Conjugial Love (Rogers) n. 444

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444. To this I will append the following narrative account:

After I finished my considerations of conjugial love and began reflecting on licentious love, suddenly two angels stood beside me and said, "We perceived and understood what you were thinking about before, but the things you are now pondering escape us, and we do not comprehend them. Omit them, because they are of no consequence." But I replied, "This love that I am considering now is not of no consequence, because it exists." To that they responded, "How can there be any love that does not exist from creation? Is it not conjugial love that exists from creation? Is this not a love between two people who have the capability of becoming one? How can there be a love which divides and separates them? What young man can love any other woman than the one who loves him in return? Must not the love in one recognize and acknowledge the love in the other - loves which, when they meet, of their own accord unite? Who can love someone in whom that love is missing? Is it not conjugial love alone that is mutual and reciprocal? If love is not reciprocal, does it not pull back and die?" [2] On hearing this I asked the two angels what society of heaven they were from, and they said, "We are from the heaven of innocence.* We came into this world of heaven as little children and were raised under the Lord's guidance. Moreover, after I became an adolescent youth, and my wife here with me a marriageable girl, we were betrothed and pledged, and at the earliest opportunity married. So, because we have known nothing regarding any other love than a truly wedded and conjugial love, therefore when your ideas were communicated to us concerning an alien love altogether opposed to our love, we did not comprehend any of them. Consequently we have come down to ask you why you are pondering notions so inconceivable. Tell us, then, how a love is possible which not only does not exist from creation, but is even contrary to creation. We regard things contrary to creation as matters having no reality." [3] When he said this, my heart rejoiced that I was given an opportunity to speak with angels of such innocence, who did not know at all what licentiousness was. I opened my mouth therefore and explained, saying, "Do you not know that there is such a thing as good and evil, and that good exists from creation, but not evil? And yet evil regarded in itself is not nothing, even though it is nothing good? "Good exists from creation, and good moreover in the highest degree and in the least degree; and when this least good reduces to nothing, evil arises on the other side. Therefore there is no proportional relationship or progression of good to evil, but a proportional relationship and progression of good to a greater or lesser good, and of evil to a greater or lesser evil; for good and evil are opposites in every single respect. "Now because good and evil are opposites, there is a middle ground, and in it an area of equilibrium, in which evil acts against good. But because evil does not prevail, it remains in the endeavor. Every person grows up in this equilibrium; and being an equilibrium between good and evil, or to say the same thing, between heaven and hell, it is a spiritual equilibrium, which produces a state of freedom in those who live in it. The Lord draws all people out of this equilibrium to Him, and the person who follows in freedom is led by Him out of evil into good, and thus into heaven. "It is the same with love, especially in the case of conjugial love and licentious love. Conjugial love is good, while licentious love is evil. Every person who hears the voice of the Lord and follows Him in freedom is introduced by the Lord into conjugial love with all its delights and joys. But the person who does not hear and does not follow introduces himself into licentious love, entering at first into its delights, but afterwards into its distresses, and finally into its miseries." [4] My having said that, the two angels asked, "How could evil come into existence when nothing but good existed from creation? For anything to exist it must have an origin. Good could not be the origin of evil, because evil is nothing good, being rather the negation and destruction of good. But still, because evil exists and is experienced, it is not nothing, but something. Tell us, therefore, from what this something, after having no existence, came into existence." To that I replied, "This secret cannot be explained unless it is known that no one is good but God alone,** and that nothing is good that is good in itself unless it is from God. Consequently it is the person who looks to God and wills to be led by God who is motivated by good. But the person who turns away from God and wills to be led by himself is not motivated by good; for the good that he does is either for the sake of himself or for the sake of the world; thus it is either merit-seeking, or feigned, or hypocritical. From this it is apparent that man himself is the origin of evil - not that that origin was infused into man from creation, but that by turning from God to self he infused it into himself. "This origin of evil did not exist in Adam and his wife until the serpent said, ' the day you eat of (the tree of the knowledge of good and evil) will be like God' (Genesis 3:5). And then, because they turned away from God, and turned to themselves as though to a god, they created in themselves the origin of evil. Eating of that tree symbolized their believing that a person knows good and evil and is wise on his own, and not from God." [5] But then the two angels asked, "How could man turn away from God and turn to himself, when a person can will nothing, think nothing, and so do nothing except from God. Why did God permit it?" However, I replied, "Man was so created that everything he wills, thinks and does appears to him as being in him and thus from him. Without this appearance a person would not be a human being, for he would be unable to receive anything of good and truth or of love and wisdom, retain it, and seemingly adopt it as his own. Consequently it follows that without this, as it were, living appearance, man would not have any conjunction with God, and so neither any eternal life. But if as a result of this appearance he persuades himself to the belief that he wills, thinks, and thus does good of himself, and not from the Lord (even though to all appearance as though of himself), he turns good into evil in him, and so creates in him the origin of evil. This was Adam's sin. [6] "But let me explain this matter a little more clearly. The Lord views every person by looking at his forehead, and this sight passes to the back of his head. Behind the forehead is the cerebrum, and in the back of the head the cerebellum. The cerebrum is devoted to wisdom and its truths, while the cerebellum is devoted to love and its goods. Therefore a person who looks with his face to the Lord receives wisdom from him, and through that wisdom, love. But a person who looks away from the Lord receives love and not wisdom; and love without wisdom is love that originates with man and not from the Lord. Moreover, because this love allies itself with falsities, it does not acknowledge God, but embraces itself as a god; and this it tacitly defends by the person's faculty of understanding and of becoming wise as though of himself, implanted in him from creation. Thus this love is the origin of evil. "The fact of this can be visibly demonstrated. I will call here some evil spirit who has turned away from God, and I will speak to him from behind or at the back of his head. And you will see that the things I say are turned into their opposites." [7] So I summoned such a spirit. He came, and I spoke to him from behind, saying, "Do you know anything about hell, damnation, and the torment there?" Then, when he turned around to face me, I asked, "What did you hear?" He replied: "I heard the following. 'Do you know anything about heaven, salvation, and the happiness there?'" Afterwards then, when I repeated his answer to him from behind, he said that he heard what I had said at first. After that I said to him from behind, "Do you know that people in hell are insane because of their falsities?" And on my asking him about this, as to what he had heard, he said, "I heard, 'Do you know that people in heaven are wise because of their truths?' Again, when I repeated this answer to him from behind, he said that he heard, "Do you know that people in hell are insane because of their falsities?" And so it went. From which it became plainly apparent that when the mind is turned away from the Lord, it turns to itself, so that it then perceives things in a contrary way. "That is the reason," I said, "that, as you know, in this spiritual world, no one is permitted to stand behind another and speak to him; for he thus infuses into the other his love, which the other's intelligence then yields to and obeys because of the delight attached to it, but which, being from man and not from God, is a love of evil or a love of falsity. [8] "In addition to this, I will relate to you another, similar occurrence, namely, that I have several times heard goods and truths descend from heaven into hell, and they were gradually turned there into their opposites - good into evil, and truth into falsity. The reason for this phenomenon is the same, namely, that all who are in hell turn away from the Lord." After listening to this, the two angels thanked me and said, "Because you are now thinking and writing about a love that is contrary to our conjugial love, and because anything contrary to that love saddens our minds, we will leave you." And as they bade me farewell, I asked them not to report anything concerning this love to their brothers and sisters in heaven, because it would injure their innocence. I can declare for a certainty that people who die as little children grow up in heaven, and when they attain a stature like that of youths eighteen years old and of girls fifteen years old in the world, they stop there, and marriages are then provided for them by the Lord. Moreover, that both before marriage and after it, they do not know at all what licentiousness is, or that it is possible. * I.e., the third heaven. See no. 410. ** Matthew 19:17.

