stripped himself of the
robe that was upon him, and gave it to David, and his garments, even to
his sword, and to his bow, and to his girdle.
Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures
248: 3-5 Love never loses sight of
loveliness Its halo rests upon its object. One marvels that a friend
can ever seem less than beautiful.
65:7-8 If the foundations of human
affection are consistent with progress, they will be strong and
enduring. [Divorces should warn the age of some fundamental error in
the marriage state. The union of the sexes suffers fearful discord].
60:4-4 Kindred tastes, motives, and
aspirations are necessary to the formation of a happy and permanent
companionship. [the marginal heading for this sentence reads:
Additional highlights of their intimate relationship can be found in I Samuel 20:30-34 and I Samuel 23:16-18.  “And they two made a covenant before the Lord: and David abode in the wood, and Jonathan went to his house.” David’s love for Jonathan is clearly stated in II Samuel 1:26, “I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan: very pleasant hast thou been unto me: thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.” Not one of the above citations has appeared in the weekly Bible lesson during the past 37 years!
On page 266 of Miscellany under: “INSUFFICIENT FREEDOM,” Mrs. Eddy avowed:
To my sense, the most imminent dangers
confronting the coming century are: the robbing of people of life and
liberty under the warrant of Scriptures.
The profound words from The Book of Ruth Chapter 1, verses 16 and 17 heard so often at weddings were first spoken by two women, Ruth (David’s great-grandmother) to Naomi.
In his October 5, 1997 sermon entitled “The Bible and Being Gay — Why It Is Okay,” Rev. George Tyger made the following eye opening observation:
Many people believe the Bible says what it
means and means what it says. They come across an English word in
present use and believe they must be the same words used two or three
thousand years ago in languages as different as Aramaic, Greek, and
Latin. They do not realize or simply ignore the fact that the Bible is
a book written by mortal men and translated by mortal men, having many
of the suppositions and biases to which mortal men are subject.
The word homosexual is an invention of the
19th century. It did not appear in any of the original Biblical
manuscripts and seems to have no correspondent usage in any of the
ancient biblical languages. The first use of the term in any Bible was
in the 1946 Revised Standard Version. There are only five passages in
the Bible which can be sighted in support of Biblical condemnation of
Homosexuality. As Peter Gomes points out, the subject is not mentioned
in the Ten Commandments. Jesus does not speak of it. None of the Hebrew
prophets speak on it. Gomes goes on to say: “No credible case against
homosexuality can be made from the Bible unless one chooses to read it
in a way which sustains the existing prejudice The combination of
ignorance and prejudice under the guise of morality makes the religious
community . . . morally culpable”
Looking back over the history of this once-great movement, it is impossible to ignore April 22, 1967, when the first of many articles began to appear in the periodicals. Inflamed rhetoric promoted an atmosphere of hostility when “promiscuous,” “bizarre,” “abnormal,” “immoral,” “unseemly,” “unhealthy,” “unnatural,” “shameful,” “inadequate,” “frustrated,” “self-willed,” “outcast,” “perverted,” “degrading,” “deviant” et cetera were used to describe homosexual orientation. Healing dialog was dealt a significant setback in the November 1980 Christian Science Journal containing an article by Neil H. Bowles, CSB, “Only one kind of man.” The article not only legitimized hatred, it polarized the Christian Science “movement” with intolerance, suspicion and condemnation. Here are just a few examples:
Observation and reason prove this to be
true. They make plain that the physical structure of male and female
bodies indicates what is humanly normal in matters of sexual
relationships. In the human sense of life the multiplication or
generation of man takes place through sexual activity. This is the
normal outcome of the sex act, however degraded that act has become
with some — even with many who abhor homosexuality.
Reason will also tell the thoughtful one
that all bodily functions have a normalcy of action. Normalcy is
recognized for these actions and uses of the human body. So,
abnormality in matters of sex is a delusive aberration, while, humanly
speaking, normalcy is natural.
Everyone has a responsibility to society
and an obligation to aid in the betterment of the human race. But
homosexuality leaves to the institution of the human family no legacy
of improvement, tending toward a higher and more spiritual life.
When homosexuals come to grips with the
problem and do not seek to legitimize perversion, they can be helped to
understand their true natures as children of God and be freed of this
But when sexual indulgence enters into a
male-and-male or a female-and-female relationship, it ceases to be to
be normal and natural; it then becomes perversion.
When man’s perfection is understood in
Science, it can be proved that one is not condemned by birth to be
second-class, a deviate, or an outcast from society.
