Love in Marriage #156

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156a. 14. Marriage is a better condition than celibacy. This is established by what was already said about marriage and celibacy. A married condition is preferable because it comes from creation, because its source is the marriage of good and truth, because it has a correspondence with the marriage of the Lord and the church, because the church and married love are constant companions, because its purpose is the primary purpose of all creation - the orderly propagation of the human race and also the heaven of angels, for this comes from the human race.

In addition, marriage is human fulfillment, because a person becomes fully human through it, as the next chapter will show.

No celibate people are fully human.

But if you offer the proposition that the celibate state is better than the married state and open the proposition to examination, to be affirmed and established by presenting proofs of it, what comes out of it is that marriages are not holy, and chaste marriages do not exist, and even that chastity in the feminine sex is nothing other than their abstaining from marriage and vowing perpetual virginity, and on top of this, that people who vow perpetual celibacy are meant by the eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of God (Matthew 19:12). Besides many other things that are not true because they come from an untrue proposition.

(The eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of God is a reference to spiritual eunuchs - those who are married and abstain from the evils of fornication. Clearly this does not mean the Italian castrati.)

151b. I add to these things two stories. The first: 1

While I was going home from the Wisdom Games (described in no. 132 above) I saw on the way an angel dressed in blue. He came up beside me and said, "I see that you are coming from the Wisdom Games and that the things you heard there make you happy. I can tell that you are not entirely in this world, because you are in the natural world at the same time, so you don't know about our Olympic Seminars where the wise men of old gather and find out from newcomers out of your world what changes and developments wisdom has been going through - and still is. If you like, I'll lead you to a place where many of the old philosophers and their children - in other words, their students - live."

He led me toward the boundary between the north and the east, and then, from a rise, I looked in that direction. I saw a city!

To one side of it were two hills. The one nearer the city was lower than the other.

"That city is called Athens," he told me. "The lower hill is Parnassus and the higher one is Helicon. They call them this because in and around the city the old philosophers of Greece live - like Pythagoras, Socrates, Aristippus, Xenophon - with their students and novices."

I asked about Plato and Aristotle.

He said, "They and their followers live in another place, because they used to teach rational concepts that have to do with knowledge, while the philosophers who live here taught moral concepts that apply to life." He said that students from this city of Athens are often sent to educated Christians to report what they think these days about God, the creation of the universe, the immortality of the soul, the human condition compared to that of animals, and other things having to do with inner wisdom. "Today a crier has announced an assembly," he said, "an indication that the scouts have come across new arrivals from Earth, from whom they have heard things worth looking into."

We saw many people going out of the city and its environs, some with laurels on their heads, some holding palms in their hands, some with books under their arms, and some with pens in their hair by their left temples.

We joined in with them and went up together. What did we see on the Palatine Hill but an octagon called the Palladium. We went in. What did we see inside but eight hexagonal alcoves, with a library in each and also a table where the laureates sat together.

And in the Palladium itself we saw seats carved out of stone, where the others sat down.

Then a door opened on the left, and two newcomers from Earth were brought in through it. After the greetings, one of the laureates asked them, "What is the news from Earth?"

They said, "It's new that some people resembling animals, or animals resembling people, have been found in the woods, and from their faces and bodies they were known to have been born humans, lost or left in the woods at the age of two or three." They said they could not speak any thoughts nor learn to pronounce words in any language. They didn't know what food was good for them, either, as animals do, but put whatever they found in the woods into their mouths, clean and unclean alike. And other things like that. "Some of our scholars have conjectured from these things, and some have inferred, many things about the human condition compared to the animal state."

When they heard these things some of the ancient philosophers asked what they did conjecture and infer.

The two newcomers answered, "Many things. But they boil down to these:

(a) By nature and birth, man is more stupid and therefore more lowly than all animals, and this is all he amounts to if he is not taught.

