Determination To One Of The Opposite Sex

Determination To One Of The Opposite Sex

The purpose of courtship is to discover a love for one of the opposite sex.  The state of life outside of marriage is one of varying degrees of love for the opposite sex in its general form.  This “love for the opposite sex is love for several of the opposite sex and experienced with several, whereas conjugial love is love solely for one of the opposite sex and experienced with one….  The more spiritual a person becomes, therefore, the more he divests himself of a love for the opposite sex and clothes himself in conjugial love” (CL 48).  The point is that even when a person has not yet found their eternal or life partner their intent and behavior should be focusing on moving toward love with a single partner.  Marriage is only possible between two of the opposite sex.  Therefore, life leading to marriage is a process of exploration and discovery of that one partner.

This process of discovery, is actually an exploration in search of a partner who is close to you in the spiritual world.  For in the spiritual world “… two people cannot live together in the same house unless they are likenesses of each other.  And they cannot live together at all as married partners unless their feelings for each other are mutual” (CL 50).  This poses a real challenge to focus on internal reality when it comes to finding a life partner.  It is challenging because “people know that there are similarities between married partners and dissimilarities; also that the outward ones are discernible, whereas the inner ones do not appear except to the partners themselves after they have lived together for some time, and to others through certain indications” (CL 227). Therefore, in the process of determining the love of the opposite sex in general to a love for an individual of the opposite sex, it is essential that people explore each other, to the degree possible, from an internal perspective.  As people strive to pursue an internally similar partner they will discover that “for people who desire truly conjugial love, the Lord provides similar partners, and if they are not found on earth, He provides them in heaven.  This results from the fact that all marriages of truly conjugial love are provided by the Lord” (CL 229).

The Lord has created a system in which “similarities and dissimilarities arise in general from people’s native inclinations, varied by their upbringing, associations, and acquired persuasions” (CL 227).  In the spiritual world this means that “similarity or harmony in character causes association and presence, while dissimilarity or disharmony causes dissociation and absence” (CL 171).  However, in the natural world this spiritual reality is veiled and sometimes obstructed by the space and time separation innate to the material world.  The fact remains, though, that individuals are to trust that for people approaching marriage looking to the Lord, He “unveils their inner similarities so that they notice each other” (CL 229).  This has reference not only to the process of betrothal, but also to the initial recognition and later determination to a marriage partner.

The key to understanding how it is that the Lord works with human understanding and perception in the finding a life partner is found in the following teaching:

Some similarities and dissimilarities are internal, and some are external.  Internal ones trace their origin solely from religion; for religion is implanted in souls, and it is transmitted through souls from parents to offspring as a supreme predisposition.  The reason is that every person’s soul draws its life from a marriage of good and truth, and from this marriage comes the church.  Now because the church varies and differs throughout the regions of the entire globe, therefore the souls of all human beings also vary and differ.  This is consequently the origin of people’s internal similarities and dissimilarities, and in accordance with them the conjugial conjunctions of which we have spoken.  In contrast, external similarities and dissimilarities are qualities not of souls but of dispositions.  By dispositions we mean people’s outward affections and consequent inclinations which are implanted after birth chiefly through their upbringings, associations, and resulting habits.  Indeed, people say, “I have a disposition to do this,” or “a disposition to do that,” and we comprehend by this an affection or inclination for it.  Acquired persuasions respecting one kind of life or another usually shape these dispositions as well.  They are what induce inclinations in some even to enter marriages with partners not their equals and also to refuse marriages with ones who are.  Nevertheless, after the partners have lived together for a time, these marriages vary according to the similarities and dissimilarities which the partners have acquired both by heredity and their accompanying upbringing.  Any dissimilarities then induce coldness. (CL 246)

Therefore the more a couple knows about each other before they are married the better, for “separations come about only as a result of cold states progressively developed after marriage, or as a result of factors discovered after marriage which in turn lead to coldness” (CL 234).

From this it may be seen that in looking toward marriage it is important to note that dissimilarities may not be apparent unless a person’s habits of behavior are examined.  It is important to explore a potential partner for dissimilarities internally and externally because, in marriage, coldness will arise when these different habits become apparent (CL 246).

It is true that “nearly all people in the natural world can be associated together in respect to their outward affections, but not in respect to their inner affections if these differ and become apparent” (CL 272).  However, “in the spiritual world, all are associated together in accord with their inner affections, and not in accord with their outward affections unless these are in harmony with their inner ones” (CL 273).  This is not often the case in the natural world because “inward affections that belong to the mind do not appear, and in many cases scarcely a trace of them is visible.  For either the body swallows them up and immerses them in its dregs, or from a habit of dissembling learned from early childhood, it hides them deep within and conceals them from the sight of others” (CL 272). Therefore:

Marriages in the world are generally contracted on the basis of outward affections … because inward affections are rarely considered; and even if they are, still a reflection of them is not seen in the woman, for by native instinct she withdraws her inner affections into the secret chambers of her mind.  There are many outward affections which induce men into marrying … Added to these are various enticements and lusts.  These, too, do not allow opportunity for exploring congruences of inward affections. (CL 274)

The danger to marriage, here, lies in the fact that “if inward affections that join the partners’ minds are not present … the marriages come apart in the home” (CL 275) because “the outward affections which once induced and enticed them into marrying are then cast aside, so as to no longer join the two” (CL 275).  The overall warning here is that “cold states arise for a variety of internal, external and incidental reasons – all of which draw their origins from a dissimilarity in inward inclinations” (CL 275).

Although it presents a real challenge (CL 320), people looking toward marriage should focus on discovering inward affections in their partners – inward affections, which are “mutual inclinations that exist in the mind of each from heaven” (CL 277). These are distinct from external affection in the fact that external affections “exist in the mind of each from the world” (CL 277).  In this way individuals will facilitate the Lord’s providence in showing them a partner.  They will discover an ability to determine their love for the opposite sex to a love for an individual of the opposite sex.

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