Preparation For Marriage – Interplay And Initiation

Preparation For Marriage – Interplay And Initiation

One of the most interesting aspects of being human is that:The human being does not come by birth into any knowledge, not even into knowledge relating to conjugial love … The human being does not even know enough to distinguish the opposite sex, and nothing at all about the means of making love to one.  Even young men and women do not know about these means without learning about them from others, even if they have been educated in the various arts and sciences. (CL 133.1, see also TCR 48)

However, this lack of knowledge at birth is what allows human beings to acquire all types of knowledge, even to eternity (CL 134).  It is, therefore, the aim of this discussion to explore the truths needed to successfully navigate through single life as it progresses towards married life.  For if a person does “not acquire them from others, he remains worse off than an animal” (CL 350, see also CL 132-136).


Underlying the process of preparation for marriage, is the process of human development.  Therefore it is important to touch upon a few elements of this underlying progress in order to more clearly see the framework within which preparation takes place.  “The general states of a person’s life are called infancy, childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and old age” (CL 185).  Throughout all of these states “the changes that take place in the inner qualities [of an individual] are changes in the state of the will in respect to its affections, and changes in the state of the intellect in respect to its thoughts” (CL 185).  These faculties are continually developing because “there is no limit to knowledge, even less to intelligence, and still less to wisdom” (CL 185).  Life is continually presenting new situations, and people are continually entering new states, which they have not experienced before (CL 186).  Men being forms of knowledge, intelligence and wisdom, differ in their changes of states from women, who are forms of love (CL 187).  Throughout these changes:

a person is a human being as long as love of the neighbor or a love of performing useful services forms the head, with love of the world forming the body, and love of self forming the feet.  But if love of the world forms the head, a person is not a human being except in a kind of hunchbacked way.  And when love of self forms the head, he is no longer a human being standing on his feet, but one standing on his hands with his head down and bottom up. (CL 269)

Therefore, in an ideal system:

little children are … led from the innocence of early childhood to the innocence of wisdom; that is, from an external innocence to an internal one.  This latter innocence is the goal in all their instruction and advancement.  Consequently, when they reach the innocence of wisdom, attached to it is the innocence of their early childhood, which in the meantime had served them as a foundation. (CL 413)

Then at some time between immaturity and maturity, young people begin to feel an attraction for the opposite sex (CL 187).  This means that both genders pass from a state of disinterest in the opposite sex to a state of attraction to them (CL 190) for “from creation and so from birth, every person has implanted in him an internal inclination to be married and an external one.  The internal one is spiritual and the external one natural.  A person comes first into the external inclination, and as he becomes spiritual he comes into the internal one” (CL 148).  The process of spiritual development, therefore, is closely related in its progress to the preparation of a person for marriage.

The spiritual fact is, “as long as a natural man remains a natural man, he cannot become spiritual” (CL 347) and so if he is not pursuing spiritual life, he is not being prepared for true marriage. This is fully expounded in the following passage:

A person dwells by birth in the lowest region [of the mind], but he ascends into the next higher one, called spiritual, by living according to truths of religion, and into the highest one by achieving a marriage of love and wisdom.  All kinds of evil and lascivious lusts reside in the lowest region, which is called natural.  In the next higher region, however, which is called spiritual, there are no evil and lascivious lusts, for this is the region into which a person is led by the Lord when he is born anew.  And in the highest region, which is called celestial, one finds conjugial chastity surrounded by its love.  A person is raised into this last region by a love of serving useful ends, and because marriage serves the most excellent ends of all, by truly conjugial love.  One can see in summary from this that, from the first beginnings of its warmth, conjugial love has to be raised from the lowest region into a higher one in order to become chaste and to thus descend from a chaste origin through the intermediate and lowest regions into the body.  When this is the case, its descending chastity purifies the lowest region of its unchaste elements.  This in turn causes the outmost expression of that love to become also chaste.  Now, if the sequential and orderly development of this love is hastened prematurely by physical conjunctions before the proper time, it follows that the person is acting from the lowest region which by birth is unchaste.  It is a familiar experience that this occasions and gives rise to coldness toward the marriage and indifference combined with loathing toward the other partner.  (CL 305; see also CL 267, 311, 345, 351)

The most important thing that a person can do to be ready for marriage is to look to the Lord, shun evils as sins, and thereby develop a love of spiritual things, for “when natural heat is separated from spiritual heat, as is the case in people who love natural things and reject spiritual ones, in them spiritual warmth becomes coldness.” (CL 235).  It is interesting to note that before marriage, the idea of marriage is something imagined.  However, it becomes more and more real until the time when a person is married.  At which point they come into the realization of the states which before they had only imagined (CL 190).  The Lord has designed the interaction between men and women to be something of a situation of mutual reinforcement.  For a person who remains natural will not see the benefit of becoming spiritual until they begin to pursue it – just as a person outside of marriage cannot see clearly the full benefits, delights, and felicities contained in a true marriage.

Spiritual life requires the marriage of love, or goodness, with wisdom, or truth, in a person’s life.  This is the development which serves as the underpinning for the creation of a marriage between one man and one woman.  A particularly beautiful example of this is found in the fact that love without wisdom is simply infatuation, but love taken together with wisdom for the sake of useful application:

not only make a person what he is, but they also are the person.  Indeed, what may perhaps surprise you, they produce the person.  For a man’s seed contains his soul in perfect human form, clothed with substances from the finest elements of nature, out of which the body is formed in the womb of the mother.  This useful end is the supreme and final end of Divine love acting through Divine wisdom. (CL 183)

This kind of direct correspondence between spiritual and natural life in the case of marriage is the reality which many people have lost sight of, and which the Lord has now revealed in the Word.

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