'Above Every Love': The Relation of Conjugial Love to Other Heavenly Loves
by G. C.
In reading certain sections of the Writings, I've been struck by the very high value placed upon conjugial love in relation to other heavenly loves. Specifically this is true of numbers in the Spiritual Diary, Apocalypse Explained, and in the work on Conjugial Love. These passages have raised certain questions. For example, what is the relationship of love to the Lord and conjugial love? Of love of the neighbor and conjugial love? Also, I began to feel that we may underestimate the place of conjugial love in our theological thought: of its place and use in the hierarchy of heavenly and regenerating loves. Affectionately I believe we give conjugial love the highest of values, but doctrinally I wonder if it has been given the same recognition the Writings give it. I don't know about others, but I feel I have under-valued it doctrinally.
A related but opposite question is: what is the relation of adultery (in the wide meaning) to other evil loves? This question assumed real power after reading the AE treatment of the 6th commandment. Adultery is given a primacy among evil loves that is to me quite surprising. This has a value in learning about conjugial love through opposites or contrasts, and also delineates a primary evil in such a way that its power of disguises can be removed.
In the history of the New Church at large, there has also been a viewpoint which downgrades the teachings of the Writings on conjugial love, calling the work on this subject a moral or ethical book not a Divinely revealed treatment. It has been pointed out that the True Christian Religion does not treat of conjugial love as a separate subject, with the implied question of "why not, if this love is so vital?" [Editor's Note: It could also be observed that neither is the subject of the spiritual world treated specifically by a chapter in The True Christian Religion!]
The Fundamental Love, and Use
A primary set of passages on this subject is in Conjugial Love 64-69: "That (regarded) from its origin and correspondence, love truly conjugial is celestial, spiritual, holy, pure and clean above (prae) every love which is from the Lord [italics added] with the angels of heaven and the men of the church." (CL 64) Its origin is the marriage of good and truth, and its correspondence is with the marriage of the Lord and the Church. "These two marriages from which conjugial love descends as an offshoot are holiness itself." ( This number continues to show how conjugial love, if received from its Author the Lord, is continually purified. And that it is called celestial and spiritual because it is with the celestial and spiritual angels; it is therefore holy and pure.
"That this love, regarded in its essence from its derivation, is holy and pure above every love with angels and men, is because it is the head, as it were, of all other loves." Taken as written without comparing passages, this would put conjugial love above love of the Lord, love of the neighbor, love of use. This would be so unless conjugial love intrinsically expresses or is a part of these loves. To me this one passage gives a whole world to think about - a world of reflection. The number ends by saying that the eminence of conjugial love will be treated of "in the article which now follows." In this next article, conjugial love is called "the fundamental of all celestial and spiritual loves, and thence of all natural loves." (CL 65) This term "fundamental" deserves careful thought as to its full meaning and implications. In a dictionary definition fundamental is defined as "serving as an original or generating force, serving as a basis supporting existence or determining essential structure or function"; The synonyms of "primary and basic" are given (Webster's 7th New Collegiate). In Latin, "fundamentalis", and "fundamentum" (n) are given, meaning a foundation, ground-work, basis; also "fundofundare" - to lay the bottom, keel, foundation.
The origin of conjugial love, which causes it to be fundamental, "is from the marriage of good and truth; and from this marriage proceed all the loves which make heaven and the church with man." (Ibid) The definition given of conjugial love here is "nothing else than the conjunction of love and wisdom." From this proceeds all loves and uses, and therefore conjugial love is "the fundamental of all the loves of heaven and the church"; it is "like a parent, and all other loves like his offspring."
