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Re-establishment of the Conjugial

by E. S.

In the world today it is not known that marriage is holy. Some traditional respect for it is indeed preserved, but the origin of that respect has been completely forgotten. . In their hearts, many men and women think of marriage merely as a worldly institution, controlled by certain laws for the sake of society. It is understood, at least vaguely, that the family unit is important for the welfare of the country, and an adulterous life is regarded officially as unlawful. But in practice, the institution of marriage is being torn asunder, and many are beginning to voice the sentiment that the old legislation concerning it is antiquated. Very few have a real conscience in regard to marriage.

This being the attitude of the world, it may be seen that the Ten Commandments are dying away among men. For the esteem in which any one commandment is held is at the same time the esteem in which they are all held. What is left instead of the commandments is a fear of the punishment of the law and a fear of the loss of reputation.

It has always been known in the world, in all races and in all nations, that it is wrong to harm a fellow man or to kill him; that his property must not be taken away from him; that it is evil to bear false witness against him. These, and other things, were known to the sons of Israel, too, before they came to Sinai. Still, when the Lord gave the tables of stone to Moses, something entirely new came to them. No longer must the property of another be respected merely to avoid his revenge or that of society, or merely to observe a code of ethics. Now theft was to be regarded as a sin against the God of the universe.

This was new to the children of Israel. And it was new because the Ten Commandments opened up something of conscience in their inner man. Herein is the difference between the laws of a country and the commandments of God, that the former are directed only to the natural minds and conduct of men, whereas the latter are for their spiritual minds and so at the same time for the natural. The country governs by the threat of punishment, but the Lord rules by conscience. If, therefore, the Ten Commandments are dying away among men, so also is conscience. And if conscience is departing from the human scene, then no external legislation will suffice to maintain society in order; for no outer law can check secret desires and ambitions.

When the Lord came on earth the outward state of the world was much the same as in our day. But He restored the commandments by declaring: "Ye have heard that it was said to them of old time . . . but I say unto you." In regard to the Sixth Commandment He said: "Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart" (Matthew 5: 28). He likewise taught: "What therefore God hath joined together let not man put asunder" (Matthew 19: 5) ; thus teaching anew that marriage is from God. And because it is from God, He laid down further in His teaching the law that divorce is a sin against God, except for the cause of adultery (Matthew 19: 9). For once marriage is regarded as from God, and thus holy, adultery becomes profanation, and this cannot be tolerated. For that reason the marriage covenant must then be broken rather than that a state of profanation should continue.

But, as has been said, the knowledge of the Divine origin of marriage has again been lost in the world. Therefore it cannot be said any more that adultery is profanation, for no one can profane unless he knows and believes that a thing is holy. Only a marriage in which the couple have been truly joined together by God, that is, which has been entered into in the hope that the Lord God Himself will add His blessing to it, is indissoluble except in the case of adultery; and very few have been so joined together truly by God, whether their marriage was solemnized before a magistrate or in a temple. Therefore men and women marry and separate as if marriage were a mere matter of social advantage or bodily pleasure, and the officiating of a priest is merely for the sake of external solemnity or festivity.

But it must be known again that adultery is profanation. It must be known that violation of marriage is the violation of something holy that is from the Lord. The restoration of marriage, however, can never be an isolated thing. All the commandments of God must be re-established at the same time. It must be remembered that the state of marriage in the world is but a sign that not one of the commandments is honored; and it may be worthy of notice, too, that the reason the Sixth Commandment is more universally broken in external practice than any other precept in the second table is simply that it can be done more easily in secret - out of reach of the punishing arm of the law.

The commandments of God are now being re-established by the Lord in His second coming. For only He Himself is master of His own order. Only the Lord is able to renew His covenant so as to command respect; and He does so by revealing the "why" of His laws, that is, by setting them forth before the very rational of man. For the first time, therefore, it is now possible for man to see for himself that evil is evil because it takes away from man the gift of happiness, and that good is good because the blessing of God is in it. The Lord has given His laws for the very reason that they are the very means of achieving the end of His love, that of making others outside of Himself happy from Himself (TCR 43). It is, indeed, as with the laws of medicine, which are the means of securing or restoring health. And now, in the Heavenly Doctrine of the New Jerusalem, the laws of the spirit are presented before the understanding, just as squarely as the laws of medicine have ever been presented.

In that doctrine it is shown that the marriage of man and woman depends on another marriage, namely, the marriage within the mind of each. Before regeneration, will and understanding are not conjoined in man. He knows and understands one thing, and wills another. But by means of regeneration he comes to will and love what he has understood, and a marriage covenant is thus made within him. How this is done may be described briefly in the following way.

When man is born into the world he has only a potential mind. He has a soul and a body, but the mind which is to be formed between them has not yet been opened. Eternity dawns for it in the moment when the lungs are opened, for in that moment consciousness begins. Into that newly born mind inclinations are instilled from two sources. One of these is the parental heredity, the inner qualities of which inhere in the soul from the father while the outer qualities are from the body and the external structure of the mind supplied by the mother. The other source is what is called remains from the Lord - those gentle internal affections and perceptions which are hidden away in the internal recesses of the mind-to-be as loans from the Lord by means of His angels. Remains are implanted with man from his first breath. They are the secret chambers from which the Lord can operate with him. What is called conscience is from no other source; and, indeed, conscience is nothing but remains at work. These two sources of inclination with man, heredity and conscience, are the combatants within which strive for possession of him. Neither of them is, but each wishes to become, his will.

