Preparing for Real Marriage
|“Following His Advent the Lord will revive conjugial love, such as it was among ancient peoples. For conjugial love comes only from the Lord, and it is found in people who are made spiritual by Him through His Word” (CL 81.5).
Marriage. People have been getting married ever since people were human. The propagation of the human race depends on marriage. The eternal happiness of heaven depends on marriage. The problem is – people have progressively become more and more ignorant about marriage.
In the history of the human race there have been five ages: golden, silver, copper, iron, and iron mixed with clay. Although “it cannot be known from historical sources … conjugial love was the greatest of loves among the ancient and most ancient peoples who lived in those first ages referred to” (CL 73) as golden and silver. However, by the copper age wisdom concerning marriage was beginning to wane into mere knowledge. This decline continued during the Iron Age as knowledge of true marriage was replaced with polygamy.
The final age of the human race is the age of iron mixed with clay. For people of this age, “Darkness to them is light, and light to them is darkness” (CL 79.4). They do not know the difference between a wife and a harlot (CL 79.5). They believe marriage to be captivity or imprisonment (CL 79.5). They are devoid of religion (CL 79.6) and so relegate matters of religion to priests instead of entering into them for themselves (CL 79.7). This means that they are in a state of faith without charity (CL 79.7). They see marriage as simply “deeds of the flesh and the night” which are thought to be driven by the flesh acting upon the spirit (CL 79.8). And in summary they are “anything but wise!” (CL 79.11). In fact, “the end has now come, because no truth remains that has not been falsified, and falsification of truth is spiritual licentiousness, which allies itself with natural licentiousness, because they go together” (CL 80.3).
The work Conjugial Love was written to people of the age of iron mixed with clay (CL 79.1, 79.11). Therefore, when it refers to people “at this day” and like appellations it is referring to people who are in this kind of darkness regarding the truths of the church. And so when it mentions the fact that “…so far no one on earth knows what true conjugial love is in its origin or in its essence, and yet it is important for them to know. Therefore it has pleased the Lord to open the heavens…” (CL 42) it is important to focus on the second statement more than the first. For the truth is, the Lord has now opened the heavens to us so that we may enter into a true understanding of the reality in which we live.
In dealing with the particular truths relating to marriage, it is important to maintain an awareness of several basic truths.
The first basic truth is the definition of the New Church:
The doctrines of the church that is meant by the New Jerusalem are as follows:
The New Church is the promised reinstatement of the presence of the Lord with all people as it was prophesied in the book of Revelation and statements by the Old Testament prophets such as “I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people” (Jeremiah 31:33). It opens the pathway to heaven by demonstrating to the human mind the truths of life, including the truths regarding marriage. Truly happy marriage is only available to those who acknowledge the Lord, shun evils, and do goods as if of themselves, acknowledging that all good and truth are from the Lord and truly are His.
The second basic truth is that people are real spiritual beings clothed in a natural body for the duration of their life in the natural world. This is essential to understanding marriage because “people cannot accept as a matter of faith that marriages exist in heaven if they believe that a person is a soul or spirit after death, and hold to an idea of the soul or spirit as being like thin air or a puff of breath. Nor can they accept it if they believe that a person does not live again as a person until after the day of the Last Judgment” (CL 27, see also CL 28). The implication of being a real spiritual being is that eternal life is not a far off destination, but rather a daily choice. The quality of life forever is decided right now by how a person chooses to use the time and resources provided them.
The third basic truth is that the only way to find out about true marriage is to go to the Lord in His revelation. This is confirmed by the fact that “…no one can see the endless varieties of this love in any light of the understanding, even if elevated, unless he first knows what that love is like in its true essence and perfect state, thus what it was like when, together with life, it was bestowed on mankind by God” (CL 57). Marriage is an essential part of spiritual life. It is as much a part of human existence as life itself. It draws its origin directly from God. This means that only God can give the true answers as to how marriage was intended to work. It is up to every person to look to the Lord in His Word, pray for understanding, and live a life in accordance with what they believe the Lord to be teaching. In this way the Lord will be able to lead the human race back into a knowledge of true marriage and a true wisdom concerning it.
The fourth basic truth is that “conjugial love is unlimited in its variety. It is not the same in one person as it is in another” (CL 57). The infinite variety of Conjugial love arises from the fact that all marriages find their origin in the marriage of good and truth, the presence of the Lord in creation (see below). Therefore “to judge that such a love does not exist, or is not possible, because it is not found in oneself or in this or that individual, does not follow as a valid conclusion” (CL 333). The God of the universe has indicated in His Word that true marriage does exist and is possible. It is important, then, in exploring what He has revealed concerning marriage, to avoid the misconception that our experience disproves His Word.
The aim of this exploration is to compile the doctrine of marriage as it relates to men and women. The reader is encouraged to read the referenced passages in their completeness whenever possible, for the whole Word, from Genesis to True Christian Religion, treats of marriage. There is not one passage that does not bear directly on marriage in some way. This stems from the fact that the marriage of good and truth makes up the Word in its essence and also is the origin of the marriage between one man and one woman. Therefore, the more one understands about spiritual and celestial things, the more one is equipped to enter into true marriage. However, in order to provide a starting point the Lord has given a framework of teaching around which we can build our understanding of marriage in the work Delights of Wisdom Relating to Conjugial Love Followed By Pleasures of Insanity Relating to Licentious Love, commonly called Conjugial Love. Therefore, as this exploration is also intended as an introduction to the doctrine of marriage, it will draw the bulk of its material from the compilation which the Lord has already provided in this work.
An exploration of the truth about marriage will follow in two chapters:
1. The Masculine and the Feminine
Chapters to be included in a later study include:
3. Evils Before Marriage and the Return to Chastity
However, in exploring the nature of the masculine, the feminine, and preparation for marriage it will be seen that understanding these three aspects of marriage open the way to an understanding of the full truths concerning this aspect of human life.