The Male Soul, Virility, And Insemination
It is the nature of the male soul that “nothing else is received by members of the male sex but truth and what relates to truth; and … this, in its descent into the body, is formed into seed or sperm (which is why seeds, spiritually interpreted, mean truths)” (CL 220). It has been seen above that masculinity is defined as being intellectual, pursuing wisdom, and bringing an elevated vision of truth to the human race. However, this passage adds an essential piece to the puzzle – men only receive truth. Good can be attached to a man, but this requires a feminine influence. The key to understanding the male soul is to see that it is the vehicle whereby truth comes to the human race. This is why men are the source of seed for the propagation of the human race.
It is a basic tenet of faith that there is nothing in the natural world which does not draw its cause from the spiritual world (AC 2993, 3908, 6048, 9568; DLW 154, 251; HH 89; NJHD 261) and so it obviously follows that “a man’s power of insemination stems from a spiritual origin” (CL 220). If this is taken together with the fact that nothing is received by men but truth it will be seen that “the power of insemination … has no other source than the intellect, for its source is truth there resulting from good” (CL 90.3). Upon reflection it may be seen that “the wisdom that men have from the Lord knows no greater delight than to propagate its truths” (CL 115.5) and therefore the corresponding natural effect is the power of insemination in males.
The general case is this, “the sexual abundance men have is according to their love of propagating the truths of their wisdom and according to their love of performing useful services” (CL 220) for this provides a direct spiritual cause for the natural effect of insemination. This is qualified by the fact that:
The ability or virtue called virility accompanies wisdom as this is animated by spiritual matters connected with the church, and that such an ability or virtue is inherent therefore in conjugial love. Moreover, that such wisdom opens up the stream of this love from its wellspring in the soul, and thus invigorates and also blesses with continuance the life of the intellect, which is the essential life of masculinity. (CL 433)
The conclusion therefore is that:
A man does not lack virility as long as he loves his wife in a condition of intelligence; but he loses it if he does so in a condition of irrationality. It is a mark of intelligence to love only one’s wife, and such a love does not lack virility; but it is a mark of irrationality to love in preference to one’s wife the opposite sex in general, and such a love does lack virility. (CL 331)
Therefore it can be seen that virility is necessarily a feature of the masculine soul and thereby the male body, which exists in direct correspondence to the state of intelligence and wisdom in the man.
It is important to note that this should not be taken as a means to judge a man’s spiritual state from external observation. Instead it should be seen as an opportunity for acknowledging that all good things are from God, and that whatever it is that stands in the way of those gifts are from hell. Therefore, in the case of a man who is infertile, it is as likely that it is the effect of an attack of the hells through the body, as it is that it is external evidence of a lack of wisdom in the man. Let every man use his state of fertility as an opportunity for reflection upon his spiritual life, and not an imposable judgment on himself or others.
Along with the opportunity to play a role in the propagation of the human race, the power of insemination has the effect that men “because of it experience a state of arousal … that women do not experience … because they do not have that power” (CL 219). This will be of particular note in the discussion concerning preparation for marriage.
An obvious question about the human seed coming from the father is “how can a female child be generated from the soul of a man?” It is a fact that “the soul is as fully present in its tiniest vessels, which are the seeds or sperm, as it is in its largest one, which is the body” and so the answer lies in the fact that something female “originates from good in the intellect, because this in its essence is truth; for the intellect can think that something is good, thus thinking as true that this something is good. It is different with the will. This does not think about goodness and truth but loves them and does them” (CL 220). Men and women are both said to have will and understanding. The underlying truth is that in a man both his will and understanding are features of the intellect (CL 195), whereas in women they are both features of the will. Therefore, a female may be generated from a male father from the good in his intellect even though, in fact, it is truth, for truth and good never exist in isolation of each other.
