Gay People in Christian Science?
Today, many Gay women and men are active in the Christian Science movement — serving as Readers, practitioners, branch members, employees at headquarters, and workers in the Field. The purpose of this pamphlet which is being distributed at the Annual Meeting of The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts in June, 1980, is to appeal to all Christian Scientists and especially to The Christian Science Board of Directors to re-examine their thought on the subject of human sexuality in the light of Christian Science; and to take whatever loving and practical steps are necessary to rectify the present wrongs being done to Gay people in the name of Christian Science.
(Please refer to The Mother Church Manual, p. 43:21)
To many loyal Christian Scientists, April 22, 1967 was a day of great sadness. It was on that day that the first article on the human expression of love between people of the same sex appeared in one of our periodicals. In that piece ("Homosexuality Can Be Healed," Christian Science Sentinel, p. 681), a particularly uninspired quote from Leviticus (Lev. 20:13) was used to suggest that homosexuals be put to death.
Since then, similar pieces have appeared in the Christian Science periodicals. (See Christian Science Sentinel, November 18, 1972, p. 2081; Christian Science Sentinel, March 20, 1976, p. 457; The Christian Science Monitor, November 8, 1977, editorial page; The Christian Science Journal, October 1978, p. 609; Christian Science Sentinel, March 5, 1979, p. 377; The Christian Science Journal, April 1979, p. 211; and especially The Christian Science Journal, October 1975, p. 607.)
In the above-cited examples of incorrect literature which mis-state Christian Science and violate the Golden Rule, Gay women and men are depicted as "promiscuous," "bizarre," "abnormal," "immoral," "unseemly," "unhealthy," "unnatural," "cursed," and "perverted." Nowhere is there even the slightest recognition that the basis of same-sex relationships is love, the exact same human need for love and mutual respect that is the basis for heterosexual relationships. Indeed, not one of the articles has in any way shown how same-gender relationships are unacceptable in the light of Christian Science. In the negative and hostile atmosphere created by our periodicals, it should come as no surprise that so-called "healings" of homosexuality should appear. This, naturally, prompts one to ask what exactly has been "healed"? Has the person been "healed" of love, companionship or friendship?
Incorrect statements of Christian Science are the most obnoxious and damaging kind of literature in the world today because they blind the reader to the applicability of Christian Science to every human situation. They would foist upon us the notion that Christian Science is a cult to which only those who subscribe to a certain regimented lifestyle need apply. And when a form of mental malpractice is directed at a group of people — in this case, Gay women and men — in the Christian Science periodicals, it is time to speak out and keep speaking out.
Spirit and Letter
I Corinthians 14:54, 35, The New English Bible: "As in all congregations of God's people, women should not address the meeting. They have no licence to speak, but should keep their place as the law directs. If there is something they want to know, they can ask their own husbands at home. It is a shocking thing that a woman should address the congregation." What a tragic loss to the world, had our Leader, Mary Baker Eddy, considered the above citation as inspired! She could not have been the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. If a literal interpretation of the Bible had been enforced as it had in centuries past, she would have been silenced and even severely punished for having dared to speak out and start her own church.
Many scriptural prohibitions and injunctions were merely social and political conveniences of the time. Mary Baker Eddy states in the Tenets of The Mother Church that "As adherents of Truth, we take the inspired Word of the Bible as our sufficient guide to eternal life." (Science and Health, p. 497:3) In The First Church of Christ, Scientist and Miscellany on page 266 in an article called "Insufficient Freedom", Mary Baker Eddy warns that the most threatening danger that we are faced with in this century is the using of the Scriptures as authority to strip people of their very lives and liberties — substituting creed and ritual for the Golden Rule. Certainly, an example of this, is the mass extermination of thousands of homosexuals by the Nazis. In addition, thousands of Gay people in Europe were interned in concentration camps and were forced to wear patches with pink triangles on them to denote their homosexuality. Hitler's justification for this action was that it was necessary to maintain the "morality" and "Christian" environment for the youth of Germany.
Many passages in the Old Testament as well as the one quoted above from the New Testament can be used to justify the oppression of women. Racists quote the story of Ham as proof that Black people were "cursed" by God to eternal inferiority. In short, there is something in the Bible that every zealot can use to justify every prejudice imaginable. Today, in the Christian Science church, new applicants are not accepted into the membership if they are openly Gay (The Mother Church has since removed the question of sexual orientation from the Application for Membership in The Mother Church). Members of long standing who are openly Gay are being thrown out of branch churches. Others, who have concealed their homosexuality and are members of the church, would not be permitted to work in any capacity at The Mother Church Center if their orientation were known. Although Christian Science recognizes the place of sexuality in the human experience, on what grounds is the Gay person asked to be "healed" immediately or refrain from any intimate relationships while heterosexuals have freedom to express their affectional orientation?