(b) He can be taught, because he has learned to articulate sounds and to speak with them. By this means he began to express thoughts, step by step, more and more, to the point where he can pronounce laws for society - though animals are equipped with many of the laws from birth.

(c) Animals have rationality the same as people.

(d) So if animals could talk they would reason about everything as skillfully as people do. An indication of this is that they think from reason and good sense the same as people do.

(e) That intellect is just a modification of the sun's light, working with heat, by means of the ether, so it is just an activity of your inner nature, and it can rise to the point where it seems like wisdom.

(f) So it is useless to believe that people live after death any more than animals do - except perhaps for a few days after death, in the life breathing out of their body like a ghostly cloud before it dissipates into nature, not much different than the way a twig in ashes looks like what it used to be.

(g) So religion, which teaches that there is life after death, is invented to keep the simple shackled inwardly by its laws, as they are shackled outwardly by civil laws."

To these things they added that only the clever scholars worked it out this way, and not the intelligent ones. The philosophers asked what the intelligent ones thought. They said they had not heard, and that this was their own opinion.

152b. When they heard these things everyone sitting at the tables said, "Oh, what times these are on earth! Alas, what changes wisdom has undergone! How changed it is into foolish cleverness!

The sun has set and is under the earth diametrically opposite its meridian! Who can't tell from the account of those people lost and found in the woods that man is like that if he is not taught?

He is what he's taught to be, isn't he? Isn't he born more ignorant than the animals? Doesn't he learn to walk and talk? If he didn't learn to walk would he stand on his feet? And if he didn't learn to talk could he even mumble any thoughts?

"Doesn't everyone turn out as he is taught - foolish from false concepts and wise from truths? And when foolish from false concepts, he has the complete fantasy that he is wiser than anyone who is wise due to truths, doesn't he? Aren't there foolish and insane people who are no more human than those people they found in the woods? Isn't that what people are like when they have lost their memory?

"From all these things we conclude that an untaught person is neither a person nor an animal, but he is a vessel that can receive what does make you human, and so he is not born human but becomes human. And a person is born in such a form as to receive life from God, so that he can be something that God can put everything good into, and can bless him forever through a union with Himself.

"We can tell from what you say that wisdom today is so dead or foolish that people know nothing at all about the human condition as compared to the animal state. This is why they do not know about the human condition after death. And as for those who can know this but do not want to, and therefore deny it, as many of your Christians do - we might compare them to the people found in the woods. Not that they are stupid for lack of instruction. They have made themselves stupid through false observations, which are shadows of the truth."

153b. But then someone standing in the middle of the Palladium, holding a palm in his hand, said, "Please unfold this mystery.

How can someone created in the form of God be changed into the form of a devil? I know that angels in heaven are forms of God and that angels of hell are forms of the devil, and the two forms are opposite to one another - one a form of folly, the other a form of wisdom. So tell how someone, created in the form of God, can go from day into such night that he can deny God and eternal life."

The teachers responded to this one by one - first the Pythagoreans, then the Socratists, and afterwards the others.

But among them was a Platonist. He spoke last, and his opinion was the best. Here it is.

"People in the Saturnian or Golden Age knew and acknowledged that they were forms to receive life from God and that therefore wisdom had been inscribed on their souls and hearts. So they saw truth in the light of truth, and through truth they could be aware of good from the joy of loving it. But the human race in the following ages withdrew from acknowledgement that all the truth of wisdom, and therefore the good of love, that people have, continuously flows down from God. As they did, they stopped being a place for God to inhabit. And then conversation with God and association with angels stopped, too. For the inner part of their minds changed its direction of being raised by God upwards to God, and it turned out toward the world more and more, and thus God turned them to Himself through the world. In the end they were turned around in the opposite direction - downwards to their own selves.

"A person who is inwardly upside - down and therefore turned away cannot see God, so people separated themselves from God and became forms of hell or the devil.

