Beauty In Women
Love alone is not the origin of beauty, neither is wisdom alone, but the origin is a union of love and wisdom – a union of love with the wisdom in a youth, and a union of wisdom with its love in a maiden. For a maiden does not love wisdom in herself but in a young man, and on that account sees him as beautiful; and when the young man sees this in a young woman, he then sees her as beautiful. Therefore love through wisdom creates beauty, and wisdom from love receives it. (CL 384, see also DLW 358) From this it is clear that there is beauty to be seen in both genders. However, the quality of beauty is different in men than in women.
With women, there are two kinds of beauty:
a natural beauty having to do with their face and figure, and the other a spiritual beauty having to do with their love and demeanor … these two kinds of beauty are very often separated in the natural world, but … they are always united in the spiritual world; for outward beauty in the spiritual world is an expression of a person’s love and demeanor. It frequently happens after death therefore that homely women become beautiful, and beautiful women homely.(CL 330)
This last phenomenon is confirmed by the fact that in heaven “the wives are even more beautiful, appearing as veritable pictures of heavenly love, and their husbands as pictures of heavenly wisdom” (CL 355). And so it is certain that all in heaven are beautiful.
Perhaps the more challenging aspect of beauty is found in the question, “what should be the relationship of a woman to her beauty?” For it is certain that:
every woman wishes to seem beautiful in appearance and beautiful in demeanor, because she is from birth the form of an affection of love and this affection is expressed in beauty. Therefore a woman who does not wish to be beautiful is not a woman who wishes to love and be loved, and so is not truly a woman. (CL 330)
The answer to this question is that women should “love their beauty and its ornamentation, provided it is for the sake of their husbands and inspired by them” (CL 330). Although before marriage it is proper for women to wish to be beautiful to men in general:
if a woman after marriage wishes to seem beautiful in the same way as before, she loves men in general and not her husband. For a woman who loves herself on account of her beauty … continually wishes to have her beauty tasted … It is patent that such a woman has a love for the opposite sex in general and not a love for just one. (CL 330)
It is clear from this that a woman’s chastity is either supported or compromised by her use of beauty. Therefore, women should guard against vanity, as it obstructs their primary use of bringing conjugial love to a man.
Warnings To Women
Warnings to women are similar to the warnings given to men in that they center around shunning evils as sins and doing good with the acknowledgment that it comes from God. However, they differ in the fact that, in general, women have within them from creation a perception of love that does not require instruction in this way. However, so that the struggle of women in marriage might be seen more clearly, several aspects of that struggle will now be discussed.
The first warning to women is that they need to trust their inner dictates (Cf. CL 22, 44). Because their wisdom is born with them from creation and stems from the conjugial love present in them, women can sense “by native instinct [when to] withdraw her inner affections into the secret chambers of her mind” (CL 274). Therefore, until a women senses a true wisdom developing in her husband, it would serve her well to trust herself on this matter.
Another case in which women need to trust themselves is the case of:
the man himself who takes a mistress [and] does not see that it is abhorrent, because with the closing of heaven comes spiritual insanity. But a chaste wife sees it clearly, because she is the embodiment of conjugial love, and this love is revolted by such an action. For that reason, too, many of them subsequently refuse physical union with their husbands, as something that would contaminate their chastity by a contagious communication of the lust clinging to the husbands from their harlots. (CL 464)
This kind of reaction on the part of a wife stems from her conjugial chastity. Therefore, if a woman feels that her marriage is better served by refusing a physical relationship with her husband until he has repented of his insanity, she should be confident, regardless of his ratiocinations, of her position.
Another warning to women, is that they should, if at all possible, guard their virginity. The female sex differs from the male sex in that it does not experience a beginning of conjugial love in lust from an active arousal. Therefore it is not healthy for them to enter into love between the sexes in act before marriage (CL 98). The reason for this is that:
conjugial love in women is coupled with their virginity. From it comes the chastity, purity and sanctity of that love. Consequently, for a woman to promise and commit her virginity to some man is to give a token that she will love him to eternity. Because of that a virgin cannot with any rational assent pledge it except with the promise of a conjugial covenant. It is also the crown of her honor. Therefore to snatch it away without a covenant of marriage and afterwards reject her is to make a trollop of some virgin who might have become a chaste bride and wife, or to cheat some other man, either of which is hurtful. Accordingly, if anyone takes a virgin as his courtesan, he may indeed cohabit with her and so introduce her into the friendship of love, but still with the constant intention of making her his wife if she is not unfaithful. (CL 460, see also AC 828)
This has often been seen as a hard teaching. However, it cannot be denied if women are to be valued, protected, and loved. There are few, if any, women who inwardly regard the loss of virginity outside of marriage as a good thing, a preferable thing, or even an acceptable thing. Therefore, this warning, in some sense is simply a reiteration of the previous one – women need to trust their inner perception from love. This is not to say that there is no return path for those who have made mistakes. However, if women can trust themselves enough to avoid situations in which they may lose their virginity there will be far fewer obstacles to a truly conjunctive marriage for them.
