Are Married Couples Still Married in the Afterlife?

Swedenborg Foundation

by Morgan Beard

It’s a common belief across many cultures that people in love will be reunited after death, and people who have had near-death experiences consistently describe deceased friends and family being there to greet the newly departed. For a couple who is married, or deeply in love, it can be a wonderful promise . . . or the source of some awkward questions. What if one spouse dies and the living one remarries? What if your relationship wasn’t happy and you don’t want to see your spouse again? What if you’re in love with someone but not interested in marriage? What if a person never finds “the one” at all?

blog_heavenly_marriage

Over the course of decades, Emanuel Swedenborg had the extraordinary experience of traveling back and forth between this world and the next; and he wrote detailed accounts of the things that he saw and heard there. It’s up to his readers to decide if they believe him or not; but for those who do, he offers a unique perspective on marriage in the afterlife.

Swedenborg describes seeing married couples reunited after death. But did they stay together eternally? Well . . . maybe:

It often happens that married partners meet [in the afterlife] and welcome each other joyfully. They stay together as well, but for a longer or shorter time depending on how happily they had lived together in the world. Ultimately, unless they had been united by real marriage love (which is a union of minds from heavenly love), they separate after having been together for a while. (Heaven and Hell 494)

This is where Swedenborg departs from the popular view of love in the afterlife: he says that if two people who were together in life weren’t really in love, then they won’t be together in heaven either. Swedenborg describes incompatible couples as gradually growing farther and farther apart. Each is attracted to people with whom they have more in common: “Like are drawn toward like.” However, if two people are truly in love, they will grow closer to each other in heaven.

If people in the afterlife find themselves incompatible with their former partners, or if they never experienced that kind of deep love while on earth, Swedenborg says, they can find their match in heaven:

Throughout heaven, people who are similar gather together and people who are dissimilar part company. This means that every community consists of like-minded people. Like are drawn toward like not by their own will but by the Lord. In the same way, spouse is drawn toward spouse when their minds can be united into one. So at first sight they love each other most deeply, see each other as married partners, and enter into their marriage. This is why all of heaven’s marriages are the work of the Lord alone. (Heaven and Hell 383)

What does it mean to be truly in love? Many people have many different definitions, but Swedenborg has a term for it—marriage love (or, in older translations, conjugial love). This is a huge topic in his theological writings, and if you want to explore it in detail, check out this episode of our weekly webcast. But in a nutshell, for Swedenborg, marriage love means a spiritual union of souls. According to him, the earthly institution of marriage isn’t the same thing as a spiritual marriage; and the experience of being in love with someone doesn’t necessarily equate to the kind of compatibility needed to bond on the level of the soul. To really understand what he means by marriage requires a quick theological detour.

Swedenborg often expresses spiritual principles in binary: Love and wisdom. Good and truth. Will and understanding (or, in some translations, volition and discernment). Throughout his writings, he often associates these characteristics with specific genders; he might say, for example, that wisdom is masculine and love is feminine. That doesn’t mean that only men can be wise and only women can love. Rather, he’s describing a type of complementary energy that’s very similar to the Chinese concept of yin and yang. In Chinese thought, yin (receptive energy) is feminine and yang (projective energy) is masculine. Although that principle is sometimes applied very literally to men and women, philosophically what’s being described are two complementary types of energy that are in their most ideal state when they are joined together in perfect balance.

For Swedenborg, this is the essence of marriage love—two complementary forces or energies merging into one, and he frequently emphasizes the importance of balance between the two, with neither one dominating the other. When discussing concepts like love, good, and will, he’s describing a motive force or energy—something that pushes us into action or guides and supports us when we feel lost. Principles like wisdom, truth, and understanding, on the other hand, are all about structure; it’s about gathering the knowledge and developing the perception to take that positive energy and direct it where it will do the most good. Neither one of these principles will work properly without its other half.

So a spiritual marriage happens when two people who embody these complementary ideas come together, each bringing different perspectives to the union but at the same time like-minded in their goals and values. Although Swedenborg stresses that only two people can share this state at any one time, he leaves open the possibility that we might have more than one potentially right partner—in other words, that it’s not a matter of finding the one person in all the universe who’s right for you, but just a matter of finding a person who’s right for you. And once partners have chosen each other, he adds, their love brings them closer and closer in the afterlife until they appear to be a single person.

For those who aspire to spiritual union with another person, Swedenborg cautions that true marriage love is very rare in this world. While he stresses that people who are married on earth should respect their vows as a sacred obligation, he also says that most people (married or not!) don’t achieve an ideal state until they cross into the afterlife—and maybe not even then. He describes a diverse heaven where the differences between people help to create a greater perfection. People who would rather live alone can do so forever if they like, but people who want a spiritual union can always find that too.

How do you imagine your ideal companion?

http://www.swedenborg.com/

For more on what happens after we die and people we might meet in heaven, check out The Lives of Angels, a volume of excerpts from Swedenborg’s writings. His longest work on the subject of earthly and spiritual marriage is Conjugial Love (or, for a more modern translation, Love in Marriage).