"It follows from this that in the first ages they acknowledged in their heart and soul that all the good of love and all the truth of wisdom from it in them were from God, and also that these were God's in them. So they realized that they were only vessels of life from God and were therefore called images of God, sons of God, and born of God. But in the following ages they acknowledged it, not in heart and soul, but with a sort of induced faith, then with a memorized faith, and finally just with their mouths. And to acknowledge something like that with your mouth only is not to acknowledge it, but in fact to deny it in your heart.

"You can see from these things what wisdom is like today on earth among Christians, when they can get inspiration from God by written revelation, yet they do not know the difference between man and animals. So there are many who think that if people live after death the animals will survive, too, or that animals do not live after death so man will not survive, either.

"Our spiritual light, which enlightens the sight of the mind, has become darkness to them, hasn't it? And the light of nature that they have, which only enlightens physical sight, has become dazzling."

154b. After all this, everyone turned to the two newcomers and thanked them for coming and speaking to them. And they asked them to report to their brothers these things they had heard.

The newcomers answered that they would encourage their friends to see the truth that in the measure that they attribute every good of charity and truth of faith to the Lord, not to themselves, they are humans and become angels of heaven.

155b. The second story: Early one morning a very beautiful song I heard somewhere up above me woke me up. And then in that first stage of waking up, which is more inward, peaceful, and sweet than the rest of the day, I was able to stay for some time in a spiritual condition, as if outside my body, and give keen attention to the feeling being sung. The singing of heaven is nothing but a mental feeling coming from the mouth as melody, for it is the sound, apart from the words, of someone voicing a feeling of love. This gives the words their life.

In the state I mentioned, I could tell it was a feeling that had to do with the delights of married love, made into a song by some wives in heaven. I noticed this because of the sound of the song, in which those delights varied in marvelous ways.

After this I rose up and looked around - in the spiritual world.

A golden rain seemed to appear in the east, below the sun there!

It was the early morning dew coming down so copiously. When the sun's rays hit it, it looked like a kind of golden rain before my eyes. This made me even more wide awake. I went out (in the spiritual world), happened to meet an angel on the way, and asked him if he saw the golden rain coming down from the sun.

He answered that he saw it whenever he was thinking about married love.

Then he looked that way and said, "The rain is falling above a dwelling where three husbands are, with their wives. They live in the middle of the Eastern Paradise. We see that rain falling from the sun over the dwelling because wisdom about married love and its delights dwells with them - wisdom about married love with the husbands and wisdom about its delights with the wives. But I notice that you are thinking about the delights of married love, so I'll take you to that house and introduce you."

He led me, through places that seemed like paradise, to houses built of olive wood with two cedar columns outside the door, and he introduced me to the husbands and asked them to let me join them and speak with their wives. They nodded and called their wives.

The wives cast a penetrating look into my eyes.

I asked why.

They said, "We can tell exactly how you feel about love for the other sex and how your feeling affects you, and this tells us how you think on the subject. We see that you're thinking about it intensely but yet chastely." And they said, "What do you want us to tell you about it?"

I answered, "Please say something about the delights of love in marriage."

The husbands nodded, saying, "Please do explain something about the delights. Their ears are chaste."

And the wives asked, "Who told you to ask us about the delights of that love? Why not ask our husbands?"

"This angel who is with me." I answered. "He said in my ear that wives are the vessels of married love and can sense it because they are loves by birth, and all delights have to do with love."

They answered this with a smile on their lips. "Be careful. Don't say such a thing, unless you say it ambiguously, because it's a nugget of wisdom hidden deep in the hearts of our sex. We don't reveal it to any husband except one who has a real love for marriage. There are many reasons, which we keep well hidden."

Then the husbands said, "Our wives know all about our mental state. Nothing is hidden from them. They see, sense, and feel whatever comes out of our will. On the other hand, we know nothing about what goes on inside them. Wives have this gift because they are very tender loves. They also amount to forms of ardent zeal to preserve the friendship and confidence of marriage, which keeps life happy for both. They see to this for their husbands and for themselves, thanks to a wisdom that is inherent in their love. It is so discreet that they don't want to say they love, so they can't say it. Only that they are loved."