A third warning to women, is to beware of the merely natural (Cf. AC 831). In reality, this is a warning to either gender. However, because women are the vehicle for conjugial love, and therefore all life, it is of particular importance for them. The conjugial atmosphere emanating from God:
is received directly by the female sex and indirectly by the male sex, and because it is received in accordance with particular forms, it follows that, although in its origin this atmosphere is holy, in its recipients it can be turned into an atmosphere that is not holy, even indeed into one that is opposite in character. CL 225, see also CL 294
Therefore, women need to ensure that they are serving as good vessels for conjugial love, maintaining its chastity, encouraging its wisdom in their husbands, and shunning activities that oppose it.
Perhaps the single most important warning to women is to beware of feminine power and domination between partners. It is very often the case that “the dispute over who has what power arises from the fact that men insist on having superiority in all matters affecting the household just because they are men, leaving women in a position of inferiority just because they are women” (CL 291). This type of power struggle comes from an “ignorance of true conjugial love and [a] lack of any perception or sensation of the blessings of that love” (CL 291). When two partners come into a struggle for mastery no one wins. For if men obtain mastery women are subject to male chauvinism and its attendant prejudice. If women obtain mastery, all that is left is an appearance of conjugial love, an external appearance of companionship which is internally devoid of life (CL 291). Both of these cases form “hellish marriages in the world in which the partners are inwardly bitter enemies and yet outwardly seem like the closest of friends” (CL 292).
Although either partner could struggle with the evil of love of dominion from the love of self, there is a particular warning to women against seeking dominion in marriage because:
women deeply conceal a knowledge within them by which they know how to skillfully tame men, if they wish, and make them subject to their command … On the part of ill-bred wives, this is accomplished by scoldings and periodic commendations; in some cases by continually hard and unpleasant looks, and in similar cases by other tactics. On the part of well-bred wives, however, it is accomplished by persistent and incessant pressings of requests, and by stubbornly resisting and opposing their husbands if they suffer hardships on their account, insisting on their right of equality by law and making themselves brazenly obstinate because of it. (CL 292)
The fact is, women are able to gain control of men because “a man acts in accord with his intellect and a woman in accord with her will; and the will can be stubborn, but not the intellect” (CL 292) Therefore women should be particularly wary of any inclination to stubbornness. It is the nature of a wife to lead the internal of her husband from love, and secretly moderate his affections so that they two can be conjoined in wisdom and judgment. However, it is stubbornness when a women is unwilling to moderated by the rational sight of truth presented by her husband.
Resisting the urge to dominate becomes particularly challenging when men are in states of coldness with respect to marriage, or in states of obscurity with respect to wisdom (which in many cases are one and the same). However, women need to remember that it is their conjugial love from the Lord that actually gives life to a man’s wisdom. Therefore, although in externals, as was seen earlier, a women may use a wide varieties of tactics to awaken in men a desire to pursue wisdom and shun insanity; let women beware of crossing that fine line between moderation and manipulation.
A fifth warning to women, is to remember the difference between men and women in times of cold. At times both partners may fall back on simulating their part of the conjugial relationship. However, as was seen previously, with men this is evidence of an interior cold, whereas “simulations on the part of wives are not the same as simulations on the part of men. Even if they appear similar to them, they are expressions of real love, because women are born forms of love for the understanding of men. They accept their husbands’ displays of favor graciously, therefore, if not in words, still in heart” (CL 285).
A sixth warning to women is to remember what it is that women receive from men. An example which brings these things to light is the that of a widow. For:
the state of a widow is harder than the state of a widower. The reasons are external and internal. The external reasons are plain for anyone to see; as for instance: 1. A widow cannot provide the necessities of life for herself and her household as a man can, or having acquired them, manage them as she did formerly with her husband’s help and in partnership with him. 2. Nor can she properly protect herself and her household; for in their married life her husband was her protection and so to speak her good right arm; and even when she had to protect herself, still she relied on her husband. 3. By herself she is without counsel in such matters as require an inner wisdom and its consequent judgment. 4. A widow has no one receiving the love she has as a woman; thus she is in a state alien to the state innate in her and entered into by marriage. (CL 325)
From a more internal perspective it may be seen that:
good cannot provide or manage anything except by means of truth; that good cannot protect itself either except by means of truth, accordingly that truth is the protection and so to speak the good right arm of good; and that good without truth is without counsel, because it has its counsel, wisdom and judgment by means of truth. Now because a man from creation is a form of truth, and a wife from creation a form of its accompanying good, or to say the same thing, because a man from creation is a form of understanding, and a wife from creation a form of its accompanying love, it is apparent that the external or natural circumstances which make the widowhood of a woman harder take their origin from internal or spiritual circumstances. CL 325
From this example it may be seen that women, being forms of good, receive good service from men, who are forms of truth. Therefore, women, like men, need to be wary of feeling that life is completely their own and that they do not need a partner. For the simple fact is that neither man nor woman left to themselves is complete without the other. This will be further explored in the section “Why Marry?”.