The marriage of love and wisdom, or good and truth, originates on the highest plane of receptivity with man (homo), in order for it to be the parent and fundamental love. Its first origin is from the "union of the Divine and Human in the Lord." This is the Creative Origin. The first origin of reception with man (homo) is on the plane of the soul, in the heaven of human internals. (AC 1999: 3; HH 39; TCR 8; CL 69) A direct teaching is that "it is into the soul that the conjugial of love and wisdom or good and truth from the Lord first inflows." (CL 69) Thus the reception of the conjugial is on the first and second levels of the Divine proceeding, (AC 8443) in the very radiant belts surrounding the spiritual sun. Consorts "love each other mutually from inmosts"; (DP 144: 2) the soul of man is masculine, woman feminine; (CL 46) therefore the conjugial desire for conjunction starts on the plane of the soul. (HH 368)
"Since natural loves emanate from spiritual loves, and spiritual loves from celestial, therefore it is said that conjugial love is the fundamental of all celestial, spiritual.... and hence of all natural loves. Natural loves have reference to the loves of self and the world." (CL 67) The purifying of natural loves is the great challenge of regeneration. Aid in this is given if it is known that conjugial love is the fundamental also of all natural loves; that the purifying of this love comes first in the natural. And also if it is known that "at. the same moments when that love is ascending towards the soul, it is descending also towards the body, and is thereby clothing itself. But it should be known that conjugial love is of such quality in its descent as it is in the altitude to which it ascends; if it is in the height, it :descends chaste, and if not in the height, it descends unchaste." (CL 302) Further elaboration of what this means is given in the chapter on betrothals in Conjugial Love:
By delights "love manifests itself." (CL 68) ". . . Into conjugial love are gathered all joys and all delights from their first to their last.... Because as already shown conjugial love is the fundamental of all good loves and is inscribed upon the very least parts of man, it follows that its delights exceed the delights of all other loves, and also that it makes all other loves delightful according to its presence and at the same time its conjunction with them. That all delights from their first to their last are gathered into this love, is because of the excellence of its use above all other uses." This number concludes by calling the use of conjugial love "the complex of all other uses."
In the work on the "Divine Love" (XIII) it is said that "so far as man is in the love of use, so far is he in the Lord, so far he loves the Lord and loves the neighbor, and so far he is' a man." If the use of conjugial love is of an excellence "above all other uses," (CL 68) then it must be an inmost expression of the love of the Lord. Later references seem to support this. A directly related passage teaches that "in the highest region, called celestial, is conjugial chastity in its love; into this man is raised by the love of uses; and as the most excellent uses are from marriages, into this celestial region man is raised by love truly conjugial." (CL 305)
Since conjugial love is the fundamental love, it is like a parent, and its use exceeds all others, why isn't conjugial love more frequently dealt with in church presentations? Why do the Writings not say more about this love, in the context of regeneration? Perhaps this is a protection in Providence for this most innocent and powerful of loves, a protection against profanation. It is written through Swedenborg: "I know that few will acknowledge that all joys and delights from the first to the last are gathered into conjugial love, because . . . love truly conjugial ... is at this day so rare that it is not known what it is and scarcely that it is, and these joys and delights are present in no other conjugial than that which is genuine. And since this is so rare on earth, it is impossible to describe its supereminent felicities from any other source than the mouth of angels, for they are in it. These angels have said that its inmost delights, which are those of the soul . . . are imperceptible and hence ineffable, being delights of peace and at the same time of innocence; that in their descent they become more and more perceptible." (CL 69)
In the Spiritual Diary [Spiritual Experiences in current translations] there are a number of passages which treat beautifully of conjugial love, and incisively of its opposite. It is said that "conjugial love is the (fundamental) principle, and thence all loves draw their origin and are derived, and form consanguinities and affinities, which are similar derivations of loves. Hence now it appears that the primary bond of conscience is founded in conjugial love." (SD 3705)
"Heaven is marriage, and hell is adultery ... That a man by conjugial love receives the form of love (heaven) inwardly and outwardly, by adultery the form of hell; also, that heavenly love is implanted solely through conjugial love. (SD 6051: 5) Here also this love is called "the fundamental love of all loves"; and it is said that the delights of conjugial love exceed all others .... both in number and quality, (and) ... that heavenly joy is founded upon that love." (SD 6051: 6-8)
In a surprising statement, it is said that "to love the married partner is to do good in the sight of the Lord; for it is thus, from chastity, to love the Lord." (SD 6051: 12) "This communicates with the heavens, and delights the souls of angels to such an extent as cannot be believed." This ties conjugial love directly to the love of the Lord; in effect it says: "to love the married partner . . . from chastity (is) to love the Lord." This is a primary point of this paper, and is supported by the teachings on the excellence of the conjugial use, and love of use being love of the Lord. There will be more on this in further references later.