Where in any of Mary Baker Eddy’s writings are we instructed to look to the body to learn what is “humanly normal”? The world would stand aghast at the implication that gay people leave “to the institution of the human family no legacy of improvement ” Would Mr. Bowles have us disregard the contributions of homosexuals such as: Plato, Socrates, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Francis Bacon, James Baldwin, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Shakespeare, Gertrude Stein, Oscar Wilde, Walt Whitman, Tennessee Williams, Alexander the Great, Frederick the Great, Peter the Great, Leonard Bernstein, Benjamin Brittan, Aaron Copland, Ira and George Gershwin, Rudolph Nureyev, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, et cetera? In her chapter on “Marriage” (Science and Health page 66), Mrs. Eddy refers to the great homosexual philosopher, Socrates, and then devotes to him an entire paragraph on page 215 of the Christian Science textbook. It is worth noting that Mrs. Eddy mentioned several eminent homosexuals in her writings, among them were:
- Socrates 469-399 BC
- Alexander the Great 356-323 BC
- John Locke 1632-1704
- William Shakespeare 1564-1616
- King James I of England 1566-1625 (to whom the King James version of the Bible is dedicated)
- Alfred Lord Tennyson 1809-1892
How could such abysmal ignorance, weak metaphysics and poor editing be tolerated? Couldn’t Mr. Bowles, a teacher of Christian Science, appreciate the union of two same-gender hearts, committed to sharing mutual support, tenderness, growth, strength and deepest communication; as well as sharing their physical, emotional and spiritual love for one another? His supposititious, morally indefensible arguments are blind to the endearing and enduring love that unites two same gender hearts, the love that brings us through our shared trials and tribulations, the love that makes us stronger — increasing our capacity to love others as ourselves. Aside from my own relationship of twenty-five years, I am aware of many other long term loving committed homosexual relationships of even greater years. They are characterized by love, kindness, joy, forgiveness, patience commitment and self control. Intimacy is a quality of love, expression and passion which promotes growth, close connection and unity of hearts. At the core of one’s innermost nature, intimacy nurtures affection, love and understanding. Mr. Bowles’s diabolical argument fails to recognize that being gay is a journey of self-discovery (often in the presence of another), through which we gain a greater awareness of God’s unconditional love.
Our beloved Leader addressed Mr. Bowles’s value judgments and misrepresentation of Christian Science in this most direct and candid statement on pages 7-8 of No and Yes:
I recommend that Scientists draw no lines
whatever between one person and another, but think, speak, teach and
write the truth of Christian Science without reference to right or
wrong personality in this field of labor. Leave the distinctions of
individual character and the discriminations and and guidance thereof
to the Father, whose wisdom is unerring and whose love is universal.
In his best seller, The Good Book, (Reading the Bible with Mind and Heart), “one of the seven best preachers in America,” and, “the man who had prayed for Ronald Reagan at his second inaugural and preached for George Bush at his first,” Rev. Peter J. Gomes speaks of “theological thuggery” under the chapter heading: “THE USE AND ABUSE OF THE BIBLE” — “The Bible and Homosexuality” so apropos to Neil Bowles’s article:
Fears and anxieties were raised where few
had been before, discourse was inhibited rather than stimulated, and
the moral climate of the community was poisoned.
Many scholarly authoritative articles and books have been written on the subject of homosexuality and the Bible. Attached to this letter is an article on the subject by Kentner Scott, former editor of EMERGE! ‘A Journal for Christian Scientists Supporting Lesbians and Gay men.’ In this well written concise article entitled: “The Bible and Homosexuality,” he summarizes “The Big Eight Passages” that have been used to condemn homosexuality, and explains their “sometime ignorant, often deliberate” mistranslation.
As in art, so in linguistics, that which is not plainly stated can be just as communicative as that which is. Just as negative space (in art) can speak volumes, so derisive thoughts can paint vivid long lasting images. The underlying message communicates between the lines the author’s concealed intent. Beware of the wolf in sheep’s clothing; provocative, inciting, loving rhetoric — a sugar coating concealing a bitter, stinging, hateful, message. Words such as “values,” “standards,” “kept promises,” “normalcy,” and “morals” have deep implications heavy laden with guilt, shame and hatred. The astute thinker should automatically question the originator’s motives, agenda and biases while examining the deeper underlying, unstated message. The Bowles article is a perfect example of a wolf in sheep’s clothing; disarming, and at the same time de-humanizing and devastating.
