Masculinity And Femininity – Uncovering The Difference
|There is a basic truth, “it is one thing to be masculine and another to be feminine” (CL 32). In the current age people have used external arguments to form conclusions about internal realities. The fact is, no matter how convincing external appearances may be they cannot be used to counter revealed truths. Therefore it is important to relax a grip on experience and see what the Lord teaches about the internal reality of what it is to be a man or a woman.
A Necessary Distinction
In the book of creation it teaches, “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness’… So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27). It is clear from this statement that there is a distinction from creation between male and female. To be created in the image according to the likeness of God has to do with people obtaining spiritual and then celestial life from the Lord (AC 49-52). It is interesting to note the parallel structure between image and likeness and male and female. The Word teaches us that:
the male or man [vir] signifies the understanding and whatever belongs to it, consequently everything of faith; and that the female or woman signifies the will, or the things appertaining to the will, consequently whatever has relation to love; wherefore she was called Eve, a name signifying life, which is of love alone. By the female therefore is also signified the church, as has been previously shown; and by the male, a man [vir] of the church … The expression to “create” also has reference to the spiritual man but afterwards when the marriage has been effected, that is, when the church has been made celestial, it is not said “male and female” but “man [homo]” who, by reason of their marriage, signifies both; wherefore it presently follows, “and He called their name Man” by which is signified the church. (AC 476 (see also AC 478; DLW 287, 358; DP 123, 328; TCR 34)
With this passage as a basis might it be concluded that the image of God comes to the human race from the male and the likeness of God comes to the human race from the female? This point bears further explication. However, it is a subject that requires more detailed study than this dissertation can offer.
Whatever the case with image and likeness, it is clear that the distinction between male and female existed from creation to the extent that “…masculinity in the male is masculine in every part, even in the least part of his body, and also in every idea of his thought, and every bit of his affection. So, too, with femininity in the female…one cannot as a consequence be converted into the other…” (CL 33, see also CL 37) and therefore “…there is nothing in the soul, mind, or body which is not masculine in the male and feminine in the female…” (CL 46). Therefore it is the order from creation that there is an internal and external distinction between masculine and feminine, male and female.
One of the results of the loss of wisdom by the human race was a shift in perspective from internal to external. In the early ages of humanity people saw external reality in terms of a reflection of internal reality. Therefore, when they observed that “…the male has a different look, a different sound, and a different physique from the female…[and that] the two sexes also differ in behavior and manners. In short, [that] nothing in the two sexes is the same, although there is nevertheless a capacity for conjunction in every detail” (CL 33) they saw this simply as a reflection of the internal distinction between masculinity and femininity. However, in ages following those first ages even to the present day, these external differences became seen as anything from incidental to irrelevant. The fact that “masculinity cannot be converted into femininity, nor femininity into masculinity” (CL 32), therefore was lost. This is not to say that external distinctions were not made, but rather that they were seen as merely external.
Having established that there is a difference between masculine and feminine, the question remains, what constitutes the difference?
The difference essentially consists in this, that the inmost quality in masculinity is love, and its veil wisdom, or in other words, it is love veiled over with wisdom, while the inmost quality in femininity is that same wisdom, the wisdom of masculinity, and its veil the love resulting from it. CL 32
This means that “the male is a form of the wisdom of love, and the female is a form of the love of that wisdom” (CL 32). It should be noted that “this second love, however, is a feminine love, and it is given by the Lord to a wife by the agency of the wisdom of her husband, whereas that first love is a masculine love, which is a love of becoming wise, and it is given by the Lord to a husband according to his reception of wisdom” (CL 32, emphasis added to denote retranslation, see also CL 21.2).
At first, the appearance is one of an inequality between men and women. Men are love from the Lord veiled over with wisdom and women are that same wisdom clothed over with love given to them by the Lord, its vehicle being the wisdom of the husband. This imbalance is somewhat righted by the fact that:
[T]here is good’s truth, and from this, truth’s good, or truth resulting from good, and good resulting from that truth, and implanted in these two from creation is an inclination to join together into one. It is necessary to form some clear idea of these concepts, because on it depends any recognition of the essential origin of conjugial love. For…good’s truth or truth resulting from good is masculine, and truth’s good or good resulting from that truth is feminine. (CL 88.1 (see also AC 672)
The balance between masculine and feminine is actually found in the interaction of the two. Think of women as good and men as truth, for “goodness and truth are present in their created vessels according to each one’s form” (CL 86, see also AC 6685; TCR 366) and men are forms of truth and women forms of goodness. With that in mind, reflect on what is implied by the fact that:
Good does not exist by itself, nor truth by itself, but they are everywhere united … If you focus the sight of reason on it, moreover, you will perceive that without any added qualification, goodness has no assignable attribute and so no way of being compared, no capacity for being affected, and no character – in a word, no quality. It is the same with truth if it is referred to without a subject.CL 87.1 (see also AC 9154, 9514; DLW 15)
From this it is clear that men provide women with “qualification” and women provide men with “quality”. Another way of saying this is to say that:
In the human being we find will and intellect. Good has to do with the will, and truth with the intellect. The will does not accomplish anything by itself but through the intellect, nor does the intellect accomplish anything by itself but from the will … Something similar exists in each and every part of the mind and in each and every part of the body in the human being. (CL 87.3-4, see also CL 84, 121)
The interaction between men and women is the interaction between the understanding and the will, between truth and good, between wisdom and love. Just as the will gives quality and life to the understanding, which gives it qualification and form; so a woman gives quality and life to a man who gives her qualification and form. This will be seen more clearly as the discussion progresses into more particular characteristics of masculine and feminine.
One final thought on the distinction between masculine and feminine. The “truth in a person appears as if it were his, and good is joined to it by the Lord” (CL 127, see also AC 5207). Does this mean that what is masculine appears to belong to the male, but what is feminine does not appear to belong to the female? Throughout the last two ages of the world, men have come to believe that life is their own from this appearance. It will be discovered later that women have helped to convince men of this fallacy for the sake of preserving something of conjunction with them. However, the result has been that men have lost sight of the value of femininity and so have ceased to aspire to true masculinity. The distinction, therefore, has been obscured.