The final section of the Diary, number 6110, with its 82 sub-sections, has many related teachings to the fundamental nature of conjugial love. Such as "married partners together, or conjugial love, is the very image and likeness of God." (10) "The wife is the man's soul, and life, or is the heart of the man; but neither knows anything else than that the other is his, or hers, and that each is the other's reciprocally and mutually." (14) "Love truly conjugial is, at the beginning, like as man being reformed, and afterwards regenerated. It inverts itself; and, when it has inverted itself, the man's love proceeds from the wife's love, and as is the latter so is the former." (61) "It was related out of heaven that the Most Ancients, who were celestial, called conjugial love the chief of all loves, and the very delight of life, and said that love towards children is the nearest derivation from it." (30)
The sphere and import of these numbers are quite strong, and also of those in later sets of quotations, and therefore other teachings should be kept in mind as well, to maintain perspective. The doctrine of the Lord is the supreme doctrine. Belief and understanding of the Lord, and love of Him, must precede any reception of the conjugial. "How important it is to have a correct idea of God may appear from this consideration, that the idea of God constitutes the inmost of thought with all who have any religion, for all things of religion and all things of worship have respect to God.... The state of man after death is according to the idea of God affirmed within him." (DLW 13) "A knowledge of the Lord surpasses in excellence all other knowledges in the church and even in heaven." (TCR 81) ". . . The highest of truth Divine is the Divine Human ... and hence the highest among the doctrinal things of the church is that His Human is Divine." (AC 4687e) "In the heavens, the goods of all are from one love; thus from one origin. The one love which is the origin of all the goods there is love to the Lord from the Lord." (HH 72: 2; cf. DLW 122; DP 94; HH 271)
The Lord is the source of conjugial love; its inmost origin is from the marriage of the Divine and Human in Him. Doctrine concerning the Lord and the Glorification is of more importance, of a higher nature, than the doctrine of conjugial love. Love to the Lord from the Lord is the highest of all loves received by angels and men. (HH 72: 2) "No one can come into conjugial love who does not approach the Lord, love the truths of the church, and do its good." (CL 70) "To fulfill the Divine end of marriage and to enjoy its blessedness of life, the husband and wife must be delivered from the loves of self and the world, and become established in supreme love to the Lord, and in mutual love to each other; because love to the Lord and to one another conjoins them more and more, in affection and thought, and in every word and work." (Liturgy, p. 95)
But the love of the Lord from the Lord is directly related to conjugial love. In a number of passages, some already given and some still to be quoted, love of the Lord and conjugial love are conjoined, (e.g. SD 6051: 12 ; CL 68, 305 and D. Love XIII, and esp. AE 993, 995) Both love of the Lord and conjugial love cannot be defined as the most important loves - unless they are an integral part of each other. Is the inmost reception of the Lord in conjugial love?
Love of the Lord Within Conjugial Love
An unforgettable treatment of conjugial love and its opposite is found in the Apocalypse Explained in the treatment of the 6th commandment, "thou shalt not commit adultery." This starts with AE 981 and continues beneath the expositional numbers to AE 1009. In this treatment conjugial love is given a priority in relation to other heavenly loves that is striking. Related to this as a further cause for study and reflection is the treatment of adultery - that adultery is behind every evil as a cause; spiritual adultery, which is what gives natural adultery its power and delight.
This treatment describes the delight of adultery as "hell in man," and "the delight of marriage (as) . . . heaven." (AE 981) It calls "the love of adultery . . . the fundamental of all hellish and devilish loves," and the chaste love of marriage "the fundamental love of all heavenly and Divine loves; consequently so far as a man is in the love of adultery he is in every evil love, if not in act yet in endeavor; and on the other hand, so far as he is in the chaste love of marriage, he is in every good love."
"The origin of the love of adultery is a marriage of evil and falsity, which in its essence is hell." (AE 983) Even as in opposites conjugial love descends from the marriage of good and truth. More inwardly, the origin of the conjugial is "the Lord's love for the church," and inmostly the union of the Divine and Human in the Lord. Before treating of the nature of the love of adultery, as given in the AE sixth commandment series, more should be said about why conjugial love is the chief of all loves, and the parents of loves.