"Why is it that they don't want to and therefore can't?" I asked.

The wives said that if the least thing like that slipped from their mouths, a chill would come over their husbands and separate them from bed, chamber, and sight.

"But this happens to husbands who do not hold marriages sacred, so they do not love their wives from a spiritual love. It works differently for those who do love in this way. In their minds the love is spiritual, and the earthly love in their bodies comes from that.

"In this house we get the natural love from the spiritual, so we trust our husbands with our secrets about the delights of married love."

Then I politely asked them to explain some of those secrets to me, too.

They glanced at a window on the south side, and there a white dove appeared! Its wings shimmered as if with silver, and its head was capped as if with a gold crown. It stood on a branch bearing an olive. When it began to spread its wings the wives said, "We'll tell you something. While the dove is there it's a sign to us that we may."

Then they said, "Every man has five senses - sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch. But we have a sixth sense that is a sense of all the delights of married love in our husbands. And this sense is in our hands when we touch our husbands' chests, arms, hands, or cheeks - especially their chests - and when they touch us. All the happiness and pleasures of the thoughts in their minds and all the happiness and joys in their souls, and the cheer and mirth in their hearts, come across to us from them and take form, and we can perceive them, sense them, touch them, and tell them apart as clearly and distinctly as ears can tell the notes of a tune and a tongue can tell the flavors of fine foods.

"In a word, you might say the spiritual joys of our husbands wear a natural embodiment for us. So our husbands call us the sense organs of chaste married love, and therefore of its delights.

"And yet this sense of our sex comes out, is supported, continues, and gets better in the degree that our husbands love us due to wisdom and discernment and we, on our part, love them for those same things in them.

"In heaven, this sense that our sex has is called wisdom at play with its love and love with its wisdom."

These things made me want to know more - like the different kinds of delights.

They said, "They are infinite. But we don't want to tell you more, so we can't. The dove in our window with the olive branch under his feet has flown away."

I waited for it to come back, but it was no use.

Meantime, I asked the husbands, "Don't you have the same sense of married love?"

"We have a general sense," they said, "but not the specific one. We get a general happiness, a general joy, and a general pleasantness from the specific happiness, joy, and pleasantness our wives have. And this general feeling that we get from them is like a calm peacefulness."

When this was said, a swan appeared outside the window! It was standing on the branch of a fig tree. It spread its wings and flew off.

When the husbands saw this they said, "This is a sign to us to be quiet about married love. Come back another time, and maybe more things will come out." And they withdrew.

We went away.

Chapter 8

The Union of Souls and Minds by Marriage, Which is the Meaning of the Lord's Words That They Are No Longer Two, But One Flesh

156b. The Book of Genesis, and the Lord's words as well, make it clear that from creation a man and a woman have a built - in inclination and also an ability to join together just like one, and that man and woman still have that inclination and ability in them.

We read in the Book of Creation, called Genesis, that Jehovah God built the rib that He took from the man into a woman. And He led her to the man, and the man said, "This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. The name to call her is woman ['ishshah] because she was taken out of man ['ish].

So a man shall leave his father and his mother and cling to his wife, and they will be one flesh." (Genesis 2:22-24)

The Lord also says the same thing in Matthew:

Haven't you read that He who made male and female from the beginning said, "On account of this a man will leave father and mother and cling to his wife, and the two will be one in flesh"?

So they are no longer two but one flesh. (Genesis 19:4-5)

This shows clearly that woman was created from man and that each has the inclination and the ability to unite into one again. It is also clear that this means unite into one person, from the Book of Genesis, where it calls the two of them together a person. For it says, "In that day God created a person. He created them male and female. And he gave them the name 'human'" (Genesis 5:1-2). It says there that He called their name Adam, but Adam and human are the same word in Hebrew. The two of them together are also called a person in Genesis 1:27 and 3:22-24.

