Chaste Love Looking To Marriage

Chaste Love Looking To Marriage

The Lord created human beings such that “when conjugial love has been implanted, love for the opposite sex turns around and becomes a chaste love for the opposite sex” (CL 99).  The quality of this chaste love for the opposite sex is such that it “is the love of a man for a maiden or married woman beautiful in form and lovely in manners, which is free of any idea of lasciviousness, and vice versa [that is, the same sort of love of a woman for a single or married man]” (CL 55.2).  This kind of love is predominantly Christian because it depends on acknowledgement of the Lord.  However, there is an interesting statement made about the possibility of chastity with all people in that “a chaste conjugial relationship does not exist except in the Christian world, and if it does not exist … still it is possible” (CL 142).  It is a bit of a challenge to discover what is meant here.  However, upon reflection it may be seen that conjugial love is available to all people, so long as they are looking to the Lord as they know Him and shunning evils as sins.  The reason that conjugial chastity may not currently exist in the world at large is because of the lack of knowledge of who God is and how He is to be followed.  It may be hoped that as the Lord has now revealed Himself in fullness more and more of the world will come into a knowledge of Him and life according to His commandments.  As this happens more and more people will discover the reality of chaste conjugial love.

One of the greatest challenges to chastity before marriage arises from the fact that “the special sense of conjugial love is the sense of touch.  Every love has its own special sense.  The love of seeing, arising from a love of understanding, has the sense of sight; and the things that give it pleasure are symmetries and qualities of beauty” (CL 210, see also AC 7038).  The Lord has indeed provided that “the first love – meaning the love before the wedding and just after the wedding – draws some of its character from a love for the opposite sex, thus from a heat belonging to the body not yet tempered by a love of the spirit” (CL 145).  The opportunities for delights arising from the sense of touch in marriage are infinite and varied.  However, this teaching may also serve as a warning to those as yet unmarried, for “the beginnings and progressions of conjugial love develop in sequence in order for them to flow into the fruitful love which begins with the wedding, therefore betrothals take place in heaven as well” (CL 301).  This means that:

by the order engraved on it truly conjugial love ascends and descends.  It ascends from its first warmth progressively upward towards people’s souls in an effort to form conjunctions there, and this by continually more interior openings of their minds.  There is, moreover, no love which strives for these openings more intensely, or which opens the interior recesses of minds more forcefully and adeptly, than conjugial love; for it is the soul in each which impels it.  On the other hand, in the very same moments that this love ascends toward the soul, it also descends toward the body and invests itself in it.  People should know, however, that conjugial love is of the same character in its descent as it is in the height to which it ascends.  If it soars aloft, it descends chaste; but if it does not soar aloft, it descends unchaste.  That is because the lower elements of the mind are unchaste, while its higher elements are chaste; for the lower elements of the mind cling to the body, whereas the higher elements divorce themselves from such things. (CL 302)

It is particularly a truth with men that:

everyone is in a state of lust inwardly from birth, and in a state of intelligence outwardly from training; but that no one is in a state of intelligence inwardly, thus in spirit – still less in a state of wisdom – except from the Lord.  For everyone … is withheld from the lust of evil and kept in a state of intelligence according as he looks to the Lord and is at the same time conjoined with Him.  Apart from this a person is nothing but lust.  Yet he is still in a state of intelligence in outward aspects, or as regards the body, from training. (CL 267, see also CL 351)

This poses an extreme challenge to young people as they come into the first awareness of love for the opposite sex.  It is important to realize:

what happens if a man and woman rush a marriage prematurely without an orderly development, not looking to the Lord, not taking the counsel of reason, spurning betrothal, and hearkening only to the flesh.  If the heat of that is the ardor from which love commences, it becomes an external love and not an internal one, thus not conjugial love; and this may be termed the shell of love without its kernel, or a fleshly one that is wasted and dry, because it is devoid of its genuine essence. (CL 312)

The need for a pursuit of a chaste relationship with one of the opposite sex is the key to lifelong happiness.  This is clear from the fact that:

spiritual people proceed in a proper and orderly progression, and natural people in an improper and disorderly one.  For spiritual people look to the Lord, and the Lord oversees and guides an orderly progression.  But natural people look to themselves, and so proceed in an inverted progression.  Consequently their married state is inwardly full of elements that are unchaste; and the more numerous the unchaste elements, the more numerous their states of coldness, and the more numerous their states of coldness, the more numerous the obstructions to their intimacy of life, which block up its passage and dry up its source. (CL 313)

In order to minimize the colds in marriage it is important to focus on chastity before marriage.