It is so by virtue of its origin, yes; but why on its own receptive plane? It is revealed: "man can become the love which is an image or likeness of God only by a marriage of good and truth; for good and truth inmostly love one another, and ardently long to be united that they may be one; and for the reason that Divine good and truth go forth from the Lord united, therefore they must be united in an angel of heaven and in a man of the church. This union is by no means possible except by a marriage of two minds into one, since ... man was created to be an understanding of truth, and thus a truth, and woman was created to be an affection for good, and thus a good; therefore in them a conjunction of good and truth is possible.
"For marriage love which descends from that conjunction is the veriest medium by which man (homo) becomes the love that is an image or likeness of God. For the married pair who are in conjugial love from the Lord, love one another mutually and reciprocally from the heart, thus from inmosts; and therefore although apparently two, they are actually one, two in respect to their bodies, but one in respect to life." (AE 984) Man (vir) or woman is incomplete as to heart or understanding before coming into conjugial love. The conjugial partner through regeneration from the Lord gives the necessary completion of mind to make one angelic being (homo). In this one man (homo), good from the Lord is received by the wife, and wisdom from the Lord by the husband. These two love each other intensely, and long for each other; they were created to be one.
Most consciously but above the conscious level, the wife offers to her husband good received from the Lord - received by her and in her. The husband, in being drawn with love to this good, is in actuality loving the Lord in her. (SD 6051: 12; AE 995, 996) On the conscious plane of his mind, this is felt as love for her - as love for his wife apart from his conceit and proprium. The above-conscious conjunction of good and truth "belongs to man's interiors." When it descends "into the lower parts pertaining to the body, it is perceived and felt as love." (HH 367)
To his wife, man's understanding on the interior plane, as given by the Lord through his regeneration, is the Lord received by her husband. On this interior, above-conscious plane, her love for her husband is love of the Lord. But in both the case of husband and wife, this is not consciously felt as love of the Lord, but rather as love of the partner. The Lord is in the good received by the wife, and the truth received by the husband. They love what is of the Lord in each other, in the above-conscious marriage of good and truth. These inner qualities from the Lord long to be one; to be in the heavenly marriage. This is perceived as deep love one for another; husband for wife and wife for husband. This love is the Lord's gift, fulfilling the inmost purpose of the Lord to give happiness to man (homo). The "as-of-self" reception of conjugial love is the highest feeling of life man can know. It is an inmost reception of the Lord, through one's partner. It fulfills the promise of the betrothal reading: "I will betroth thee unto me forever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in justice and in judgment, in lovingkindness and in mercies; and I will betroth thee unto me in faithfulness; and thou shalt know the Lord." (Hosea 2: 19, 20; AE 946: 2) This refers to man as an individual coming into love of the Lord; it refers also we suggest to the reception of conjugial love, which "in its first essence is love to the Lord." (AE 995)
Lest all this sound too idealistic or falsely sweet, the type of conjugial love here described is so rare as hardly to be known. It has nothing to do with man's conceit or love of dominion. There is in it no lack of regard, no desire to rule. It is absolutely free and more than equal, since
it desires all that is one's own to be the other's. Conjugial love is a gift from the Lord, given only through temptation in which man's spirit perceives that all that is true and good is from the Lord. Thus it is a regenerating and regenerate love, felt early in gift states and from remains, and coming later in the regeneration of the natural in the "Zebulon" state in the birth of the 12 sons of Jacob. This is further shown in the place and correspondence of the tribe of Zebulon in the land of Canaan. In glorifying the natural, the Lord made it possible for conjugial love to be received as in a home in that plane in man. The truths of the Second Coming are needed to make the reception complete, but He came on earth and was glorified to bring warmth and light, the very conjugial itself, to the natural. (He came for many other reasons as well, more than we know.) When Jesus began His ministry, He left Nazareth, and "came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, The Land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; the people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death, light is sprung up." (Matt. 4: 13-16)
In a later passage in the AE treatment, conjugial love is defined as "the fundamental of all celestial and spiritual loves, since through that love man becomes love. . . . When a man through marriage has become such a love, he is also in love to the Lord and in love toward the neighbor, and thus in a love for all good and in a love for all truth. For from man as a love, loves of every kind proceed; therefore marriage love is the fundamental love of all the loves of heaven." (AE 993) Specifically it is said that conjugial love "is from the Lord alone," and that "in its first essence is love to the Lord." (AE 995) And "as true marriage love in its first essence is love to the Lord from the Lord, it is also innocence. Innocence is loving the Lord as one's Father by doing His commandments and wishing to be led by Him and not by oneself, thus like a little child." (AE 996) In an earlier reference, conjugial love is called "innocence, which is the very being (esse) of every good in the heavens." (AE 985) It would almost seem from this, especially from AE 993, that conjugial love as received ushers in love to the Lord!