As a neutral thing, and also as a field of battle, a third element adds itself, namely, knowledges received from without. These also begin to play their part from the moment of birth, for every sense impression conveys some knowledge; and as time goes on knowledges of even deeper import are accumulated. By virtue of the remains within him, man is able to grasp their implications rationally without as yet experiencing the good they have in store. This ability is what is described in the Writings as the separation of the understanding from the will.

As heredity modifies the operations of the soul, whereas remains are as yet stored up, it cannot be otherwise than that hereditary inclinations should take possession of man at first. But as they are received because they are dominant, and not of choice, the man is not held responsible. He is still kept in the innocence of ignorance - ignorance of the nature of his own inclinations. As long as this state continues the Lord says: "If ye were blind, ye should have no sin" (John 9 : 41). But if the man does not repent when he has a sufficient store of knowledges, and the rational is coming to maturity, the Lord will add: "But now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth" (ibid.).

What is called the separation of the will and the understanding is this separation of hereditary inclinations and their acceptance in life from the rational faculty of perceiving truth as truth. There is a clash between the two, because every truth is a challenge to those inclinations. Hence it is that we twist and bend truths, turning them into excuses to make them conform with our inclinations. But at the same time conscience is never at rest. It compels us to see, at least in some states, that truth is truth. In the end a confirmation one way or the other is necessary; and, in Providence, man is permitted to enter into the state of temptation. If he then obtains victory from the Lord, he thereby chooses as his will the conscience formed from remains, and a marriage is effected within him. For those remains yearn for the truths that are with him; and the moment man is willing to turn his truths over to the use of new affections, these affections enter in and conjoin themselves with the truths; that is, they then begin to act as one with them.

This internal marriage, which must be effected within man and woman alike, is what gives the conjugial quality to the marriage covenant of husband and wife. Where this conjugial essence is lacking there is no holy marriage between the two partners, but only the bond of a worldly institution, sustained as it may be by external law.

Young men and young women dream of a lovely companionship with one of the opposite sex. Let them know, then, that there is but one way to the sure fulfillment of their dreams, early or late - the way of preparing for and entering into this internal marriage within themselves.

The wonder of the creation of man and woman is that the marriage in each completes that in the other, so that a marriage union of their two minds is possible. This is possible because it is the nature of woman to think from affection, and of man to be affected from thought. In other words, the entrance court of woman's mind is her will, and access to her understanding is through it; but with man it is the other way round. For this reason wives in heaven are, as it were, wills, and men understandings. But the blessing of this order is that the regenerated will of the wife flows into her husband's understanding, and through it warms and enkindles his will with her own essence; and that in like manner the reborn understanding of the husband enters into the will of his wife, and through it moulds her understanding to conformity with his wisdom. In this way the minds of the husband and wife are intertwined, and as it were ingrafted in each other, so as actually to make one mind. After this has taken place, and in proportion as it has, the ultimates of the marriage are but the innocent expression of the conjunction of their minds.

But when we penetrate a little deeper into the secrets of conjugial love, we see that the marriage within each mind is, in its turn, dependent on another, still more internal marriage covenant - the marriage covenant of the Lord and man. There is a series of the conjugial, a linked chain which cannot be broken, and which we must not try to break. For if the mind of man were not the bride of the Lord, held and guided by His strong yet tender hand, the order and harmony within his mind could not be preserved, and, consequently, the conjugial there would perish. The new will must be perpetually fed by Divine good flowing in from within; the new understanding must be replenished continually by the truths of the Word which enter from without; and as these things are done the marriage covenant of the Lord and man is renewed.

This marriage covenant of the Lord is at the same time with the united mind of the regenerated husband and the regenerated wife. For we are told that in a marriage the husband does not represent the Lord, nor the wife the church, for both together constitute the church and both together are the bride of the Lord. (Conjugial Love 125, 126).

Unless the Lord is looked to as the source of good, good will never be discovered to be good; and unless He is seen as the omnipresent and uniting power in all truth, truth can never be recognized for what it is in itself. Therefore there can be no marriage of the will and the understanding except from Him; and if there is no such marriage, neither is there any truly conjugial principle in the covenant between a man and a woman. It is clear, therefore, that the holiness of marriage is from the fact that the Lord Himself is the inmost essence of the conjugial.

And now is extended the call to the marriage supper of the Lamb - the Lamb of God returning in His strength to build the holy city, the New Jerusalem. It must be clearly understood that the Writings of this His coming are the books of the law of His reign. Those books. themselves constitute the marriage covenant of the Lord; for it is in them that the Lord meets with man, and through them that man is able to approach the Lord. Our response to the call to the marriage supper must therefore be the cultivation of a true knowledge of those Writings, of respect for their teachings and obedience to them by self-compulsion, and, in the end, of love for the heavenly order of life which they reveal.

If we do these things, the truly conjugial, the jewel of human life, will be restored among us. For we will then derive it from the source of its holiness, suffer ourselves to be born anew by means of the goods and truths from that source, and so prepare ourselves for a lovely and blessed companionship with the one of our choice.

-New Church Life 1954;74:121-126

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