Chapter 3 — Marriage
From Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy
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What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. In the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven. — JESUS.
WHEN our great Teacher came to him for baptism, John was astounded. Reading his thoughts, Jesus added: “Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness.” Jesus’ concessions (in certain cases) to material methods were for the advancement of spiritual good.
Marriage is the legal and moral provision for generation among human kind. Until the spiritual creation is discerned intact, is apprehended and understood, and His kingdom is come as in the vision of the Apocalypse, — where the corporeal sense of creation was cast out, and its spiritual sense was revealed from heaven, — marriage will continue, subject to such moral regulations as will secure increasing virtue.
Infidelity to the marriage covenant is the social scourge of all races, “the pestilence that walketh in darkness, . . . the destruction that wasteth at noonday.” The commandment, “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” is no less imperative than the one, “Thou shalt not kill.”
Chastity is the cement of civilization and progress. Without it there is no stability in society, and without it one cannot attain the Science of Life.
Union of the masculine and feminine qualities constitutes completeness. The masculine mind reaches a higher tone through certain elements of the feminine, while the feminine mind gains courage and strength through masculine qualities. These different elements conjoin naturally with each other, and their true harmony is in spiritual oneness. Both sexes should be loving, pure, tender, and strong. The attraction between native qualities will be perpetual only as it is pure and true, bringing sweet seasons of renewal like the returning spring.
Beauty, wealth, or fame is incompetent to meet the demands of the affections, and should never weigh against the better claims of intellect, goodness, and virtue. Happiness is spiritual, born of Truth and Love. It is unselfish; therefore it cannot exist alone, but requires all mankind to share it.
Help and discipline
Human affection is not poured forth vainly, even though it meet no return. Love enriches the nature, enlarging, purifying, and elevating it. The wintry blasts of earth may uproot the flowers of affection, and scatter them to the winds; but this severance of fleshly ties serves to unite thought more closely to God, for Love supports the struggling heart until it ceases to sigh over the world and begins to unfold its wings for heaven.
Marriage is unblest or blest, according to the disappointments it involves or the hopes it fulfils. To happify
existence by constant intercourse with those adapted to elevate it, should be the motive of society. Unity of spirit gives new pinions to joy, or else joy’s drooping wings trail in dust.
Chord and discord
Ill-arranged notes produce discord. Tones of the human mind may be different, but they should be concordant in order to blend properly. Unselfish ambition, noble life-motives, and purity, these constituents of thought, mingling, constitute individually and collectively true happiness, strength, and permanence.
There is moral freedom in Soul. Never contract the horizon of a worthy outlook by the selfish exaction of all another’s time and thoughts. With additional joys, benevolence should grow more diffusive. The narrowness and jealousy, which would confine a wife or a husband forever within four walls, will not promote the sweet interchange of confidence and love; but on the other hand, a wandering desire for incessant amusement outside the home circle is a poor augury for the happiness of wedlock. Home is the dearest spot on earth, and it should be the centre, though not the boundary, of the affections.
A useful suggestion
Said the peasant bride to her lover: “Two eat no more together than they eat separately.” This is a hint that a wife ought not to court vulgar extravagance or stupid ease, because another supplies her wants. Wealth may obviate the necessity for toil or the chance for ill-nature in the marriage relation, but nothing can abolish the cares of marriage.
“She that is married careth . . . how she may please her husband,” says the Bible; and this is the pleasantest
thing to do. Matrimony should never be entered into without a full recognition of its enduring obligations on both sides. There should be the most tender solicitude for each other’s happiness, and mutual attention and approbation should wait on all the years of married life.
Mutual compromises will often maintain a compact which might otherwise become unbearable. Man should not be required to participate in all the annoyances and cares of domestic economy, nor should woman be expected to understand political economy. Fulfilling the different demands of their united spheres, their sympathies should blend in sweet confidence and cheer, each partner sustaining the other, — thus hallowing the union of interests and affections, in which the heart finds peace and home.
Tender words and unselfish care in what promotes the welfare and happiness of your wife will prove more salutary in prolonging her health and smiles than stolid indifference or jealousy. Husbands, hear this and remember how slight a word or deed may renew the old trysting-times.