The entire treatment of the 6th commandment in AE has a number of beautiful teachings that further characterize the conjugial in the affirmative treatment. It also has, however, an analysis of the origin and nature of the love of adultery that is powerful, and unfolds the theme of this study by opposites.
The Fundamental Hate
"Man is born into a love of evil and falsity, which love is the love of adultery; and this cannot be turned about and changed into spiritual love ... and still less into celestial love .... except by a marriage of good and truth from the Lord, and not fully except by a marriage of two minds and two bodies. From this it is clear why marriages are heavenly and adulteries infernal; for marriage is an image of heaven, and true marriage love is an image of the Lord, while adultery is an image of hell, and love of adultery is an image of the devil." (AE 984) "Hell is from adulteries because adultery is from the marriage of evil and falsity, from which hell in the whole complex is called adultery." (AE 987) Many literal passages from the Old and New Testament express this in correspondential imagery.
"The hereditary evils into which man is born are not from Adam's having eaten of the tree of knowledge, but from the adulteration of good and the falsification of truth by parents, thus from the marriage of evil and falsity, from which a love of adultery springs ... It is from adulteries that man has hell, until he is reformed by the Lord by means of truths and a life according to them. And no one can be reformed unless he shuns adulteries as infernal, and loves marriages as heavenly. In this and in no other way is hereditary evil broken, and rendered milder in the offspring." (AE 989)
"Becoming an adulterer means living in the marriage of evil and falsity by thinking evils and falsities from a delight in them, and by doing them from a love for them. Every man who does this becomes an adulterer." (AE 989)
There is then given the origin of the delights of adultery: "the delights of the love of adultery derive what they are from the delights of doing evil uses, thus of evil-doing; ... therefore such as the delight of the evil is in doing evil, such is the delight of their love of adultery; because a love of adultery descends therefrom. That it descends therefrom scarcely anyone can believe; and yet such is its origin. From this it is evident that the delight of adultery ascends from the lowest hell." (AE 990)
This would explain why the delight of adultery is so powerful; its origin is from evil of the lowest plane; in fact adultery is the expression of that interior evil in ultimates, in correspondential ultimates. That the love of dominion from the love of self is the inmost origin of adultery is unknown without Divine revelation, just as the teachings that love of the Lord is ultimated in conjugial love are unknown. But more is given on the essential love behind adultery; a vital passage in exposing the force behind the evil, and exposing its nature. This should weaken its power. The passage is:
"The delight of adultery is from a certain impure fire, which as long as it lasts counterfeits the delight of the love of good, but in itself is the delight of the love of evil, which in its essence is the delight of hatred against good and truth. And because this is its origin, there is no love between an adulterer and an adulteress, except such as the love of hatred is, which is such that they can be in the conjunction in externals but not in internals. For in the externals there is something fiery, but in the internals there is coldness." (AE 991)
It may be said by opposites that the hate in adultery is "above every hate." Its origin is the lowest hell. The first weapon of the genii in dealing with the good is deceit; they love to appear innocent - in the other world sometimes putting on the appearance of an innocent child, and the sirens appearing as beautiful and innocent virgins. Adultery and innocence are joined together in many movies, novels, and life. But behind this apparent innocence is not love but hate.