Because of the homophobia (irrational fear of homosexuality), hatred and lack of love still prevalent within our church, EMERGENCE International fills an important need. This world-wide support group provides gay Christian Scientists with an annual conference, including addresses by both Christian Science Journal listed and unlisted practitioners, Publishing Society editors, lecturers and teachers of Christian Science, as well as structured and unstructured small group discussions. EMERGENCE International also publishes a bi-monthly journal: EMERGE! which includes articles, healings, area contacts and local gay Christian Science groups.
Thank you for opening the door of thought with the first enlightened article by Laura Matthews: “Homosexuality— how do I respond?” in the December 15, 1997 Sentinel.
Having attended the last thirteen annual EMERGENCE International conferences for gay and lesbian Christian Scientists, I would characterize the general feeling toward the Christian Science movement by quoting Edwin Markham’s poem, “Outwitted:”
He drew a circle that shut me out-
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout. But Love and I had the wit to win: We
drew a circle that took him in.
As the world observes the number of our churches and practitioners dwindle — members defect — Sunday School students drop out, are The Directors doing anything more than re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic? Mrs. Eddy placed great importance on a knowledge of Christian Science history. Because we are apparently not learning from our mistakes, we seem to be repeating them on a regular basis. “Boston” has remained so reactionary for so long, the time may have passed when corrective action can save our sinking church organization. Mrs. Eddy’s vision:
that in the twentieth century every
Christian church in our land, and a few in far-off lands, will
approximate the understanding of Christian Science sufficiently to heal
the sick in his name
Pulpit and Press, page 22 may have been undermined by the exclusionary actions taken by The Board to expel thousands of gay Christian Scientists. Depriving open minded Bible lesson sermon readers of I Samuel 18:1-4, for the past sixteen years, discounts the blessings and full healing potential of the lesson “on which the prosperity of Christian Science largely depends” Church Manual page 31 resulting in a church of exclusion rather than inclusion.
Declining membership figures attest that the slogan “All Are Welcome” no longer rings true or even entices the stranger to our door. The word is out: “All Are NOT Welcome.” Those Christian Scientists who happen to be gay, feel betrayed, deceived, isolated, alienated, and may never return or speak kindly of their former church home.
Equating homosexuality with sin, is “sin.” The Board has truly “missed the mark” by not recognizing that sin is a lack of Love. Homosexuals can be as moral, loving, monogamous, committed in their relationships, prominent in their community, devout, and celibate as heterosexual people. Some the finest Christian Scientists I’ve known, including practitioners, lecturers, teachers, church historians, and Directors of The Mother Church, are gay! Each had to make a choice: leave the church or live a lie! What a terrible decision to make. Where is the Christianity in this approach to Christian Science?
As a Sunday School teacher of Ninth Church’s graduating class, I never failed to entrust each student with our beloved Leader’s twice quoted admonition from Shakespeare:
This above all: To thine own self be true; And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Retrospection and Introspection, page 81 “Admonition” Miscellaneous Writings, page 226 “Perfidy and Slander”
Our church doesn’t need more fundamentalist thinking, gay-bashing, Sunday schools filled with empty chairs, church closures, attrition; it needs enlightenment, a change of heart and change of direction. Mrs. Eddy tells us: “Give them a cup of cold water in Christ’s name, and never fear the consequences.” (Science and Health page 570).
Are we extending that cup of cold water only to heterosexuals? When will we realize that the first half of Christian Science is “Christian”? But if we don’t begin with love — love for all mankind, healing will never be restored to the level our Church once knew, and our future will continue on a steady downward path.
Healing is indispensable to Christian Science. It measures our individual and collective understanding. Without it, our words are hollow. Yet, healing of homosexuals is treated differently by Journal listed practitioners than healing of heterosexuals. Why is that? Is it logical or justified to ask a heterosexual to give up his sexual orientation in order to be healed? Could well intentioned practitioners be making an erroneous connection between “gay life style” and promiscuity? If so, they need to be reassured homosexuals have no more proclivities toward being promiscuous than heterosexuals! If a standard is to be applied to sexuality and accessibility to healing, let it be just, or apathetic healing will continue as the level of dynamic healing continues to dwindle.
I join with The Mailing Fund 2, in my desire to “help bring the crucial issues facing our Church into sharper focus for church members, and to provide necessary information so that church members can come to their own conclusions on these issues” and “support the healing mission of our Church and to underscore the need for basing its activities squarely on the Manual.”
