In the symbolic account of the creation, in Genesis, it is said that God first created a man, and that afterwards he formed a woman, from a bone, one of the ribs of the man. Probably there are many simpleminded persons who believe that these statements are to be accepted as literal scientific facts. But, on the contrary, they are symbolic and representative of conditions in the minds and lives of men. The man’s rib, being a bone, represents the things in man’s mind having very little life, as the things of the senses, the things of the proprium, or self-hood, in its natural deadness as to spiritual life. If a man loves his own life, as his own, apart from the Lord ; and if the man regards his own life as full and perfect; he loves his self-hood; and this makes him selfish, self-centered, and self-conceited, looking to himself, and forgetting the Lord. And in order to elevate the man to a higher condition, and to save him from the deadening influence of self-love, the Lord created a woman. “And the rib which Jehovah God had taken from man, made He a woman, and brought her unto the man.” (Gen. ii. 22.) This proprium, or love of self, which was evil in the man, was taken out of him, and formed into a woman, who was not merely a bone, but a complete human form, and who could love the man for his own character.
And the woman, in thus loving the man, would not exercise self-love, but love to another, who was her partner, and who, with her, would form one full and perfect manhood, walking together in regeneration. Thus her love for the man would be very different in its quality from that which it would have been, in the man’s own mind, where it would have been love of himself. The woman may love the man in a way in which he can not properly love himself. And thus that love of himself, which, in him, is like a bone, a thing of very little life, is taken out of him, and is brought again to him, in the form of a lovely and loving woman, a wife, who is full of a higher and nobler life than a bone, and whom he can love for herself, and for her love of him. True marriage takes away self-love, and leads each partner to love the other. And thus each loves, and is loved, in a close union, without either one degenerating into self-love. And while self-love is evil, false and sinful, married love, when genuine and regenerate, is good, true and righteous. And in a right marriage there are the greatest opportunities for a high regeneration.
But all these things, although founded upon literal facts, are also symbolic of the conditions of men’s minds in the spiritual marriage of regeneration, the marriage of good loves in the will, with true principles in the understanding, which is called the heavenly marriage, and which is constantly treated of in the internal sense of the Scriptures. In regeneration, self-love is rejected, and mutual love is established in the mind, and exemplified in the life. EDWARD CRAIG MITCHELL
Today, most marriages end in divorce, many people do not take the vows of marriage seriously while others make a mockery of it altogether. But, when we uncover the spiritual correspondence of marriage and procreation, we conclude that ultimately such behavior only leads to spiritual and biological disorder, adultery, debauchery, perversion, addiction, sin and misery. On the literal level, we know what it means “to commit adultery.” But this has repercussions on the Spiritual and Celestial levels as well. On the Spiritual level, it means “to adulterate the goods of the Word and to falsify its truths.” And, on the Celestial level, it means “to deny the holiness of the Word, and to profane it.” Therefore, if we are not even able to be faithful to our spouse, how can we be faithful to the Lord and His Word?
In order to understand the real source and significance of marriage, we must first understand why God created the universe and human beings. God’s substance is Love (Good) itself and His form is Wisdom or Truth. And in God, Good and Truth are infinitely harmonized, conjoined or married. Now, God created the universe to express or realize His essence or Love. The ultimate purpose of creation is to produce a Heaven of angels from the human race. And, in order to reciprocate Love truly and freely, these angels must be in the image and likeness of God. In Heaven, God’s Love is perpetually realized because God and angels are united by reciprocal conjunction. And the more angels Heaven contains, the more God’s image (Truth) and likeness (Love) are reflected, and the more Divine Love is realized.
According to Swedenborg, in Heaven, marriages are sacred because they correspond to the union or marriage between Good and Truth. And all angels are in a marriage or conjugial relationship because this is the deepest kind of conjunction that can exist. In fact, conjugial and Celestial Love are synonymous. Such a marriage is spiritual or a marriage of minds and hearts because a male angel in this relationship represents Wisdom or Understanding and a female angel represents Love or Will. And there is a perpetual bliss that results from this conjunction.