"It has been granted me to see that love (of adultery) in its essence, and it was such that within it was deadly hatred, while without it appeared like a fire from burning dung and putrid and stinking matters. And as that fire with its delights burnt out, so by degrees the life of mutual discourse and intercourse expired, and hatred came forth, manifested first as contempt, afterwards as aversion, then as rejection, and finally as abuse and contention." (AE 991: 5)
"What the delight of hatred and thus of doing evil is with those who are in hell can neither be described nor believed. To do evil is the joy of their heart, and this they call their heaven. The delight in doing evil derives its all from hatred.... It is ... the delight of hatred, which, becoming a fire in the extremes and being injected into the lusting flesh, becomes for the moment the delight of adultery - the soul in which the hatred lies concealed withdrawing itself. It is for this reason that hell is called adultery, and also that adulterers are ... unmerciful.... This then is the infernal marriage." (AE 991: 6)
This being the origin of adultery, a light is shed on those passages in the Diary which ascribe interior evils to certain ultimates; for behind various forms of incest and perversion lie inner evils. SD 5939 traces certain incests to interior states of evil, and ascribes the love of rule from self-love to sodomy. (SD 59390 Homosexuality is deeply condemned; (SD 3895-3900) what applies to one sex applies to the other. D 4855b, 4856, 4857 are very explicit in tracing incests and perversions to specific interior evils. (See also AC 2220, 2322; CL 55; SD 2675, 3714, 768: 2, 5939e, 5979)
These references are given not for the sake of over-kill in making a point, but because some of our college-age young people have had the idea that homosexuality is permissible, and that the Writings do not condemn it. Not only do the Writings condemn homosexuality, but trace perversions to their origin; and this is vital in helping to strip away some of their power to seduce.
Even the mild permissions that seem to be accepted by some young people are permissions, and do real damage to the conjugial. Accepting the idea and practice of living together without marriage is quite common at universities, and not condemned. Such morality as condemns it is regarded as outworn, a relic of the fallen Christian ethic. CL 460 has been quoted to support this practice. The sphere of the peer group and its ethics are very powerful, and resisting common practice can be extremely difficult, unless the reasons why are deeply and beautifully unfolded unfolded by the Lord. This is done in the chapter on Betrothals and Nuptials. (CL 302-305) It is said: "as is the order of this love from its first heat to its first torch, such is it and such it is continued, for the most part, in its progress afterwards. For in this progress, it unfolds itself of such quality as its first heat was in itself, which if chaste, its chasteness is strengthened in its progressions, but if unchaste, its unchasteness increases in progressing." (CL 311)
This is reinforced by the teaching that the betrothal state "ought altogether to precede marriage ... without thought of the state following. Then marriage is happy and lasting; but so far as it partakes of the ... (marriage) state alone, so far it is lacking.... The delights of the earlier state are indefinite. They approach closely and more closely to the state (of marriage) following, but yet do not enter it.... The prior state is the state of conjugial friendship, which surpasses all friendship." (SD 6110: 48, 49)
"It is said that Ďadulteries destroy conjugial love, which is the fundamental of all the loves of man,''" (SD 4405e) and that "the love of adultery is the fundamental love of all infernal loves, which in themselves are not loves but hatreds; consequently from the love of adultery, hatreds of every kind gush forth, both against God and against the neighbor, and in general against every good and truth of heaven and the church." (AE 993)
Further Teachings on the Place of the Conjugial
In contrast to the foregoing on adultery, there are other passages which unfold even more fully the inmost place of the conjugial with man (homo), and it is important that these be reflected upon for a more complete picture. Some of these numbers are as follows:
"There are three kinds of loves which constitute the celestial things of the Lord's kingdom, namely, conjugial love, love for infants, and the love for society or mutual love. Conjugial love is the principal love of all, because it has within it the end of greatest use, namely, the propagation of the human race, and thereby of the Lord's kingdom, of which it is the seminary. Love towards infants follows next, being derived from conjugial love; and then comes the love for society, of mutual love. (AC 2039: 1) Celestial and conjugial love go hand in hand. (AC 2730)
". . . Conjugial love descends from the Lord through heaven; and that from this love, as a parent, is derived mutual love, which is the support of heaven." (AC 2733: 2) "All beauty in the other life is from conjugial love." (AC 2735) ". . . Genuine conjugial love is innocence itself, because it dwells in wisdom. They who have lived in conjugial love excel all in heaven in wisdom." (AC 2736) "Conjugial love inflows from the Lord through the inmost of man." (AC 2737 See also AC 4277, 4280: 4, 5052, 7038: 2, 9061)
Primary Indicator of State: (with the individual, and with civilizations)
A test is made in the spiritual world to explore the true nature of a newly-arrived spirit. "Spirits who have recently come into the spiritual world are explored, first of all, as to whether they are against conjugial love; they are led to places where the sphere of conjugial love passes by.
