Articles & Testimonies

The tendencies of Mary Baker Eddy

by | Oct 25, 2023

The “tendencies” of Mary Baker Eddy, her husband Asa Gilbert, “Githy,” Eddy, and her son, Dr. Ebenezer J. Foster-Eddy, (“Little Nellie” and “the daughter of the regiment”) – Researched by Tom Taffel

No religion on earth should be less homophonic, and more accepting of gay and lesbian “seekers of Truth,” than Christian Science.

The recorded history of our leader, her husband and adopted son, provide ample justification for acceptance – not rejection and scorn – of homosexuality.

Rampant hatred and undeniable homophobia toward gay people in Christian Science, still pervades our Church . . . . overtly, forcefully, explicitly and officially sanctioned in the historic rant/tirade of Neil H. Bowles, CSB, in his infamous article and denunciation of homosexuality: Only one kind of man,”The Christian Science Journal, November, 1980, pages 591-593

This shameful diatribe, has never been retracted, corrected, or apologized for, in spite of its devastating and catastrophic consequences.  The mass desertion of gay and lesbian students of Christian Science, (including teachers and lecturers), as a direct result of this article – is incalculable!  Only one kind of man– as shameful and reprehensible as it is, has never been officially denounced!

Those unacceptable, hurtful, and incorrect words: “promiscuous,” “bizarre,” “abnormal,” “immoral,” “unseemly,” “unhealthy,” “unnatural,” “shameful,” “inadequate,” “frustrated,” “self-willed,” “outcast,” “perverted,” “degrading,” and “deviant,” have all been used to describe homosexual orientation, in the Christian Science periodicals.

In his best selling book, Rev. Peter J. Gomes wrote these prophetic words: “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.”

In his October 5, 1997 sermon entitled “The Bible and Being Gay – Why It Is Okay,” Rev. George Tyger made the following important observation:

“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’”

Here is an except from a letter of resignation by a gay Christian Science lecturer and teacher of Christian Science, (CSB):

“The moral cost of standing by silently while nothing is being done to correct or even acknowledge the damage this church has done to innocent gays and lesbians by falsely representing them as sinners in need of “healing” is a price I am no longer willing to pay.”

During my 47-minute recorded conversation on May 10, 2019 with – then senior editor of the Christian Science periodicals – was both shocking and revealing.  This conversation took place 39-years after the publication of Only one kind of man.”  

I had written a heart-felt, healing article: “Coming Out For Good” which the editor summarily rejected stating my article was “advocating” – “sanctioning” – “defending” and “approving of a human lifestyle.”  She felt I was trying to “make a case for being gay . . . . and that didn’t work well.”  After asking what my motive was in writing the article, she immediately admonished me stating I shouldn’t be making a “big deal out of it” and I was “trying to make a case to prove that it was OK to be homosexual,” and that I had “an agenda to make the Mother Church sanction a gay life-style,” and having “homosexuality accepted by the Mother Church.” 

Toward the end of our conversation, I asked her what she thought of the abysmal editing of Neil Bowles’ shameful-regrettable article: Only one kind of man,” to which she replied: I have not read it, and have no intention of reading it.” And that my friends, is where we stand today!

And yet we have not one word on the subject by Mary Baker Eddy, who, in her own words had extraordinary close and intimate, personal relationships with women, as documented in her own words:

Mary Baker Glover to Sarah Bagley, November 8, 1868

“Could I just breathe in an undertone ’Sarah,’ and out of the dream land call you to my bed, do you not think we would chat busily for a little? Yes, & live again a thunder-storm tete a tete! Was not I lover-like then to ‘embrace’ you, i.e., to call you up in night gown to keep your eyes staring wide while I nestled to your side in ‘tremula tremendo?’”

L08307. Original in the Church History Department.” Quoted in “Mary Baker Eddy,” by Gillian Gill. Page 627, footnote 32.

Mrs. Eddy could have destroyed this letter – but chose to keep it, forever, for all to see . . . . and let’s not forget her well-chosen words on the subject of marriage:

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)

Mary Baker Eddy’s husband: Asa  Gilbert  (“Githy”)  Eddy

In her biography: “The Life Of Mary Baker Eddy” Sibyl Wilbur writes on page 230: “He was a man of such gentleness and sweetness, that persons knowing him but slightly were often led to think him devoid of the true force of manliness. He was, however, so those who knew him best declare, possessed of the staying quality of sterling integrity. Seldom assertive, preferring to master a situation by patiently studying it and moving conciliatingly and gently among the forces at play, he could, when occasion demanded, act with a masterfulness that commanded instant respect. Mrs. Glover placed considerable responsibility in Mr. Eddy’s hands very early in their acquaintance and as soon as she did so, a conflict of personalities began which shook her circle from circumference to center.” 

The best source on Gilbert Eddy is the Milmine/Cather biography.  Speaking of Gilbert’s hair she wrote about its “elaborate arrangement…which he trained to curl under in a roll at the back and combed up into a high ‘roach’ in the front.”  From childhood, he had a lisp and was given the nickname “Githy” because he couldn’t say “geese eggs” as a child according to the Milmine/Cather biography. Prior to meeting Mary Baker, he sold Singer sewing machines, door-to-door.

