For my Christian Science readers, I’m going to remind you of a harsh fact: Christian Scientsts die, just like everybody else. No where does Ms. Eddy claim that Christian Science will cause the MATERIAL BODY to live forever, it is Spiritual Man that is immortal.
Expressing shock and grief at someone’s passing is natural. What is not natural is the way Christian Science refuses to knowledge a person’s illness, and the death. People have friends, associates, and family who are outside the sphere of Christian Science who care deeply about the individual who passed on. They should know about a persons passing. They may want to help in some way — bringing food, making a financial donation to help offset expenses, sending a card or flowers or a few words of condolence.
The levels of secrecy surrounding illness and death in Christian Science is infuriating and saddening. People want to help. People want to know. I’ve heard the “for the privacy of the family” argument dragged out time and time again. The Principia Purpose alumni magazine has stopped running their Lovingly Remembered column citing “for the privacy of the families.”(1)
Withholding the information that a loved one has passed will not bring their material body back. Not divulging the cause of death will not make them any less dead. Christian Scientists may deny the existence of a material world, but attempting to submerge yourself in the idealistic world of Spirit will not save you from the material plane in which you are currently dwelling. You may strive to “live in the Absolute” but until you have ascended into Heaven and are as the Angels you’d better take care of the material body, regardless of how “unreal” you find it to be.
You probably take your car to a mechanic when it doesn’t work, you take it for regular smog/emissions tests as the government requires to operate it. If you have a dog or cat, you likely take them for their required rabies vaccinations, and have probably had it spayed or neutered. You feed yourself, you clothe yourself, you shelter yourself, so why not take yourself to a doctor?
Ms. Eddy herself reminds us in Science and Health on p. 388
… it would be foolish to venture beyond our present understanding, foolish to stop eating until we gain perfection and a clear comprehension of the living Spirit. In that perfect day of understanding, we shall neither eat to live nor live to eat.
The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Ms. Eddy herself, never achieved this perfect and clear comprehension of the living Spirit.
Science and Health may be full of flowery language about immortality, and the perfection of Man as God’s Perfect Child, but at the end of the day, Christian Scientists shed the mortal coil just like everyone else. The biggest difference is often Christian Scientists spend weeks, months, or even years suffering unnecessarily because they refuse to to acknowledge they have a problem (that would give the problem “power”), often one that could easily be fixed by speaking with a medical professional.
I find myself in agreement with Nancy Niblack Baxter, author of Open the Doors of the Temple: The Survival of Christian Science in the Twenty-first Century:
Did Mrs. Eddy intend her followers to pursue physical healing through her methods forever, even when it was not bringing results? To die for it? It is my strong belief that by 1890 she came to be aware of the trap her church members could fall into, to say nothing of the lawsuits, so by the turn of the century, and as she finalized the revelation, she allowed for escapes in the case spiritual healing did not bring results. (page 49)
While I am not in total agreement with Ms. Baxters conclusions, I don’t think anyone should experienced prolonged suffering in the name of any religion, Christian Science included.
Christian Scientists, you, like everyone else, will one day die, however, you can choose to accept the advances in medical practices and technology, which may prolong both the quantity and quality of your life, or you may continue to rely solely on God. I’ve tired both, go with modern medicine, your doctor won’t mind if you pray, but your CSP might object if you take medication.
Other reading of possible interest:
- Speculation as to the reasons why abound, including that the Purpose was data-mined for a study that Christian Scientists die sooner than their non-CS peers. http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1989-09-24/news/8901150766_1_christian-scientists-principia-college-christian-science