WHAT is innocence? Can it be lost? Become contaminated? Is it something peculiar only to infants and denied to age? Do we have to struggle to obtain and retain it? Or is it an eternal fact--an inherent quality of our being--needing only to be consistently cherished and lived? If innocence is subject to the vagaries of human existence, what hope have we for permanent possession of it? Because what God created expresses His pure nature, innocence is the reality of our being. Feeling our native innocence, with its pure goodness and perpetual safety, requires prayer and daily purification of thought. It requires that we increasingly have the Mind of Christ, express the qualities of the divine Mind.
Part of Mary Baker Eddy's1 answer to the question ``What is man?'' from the Christian Science textbook reads: ``the conscious identity of being as found in Science, in which man is the reflection of God, or Mind, and therefore is eternal; that which has no separate mind from God.''2 This is in harmony with the Biblical record of man as created in God's likeness. The Bible tells us, too, that what God made is ``very good.''3
Since God is wholly good, and man as His spiritual image has no separate mind from Him, man's true consciousness of being must be good, forever innocent of evil. The material senses don't confirm this. They portray man as a sinful mortal, as a mixture of good and evil. And this is indeed what we seem to be. But it is a false conception of God's creation. The material senses do not reveal the true nature of creation or consciousness. Our God-given innocence is forever intact, despite appearances, always present to be realized and demonstrated.
What does this have to do with the aggressive temptations and heart-rending experiences of daily life? An experience of one of our sons several years ago helps to illustrate. Soon after his graduation from high school he informed us that he would be moving to an apartment with some of his buddies in a neighborhood where the use of drugs was reported to be rampant. Ostensibly the move was made to be near the downtown college in which the boys had enrolled. But our son showed a noticeable lack of enthusiasm for more schoolwork. We kept the lines of communication open. And we endeavored to express gratitude for our son's Sunday School attendance through his school years and gratitude that we had been able to appreciate most of his friends, if not some of their habits.
During the next few weeks, however, it began to look clearly as though he were in a den of lions. When the anguish became too great, we recalled the Bible account of Daniel's protection in his den of lions because ``innocency was found in [him].''4 We held firmly to the thought of the boy's original and eternal innocence as God's own image. During the months preceding his birth, we had prayed to realize his true identity as the spiritual offspring of God; prayed to understand that his real nature would not be the vulnerable and imperfect mortal which the material senses aggressively claim man to be. We now returned often to this pure concept. Gradually we gained a clear conviction that, in a very profound sense, the material senses could no more describe where man is than they could define what he is, since to God our son was always His perfect child and had always been with Him.
One afternoon the telephone rang. ``Mom,'' a tired voice said, ``I'd like to come home. They're having another drug party tonight, and I don't want to be here.'' That was the end of the episode. He later launched an interesting and successful career.
As a result of our prayers we began to see every individual's true innocence as God's image, following to the best of our ability the example of our great Teacher and Way-shower, Christ Jesus. This brought an additional bonus as we began to see the qualities our son appreciated in his buddies. We later watched these boys blossom into fine young men.
True consciousness is unacquainted with evil. It is always good and pure. This doesn't mean we can ignore evil or the demand for regeneration. What it does mean is that we can forward that regeneration from the unfailing basis of spiritual truth. From this basis we can, step by step, prove the God-given heritage of our original and eternal innocence.
1The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. 2Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 475. 3See Genesis 1:26, 27, 31. 4Daniel 6:22. You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Beloved, now are we the sons of God . . . I John 3:2