Divine Love and Wisdom

New Christian Bible StudyNew Christian Bible Study

← Previous   Next →


The middle, the core, the essence of God is love. This divine love is the transcendent “stuff” that drives, creates, and sustains everything – all things that exist on all planes of existence.

Love wants to work, to flow, to create happiness. How does it do it? Through wisdom. The power of the divine love can be formed and ultimated by operating through divine wisdom.

There’s a marriage between the two – divine love and divine wisdom. Swedenborg refers to them in Latin terms, as the Esse and Existere, roughly translated in English as Essence and Existence.

This conjunction, or marriage, is at the very heart of it all. It is represented in the successive degrees of creation, down to the physical universe, and in life on earth. In our minds, there is love, and there is wisdom. If we unite our good loves to wise thinking, we’re then able to create happiness, too, each in our own unique way.

http://newchristianbiblestudy.org/


Serenity prayer

Spiritual Questions & Answers

Discovering inner health and transformation

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.
Amen.

–Reinhold Niebuhr

http://www.spiritualquestions.org.uk/

Posted on15th October 2010CategoriesPoetry, ReligionTags,, ,  Leave a comment

Taught By The Lord

Lastchurch - The Eternal Purpose

Passages from Divine Providence ~ Emanuel Swedenborg

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and God was the Word; and the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us (John 1:1, 14).

Every man is a man not from his face and body but from the good of his love and the truths of his wisdom; and because a man is a man from these, every man is also his own truth and his own good, or his own love and his own wisdom; and without these he is not a man.

But

[T]he Lord is Good itself and Truth itself, or, what is the same, Love itself and Wisdom itself; and these are the Word which in the beginning was with God and which was God, and which was made flesh.

Therefore to be taught from the Word is to be taught by the Lord Himself, because it is to be taught from Good itself and from Truth itself, or from Love itself and from Wisdom itself, which are the Word; but everyone is taught according to the understanding appropriate to his own love; what is taught beyond this does not remain.

All those who are taught by the Lord in the Word are instructed in a few truths while in the world, but in many when they become angels. For the interiors of the Word, which are Divine spiritual and Divine celestial things, are implanted at the same time but are not opened in a man until after his death, when he is in heaven where he is in angelic wisdom; and this in comparison with human wisdom, that is, his former wisdom, is ineffable.

Divine spiritual and Divine celestial things, which constitute angelic wisdom, are present in all things of the Word in general and in particular.

(Divine Providence 172:4,5)
 March 16, 2017
 http://lastchurch.blogspot.ca/

Truly Wise or Insane

Lastchurch - The Eternal Purpose

Selection from Interaction of Soul and Body ~ Emanuel Swedenborg

The man who is affected with the love of wisdom is like the garden in Eden, in which there are two trees, the one of life, and the other of the knowledge of good and evil. The tree of life is the reception of love and wisdom from God, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is the reception of them from self. The man who receives them in the latter fashion is insane, yet still believes himself to be wise like God; but he that receives them in the former method is truly wise, and believes no one to be wise but God alone, and that a man is wise so far as he believes this, and still more so as he feels that he wills it.
… All the angels of heaven turn the front of the head towards the Lord as a sun, and all the angels of hell turn the back of the head to Him. The latter receive influx into the affections of their will, which in themselves are lusts, and make the understanding favour them; but the former receive influx into the affections of their understanding, and make the will favour them; these, therefore, are in wisdom, but the others in insanity. For the human understanding dwells in the cerebrum, which is behind the forehead, and the will in the cerebellum, which is in the back of the head.

Who does not know that a man who is insane through falsities favours the lusts of his own evil, and confirms them by reasons drawn from the understanding; whereas a wise man sees from truths the character of the lusts of his own will, and restrains them? A wise man does this, because he turns his face to God, that is, he believes in God, and not in himself; but an insane man does the other, because he turns his face from God, that is, he believes in himself, and not in God. To believe in one’s self is to believe that one loves and is wise from self, and not from God, and this is signified by eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; but to believe in God is to believe that one loves and is wise from God and not from self, and this is to eat of the tree of life — He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God. (Rev. 2:7).

(Interaction of Soul and Body 9:3-5)
 March 24, 2017

If God is ONLY Good, How did Evil Come into Existence?

 

A Portion from Conjugial Love ~ Emanuel Swedenborg

How could evil come into existence when from creation nothing but good had existed? That anything may come into existence, it must have its origin. Good could not be the origin of evil, because evil is nothing of good, for it is privative and destructive of good.  And yet as it exists and is felt, it is not nothing but is something. Say, then, whence comes this something after nothing.
… no one is good but God only, and that there is not anything good which in itself is good except from God. He therefore who looks to God, and wills to be led by God, is in good; but he who turns himself away from God and wills to be led of himself is not in good, for the good that he does is either for himself or for the sake of the world; thus it is either meritorious, or is simulated, or hypocritical. Whence it is plain that man himself is the origin of evil. Not that this origin was inherent in man from creation, but that by turning away from God he imposed it upon himself. That origin of evil was not in Adam and his wife, but when the serpent said:-
In the day that ye eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, ye shall be as God

    (Gen. 3: 5)

and because they then turned away from God and turned to themselves as to a god, they made in themselves the origin of evil. To eat of that tree’ signified to believe that he knows good and evil and has wisdom of himself, and not from God.