We can understand the stark difference between a man and woman by understanding the difference between Wisdom and Love. A woman’s body is graceful, soft and curvaceous because it corresponds to the mercy of Love. A woman has a face that is heart-shaped, her breasts produce milk and her body stores more fat because a woman’s faith is grounded in Love. In contrast, the male human body is muscular and its face is square-shaped because it corresponds to the harsh Judgment of Truth. As a consequence, a man angel contemplates in his wife the grace, beauty and warmth of Love and a woman angel sees in her husband the righteousness of Truth. Now, unlike on earth, the fruits of this spiritual marriage are not new human souls but new spiritual Truths and Goods. A conjugial relationship in Heaven generates new shades of Wisdom and new qualities of Love that are shared and enjoyed by all angels in Heaven.
When we understand what is occurring with regard to marriage in Heaven, we can understand the holiness and importance of marriage on Earth. First of all, on earth, the holy marriage of Good and Truth universally corresponds to the conjunction of the Lord and the Church (faithful and loving humanity). This is why in the Bible the Lord is called “the bridegroom” and the Church is called “the bride.” This is also the reason why In the Israelitish Church men were assigned to preach and defend the doctrines of Truth while women were in charge of preserving Love in the home and family. Personally, marriage corresponds to the physical marriage or conjugial love between a man and a woman. This also means that sexual intercourse between a woman and a man has a sacred, meaningful and useful purpose. Although such an act involves the deepest kind of joy or bliss, its ultimate purpose is to produce new human souls with the potential of becoming angels of Light. Thus, the marriage of a man and a woman, the procreation of children and the creation of a family are the means by which human beings begin to learn how to love one another and be useful. Such family love should ideally lead to an unselfish love of neighbor and a love of God. It is only by such useful and loving behavior that human beings ultimately become angels of Light in Heaven. Spiritually, sons correspond to new Truths and daughters to new Goods. And the creation of new human souls has the potential to increase the Love and Wisdom of Heaven.
We can now also understand why divorce has become so prevalent in society. In order to be truly and spiritually conjoined with our spouse, we must share the same inner loves and beliefs. Thus, many persons on Earth are superficially attracted to each other and idealize each other. But, after a while, the illusion is dispelled and they realize that they do not share the same inner principles and values. In some situations, one of the persons in the relationship may have transformed spiritually. As a consequence, their spouse may seem distant. This is because, in the realm of our thoughts and feelings, proximity is the result of harmonic resonance. We are only close to those who share our loves and beliefs. And, even if these persons were to remain together during their life on earth, they would not be able to pursue this relationship after they die, as in the spiritual world persons are related by similar affections and thoughts.
Hence, when those spouses who were not truly compatible meet again in the world of spirits, they must eventually part ways when the inner or true character of their loves and beliefs emerges. Each spirit is then attracted to a spiritual society in Heaven or hell that matches his/her real affections and thoughts. In Heaven, relationships are formed in accordance with Divine Order and Heavenly principles while in hell they are the result of selfishness, disorder, lust and cupidity. As a consequence, only those who were truly conjoined in marriage on Earth are able to pursue their conjugial relationship after they are raised into Heaven. And, in Heaven, such a deep relationship can continue to grow and flourish eternally.
Everyone’s own love remains in him after death for the reason that love is a person’s life, and consequently it is the real person. A person is also what he thinks, thus what his intelligence and wisdom are, but these are united with his love. For a person thinks because of his love and according to it; in fact, if he is free to do so, he speaks and acts from it. From this it can be seen that love is the being or essence of a person’s life, and that thought is the resulting expression or manifestation of his life. Speech and action that spring from thought, therefore, do not spring from thought, but from love acting through thought.
I have been granted to know from a good deal of experience that a person after death is not what he thinks but what his affection is and what he thinks from that, which is to say that he is what his love is and subsequently his intelligence. I have also been granted to know that after death a person puts away everything that is not in harmony with his love; indeed, that he progressively takes on the look, sound, speech, behavior and manners of his life’s love. It is for this reason that the whole of heaven has been set in order according to all the varieties in the affections connected with the love of good, and that the whole of hell has been arranged according to all the affections connected with the love of evil.