“In a letter dated June 27, 1882, to Colonel E. J. Smith, Mrs. Eddy said her husband had “the sweetest disposition” she had ever known. To Judge Hanna she wrote, March 25, 1896, that he was “in a humorous way gentle but firm.” From: Mrs. Eddy’s Letters and Miscellany, Vol. 39:103:5141.”

On page 119 “Asa Gilbert Eddy was kindly, modest, unassuming, patient, sensible, methodical, reliable, no trouble-maker, and ‘careless in nothing but his own comfort.’” (Page 119, line 22. recollections of Mrs. Clara E. Choate, dated October 12, 1914. Reminiscence files of The Mother Church.

In their book: “A World More Bright,” Isabel Ferguson and Heather Frederick write on pages 88 and 89: “Before this Mary hadn’t paid much attention Gilbert.  Now, she sat up and took notice of this mild-mannered man with the smiling eyes.  She saw how he went out of his way to help those who came to him for care and direction and that he was trustworthy, reliable, and a good listener.  When there was an argument among Mary’s followers, Gilbert often waited before he weighed in, and he met ‘any opposition or ridicule of the truth with a gentle reproof rather than a show of anger.’”

“To the surprise of her friends, on New Year’s Day, 1877, Mary Baker Glover married Asa Gilbert Eddy, one of her students.  She was 55, he some ten years younger.”

Speaking of “Githy” Eddy – with a historian of Christian Science, he said: “Mary didn’t need a husband, she needed a wife!”

Mrs. Eddy’s adopted son, Dr. Ebenezer J. Foster-Eddy

E. “Bennie” J. Foster Eddy served in the Civil War. “E. J. Foster, brother of L. R. Foster, Jr., enlisted from Moretown, as drummer of Co. B, at the age of fifteen. He was small, slight and fair, and much like a little girl, which gave him the sobriquet of “Little Nellie,” or “the daughter of the regiment.” He was “of a naturally musical turn of mind,” and “more than an ordinary performer on the organ and piano,” and also “cultivated his voice for singing.”   E. “Bennie” J. Foster Eddy. Source: Hayne’s “A History of the Tenth Regiment, Vt. Vols.,” pp. 441-442. Source: VermontCivilWar.Org

In “Mary Baker Eddy And Her Books” by William Dana Orcutt (page 47) speaks of Bennie Foster Eddy:  “He was immaculately dressed, the climax being his magnificent fur-lined coat, fur cap, and the stunning diamond in his shirtfront.” (Both were gifts from “Mother”).

On page 167 of Lyman P. Powell, biography: “Mary Baker Eddy – A Life Size Portrait” he writes:

[Dr. Ebenezer J. Foster (Eddy)] Turned forty, he was a slight man with a gentle disposition and kindly manners.  He never offered counsel when it was not asked.  He never interfered with what she thought or planned.  Years later for the life of him he could not remember ever having crossed “Mother” in anything.

E. J. Foster, brother of L. R. Foster, Jr., enlisted from Moretown, as drummer of Co. B, at the age of fifteen. He was small, slight and fair, and much like a little girl, which gave him the sobriquet of “Little Nellie,” or “the daughter of the regiment.” He was one of the youngest who went into the war and was a pet among the men. He was of a sunny nature and his face was wreathed with smiles. As the company lay at Conrad’s Ferry, in the spring of 1863, the Surgeon thought because of his youthfulness, his aesthetic nature and slight indisposition, that he had better be sent back to the hospital. But the men desiring to keep him with them, gave him a frightful picture of hospital life and made him such good promises that he afterwards eschewed the Surgeons and remained with the regiment until it was mustered out of service. With the exception of a short furlough to his home in Vermont, the last spring of the war, he was never absent from the regiment during its term of service. After the organization of the regimental band, he being of a naturally musical turn of mind, was taken into that and given an alto horn, upon which he improved in playing until he was given the solo part to play. He still has in his possession the “solo-alto horn” given him by the regiment, which he cherishes with fond memory. He continued the study and practice of music after relegation to citizenship, and became more than an ordinary performer on the organ and piano. He also cultivated his voice for singing. He resumed his studies at school, which he continued until he took up the study of medicine. He was drilled to some extent in allopathy and was graduated from the Homeopathic College in Philadelphia, from which he receive the title of M. D. Some time afterwards he graduated from the Massachusetts Medical College and received the degree of C.S.D. In November, 1888, he was adopted legally, according to the law of Massachusetts, by the Rev. Mary B. G. Eddy of Boston, and Eddy was added to his former name, so that in Boston he is known by the name of Dr. E. J. Foster Eddy. His own mother died when he was about twelve years of age. His mother by adoption and he have two beautiful homes; one on Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, and a country residence in Concord, N.H. He has been especially favored and his lot is an enviable one. Source: Hayne’s “A History of the Tenth Regiment, Vt. Vols.,” pp. 441-442.  Source: VermontCivilWar.Org

In “No and Yes,” Pages 7-8, (originally titled: “Defense of Christian Science”), Mary Baker Eddy states:

“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 guidance thereof to the Father, whose wisdom is unerring and whose love is universal.”