After marriage, it is too late to grumble over incompatibility of disposition. A mutual understanding should exist before this union and continue ever after, for deception is fatal to happiness.
The nuptial vow should never be annulled, so long as its moral obligations are kept intact; but the frequency of divorce shows that the sacredness of this relationship is losing its influence, and that fatal mistakes are undermining its foundations. Separation never should take place, and it never would, if both
husband and wife were genuine Christian Scientists. Science inevitably lifts one’s being higher in the scale of harmony and happiness.
Kindred tastes, motives, and aspirations are necessary to the formation of a happy and permanent companionship. The beautiful in character is also the good, welding indissolubly the links of affection. A mother’s affection cannot be weaned from her child, because the mother-love includes purity and constancy, both of which are immortal. Therefore maternal affection lives on under whatever difficulties. From the logic of events we learn that selfishness and impurity alone are fleeting, and that wisdom will ultimately put asunder what she hath not joined together.
Centre for affections
Marriage should improve the human species, becoming a barrier against vice, a protection to woman, strength to man, and a centre for the affections. This, however, in a majority of cases, is not its present tendency, and why? Because the education of the higher nature is neglected, and other considerations, — passion, frivolous amusements, personal adornment, display, and pride, — occupy thought.
An ill-attuned ear calls discord harmony, not appreciating concord. So physical sense, not discerning the true happiness of being, places it on a false basis. Science will correct the discord, and teach us life’s sweeter harmonies.
Soul has infinite resources with which to bless mankind, and happiness would be more readily attained and would be more secure in our keeping, if sought in Soul. Higher enjoyments alone can satisfy the cravings of immortal
man. We cannot circumscribe happiness within the limits of personal sense. The senses confer no real enjoyment.
Ascendency of good
The good in human affections must have ascendency over the evil and the spiritual over the animal, or happiness will never be won. The attainment of this celestial condition would improve our progeny, diminish crime, and give higher aims to ambition. Every valley of sin must be exalted, and every mountain of selfishness be brought low, that the highway of our God may be prepared in Science. The offspring of heavenly-minded parents inherit more intellect, better balanced minds, and sounder constitutions.
If some fortuitous circumstance places promising children in the arms of gross parents, often these beautiful children early droop and die, like tropical flowers born amid Alpine snows. If perchance they live to become parents in their turn, they may reproduce in their own helpless little ones the grosser traits of their ancestors. What hope of happiness, what noble ambition, can inspire the child who inherits propensities that must either be overcome or reduce him to a loathsome wreck?
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? Nothing unworthy of perpetuity should be transmitted to children.
The formation of mortals must greatly improve to advance mankind. The scientific morale of marriage is spiritual unity. If the propagation of a higher human species is requisite to reach this goal, then its material con-
ditions can only be permitted for the purpose of generating. The foetus must be kept mentally pure and the period of gestation have the sanctity of virginity.
The entire education of children should be such as to form habits of obedience to the moral and spiritual law, with which the child can meet and master the belief in so-called physical laws, a belief which breeds disease.
If parents create in their babes a desire for incessant amusement, to be always fed, rocked, tossed, or talked to, those parents should not, in after years, complain of their children’s fretfulness or frivolity, which the parents themselves have occasioned. Taking less “thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink”; less thought “for your body what ye shall put on,” will do much more for the health of the rising generation than you dream. Children should be allowed to remain children in knowledge, and should become men and women only through growth in the understanding of man’s higher nature.
The Mind creative
We must not attribute more and more intelligence to matter, but less and less, if we would be wise and healthy. The divine Mind, which forms the bud and blossom, will care for the human body, even as it clothes the lily; but let no mortal interfere with God’s government by thrusting in the laws of erring, human concepts.
Superior law of Soul
The higher nature of man is not governed by the lower; if it were, the order of wisdom would be reversed. Our false views of life hide eternal harmony, and produce the ills of which we complain. Because mortals believe in material laws and reject the Science of Mind, this does not make materiality first and
the superior law of Soul last. You would never think that flannel was better for warding off pulmonary disease than the controlling Mind, if you understood the Science of being.