… How could man turn himself away from God and turn to himself, when yet man can will, think, and therefore do nothing except from God? Why did God permit this?

Man was so created that all that he wills, thinks, and does appears to him just as if in himself and thus of himself. Without this appearance man would not be man, for he could not receive, retain, and as it were appropriate to himself anything of good and truth, or of love and wisdom. Whence it follows that without this, as it were living appearance, man would have no conjunction with God, and therefore no eternal life. But if from this appearance he induces on himself the belief that he does will, think, and therefore do good of himself, and not from the Lord, although it is in all appearance as if of himself, he then turns good into evil within him, and thus makes in himself the origin of evil. This was the sin of Adam.

… love without wisdom is love from man and not from the Lord. And this love, because it conjoins itself with falsities, does not acknowledge God, but itself as a god; and this it tacitly confirms by the faculty of understanding and of becoming wise, as if of himself which is implanted in him from creation. This love therefore is the origin of evil.

(Conjugial Love 444:a)
March 30, 2017

The Use of Those Who have Conjoined Evil and Falsity

 

Selection from Divine Providence ~ Emanuel Swedenborg

The Lord’s Divine providence causes both the evil and the falsity to be serviceable in the way of equilibrium, of relation, and of purification, and thus in the conjunction of good and truth in others.

The Lord’s Divine providence continually labors to unite truth with good, and good with truth in man, because such union is the church and is heaven; for there is such a union in the Lord and in all things that go forth from the Lord.

From that union heaven is called a marriage, and the church is called a marriage, and in consequence the kingdom of God is likened in the Word to a marriage. From that union the Sabbath in the Israelitish Church was the most holy thing of worship, for it signified that union. For the same reason in each and in all things of the Word there is a marriage of good and truth. The marriage of good and truth is from the marriage of the Lord with the church; and this is from the marriage of love and wisdom in the Lord; for good pertains to love, and truth to wisdom. From all this it can be seen that the unceasing object of the Divine providence is to unite good to truth and truth to good in man, for thus man is united to the Lord.

But inasmuch as many have sundered or are sundering this marriage, especially by the separation of faith from charity, since faith is of truth and truth is of faith, and charity is of good and good is of charity, and inasmuch as they thereby conjoin evil and falsity in themselves, and have thus become or are becoming opposite [to good and truth], the Lord provides that such shall still be of service for the conjunction of good and truth in others, as means of equilibrium, relation and purification.

The conjunction of good and truth in others is provided by the Lord, by means of the equilibrium between heaven and hell; for there is a constant exhalation from hell of evil and falsity together, while from heaven there is a constant exhalation of good and truth together. In this equilibrium every man is held as long as he lives in the world; and by means of it he is held in freedom to think, to will, to speak, and to do, and in this it is possible for him to be reformed.

The conjunction of good and truth is provided by the Lord by means of relation; since the quality of a good is known only by its relation to what is less good, and by its contrariety to evil. From this comes all power to perceive and to feel, since from this comes the quality of these powers; for thereby every thing enjoyable is perceived and felt from the less enjoyable and by means of what is not enjoyable, every thing beautiful from the less beautiful and by means of the unbeautiful; and likewise every good, which is of love, from the less good and by means of evil; and every truth, which is of wisdom, from the less true and by means of falsity. In every matter, from the greatest to the least of it, there must be variety; and when there is variety also in its opposite from its least to its greatest, and there is equilibrium between them, then there is relation according to degrees on both sides; and the perception and sensation of the thing either increase or diminish. But an opposite, as we should know, may take away perceptions and sensations or may exalt them; when it mingles itself it takes away; but when it does not mingle itself it exalts; and for this reason the Lord exactly separates good and evil in man, that they may not be mingled, just as He separates heaven and hell.

In others the conjunction of good and truth is provided by the Lord by means of purification, which is effected in two ways, one by temptations, and the other by fermentations. Spiritual temptations are nothing else than combats against the evils and falsities that are exhaled from hell and affect man. By these combats man is purified from evils and falsities, and good is conjoined to truth in him, and truth to good. Spiritual fermentations are effected in many ways, both in the heavens and on the earth; but in the world it is not known what they are or how they are effected. For there are evils and falsities together that do a work, when introduced into societies, like that of leaven put into meal, or ferments into new wine, by which heterogeneous things are separated and homogeneous things are conjoined, and purity and clearness are the result. These are meant by these words of the Lord:-

The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till it was all leavened (Matt. xiii. 33; Luke xiii. 21).

(Divine Providence 21-24)
 April 8, 2017
 http://lastchurch.blogspot.ca/