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The Ethics of Christian Science
ELLA W. HOAG, CSD


         The general meaning of ethics may be said to be the habit of action sanctioned by society as morally correct. The ethics of Christian Science would then be — speaking freely — that habitual activity which is in accordance with the fundamentals and rules laid down for right action among its adherents. Now our Leader has much to say of these ethics, and a study of her writings on the subject could not fail to be of advantage to any student. That her teachings in this direction must be practiced if they are to be proved of value to the individual is a foregone conclusion.

         In Mrs. Eddy's dedication of her book "Miscellaneous Writings" she says, "To loyal Christian Scientists in this and every land I lovingly dedicate these practical teachings indispensable to the culture and achievements which constitute the success of a student and demonstrate the ethics of Christian Science."

         When students begin the study of Christian Science, they sometimes become so enamored with the freedom they believe it teaches that unless they are on guard against running to extremes they find themselves tending almost to lawlessness; for the so-called human mind, desiring always what it calls liberty, is quick to welcome anything which it believes may be interpreted as tending to throw off restraint. The student of Christian Science must therefore watch diligently that the freedom he is to gain through Christian Science is always safeguarded by its ethics. He must take care that his actions are ever true to what is in accordance with the rules Christian Science lays down for right action among individuals, if his culture and achievements are to bring the success which belongs to him as he demonstrates its ethics properly.

         It should not take us long to realize that the way to all right culture and achievement is the way of unselfishness. Indeed, selfishness is ever brusque and rude: it knows neither graciousness nor consideration, but expresses itself in thoughtlessness and crudity. It is entirely forgetful of the Golden Rule, on which all true ethics are founded. When Mrs. Eddy tells us that "culture and achievements . . . constitute the success of a student and demonstrate the ethics of Christian Science," she places before us very squarely and very clearly the necessity of our molding all our actions after the very high pattern of a perfect life, even in every slightest detail. In her Message to The Mother Church for 1900 (p. 11), in speaking of John's reference to what "the Spirit saith unto the churches," she says: "His allegories are the highest criticism on all human action, type, and system. His symbolic ethics bravely rebuke lawlessness."

         It should not take the honest student of Christian Science long to see that only as he obeys both the law and the gospel — only as he puts into every act the spirit of gentleness and loving-kindness, of unselfish consideration for others — will he be practicing the ethics of Christian Science in such a way as to succeed in his demonstrations of health and holiness. He should certainly never push himself forward. Jesus' parable was so pertinent in this particular, that parable in which he advises the one bidden to the wedding, "Sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him; and he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place." Surely the ethics of Christian Science would permit no such egotism. Neither should he ever infringe on the rights of another, — he should claim nothing for himself, — but instead should seek ever his own in his neighbor's good.

         Perhaps there could be no more glaring offense than that one to whom the sacred office of practitioner has been allotted, should betray, by repeating to another or others, the personal affairs which have been confided to him by patients coming to him for help. Our Church Manual By-law on this subject should certainly be sufficient to call a halt on such unethical practice (see Article VIII, Section 22). There is probably, however, no Christian Scientist today who has yet prayed with sufficient earnestness the prayer, "Set a seal upon my lips." We, however, may all begin this hour to pray it more fervently than ever before, that the ethics of Christian Science may never again be abused by us in this or any other direction.

         Surely we may rejoice that, as our beloved Leader tells us in "The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany" (pp. 179, 180), we have in the "revelations of Christian Science" that which always affords "such expositions of the therapeutics, ethics, and Christianity of Christ as make even God demonstrable, the divine Love practical, and so furnish rules whereby man can prove God's love, healing the sick and the sinner."

 

"The Ethics of Christian Science" by Ella W. Hoag, CSD
Christian Science Sentinel, March 27, 1926
 

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