Men In Relation To Women
One of the hardest things for men to believe is that “a man is not loveable simply on account of his physique … but on account of the gifts he has in him which make him human” (CL 91). However, the fact is “in men the mind is elevated into a higher light, and in women the mind is elevated into a higher warmth; moreover, a woman feels the delights of her warmth in the light of a man” (CL 188). Therefore, because “the elevation into a higher light in men is an elevation into higher intelligence and from this into wisdom, in which there is possible a still higher and higher ascent” (CL 188) men should focus their energy on developing this ability in themselves. Put simply, men should focus on shunning evils and learning the truth so that they can be more effective at shunning evils. This is the process that makes men loveable and in which women feel delight. One of the common perceptions today is that women want men to be vulnerable. This, however, is simply an external calling for what is in reality an internal state. What women actually want is not a man who is vulnerable, but a man who acknowledges the evils within himself and actively works to shun them from a sight of truth.
Another thing which men receive with difficulty is that they need to learn to love their wives for their wisdom and judgment (CL 155r.4, see also CL 167). Too often the fact that men are the understanding is taken to mean that men are the sole arbiters of truth. In reality, men only lend a rational sight of truth where women contribute a perception of truth from love. This is an elegant system of checks and balances for spiritual life, because where the intellect may be blind to love, or the will blind to truth the other can add wisdom and judgment. This system of checks and balances depends on the fact that “a man’s will has its seat in his intellect, and the intellectual quality of man is the inmost quality in woman” (CL 195) and only operates in order when “the intellect is only a servant and agent of the will” (CL 196). Men need to realize that they are just an intellect. They have an intellectual will and an intellectual understanding (see HH 369) which interact in response to the Lord’s love and wisdom. Stated simply, they are forms of understanding that have the ability to be lifted into a clear understanding of truth, not obscured by the quality of their love, so that they can act as a servant and agent of the will, which is their wife. More will be said about this in the discussion of femininity below.
It is important to understand that although in external appearances only a woman takes on substances from her husband, in actuality “a youth turns or is turned into a husband because a husband has elements in him taken from his wife, which heighten the capacity in him for receiving love and wisdom, elements which did not exist in him before as an unmarried man” (CL 199). Let men not be persuaded by external appearances, or even moderately internal thoughts about the importance of their role in marriage. In marriage, the husband serves as the base ultimate for the reception of conjugial love, coming in by means of his wife. He therefore has external activity in response to her internal activity. This external activity is driven by the descent of conjugial love and, in turn, begins the ascent of the church or, what is the same, marriage within the couple (which only exists once it has been received into the wife). The situation is clear – there is no truth without a good, there is no wisdom without a love, there is no understanding without a will, there is no husband without a wife.
It seems that a general principle that could be applied to men and women is this – men appear active, women appear passive, men are passive, women are active. In everything from the ultimate delights, to the approaches to human interaction this seems to hold true. Perhaps a more accurate way to state this is that men are internally passive and externally active whereas women are externally passive and internally active. Does this reflect reality? Or is it simply an appearance?
One final thought regarding men in relation to women. If men want to succeed in marriage, they need to be pursuing wisdom which finds delight in their wife. Angel wives once explained what kind of wisdom this is:
It is a spiritual wisdom, and from that a rational and moral one. Spiritual wisdom is to acknowledge the Lord our Savior as God of heaven and earth, and through the Word and discourses from it to acquire from Him truths connected with the Church, from which comes a spiritual rationality; and in addition to live from Him according to those truths, from which comes a spiritual morality. Our husbands call these two the wisdom which in general works to produce truly conjugial love. We have also heard from them the reason, namely, that this wisdom opens the inner faculties of their mind and thus of their body, providing free passage from the firsts to the last of these for the stream of love, on whose flow, sufficiency and strength conjugial love depends for its existence and life. As regards marriage in particular, the spiritual-rational and spiritual-moral wisdom of our husbands has as its end and goal to love only their wives and to rid themselves of all desire for other women. Moreover, to the extent they achieve this, to that extent that love is heightened in degree and perfected in quality, and the more clearly and keenly do we then feel matching delights in us corresponding to the contented pleasures of our husbands’ affections and the pleasant exaltations of their thoughts. (CL 293)
It may not come naturally to men to pursue a love for religion, an understanding of the truths connected with the church, and so on. However, as with all spiritual life, the Lord is asking men to rise above their natural inclinations and pursue a higher goal. Men were designed by the Lord to seek spiritual-rational and spiritual-moral wisdom which is the wisdom which conjoins them with their wives. It is His perpetual effort to provide opportunities for education, enlightenment, and reflection. However, it is up to men to use those opportunities to choose well and so become truly masculine.