People in different cultures have different ways of defending their health. In one part of the world a person might do a special kind of prebedtime dance, or something of that sort, to fend off illness. Someone else might feel that early morning chanting will frighten off the evil spirits of disease. Still others (who would probably consider themselves more advanced) would use various drugs as a protection. All of these methods will likely have some effect, depending on the overall consistency and intensity of human faith placed in them.
There's another defense - one that would be considered an unconscious kind of protection basic to all mortals: the body's apparent tendency to ward off disease. But what happens when that normal mechanism breaks down? Suppose it turns out that there is no material way to shore up the body's ability to protect itself. Is an individual left at the mercy of a disease taking its course? The Bible provides a resounding answer. In Jeremiah's words, ''I will restore health unto thee, and I will heal thee of thy wounds, saith the Lord.'' n1
n1 Jeremiah 30:17.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, reveals in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures the theology taught by Christ Jesus - the theology in which healing flows as a natural result of spiritual growth and understanding. She discusses a broad array of spiritual concepts that give one renewed hope for defense against disease. In her chapter ''Science, Theology, Medicine,'' she makes this arresting point: ''Moral conditions will be found always harmonious and health-giving.'' n2
n2 Science and Health, p. 125.
Now, many people may wonder why there should be a direct relationship between their health and their morals. The answer surfaces as one begins to discover that health is essentially a condition of thought instead of matter. Thought is mirrored on the body. The surest protection for one's health, then, is to reach for a God-given protection of consciousness. Moral feelings and actions provide a sheltering, shielding refuge for thought.
No one needs to be unsure about how to define moral conduct. Moses spelled it out clearly in the Ten Commandments. Christ Jesus discussed it fully in the Sermon on the Mount. Integrity, spirituality, chastity, purity, provide an important sanctuary for our thought and therefore our health. There's real comfort for any of us - and for society as a whole - in the fact that the strengthening of morals can at once increase our defense against disease.
Whether society realizes it or not, the development of basic moral precepts has been an important factor in defending people's health dating back to early Biblical times. The embrace and nurturing of morality are no less vital to our well-being today. Morality enables the divine influence to reach us while preventing evil from crowding in at the same time. Perhaps morality could be likened to a window that keeps out the bitterness of the cold but lets in the warmth of the sun.
Health does come from God. The Psalmist offers this assurance: ''Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.'' n3 As we take the moral steps necessary to receive and preserve health, God reveals man's wholeness right within our thought; and in this dawning we begin to see that our true identity is spiritual and subject only to the goodness of God.
n3 Psalms 42:11.
Morality, then, serves not only as one of the ways that health is welcomed into our lives, and firmly secured; it is indispensable to understanding the Science of Life, to discovering man's perfect and enduring relationship to God. DAILY BIBLE VERSE My degence is of God, which saveth the upright in Heart. . . . I will praise the Lord according to his righteousness: and will sing praise to the name of the Lord most high. Psalms 7:10, 17