One of the most common questions the ExChristian Scientist site gets is “Why do Christian Scientists go to optometrists but not doctors?” Yeah, that is a good question. While we were raised in Christian Science, practiced Christian Science, and have since left Christian Science, the “logic” eludes us too, but we’re giving it a try.
- Extreme Christian Scientists often choose not to go to the optometrist
- MBE’s reasoning allowed for loopholes to avoid lawsuits and CS taking the blame for failure, you may need to so some mental gymnastics, but as a Christian Scientists, you’re used to that, and you can make it work
- Optometry was a well-established comparatively evidence-based practice in the 1800s.
- MBE is known to have used glasses at various points in her life
1) One is fairly self-explanatory, Extreme Christian Scientists often choose not to go to the optometrist, pointing to S&H 167:12 “We cannot serve two masters nor perceive divine Science with the material senses.”
2) “The right use of temporary means” loophole, “obey the law” and other excuses that have been used.
Using glasses is fine as they are “aids” to “assist” us until we reach a higher level of understanding & are better able to heal ourselves. S&H 56 3-6 “Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness,” Jesus’ concessions (in certain cases) to material methods were for the advancement of spiritual good.” (Yes, we know this is from the chapter on Marriage, but it applies to so many things).
If Christian Scientists ever fail to receive aid from other Scientists, – their brethren upon whom they may call, – God will still guide them into the right use of temporary and eternal means S&H p. 444:7-10
Glasses are temporary means, until one can demonstrate perfect vision, one must make due. Some CS find glasses to be too obvious, like you’re wearing error on your face, and instead opt for more discreet contact lenses.
MBE compels Christian Scientists to “Obey the Law” (The Christian Science Journal, Volume 18), and you have to pass a vision test to get a drivers license, as most CS do want to drive, corrective lenses are as a necessary aid.
Depending on how you read Science and Health, you can find loopholes that “allow” for medical treatment. You may need to do some mental gymnastics, but as a Christian Scientists, you’re used to that, and you can make it work.
3) Optometry was a well-established evidence-based practice in the 1800s.
By MBE’s day, the notion of using lenses to help with vision had been around for centuries, and were far more evidence-based than the questionable notions of humors being used by doctors of the day. The Time line history of optometry and optometry research journals from Wiley Online Library places the earliest use of Hand-held reading stones (lapides ad legendum) were probably in use as desk magnifiers in European monasteries before the year 1000, with the final part of the 13th century bringing about primitive nose spectacles, etc. By MBE’s day (mid-1800s onwards), corrective lenses were a well-established practice.
4) Ms. Eddy is known to have used glasses in her time. If using glasses was OK for her, it is OK for current-day Christian Scientists. There are some mixed takes on this, as some pro-MBE sources say she was able to heal her eyesight and dispose of her glasses in later years.
“Mrs. Eddy came up from Lynn on Sunday afternoon, attended by Mr. Eddy, and often by several of her students. She usually wore a black silk gown and a hat when she spoke, used gold-bowed spectacles, and was confident and at ease upon the rostrum.” (p. 262)
“The necessity for wearing spectacles embarrassed her. When she sometimes wore glasses in her own home, she apologized for doing so, explaining that it was a habit she often rose above, but that at times the mesmerists were too strong for her.” (p. 271)
It is worth noting that while MBE is quite set against mesmerism, hypnotism, homeopathy, drugs, hygiene, minor curatives, material medicine, chemists, botanists, druggists, doctors, nurses, vegetarianism, hydrotherapy, narcotics, cataplasms, whiskey, apothecaries, man-midwifes, and material hygiene to name a few. Interestingly, optometrists don’t get an obvious mention.
Christian Science in Historical Context – Further Reading
History of Optometry – Further Reading
19th Century Medicine – further reading
Christian Science Links – Science & Health in full text as a searchable PDF https://christiansciencemedia.org/files/2010/03/Science-and-Health-with-Key-to-the-Scriptures.pdf
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