For people who look to the Lord and desire a chaste conjugial relationship the Lord provides a partner either in this life or the next.  The challenge for people looking to marriage is knowing how to recognize a partner.  Men and women approach this recognition from their innate natures, from the understanding and from the will.  Recognition,

When used in reference solely to the power of understanding means understanding; when used in reference to the understanding and at the same time the will means believing; and when used in reference solely to the will it means perceiving … For inwardly within themselves those in whom good or love is predominant perceive that something is so, whereas within themselves those in whom truth or faith is predominant see that it is such. (AC 10155)

Therefore it may be seen that men see and understand that a woman would be a good partner and women perceive their commonality and the two together believe that they are a good match.  When this happens, it is evidence that the Lord is providing the partners for each other.

One feature of the difference in men’s and women’s approach to recognition is that upon arriving in the spiritual world “husbands rarely recognize their wives, but … wives readily recognize their husbands.  The reason is that women have an interior perception of love, while men have only a more superficial perception” (CL 47r).  Recognition by means of the sight of the understanding is a more superficial perception of love than recognition by means of the perception of love.  This is seen clearly in the fact that women more readily recognize when men are attracted to them than vice versa, although in a general way men may feel more attractive to the opposite sex from a sense of self-worth (real or imagined!).

Recognition of a life partner requires not only the reception of insight from the Lord, but also the shunning of dissembling behaviors.  It is incumbent on the partners to bring their externals into harmony with their internals so as to avoid being deceitful, or becoming “hypocrites, flatterers, fakes and liars” (CL 48r). In other words, don’t mislead or be misled, for:

The reason separations occur after death is that unions formed on earth are seldom formed on the basis of any internal perception of love, but as the result of an external perception which conceals the internal one. An external perception of love takes its cause and origin from such things as have to do with love of the world and love of one’s own person … There are various attractions that entice into marriage, such as good looks and a pretended elegance of manners.  Sometimes even unchasteness attracts. (CL 49)

Therefore, in looking toward marriage it is essential that people realize that only internal marriages last for eternity, and only internal marriages improve with age.  And so it is necessary that a couple look to the Lord as they come closer to each other and seek to discover their internal similarity, recognizing the qualities that will join them together and sustain them in faith and life.


“The consent is the essential element in marriage, and the rest of the things that follow are its formalities” (CL 21.3, see also TCR 748).  It is often regarded as sexist that “the woman ought to consult her parents or guardians and then deliberate in herself before giving consent.  A woman should consult her parents, because their deliberations and counsels are guided by judgment, knowledge and love” (CL 298). However, the fact is, men are not the ones consenting, they are the ones proposing.  The challenge is to understand why consenting requires more counsel than proposing.  A woman is to seek consultation with her parents, or those standing in their place:

For she cannot weigh in the balance such a matter that affects her future welfare and be guided by judgment, knowledge and love.  Not by judgment, because her judgment is still in ignorance in regard to married life and in no position to balance considerations for and against or to perceive the ways of men from their native character.  Not by knowledge or observation, because she observes little beyond the domestic relations in her parents’ home and in the homes of some companions, and she is not equipped to investigate such matters as are private and personal to her suitor.  Neither by love, because when daughters first reach a marriageable age, and also the age that follows, their love is governed by infatuations of the senses and not as yet by the desires of a mature mind.  Nevertheless, a daughter ought to deliberate on such a matter in herself before giving consent, and this in order not to be swept against her will into wedlock with a man she does not love.  For in such a case, consent on her part is lacking, and yet it is consent which makes a marriage and which initiates her spirit into conjugial love.  Consent that is unwillingly given or coerced does not initiate her spirit, though it may the body, and in that case it turns any chastity residing in the spirit into lust, by which conjugial love is corrupted at its first warmth. (CL 299)

Therefore it is important that women are the ones choosing whom they marry.  However, if they are to make the best decision possible it is necessary for them to do some information gathering from those who are close to them, love them, and are looking to their best interests.  Consent is the essential of marriage.  Consent must be shared between the partners for true marriage to come into being (AC 3090).  Therefore, women should make use of all possible judgment, knowledge, and love of those they trust and love when choosing to accept a man’s proposal.


There is a basic truth, “it is one thing to be masculine and another to be feminine” (CL 32).  At present, people often use external arguments to form conclusions about internal realities.  However, no matter how convincing external appearances may be, the fact is that they cannot be used to disavow revealed truths.  In reflecting on the truths of marriage it is important to hold in mind 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.  Therefore it is clear that “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).  Put simply, experience cannot be used to disprove the Lord’s Word.

The God of the universe has indicated in His Word that true marriage does exist and is possible.  For in the beginning God did create “man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.  Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it’” (Genesis 1:27-28).  It follows from this that “therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24).  This was plainly established by the Lord when He quoted these passages and concluded “so then they are no longer two, but one flesh.  Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate” (Mark 10:8-9).  In this statement the Lord is clearly motivating men and women to realize the opportunity of true marriage and look to Him for leadership in its development and for its sustenance.

It is the hope for all people that “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).  As the New Church grows and prospers on earth as it descends from the Lord out of heaven, truly spiritual marriage will be renewed for an ever-growing number of people.  In this development, “the Lord regards primarily the objective, purpose or intention of the will, and therefore to the extent that a person has the objective, purpose or intention and perseveres in them, to that extent he is introduced into purity and progressively draws nearer to it” (CL 146).  And so it stands to reason that conjugial love “is in accordance with the religion in a person, spiritual in the spiritual, natural in the natural, and merely carnal in adulterers” (CL 534).  From this it may be concluded that “truly conjugial love with its delights comes solely from the Lord and is given to those who are received into the Lord’s New Church … the church that is meant in the book of Revelation by the New Jerusalem” (CL 534).

Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God.  And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying; and there shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.’ Then He who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’ And He said to me, ‘Write, for these words are true and faithful.’  And He said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.  I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts.  He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.  But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.’ (Revelation 21:1-8)

Who is wise?  Let him understand these things.  Who is prudent?  Let him know them.  For the ways of the Lord are right; the righteous walk in them, but transgressors stumble in them.  ( Hosea 14:9)

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