Especially does a love for the opposite sex remain, and in the case of people coming into heaven, namely, people who become spiritual on earth, conjugial love. A love for the opposite sex remains in a person after death for the reason that a male is then still a male, and a female still a female, and masculinity in the male is masculine in the whole and every part of him, likewise femininity in the female, and there is a capacity for conjunction in every detail – indeed, in every least detail – of the two sexes.
Now, because that capacity for conjunction was introduced from creation and is therefore permanently present in the two sexes, it follows that each yearns for and aspires to conjunction with the other.
Love regarded in itself is nothing but a desire for and consequent effort to conjunction, and conjugial love is a desire for and effort to conjunction into one. For the human male and the human female were so created that from being two they might become as though one person or one flesh. And when they become one, then taken together they are man in his fullest sense. But without that conjunction they are two, and each is like a person divided or half a person.
Now, because that innate capacity for conjunction lies inmostly within every single aspect of the male and in every single aspect of the female, and an ability and desire for conjunction into one is present in every part, it follows that a mutual and reciprocal love for the opposite sex remains in people after death.
We use the terms, love for the opposite sex and conjugial love, because a love for the opposite sex is not the same as conjugial love. A love for the opposite sex is found in a natural person, but conjugial love in a spiritual person.
A natural person loves and wants only external conjunctions, with the physical pleasures arising from them, while a spiritual person loves and wants an internal conjunction, with the states of spiritual happiness resulting from it. The spiritual person also perceives that these states of happiness are possible with only one wife, with whom he can be continually joined more and more into one. And the more he is so joined with her, in the same degree he feels his states of happiness ascending and remaining constant to eternity. The natural person, on the other hand, does not think in this way.
That, now, is why we say that conjugial love remains after death in the case of people coming into heaven, who are those who become spiritual on earth.
THE STATE OF MARRIED PARTNERS AFTER DEATH
We have just shown in the preceding chapter that marriages exist in heaven. In this chapter we will now show whether or not a marriage covenant contracted in the world will continue and remain in force after death.
It is necessary that I make this known, because it is not a matter of judgment but of personal experience, and I have had this experience through association with angels and spirits. Nevertheless, I must make it known in such a way that reason may also assent.
Among the prayers and yearnings of married partners, moreover, is a wish to know the state of married partners after death. For men who have loved their wives wish to know – if their wives have died – whether it is well with them. So, too, wives who have loved their husbands. And they want to know whether they will meet again.
Many married couples also would like to know in advance whether partners separate after death or whether they stay together. Those who are discordant in spirit wish to know whether partners separate. And those who are concordant in spirit wish to know whether they stay together.
Because these are some of the things people would like answers to, they will be made known, and this will be done in the following order:
(1) In every person after death, love for the opposite sex continues to be what it was like inwardly, that is, what it was like in the person’s inner will and thought in the world.
(2) Likewise conjugial love.
(3) Most married couples meet after death, recognize each other, associate again, and live together for a time, which occurs in their first state, thus while they are still maintaining the outward aspects of their lives as they did in the world.
(4) Progressively, however, as married partners put off outward appearances and enter into their inward qualities, they gradually perceive what sort of love and mutual feeling they had had for each other, and consequently whether it is possible for them to live together or not.
(5) If it is possible for married partners to live together, they remain partners. But if it is not possible, they separate, the husband sometimes separating from the wife, the wife sometimes from the husband, and both of them sometimes from each other.
(6) A man is then given a suitable wife, and a woman, likewise, a suitable husband.
(7) Married couples enjoy the same intimate relations with each other as in the world, only more delightful and blessed, but without begetting children. Instead of or to take the place of begetting children, they experience a spiritual procreation, which is one of love and wisdom.
(8) This is what happens in the case of people who come into heaven. It is different, however, with those who go to hell. Emanuel Swedenborg [CL 36-38, 45]