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Sing, O Barren

"Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud" (Isa 54:1). Can you imagine leaping for joy and rejoicing with song and laughter upon finding out that you are barren? Jewish doctrine taught that barren women were stricken of God, and the discovery of that malady was grounds for divorce. The prophetic Scripture of Isaiah, however, is a complete contradiction of that doctrine. Isaiah writes of barrenness as an ideal condition that is to be cherished. Is he right?

It is recorded in an ancient text that "when Salome asked how long death would prevail, the Lord said, 'So long as ye women bear children.'"1 Was Jesus referring to a future time when all women would be barren, or was he referring to a quality or condition of thought that is necessary to see God as the creator of all?

In this world, women conceive children in secret like unto themselves and bring them forth bound to the forces of matter. The woman in Revelation, however, conceived her man-child while "clothed with the sun," and he was immediately "caught up unto God, and to his throne," beyond earthly conditions (12:1, 5). If we are to follow the prophecy of Isaiah and the precedent of the woman clothed with the sun, then the curse of Eve in the second chapter of Genesis must be nullified. All notions of self-propagation and the Lord God's punishing announcement, "In sorrow thou shalt bring forth children," must be erased from the human experience (Gen 3:16).

As a divine witness chosen of God, Jesus was barren of sensual desire. Do we eagerly follow his example, or do we feel a bit of pathos, when we hear Jesus declare, "I can of mine own self do nothing" (John 5:30)? Jesus was unable to do anything without divine power because he understood God's omnipotence. Paul's declaration, "I can do all things through Christ which strength-eneth me," was not a statement of resignation but one of embrace, for Christ had become his only source of strength and pleasure (Phil 4:13). Paul had found the pearl of great price and became barren willingly, sharing his insights and experience with anyone who would listen. Referring again to Isaiah 54:1, we find this promise: "More are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the Lord." On this basis, Paul had thousands of children because he bore much fruit. Jesus foresaw all of us as innocent and free, as we were before the foundation of the world. He assured us, "Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).

Encouraging us to find ourselves caught up unto God, Jesus said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matt 5:3). He might have said it this way: 'Blessed are the barren of self; they reign with me in the harmony of heaven.' To be humanly barren is to be sterile, unproductive, fruitless, unprofitable, and empty. This does not sound very encouraging or desirable, but these are the qualities and conditions of mortal error. To be barren in a spiritual sense is to have no lust in your heart and to see no life in matter. The Commandment that says, "Thou shalt not commit adultery," includes the warning, "Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart" (Matt 5:27, 28). Most of us do not want to obey. Wrenching our hands and rejecting Jesus' simple message as a calamity, we choose to identify with animated matter, insisting on pleasure and pain from nerves and intelligence in a heated brain, but this path leads us away from the very thing that Jesus called blessed and heaven-bestowed. If we are to enjoy heaven here, it is imperative for us to realize the sweetness of being barren: virgin pure without personal will, ego, lust, or hypocrisy, without misbehaving or sick bodies, without personal ambition, without clinging possessions, and without an impressionable mind. "Wisdom and Love may require many sacrifices of self to save us from sin" (SH 23:1).

Jesus was a virgin, and Paul evidently made the demonstration of it, remarking of his own abstinence, "I would that all men were even as I myself" (I Cor 7:7). With virgin mind and body, Mary conceived the idea of man from above and delivered it here as Christ Jesus, our Savior. Mary Baker Eddy was made barren in preparation for her delivery of the man child that Jesus promised would come. This child, which is the Comforter, has no material component, no intermediary step, no human experience, and no human necessity. To the man of God's creating, there is no dream of earth and no mortal mind.

Mary Baker Eddy said, "The woman in the Apocalypse symbolizes generic man" (SH 561:22). Is this symbolic woman clothed with the sun repeating the voice of Father-Mother in Genesis 1:26, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness"? Yes! Is she barren to sense? Yes! Is she singing? Mrs. Eddy says that she is "remembering no more her sorrow for joy that the birth goes on; for great is the idea, and the travail portentous" (SH 562:25). Genesis 1:2 specifically addressed the issue of earthborn taint by explaining that spiritual creation is "without form, and void." In other words, there is no primordial slime origin or evolved animated body here. This manifestation entertains the angels of His presence, typified in Scripture as Michael, who has spiritual strength, and Gabriel, who "has the more quiet task of imparting a sense of the ever-presence of ministering Love" (SH 567:1). The universal family of man is preserved and replenished without sin: "In this divinely united spiritual consciousness, there is no impediment to eternal bliss, - to the perfectibility of God's creation" (SH 577:9).

1. Arthur S. Hunt and Bernard P. Grenfell, New Sayings of Jesus and Fragment of a Lost Gospel from Oxyrhynchus, (London: Egypt Exploration Society, 1904), 41.

George Denninger ©

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