This is an incredibly long post which may be a little hard to follow. I mostly wrote it for myself, but thought I would share it here as well. It is a semi-metacognative conversation on selections from the chapter on Marriage in Science and Health. I was mostly left with a great desire to build a time machine and question a selection of Teachers and Christian Science-scholars at length over Ms. Eddy’s thoughts and careful word selection – if any happen to read my blog your insights are most welcome! Alternatively, I would love to put together a Wednesday evening service based on some of the passages.
After I finished this post I was left with an incredible sense of relief that I no longer practice CS, or ascribe to Ms. Eddy’s unique world views. My brain also hurt. I strongly recommend anyone who has questions look up the passages I’ve screen-captured in a book (or on the official Church website) so they can see them in the larger context.
The other morning over my husband asked why I had not yet touched on the topic of sex, the answer is simple, Ms. Eddy does NOT TALK ABOUT SEX,* she talks about the formation of mortals, which is not sexy, just weird.
My husband argued she has “that whole chapter on Marriage” which is true (I’ve read it several dozen times over the years). Yes, but in Ms. Eddy’s world marriage is something that that must be tolerated until the Apocalypse:
Ms. Eddy then doles out marriage advice, about being nice to each other, not being wasteful, guarding affections, remaining chaste and then on page 61-62 she starts talking about “the propagation of the human species” and
The formation of mortals must greatly improve to advance mankind. (emphasis mine)
I had to read that a few times before I realized she said MORTALS and not MORALS, and I’m left wondering how does one advance the “formation of mortals” – immaculate conception? Asexual reproduction? Spores? Test tubes? Also, by their very nature, mortals are unreal, never have been real and can not be created because they don’t exist. This remains perplexing even when put in context:
Ms. Eddy defines Man as “The compound idea of infinite Spirit; the spiritual image and likeness of God; the full representation of Mind” (S&H p. 591). This seems in direct contradiction to the mortals which are being generated to perpetuate mankind as on p. 468 of Science & Health Ms. Eddy states
There is no life, truth, intelligence, nor substance in matter. All is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation, for God is All-in-all. Spirit is immortal Truth; matter is mortal error. Spirit is the real and eternal; matter is the unreal and temporal. Spirit is God, and man is His image and likeness. Therefore man is not material; he is spiritual. (S&H p. 468)
Ms. Eddy reminds us time and time again that man can not be both mortal (material) and spiritual, yet Ms. Eddy states that mortals are being formed, and the human species is being perpetuated. Both of these terms directly contradict everything she’s said about man’s true nature.
The other line that stood out to me was:
If the propagation of a higher human species is requisite to reach this goal, than its material conditions can only be permitted for the purpose of generating. (emphasis mine)**
I have read the chapter on Marriage dozens of times and I’m fairly sure I’ve never actually consciously paid attention to those two lines. I know I’ve read “nothing unworthy of perpetuity should be transmitted to children” and the line about the fetus’ purity is also reasonably well remembered, but material conditions can only be permitted for the purpose of generating?! did someone sneak that in since the last time I skimmed it?
I suppose in some ways this goes back to the reason why CS refrain from drug use and alcohol consumption, both alter one’s mental state and to be a good CS one must be clear-thinking at all times. Sex releases a torrent of hormones, the experience, to quote a former prominent Principian, “rearranges your brain cells” which isn’t going to set you on a path to clear thinking and therefore should be avoided unless you’re trying to generate little humans (which you shouldn’t be doing anyway – see p. 68-69 below). This also neatly solves any need for discussion about birth control or masturbation.
It is interesting to remember Ms. Eddy refers to the “formation of mortals“ and “material conditions” as she sets about on page 63 talking about how
So are the mortals that are being created through the acts of “generating” the offspring of Spirit? Ms. Eddy appears to be saying they are not. The generated mortals come from “brute instinct” – the desire to generate humankind? I don’t know. While the Scientific man is beautiful and good, his source is Spirit. So where do these Scientific men come from? I’m drawing a blank.
Ms. Eddy continues to dole out marriage advice, stay together, make it work, once you’re committed it is too late, until around page 68-69, where things get interesting again:
Is Christian Science somehow unfolding to the mortals that have been generated? Are our mere little mortal minds being expanded by the knowledge of the divine Mind? Is that even possible? Mortals are not real.
I feel like there is some amount of “have cake and eat it too” going on. Clearly mankind needs to generate more of the human species for it to continue, but should we really want that to happen? Ms. Eddy sends a very mixed message:
Proportionately as human generation ceases, the unbroken links of eternal, harmonious being will be spiritually discerned; and man, not of the earth earthly but coexistent with God, will appear.
If humans cease to generate then there will be no more humans, however, we should all cease to generate because as there are fewer humans the “unbroken links of eternal, harmonious being will be spiritually discerned” and man as “coexistent with God, will appear.” This also seems to contradict what Ms. Eddy says on p. 62:
Is not the propagation of the human species a greater responsibility, a more solemn charge, than the culture of your garden or the raising of stock to increase your flocks and herds?
So propagating the human species is of the UTMOST importance – if you’re going to do it, you may as well do it right (and be married), but at the same time we should cease to generate so that man may be “coexistent with God.”
So if you’re going to be married, you should have children, and you should educate them spiritually, otherwise it is really better not to do so (I suspect someone was reading Paul’s letters to the Corinthians).
The child doing the questioning is mortal (material) therefore God, who did NOT create mortal, material things, could NOT have created the child. So where did it come from if not from mortal man?Also, it is my understanding that if the mortal is unreal, it is incapable of becoming Spiritual/Real.
I also have questions about Ms. Eddy’s quote from Luke 20:34 – the larger context comes from a hypothetical story about one bride for seven brothers, she married the first, and he died, she married the second and he died as well, eventually she had been married to all seven brothers and none managed a heir, so which of them would she be married to after they all died? Simple, none of them, she would be free of any marital obligation.
All of that leaves me with more questions than answers.
- Are mortals capable of advancing mankind? How do mortals recognize their true Scientific nature?
- Can mortals become immortals?
- If “in Science man is the offspring of Spirit” than what is man the rest of the time?What about those not “in Science” – are they lesser beings?
- In the larger picture will any of this make a difference?
- Why is it so important to only use “methods of propagation” for the purpose of generating?
- If there are no marriages after the resurrection will there be any new beings brought/”generated” into existence?
- Is this resurrected state going to take place on the Earth as we know it, or in some other higher celestial realm?
Right about now I would really, really like to pick selections for a Wednesday Evening Testimony service.
*except for that one place where she does, and it is NOT sexy.
**this may just be Ms. Eddy being influenced by the prevailing culture of her day, but I’m not entirely willing to give her the benefit of the doubt