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  • Writer's pictureRoslyn Taylor

THE WOMEN'S COMPANION TO 'CONJUGIAL LOVE' Numbers 154-155b

Word Cloud of Conjugial Love 154-155(b)

Summary of the Numbers

Swedenborg starts this section by saying that people who believe that marriages are

unchaste don’t know what chastity is, and can’t be chaste themselves. For example,

people who take a vow of celibacy and chastity are only really chaste if they also love a

truly conjugial life. There are communities on the fringes of heaven for people who

choose to remain unmarried, where they are cheerful and happy, unlike when they feel

the energy of conjugial love in the rest of heaven. He goes on to assert that the state of being married is preferable to the state of being celibate. Marriage’s source is the marriage of good and truth. It corresponds to the marriage of the Divine and the church. Several other reasons were also given as to why the state of being married is so valuable.

There were two stories of experiences that Swedenborg had in the spiritual world. In the

first story, Swedenborg was taken to see where the wise ancient Greek moral

philosophers live in heaven, where they are updated on the state of wisdom in the

world. At a meeting with some newcomers, they asked “What news is there from earth?”

and were told that clever and intelligent people believe that religion is a human

invention. The Greek philosophers were very disappointed at the state of wisdom on

earth, concluding that people had become stupid by relying on misleading information

from their sense perception. When they were asked how a person who is made in the

image of the Divine can end up denying the existence of the Divine and everlasting life,

the ancient philosophers concluded that it happens when people start believing that all

their impulses to kindness and all their true thinking come from themselves, not from the

Divine.

In the second story, Swedenborg sees a golden rain shower, indicating meditation on

the delights of conjugial love, falling on a hall where three couples live. When he was

taken there, he asked them to tell him something about the delights of conjugial love.

Because they are the ones who receive and feel the delights of conjugial love, the wives

were able to disclose that they have deep wisdom about conjugial love. When the wives

saw a dove at their window, they recognized it as the sign that they were allowed to

share some of their closely-held secrets about conjugial love. They told Swedenborg

that they have a sixth sense which allows them to feel the endless variety of delights of

their husbands’ conjugial love, of which the husbands are unaware. A swan then

appeared, flying away from them, which was the sign that they could not reveal any

more secrets or deep wisdom.


Summary of Responses: There were two respondents to this section. Both reflected on the meaning of the

statements about chastity and “the married state” for people in the LGBTQIA+

community. They both commented on the two accounts of experiences Swedenborg

had in the spiritual world. One focused on the experience of people when they realize

they are in the spiritual world and are open to instruction. The other focused on the story

of the women sharing their wisdom about the delights of conjugial love. There was an

off-topic discussion of the social roles of men and women, which will be included in the

next blog.

Direct Quotes from Respondents:

When reflecting on chastity, abstinence and the preferred married state, the

respondents wrote:

"Love that monks and nuns who can’t stomach marriage are in heaven (155, xiii, 2 and

3). They do so much good work. I feel homosexuals who have lead good lives are also

in heaven, even if they are unable to be married to the opposite sex, or maybe that

changes in their spiritual selves?."

* “Leaving aside the question of whether a committed love relationship between people of

the same gender should be called a “marriage” or something else, I’m seeing that these

statements lead to the logical conclusion that a committed same-sex relationship is

better than celibacy for a person who is attracted to the same gender. Conservative and

military institutions tend to come down on the side of 'it's OK if you’re same-sex

attracted, but not if you’re openly in a same-sex relationship of any kind.'"

* “If it’s true that a committed, loving same-sex relationship is the form of linking that a

gay or lesbian person can have that most closely approximates conjugial love,

especially if there is active love-wisdom bonding happening between them, then their

marriage is preferable to celibacy for them. “The married state” could mean the

condition of being in a legalized heterosexual marriage. More generally, it could mean

the emotional and spiritual state of being in a caring, fulfilling, truly intimate relationship

that involves sexual attraction, and in which both partners can grow spiritually and

together grow closer to the Divine by becoming one through love-wisdom linking.

Obviously not all heterosexual marriages meet this definition, and neither do all other

versions of marriages. But this “married state” exists from creation, which I take to mean

that everyone has the inborn potential of wanting to enter into a relationship that comes

as close to the Divine-imaging ideal as they can manage.”

* When the respondents turned their attention to Swedenborg’s accounts of his

experiences in the spiritual world, one referred to the story about the Greek

philosophers:

"It's interesting to read instances of people denying they are in the spiritual world when

they are, yet I notice in this section they realize they are and change their ideas (151b,

4)."

* The other respondent focused on the story about the delights of conjugial love:


"[Swedenborg] wanted to talk with the women about the pleasure associated with

conjugial love. This would fit with the stereotyping of women as sensual and men as

theoretical in their approach to relationships. I can see that it’s true that women and girls

have intuitive knowing about relationships that involves sensory experiences of what is

happening in the relationship, such as the way he looks at her and other women, his

tone of voice, the degree of tenderness or insistence in his touch, his attention to her

during sex. Men pay attention to these sense experiences too, but in my experience

might tend to be more oblivious to them or be driven by their thinking about the

relationship, especially thoughts about whether they will be rejected."

* "Swedenborg is only allowed to talk with the women with the permission of their

husbands, the men are controlling the flow of the visit and the information, including

when the visit should end. There might also be spiritually correspondential reasons for

this, such as picturing the way our inner wisdom or thinking carefully guards our more

interior love or motivations…I’d say it’s lovely that these marriages portray our inner

processes the way they do, and our marriages today portray our inner processes

differently. The wives in this hall of wisdom advocate for women judiciously withholding

relational truth from their husbands, rather than employing transparency, unless they

are in a particularly healthy, conjugial relationship. Maybe our more balanced and

transparent relationships today picture the way our inner processes of thinking and

emotion can be known and uplifted together with intention and clarity."

* "Like many girls and women today, I’ve had trouble trusting my immanent wisdom and

instincts, and gotten into trouble as a result. In part this might happen because logical

thinking and transcendent truth is more valued in our present culture, as it was in

Swedenborg’s. When women’s thinking and wisdom and judgement are valued equally

as men’s, as is the case for the community of the women in the wisdom hall, then my

hope and prayer is that we girls and women will confidently follow the guiding of our

wisdom and intuition. For now, other than overt activism, we can help that time arrive by

supporting girls and women who are learning the skills of trusting their inner wisdom,

including ourselves."

* Word Cloud of the Responses:

Please Comment! What was your experience reading these numbers from Conjugial Love? Your thoughts and responses are valuable and welcomed. Just sign up in the comment section to be a Deborah’s Tree site member, and then add your comments. Site membership is free, but you are welcome to give a donation if you like what you find in this blog! https://www.deborahstree.org/donate-and-volunteer

Today’s Blog By: Rev. Roslyn Taylor

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