This is #10 in a series of posts looking at the 26 Christian Science Weekly Bible Lesson subjects, chosen by Mary Baker Eddy, and rotated twice per year. These lessons are the sermon at each Christian Science church worldwide, and are read by Christian Scientists daily. Today’s subject is “Love”. Look for other posts in the category “Lesson Sermon Subjects“.
Love…another big subject, sort of like “God”, but not quite so big. Everyone wants and needs it, and there are many different ideas of what “love” exactly is. In reference to the Lesson Sermon subject of the same name, “Love” is a synonym for God (hence my capitalization of the word in keeping with what I call “Christian Science Grammar”). I’ll try to keep this focused on Love, and maybe touch a bit on the Christian Science take on love.Love (with a capital “L”)…
Love in the sense of being a synonym for God means God’s caring about us (humans) who are God’s “children” or “reflections” in Christian Science as I came to see it. In Christian Science we all are often referred to as “reflections of God” as well as his/her “children”. In that sense, we’re almost, but not quite, like God. This is a point of Christian Science theology that causes some controversy between Christian Science and most mainstream Christian faiths–this elevation of human-kind to a level almost equal to God.
“(1) The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
(2) He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
(3) He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of rigteousness for his name’s sake.
(4) Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
(5) Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou annointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
(6) Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.”
(Psalm 23 ~ King James Version)
Love to me, in the synonymous-with-God sense, means God’s love, caring, and protection of us, and (supposed) healing of us. That’s what it came to mean to me as a Christian Scientist. As you read Psalm 23 above, you’ll get a very true sense of how I came to see this sense of “Love”. It’s a nice, warm kind of love from an benevolent (most of the time, unless you’re a Canaanite or Philistine) almighty being that I don’t necessarily really believe in anymore–well not the Judeo/Christian/Islamic version. I don’t believe in God as a sentient, separate, almighty intelligence, and I’m not really sure how much I ever did accept that sense of God when I was a Christian Scientist. So, while this concept of Love is still a nice one as far as I’m concerned, I don’t really fully accept it anymore. I don’t believe in the “sky” God of the Bible, so I don’t believe there is that being “out there” that loves me or cares for me, and I’m perfectly fine with that. I outgrew my need for imaginary friends many years ago; “God” just took me a bit longer. I believe in the love expressed towards me by my friends and family, and the love I express to them. It’s a positive energy that exists in the universe, and is a part of the fabric thereof. If there is a sense of “God’s love”, if you want to call it that, that I believe in, that would be it.
Love (small “l”)…
What is love (not capitalized) to a Christian Scientist? Pretty much what it is to most people, to be honest. I’m not going to discuss sexuality and Christian Science issues at length here in this post (that’s a quagmire of weirdness I don’t feel like stepping through right now), so don’t bother asking. But love, as in romantic love? For most Christian Scientists, it’s largely what it is to the rest of us, just with a few odd hang-ups around the sex part. While sex is an integral part of romantic love for most people, there are some odd hang-ups there in the Christian Science universe (I knew long-time married couples who proudly stated to anyone who’d listen that they had not had sex in many years). Hard-core Christian Scientists will view sex as an inconvenient part of the procreative process and outside of that purpose will want nothing much to do with it. Mary Baker Eddy had enormous hang-ups regarding sex and romantic relationships, never mind that she was married three times.
Christian Scientists will often tend to put a Christian Science-y spin on love as they will on most issues. To them, love is the love and affection you feel towards another person, although the Christian Scientist will say that it emanates from God, and it is that love of God that is expressed through you to the one you love. This tends to make it somewhat disconcertingly impersonal, and many is the sad tale I’ve heard of people who grew up in Christian Science homes who rarely experienced true love and warmth from their parents. I don’t quite know how us puny humans have this magical ability to channel the almighty God’s love to people we happen to love, but apparently we can. That applies for the non-romantic love you feel for your parents, siblings, or close friends too. It’s all your expression of God’s love. To the Christian Scientist, everything that happens, everything you do, everything others do (as long as it’s good) is God’s action. The bad stuff? It’s all an illusion and it didn’t really happen. How convenient! Nice way to avoid problems–deny them into submissive unreality.