What is true of an individual is true, interiorly, of a church, and an epoch of a church. In CL 75 is the well-known account of visits made by Swedenborg and an angel guide to the successive eras of mankind; the golden, silver, copper, iron and iron and clay ages. It becomes clear in this judgment that the key, a key, to a civilization is its concept of conjugial love. It is said that "conjugial love was the love of loves with the ancients who lived in the golden, silver, and copper ages." (CL 73) Of the Most Ancients it is disclosed that "their marriages were their chief source of happiness and delight, and whatever admitted of the comparison they likened to marriage, in order that in this way they might perceive its felicity. " (AC 54; cf. AC 162) They called conjugial love "the chief of all loves, and the very delight of life." (SD 6110: 30) After the copper age, there was a deterioration in religion, and in the quality of conjugial love. Until finally, in the iron and clay age, the love of adultery became primary.
The historian Arnold Toynbee believes that an index to a civilization is its religion: when the religion is vital, the civilization flourishes; when the religion loses its force, the era gradually fades. The Writings support this thesis in many ways, but they penetrate more deeply, showing that a key concept of religion is its doctrine and life concerning marriage. Conjugial love is the fundamental of all loves; therefore as an age or epoch regards conjugial love, so it reveals its inmost state; its highest good and its limitations. For further treatment of this see the article on the history of the conjugial with mankind. (NEW CHURCH LIFE 1970: 74) The most beautiful memorable relation that describes the angels singing their joy at the Second Coming, concludes with the promise: "conjugial love will be raised up anew by the Lord after His Advent, such as it was with the ancients. For that love is of the Lord alone, and is with those who are made spiritual by Him through the Word." (CL 81e) Fulfilling this promise is the highest hope of the New Church on earth; reception of the fundamental love more and more deeply. Except for the doctrine of the Lord, what else should more deeply qualify our New Church education, preparation for marriage, and interior progress to the Lord in adult states?
"Above Every Love" - Conclusions
When the state is most receptive, then the two universal spheres that proceed from the Lord are the primary spheres of the church and the man (homo) of the church; the spheres of conjugial love and the spiritual love of infants. (CL 386-389; AC 162; EU 48) The highest state with the church or individual exists when the uses of conjugial love are prior to all other uses. It was so in the Most Ancient Church, and may be so again. Inmost delights then inflow, from the very heaven of peace nearest to the Lord. And in this the Lord is received most closely as the Author of the conjugial.
The path to this highest goal however should not be unrealistic. One has to acknowledge the reality of the love of adultery into which man is born hereditarily. He should be aware that psychological blocks can stand in the way of conjugial influx, and be aware of these so that they can be removed in Providence. He should acknowledge that coming into the conjugial is a gift of the Lord through regeneration, that there are many tough and difficult states on the way; that there is a state by state progress through a ladder of mediate goods. There is a definitive number that treats in detail of "the ... mediate goods of conjugial love." (AC 4145: 3)
Nevertheless, the direct path to the Lord is through shunning adultery in all its meanings, but especially the literal meanings first. "No one can be reformed unless he shuns adulteries as infernal, and loves marriages as heavenly. In this and in no other way is hereditary evil broken and rendered milder in offspring." (AE 989) And on the affirmative side: "the offspring born of two who are in love truly conjugial derive from their parents the conjugial of good and truth, from which they have an inclination and faculty, if a son, for perceiving the things that are of wisdom, and if a daughter, for loving what wisdom teaches:" (CL 202) The hope of the Lord is to lead husband and wife to the perception: "I will betroth thee unto me forever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in justice and in judgment, and in lovingkindness and in mercies; and I will betroth thee unto me in faithfulness; and thou shalt know the Lord." (Hosea 2: 19, 20)
-New Church Life 1978;98;67-81