"One flesh" also means "one person," which is clear from the places where the Word says "all flesh," meaning mankind, as in Genesis 6:12, 13, 17, 19; Isaiah 40:5-6; 49:26; 66:16, 23-24; Jeremiah 25:31; 32:27; 45:5; Ezekiel 20:48; 21:4-5; and other places.

Arcana Caelestia, which explains the spiritual sense of the two books, Genesis and Exodus, points out the meaning of the man's rib that was made into a woman, the flesh that was closed up in place of it - and thus what "bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh" means - and what the "father and mother" whom the man would leave after marriage means, and what clinging to his wife means. The book points out that "rib" does not mean rib, nor "flesh" flesh, nor "bone" bone, nor "cling" cling. The words designate the things that the objects correspond to spiritually, and therefore stand for.

It is clear that this refers to spiritual things that make one person out of two, because married love joins them together, and that is a spiritual love.

I have often said already that a man's love of wisdom is carried over to his wife, and it will be established more fully in the articles that follow this. At this point it would not do to depart from the stated subject and digress - the subject being the joining together of two married partners into one flesh by the union of their souls and minds.

Here is the way the explanation will be organized:

1. Each sex has inherent from creation an ability and an inclination so that they can, and want to, join together just as if into one person.

2. The love in marriage joins two souls, and therefore two minds, into one.

3. The will of a wife joins itself with a man's intellect, and the man's intellect with the wife's will, on that account.

4. The inclination to unite is constant and perpetual for a wife but inconstant and variable for a man.

5. The wife excites conjunction in the man according to her love, and the man receives it according to his wisdom.

6. This conjunction takes place steadily from the first days of marriage, and among those who have a real married love, it becomes deeper and deeper forever.

7. A wife's union with her husband's rational wisdom happens from within, but with his moral wisdom it happens from the outside.

8. For the sake of this union as a goal a wife has perception about her husband's feelings and also great cleverness in molding them.

9. Wives keep this perception to themselves and hide it from their husbands for reasons that are necessary to stabilize married love, friendship, and confidence - and therefore the happiness of living together and the felicity of their life.

10. This perception is a wife's wisdom. A man cannot have it, nor can a wife have a man's rational wisdom.

11. A wife is always thinking from love about a man's inclination toward her, with joining herself to him on her mind.

A man is different.

12. A wife joins herself to a man by involving herself in what he wants.

13. A wife joins in with her husband by the aura of life that her love gives off.

14. A wife is joined together with her husband by absorbing the vigor of his manhood, but this happens according to the spiritual love they both have.

15. In this way a wife accepts an image of her husband in herself, so she sees, perceives, and feels his feelings.

16. There are activities appropriate to a man and activities appropriate to a wife, and a wife cannot take up the functions that belong to a man, nor a man the functions that belong to a wife, and do them right.

17. These activities, when done to help each other, also join the two together into one and make a unified home as well.

18. Depending on the things mentioned above that join them together, married partners become more and more one person.

19. Those who enjoy the real love in marriage can tell that they are one integrated person and therefore one flesh.

20. The real love in marriage, viewed in itself, is a union of souls, minds joined together, a drive to join together in their breasts leading to a drive to join bodily.

21. The attributes of this love are innocence, peace, tranquility, deep friendship, full confidence, and a desire in heart and soul to do everything good for each other. And from all these things come blessedness, happiness, joy, passion, and from the eternal enjoyment of these, heavenly bliss.

22. These things are not to be had in any way except in a marriage of one man with one wife.

Now comes the explanation of all these topics.


1. [The numbers 151-156 are used twice in the first edition; the sections following 156 are here numbered 151b-156b.]


(References: Conjugial Love 132; Genesis 6:12-13; Jeremiah 14:5; Matthew 19:4-6, 19:4-5)

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Conjugial Love 166, 173, 182, 202, 207, 208, 214, 258, 334

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