444r. [repeated] FORNICATION

By fornication we mean the lust of an adolescent youth or young man, experienced before marriage with a fallen woman. However, lust experienced with a woman not fallen, that is, with a virgin or with someone else's wife, is not fornication; but with a virgin it is debauchery, and with someone else's wife, adultery. How these latter two differ from fornication cannot be seen by any rational person unless he clearly sees love for the opposite sex in its degrees and diversities, placing its chaste forms on one side and its unchaste forms on the other, and dividing each side into classes and types so as to distinguish between them. Otherwise the difference between what is more chaste and what is less chaste, and between what is more unchaste and what is less unchaste, cannot appear in anyone's idea of them; and without these distinctions, every means of comparison is lost, and at the same time any clarity of sight in matters of judgment. The intellect is then enveloped in such darkness that it does not know how to distinguish fornication from adultery, and still less the milder forms of fornication from its more serious ones, likewise the milder forms of adultery from its more serious ones. Thus it mixes evils together, and out of diverse evils makes one sauce, and out of diverse goods, one paste. Therefore, in order that love for the opposite sex may be known in its distinctions on the side in which it inclines and progresses to licentious love that is altogether opposed to conjugial love, it is expedient that we examine its first step, which is fornication. This we will do according to the following outline:

(1) Fornication is the product of a love for the opposite sex. (2) This love arises when the adolescent youth begins to think and act in accordance with his own intellect, and the sound of his voice begins to become manly. (3) Fornication is the mark of a natural person. (4) Fornication is lust, but not the lust of adultery. (5) In some men a love for the opposite sex cannot, without harmful effects, be totally restrained from going out into fornication. (6) Therefore in populous cities brothels are tolerated. (7) A lust to fornicate is light in the measure that it looks to conjugial love and prefers it. (8) A lust to fornicate is serious in the measure that it looks to adultery. (9) A lust to fornicate is more serious as it verges toward a lust for variety and toward a lust to deflower. (10) The atmosphere of a lust to fornicate, as it is in its beginning, is intermediate between the atmosphere of licentious love and the atmosphere of conjugial love, and forms the point of equilibrium. (11) Care must be exercised to prevent conjugial love from being lost as a result of excessive and unrestrained fornications. (12) For the conjugial union of one man with one wife is the precious jewel of human life and the repository of Christian religion. (13) In men who are not yet able for various reasons to enter into marriage, and because of their salaciousness cannot contain their lusts, this conjugial ideal may be preserved if their promiscuous love for the opposite sex becomes restricted to a single courtesan. (14) Resorting to a courtesan is preferable to promiscuous lust, provided that the arrangement is not made with more than one, or with a virgin or untouched woman, or with a married woman, and that it is kept separate from conjugial love.

Explanation of these statements now follows.

This page is part of the Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg

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