In Science man is the offspring of Spirit. The beautiful, good, and pure constitute his ancestry. His origin is not, like that of mortals, in brute instinct, nor does he pass through material conditions prior to reaching intelligence. Spirit is his primitive and ultimate source of being; God is his Father, and Life is the law of his being.
The rights of woman
Civil law establishes very unfair differences between the rights of the two sexes. Christian Science furnishes no precedent for such injustice, and civilization mitigates it in some measure. Still, it is a marvel why usage should accord woman less rights than does either Christian Science or civilization.
Our laws are not impartial, to say the least, in their discrimination as to the person, property, and parental claims of the two sexes. If the elective franchise for women will remedy the evil without encouraging difficulties of greater magnitude, let us hope it will be granted. A feasible as well as rational means of improvement at present is the elevation of society in general and the achievement of a nobler race for legislation, — a race having higher aims and motives.
If a dissolute husband deserts his wife, certainly the wronged, and perchance impoverished, woman should be allowed to collect her own wages, enter into business agreements, hold real estate, deposit funds, and own her children free from interference.
Want of uniform justice is a crying evil caused by the selfishness and inhumanity of man. Our forefathers exercised their faith in the direction taught by the Apostle James, when he said: “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father, is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”
Pride, envy, or jealousy seems on most occasions to be the master of ceremonies, ruling out primitive Christianity. When a man lends a helping hand to some noble woman, struggling alone with adversity, his wife should not say, “It is never well to interfere with your neighbor’s business.” A wife is sometimes debarred by a covetous domestic tyrant from giving the ready aid her sympathy and charity would afford.
Marriage should signify a union of hearts. Furthermore, the time cometh of which Jesus spake, when he declared that in the resurrection there should be no more marrying nor giving in marriage, but man would be as the angels. Then shall Soul rejoice in its own, in which passion has no part. Then white-robed purity will unite in one person masculine wisdom and feminine love, spiritual understanding and perpetual peace.
Until it is learned that God is the Father of all, marriage will continue. Let not mortals permit a disregard of law which might lead to a worse state of society than now exists. Honesty and virtue ensure the stability of the marriage covenant. Spirit will ultimately claim its own, — all that really is, — and the voices of physical sense will be forever hushed.
Blessing of Christ
Experience should be the school of virtue, and human happiness should proceed from man’s highest nature. May Christ, Truth, be present at every bridal altar to turn the water into wine and to give to human life an inspiration by which man’s spiritual and eternal existence may be discerned.
If the foundations of human affection are consistent with progress, they will be strong and enduring. Divorces should warn the age of some fundamental error in the marriage state. The union of the sexes suffers fearful discord. To gain Christian Science and its harmony, life should be more metaphysically regarded.
The broadcast powers of evil so conspicuous to-day show themselves in the materialism and sensualism of the age, struggling against the advancing spiritual era. Beholding the world’s lack of Christianity and the powerlessness of vows to make home happy, the human mind will at length demand a higher affection.
Transition and reform
There will ensue a fermentation over this as over many other reforms, until we get at last the clear straining of truth, and impurity and error are left among the lees. The fermentation even of fluids is not pleasant. An unsettled, transitional stage is never desirable on its own account. Matrimony, which was once a fixed fact among us, must lose its present slippery footing, and man must find permanence and peace in a more spiritual adherence.
The mental chemicalization, which has brought conjugal infidelity to the surface, will assuredly throw off this evil, and marriage will become purer when the scum is gone.
Thou art right, immortal Shakespeare, great poet of humanity:
Sweet are the uses of adversity;
Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous,
Wears yet a precious jewel in his head.
Trials teach mortals not to lean on a material staff, a broken reed, which pierces the heart. We do not half remember this in the sunshine of joy and prosperity. Sorrow is salutary. Through great tribulation we enter the kingdom. Trials are proofs of God’s care. Spiritual development germinates not from seed sown in the soil of material hopes, but when these decay, Love propagates anew the higher joys of Spirit, which have no taint of earth. Each successive stage of experience unfolds new views of divine goodness and love.
Amidst gratitude for conjugal felicity, it is well to remember how fleeting are human joys. Amidst conjugal infelicity, it is well to hope, pray, and wait patiently on divine wisdom to point out the path.