One of the most striking teachings concerning preparation for marriage is that the quality of a marriage is largely determined by the quality of the states leading up to it.  This is seen in the statement that in “the sequential progression leading to marriage, and the concurrent set of elements in marriage … the latter results from the former and in accordance with it” (CL 314, see also CL 311, 313).  Young people, therefore, need to be particularly careful in making life decisions which will support the development of marriage for themselves and others.  The Lord has designed a system in which some of life’s trials may be circumvented by good preparation.  Young people need to be made aware of this so that they will realize the importance of shunning evils detrimental to marriage, even before they have entered into specific preparation for marriage with a partner.

Returning to the consideration of the pursuit of chastity before marriage, it is interesting to see the distinction that in heaven there are “young women of such beauty that they may be called the very pictures of beauty, and young men of such morality that they may be called the very pictures of morality” (CL 44).  The beauty and the morality are described as interacting in a manner similar to the love for the opposite sex known on earth, with the distinction that “an angelic love for the opposite sex is…chaste, free of any temptation arising from lust” (CL 44).  Even for people on earth chaste love between the sexes is “a true delight of the mind and so of the heart, and not at the same time of the flesh below the heart” (CL 44).  However:

Angelic chastity which is found equally in both sexes, prevents that love from passing beyond the confines of the heart.  But within those confines, and above them, the morality of the young man and the beauty of the young woman find delight in the delights of a chaste love for the opposite sex – delights which are deeper and richer for their pleasantness than can be described in words. (CL 44)

This presents the goal:  conjugial love that “is with one and only one of the opposite sex, with all others set aside, for it is a love of the spirit and consequently of the body, and not a love of the body and consequently of the spirit, that is, it is not a love that infests the spirit” (CL 44).  In practical terms, this means that in looking for a marriage partner people are to renounce licentious relationships and thereby receive chastity for “chastity is simply the removal of unchasteness from that which is chaste” (CL 138, see also CL 147).

In human beings from creation there is an internal inclination to marry and an external one.  The internal inclination to marry “is free of all lasciviousness, because the internal inclination is incapable of lascivious pleasures but can feel delights only in a chaste manner” (CL 148).  Therefore, the natural or external inclination to marry should be made subservient to the internal or spiritual inclination so that it is not lascivious, but chaste in its character and expression, even in its delights (CL 148).  For men this means that they, “out of chastity, do not permit themselves to feel an influx of love on account of the body of any other woman than their wife” (CL 55.7).  Before marriage this means that men should focus on finding a woman who will provide them with this influx of love which will be their whole life.  In other words, allowing oneself to dwell in the arousal felt from the attraction to women’s bodies is not acceptable.  Men need to focus on using their rational reception of truth to raise their mind from the pressing allurements of their body, to a moral appreciation for the true beauty of women.  On the other hand, women need to focus their awareness on encouraging men in this elevation rather than falling into enticing them by means of external attractions such as immodesty in speech or dress, active flirtation, toying with men’s attraction, and other such appeals to their state of arousal that pose real challenges to men’s all too willing external drive toward conjunction.

In summary, “chastity and unchasteness are terms that apply only to states of marriage and things which have to do with marriage” (CL 150).  Therefore, chastity or its lack first enter a person “when the first impulse toward marriage is felt, which is a love for the opposite sex” (CL 150).  Before a person feels the inclination to love members of the opposite sex, chastity cannot be ascribed to them because they are not yet in a state to renounce licentiousness from religion.  Rather they are simply in ignorance with relation to matters having to do with marriage.  This also explains why people who for one reason or another are indifferent to marriage (as is the case with eunuchs) cannot be said to be chaste, even if they do not engage in licentiousness (CL 151).  From this it is that celibacy is not chastity (CL 155.1) as can be seen from the fact that “a love for the truly conjugial life is the love to which chastity applies” (CL 155.2).  Therefore, so long as a person remains single it is essential that they turn their mind towards the opportunity for conjunction with one of the opposite sex, allowing the Lord to guide them in their pursuit of this chaste love, and shunning the superiority of the external drive to marriage by focusing their attention on discovering the internal inclination to marriage and subjugating the body to its authority.

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