From the Christian Science Journal, April 1915, Vol.33, No. 1, page 196 comes this wonderful summation:
unkind thinking which stops just short of
betraying itself in action, may be even more sinister than positive
wrong-doing, because it lurks unseen in the shadows, hence unchallenged
and uncontested. To know our neighbor better is mentally to separate
him from and forgive him for what he does on ungoverned impulse or in
moments of moral surprise or timidity, and to cherish what he does from
conviction and treasured desire; to magnify not his scars and bruises,
but the labored effort which won him these wounds; to signalize the
divine values which survive in his hopes and prayers, the moral peaks
toward which he looks and struggles; it is mentally to nourish his
faith and courage by thinking as nobly and as generously for him as we
do for ourselves; it is, in short, to think of our neighbor only as we
would have him think of us.
In Miscellaneous Writings, page 146, Mrs. Eddy concluded her brief but powerful letter; TO THE FIRST CHURCH OF CHRIST, SCIENTIST, BOSTON dated Feb. 12, 1895, citing “this Scripture: Whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so to them.” I concur with our Beloved Leader in her closing thought:
I cannot be the conscience of this church;
but if I were, I would gather every reformed mortal that desired to
come, into its fold, and counsel and help him to walk in the footsteps
of His flock. I feel sure that as Christian Scientists you will act,
relative to this matter, up to your highest understanding of justice
and mercy. Affectionately yours,
This letter comes from deep within my heart. It represents thousands of hushed voices you can no longer hear, but whose voices need to be heard. I sincerely hope it finds a place in your heart, and that it’s not too late to do some good for all humankind.
The Mother Church responded three months later by means of a letter from the Office of the General Counsel dated March 12, 1998.
It read as follows:
Silence is an eminently reasonable
response to a letter which threatens to go public “world-wide” through
distribution to major media religious editors and others if a response
is not received by a specific date. The unusual and threatening nature
of your requests for reply by The Christian Science Board of Directors
have rendered any substantive response inappropriate. I can merely
acknowledge that your communications have been received.
Gary A. Jones
Tom Taffel shared this Mother church response with people who had helped edit and make suggestions when he was formulating the letter he submitted. One practitioner wrote Tom as follows:
“Please, whatever you do, just drop it
for now. Don’t let it obsess your thought and life, which are God
ordained and God-valued. We can recognize the whole batch of beliefs as
suggestions, trying to take away our inspiration, trying to put weight
in our thought, trying to tell us we should have done something
differently. Nonsense. We know ourselves as the Christ-man, ever above
mortal institution, deriving our very being, our fulfilment, our joy,
our satisfaction, our peace directly from and as the divine Mind, which
is Love. Now is the time of generic man, our Leader’s successor-the
Christ individually, indivisively, and universally embodied and
expressed. Be joyful, Tom. Let error destroy itself. “Thy tents shall
be our home.” “Tis grace leads (has lead) us home.”
“You are blessed in having seen the
falsity, but even more blessed to see, know and be the truth. You are
in light, can’t get out of it. They can’t think of you because you’re
in and of Spirit. Know today that you are a better person because you
have departed from matter to Spirit, and are saved, whole, on upward
wing. I’s not too much to say that from this moment on you are more
powerful, more at peace, more holy to your god , than ever before. Look
the Love-way, and never, never look back again.
“No one is more cherished of your only Father-Mother than you are.” Yours,
Another friend, who is in management at The Mother Church sent Tom this message after receiving Tom’s original letter and before the Counsel’s response:
“Tom, your letter and others with similar
ideas have been sent to The Mother Church over the years and carefully
read. Frankly, and I say this with much love, I don’t think you’ll get
an answer or statement from the Church beyond what the periodicals say
and the Bible Lessons teach. Certainly the best we can each do to
further the cause of Christian Science is to individually draw nearer
to divine Mind, and demonstrate this nearness by healing in such a
clear way that humanity can see it.
“The wonderful thing is, nothing can
prevent any sincere seeker from going forward in demonstrating Truth
day by day, and finding joy and peace in doing so. I know we’re united
in our desire to do this, and God will surely show us all whatever we
need to know. With respect and affection,
- The Mother Church removed restrictions on membership in the late 1990s and returned to Mrs. Eddy’s original Application for Membership form found on pages 114-119 in The Manual of The Mother Church. Individual Branch churches are responsible for their own membership forms and some may continue to list the restrictions mentioned in Tom’s article above. Return to text
- The Mailing Fund began during the early 1990s when The Mother Church began its broadcasting activities. The Fund frequently published and distributed letters outlining what they felt were violations of the Manual of The Mother Church by the Christian Science Board of Directors and policies which they believed contradicted Mrs. Eddy’s wishes for the Church. The Mailing Fund dissolved in the late 90s. Return to text