Mary Baker Eddy's forceful reminder in Miscellaneous Writings, p. 223:15 speaks of this kind of cruel hypocrisy that ignorantly or maliciously breaks the Golden Rule.
How does one determine morality in the spirit of Christian Science? Our Leader quotes from Shakespeare at the beginning of Science and Health, "There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so." This quotation does not imply that one can justify immorality. However, in the practice of Christian Science, we learn that the First Commandment and the Golden Rule are the all-in-all of Christian Science (The First Church of Christ, Scientist and Miscellany, p. 5:12). It is the application of the First Commandment and the Golden Rule which determines whether "something is either good or bad" or moral or immoral. In the case of Gay people as well as heterosexuals, it is the quality of the love in their relationships which is the prime consideration.
Can we be responsible Christian Scientists and at the same time demand of Gay people the relinquishment of their affectional orientation in order for them to be worthy of church membership? Is this not a violation of the "all-in-all" of Christian Science?
Morality, Love and Sexuality
Christ Jesus taught his followers to work faithfully within their own human circumstances to understand Truth and from that basis to achieve salvation. This point is shown clearly in his teachings and in his own life. In the parable of the talents in the twenty-fifth chapter of Matthew, those servants who worked to increase their human understanding of the divine idea received increased harmony in their lives and then found heaven, i.e., at-one-ment, with divine Mind. The servant who failed to use or understand his human gift in a meaningful way lost it and delayed his eventual salvation. In Jesus' own experience he rebuked Peter soundly for suggesting that as Saviour of the world, he, Jesus, did not need to go through the crucifixion. (Mark 8:31-33). Jesus knew that it was precisely through living out his own God-established mission that he would find his resurrection and ascension.
This teaching and actual demonstration by the Master has an important message for Gay women and men. Simply stated, it is: Make use of the gift you have, love as only you can, for in so doing you have embarked on the road to heaven, harmony.
Our Leader, Mary Baker Eddy, also counsels her students to start working with what they understand. On page 288:13 of Miscellaneous Writings, she says "Wisdom in human action begins with what is nearest right under the circumstances, and thence achieves the absolute." On page 234 of the same book, she says in substance that the only way to find the Love which is God is through love for man.
Furthermore, Christian Science teaches that the individuality of man is eternal and unique, unabsorbed in matter or stereotyped by mortal mind. Science promotes the flowering of our individual gifts and condemns attempts to reduce them to bland theological posturings.
The human expression of love is indeed subject to healing, not through the obliteration of one's affectional orientation but through the operation of divine Truth and Love, bringing enrichment and refinement to one's affections. Homosexuality and heterosexuality may be positive or negative depending upon the degree of spirituality and the demand upon each of us is to relinquish whatever blocks the realization of our highest selfhood. For both Gay and non-Gay, the standards with which to judge and elevate motives and actions are the First Commandment and the Golden Rule, as both Christ Jesus and Mary Baker Eddy have taught.
Our dear Leader, Mary Baker Eddy, was far in advance of human-thought. Her revolutionary discovery that the real nature of God's man is not divided into males and females — but rather that each of us is the full reflection of our Mother-Father God — is beginning to dawn on world thought.
She challenges us to grasp the full import of our real spiritual nature — to combine the best of femaleness and maleness in each of our characters.
It is clear that in our daily application of Christian Science to all human needs, we must understand and acknowledge that the full human expression of divine Love is not limited in any way to people of mortal mind's two sexes, male and female. Rather, we have the responsibility to be examples to the world in demonstrating the completeness of creation by practicing the wonderful truth of our reflection of God as Mother-Father.
Just as racism had a strong hold on the Christian Science movement until very recently, today heterosexism appears to be thriving. (Heterosexism is the erroneous concept that only people of the so-called opposite sexes can or should express the full range of love. Heterosexism is a device of mortal mind to enslave us into thinking that creation originates from an egg and sperm.)
Christian Science challenges us to throw off this yoke of mortal mind and to demand of ourselves and the world a higher and more real concept of our being as the image and likeness of our Creator.
Mary Baker Eddy counsels us in The First Church of Christ, Scientist and Miscellany, p. 268: 24-5: "Truth, canonized by life and love, lays the axe at the root of all evil, lifts the curtain on the Science of being, the Science of wedlock, of living and of loving, and harmoniously ascends the scale of life. Look high enough, and you see the heart of humanity warming and winning. Look long enough, and you see male and female one-sex and gender eliminated; you see the designation man meaning woman as well, and you see the whole universe included in one infinite Mind and reflected in the intelligent compound idea, image or likeness, called man, showing forth the infinite divine Principle, Love, called God, — man wedded to the Lamb, pledged to innocence, purity, perfection."