Patience is wisdom
Husbands and wives should never separate if there is no Christian demand for it. It is better to await the logic of events than for a wife precipitately to leave her husband or for a husband to leave his wife. If one is better than the other, as must always be the case, the other pre-eminently needs good company. Socrates considered patience salutary under such circumstances, making his Xantippe a discipline for his philosophy.
The gold and dross
Sorrow has its reward. It never leaves us where it found us. The furnace separates the gold from the dross that the precious metal may
be graven with the image of God. The cup our Father hath given, shall we not drink it and learn the lessons He teaches?
Weathering the storm
When the ocean is stirred by a storm, then the clouds lower, the wind shrieks through the tightened shrouds, and the waves lift themselves into mountains. We ask the helmsman: “Do you know your course? Can you steer safely amid the storm?” He answers bravely, but even the dauntless seaman is not sure of his safety; nautical science is not equal to the Science of Mind. Yet, acting up to his highest understanding, firm at the post of duty, the mariner works on and awaits the issue. Thus should we deport ourselves on the seething ocean of sorrow. Hoping and working, one should stick to the wreck, until an irresistible propulsion precipitates his doom or sunshine gladdens the troubled sea.
The notion that animal natures can possibly give force to character is too absurd for consideration, when we remember that through spiritual ascendency our Lord and Master healed the sick, raised the dead, and commanded even the winds and waves to obey him. Grace and Truth are potent beyond all other means and methods.
The lack of spiritual power in the limited demonstration of popular Christianity does not put to silence the labor of centuries. Spiritual, not corporeal, consciousness is needed. Man delivered from sin, disease, and death presents the true likeness or spiritual ideal.
Basis of true religion
Systems of religion and medicine treat of physical pains and pleasures, but Jesus rebuked the suffering from any such cause or effect. The epoch approaches when the
understanding of the truth of being will be the basis of true religion. At present mortals progress slowly for fear of being thought ridiculous. They are slaves to fashion, pride, and sense. Sometime we shall learn how Spirit, the great architect, has created men and women in Science. We ought to weary of the fleeting and false and to cherish nothing which hinders our highest selfhood.
Jealousy is the grave of affection. The presence of mistrust, where confidence is due, withers the flowers of Eden and scatters love’s petals to decay. Be not in haste to take the vow “until death do us part.” Consider its obligations, its responsibilities, its relations to your growth and to your influence on other lives.
Insanity and agamogenesis
I never knew more than one individual who believed in agamogenesis; she was unmarried, a lovely character, was suffering from incipient insanity, and a Christian Scientist cured her. I have named her case to individuals, when casting my bread upon the waters, and it may have caused the good to ponder and the evil to hatch their silly innuendoes and lies, since salutary causes sometimes incur these effects. The perpetuation of the floral species by bud or cell-division is evident, but I discredit the belief that agamogenesis applies to the human species.
God’s creation intact
Christian Science presents unfoldment, not accretion; it manifests no material growth from molecule to mind, but an impartation of the divine Mind to man and the universe. 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. The scientific fact that man and the universe are evolved from Spirit, and so are spiritual, is as fixed in divine Science as is the proof that mortals gain the sense of health only as they lose the sense of sin and disease. Mortals can never understand God’s creation while believing that man is a creator. God’s children already created will be cognized only as man finds the truth of being. Thus it is that the real, ideal man appears in proportion as the false and material disappears. No longer to marry or to be “given in marriage” neither closes man’s continuity nor his sense of increasing number in God’s infinite plan. Spiritually to understand that there is but one creator, God, unfolds all creation, confirms the Scriptures, brings the sweet assurance of no parting, no pain, and of man deathless and perfect and eternal.
If Christian Scientists educate their own offspring spiritually, they can educate others spiritually and not conflict with the scientific sense of God’s creation. Some day the child will ask his parent: “Do you keep the First Commandment? Do you have one God and creator, or is man a creator?” If the father replies, “God creates man through man,” the child may ask, “Do you teach that Spirit creates materially, or do you declare that Spirit is infinite, therefore matter is out of the question?” Jesus said, “The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage: But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage.”