Scientific discovery of Spiritual Laws given in Rational Scientific Revelations


Conjugial Love
& The Psychobiology of Jealousy                     

Contents

The Spiritual Psycho-Physiology of Marriage
The Psychobiology of Jealousy
Ten Reasons for the Fall of Marriage
Swedenborgian Marriage Handbook for Husbands
Correspondence on Love
     Love or Lust
     Active Listening in Marriage
     Pellicacy, Sex and Eroticism
Related Topics

The Spiritual Psycho-Physiology of Marriage

Swedenborg describes the spiritual physiology of being married. I have rendered this in two diagrams. Figure 1 shows the mental structure of unmarried men and women and Figure 2 shows the mental structure of married partners.

Ten Reasons for the Fall of Marriage

Here are the indications of The Fall of our Character in today's marriages:

1. When we men reject a higher power than ourselves and have no regard for Divine authority. This makes it impossible for us to listen to our wives' moral wisdom, without which we can only love ourselves. This is the meaning of the Adam and Eve Parable.

2. When we men elevate male feelings above female feelings and above children's feelings. This maintains an inverted (or perverted) order in the world. Female feelings are more interior, more spiritual, more perceptive. The function of this is to give men the motivation, opportunity, and spiritual technology to turn inward. By turning inward through the wife, we men become regenerate husbands -- the old self is inhibited and disarmed, made harmless and inoperative. The new self is the regenerated self. This new husband perceives through his wife, not through himself. He thinks and reasons as if his wife were always present with him, never absent. This is known in correspondences as "one flesh," meaning, one mind-ed-ness.

3. When we men consider the self above all. This forces us into a false reflection of reality. In this state of spiritual insanity, we cannot be regenerated. In other words, we cannot extirpate ourselves from maladaptive interpersonal habits. We continue on a cumulative downward spiral of spiritual insanity called "hell." However, when we acknowledge a higher power than the self, we are faced with the living, saving, redemptive idea of obedience to the Divine. Obedience to the wife's moral integrity and perceptive skills becomes obedience to the Divine. This has been provided from the Divine. It is the Divine Psychotherapy provided for our regeneration from the inherited state of mind called the Fall of Man. This obedience to the wife is our work of character reformation as husbands, that is, our spiritual regeneration -- in other words, our highway to heaven.

4. When we men refuse to care about others' feelings. This keeps us from reforming from within. "We die in our sin", means that our character is not regenerated, but remains evil, or spiritually insane, until death or our passing into the spiritual world. The consequences of entering the spiritual world in an unregenerate state are awful! It brings us to a life composed of the worst kinds of mental states imaginable called "the hells." Swedenborg's eyewitness reports cover many details about hellish mental states. These he called by various terms such as "devils," "satans," "sirens," "evil spirits," "genii," "monsters," "beasts," "wolves," "bats," and many other such negative terms, each of which represents a particular and distinct type of character evil or mental irrationality. These are the miserable states of mind that we choose to remain in forever, compulsed by habit and obsessed with degenerative interests. Swedenborg's observations show that hellish states are on a never ending downward spiral of misery and degeneration. Anyone who takes these observations seriously empower themselves with the mental technology that is powerful enough to motivate them to regenerate!

5. When we men blame women for our own feelings. This maintains us within a male point of view, unable to break out into authenticity and caring. Instead, we can find the manly courage to see our feelings as self-generated rather than wife-generated. As we leave our wife totally blameless, we receive insight from the Divine so that we can perceive how our irrational self brings us to the delusion that we are just reacting to something the wife is doing wrong. This is our delusion: I feel bad because my wife is doing something wrong. When we leave our wife blameless, however, the delusion is lifted and we can correctly and objectively perceive that our bad feelings are self-generated. How? By the way we falsely reason, and by refusing to listen to our wife who is not delusional, who reasons wisely, and loves her husband like herself or more than herself.

6. When we men lack love and caring. This keeps us cold, unable to relate, communicate, empathize and sympathize. Thus, we are incomplete persons. We act like immature children, but much more powerful and wicked. However, we can gain warmth from our wife by loving her and being obedient to her sphere of love and managerial leadership in the partnership. The more we men put ourselves in congruence or harmony with the sphere of our wife, the more we grow warm, hot, passionate, romantic, idealistic, noble -- in short, real men.

7. When we men insist on male dominance. This makes us harsh, cruel, and mean, thus, unattractive and difficult to live with and be liked. Instead, if we let women determine our style of interaction, we men turn attractive, easy to get along with, and fun to be with. As husbands we can become our wife's best friend and lover at the same time!

8. When we men are single-mindedly full of logic-truth as against love-truth. This insures that we remain in an external state unable to rid ourselves of our inherited and acquired evils in our character and mental make-up. However when we adopt and model and love the kind of truth called love-truth, then we come into congruence and harmony with our wife's mental or spiritual sphere.

9. When we men elevate the desire to dominate above all other desires or motives. This shuts off any possibility for reform and change. This desire to dominate, Swedenborg calls "man's ruling love." Though women also inherit this character problem, the mechanism for their reformation is different than ours (to be discussed elsewhere). We men give in to this love of ruling on both a conscious and sub-conscious level. At the conscious level, we feel superior to women in general. At the sub-conscious level, society gives us an automatic advantage by favoring men over women in a multiplicity of ways -- by the way we talk and act all the time. Obeying the wife's desires gives us men the ability to dismantle our inherited desire to dominate women at any cost. To dominate women means things like this: who gets to choose the topic, the focus, and the style of verbal exchanges; or, whose idea gets to be carried out in most of their decisions and activities. If it is the man, then he is ruling over her. If it is the woman, then he is behaving like a true husband.

10. When we men minimize the desire to conjoin ourselves inwardly or mentally with our wife. This prevents the internal marriage, or conjugial, from becoming actual in our lives. Husbands may feel proud and protective of their wife, which is good, but it is not enough. At first we want to protect our wife from others for our own sake, such as out of pride or jealousy. This is an external relationship or conjunction with the wife. And the relationship remains external, with lots of unpleasant and desperate symptoms, until the husband makes it a priority in his mind to to conjoin himself inwardly with his wife. With a desire for inward conjunction, we can acquire the habit of behaving so as never to exit from the wife's sphere of mental or spiritual influence. This means that her thoughts and ways of reasoning, and her affections and styles of acting, are automatically and pleasantly induced upon the husband. Their two spheres now overlap in harmony and produce that wonderful heaven called conjugial love.


Jealousy

Conjugial Love

CL 360. It shall now be told how love, when attacked, is enkindled and inflamed into zeal, as fire is enkindled into a flame. Love resides in man's will; but it is enkindled, not in the will, but in the understanding. In the will it is like fire, and in the understanding like a flame. In the will, love knows nothing about itself, for there it has no sensation of itself; nor does it there act of itself. Sensation and action are effected in the understanding and its thought. Therefore, when love is attacked, it rouses itself to anger in the understanding, this being done by means of various reasonings. These reasonings are like sticks of wood which the fire kindles and which then burn. Thus they are like so much fuel or so much combustible material from which comes the above-mentioned spiritual flame, of which there is much variety.

CL 361. The reason why a man is on fire when his love is attacked shall now be disclosed. From its creation, the human form in its inmosts is a form of love and wisdom. In man, all affections of love and thence all perceptions of wisdom are arranged in most perfect order so that together they make a unanimous whole and thus a one. These affections and perceptions are substantiate, substances being their subjects. Since, therefore, the human form is composed of them, it is plain that if the love is attacked, then, in an instant or simultaneously, the whole form is attacked together with each and every thing therein. From creation it is implanted in all living things to will to remain in their own form. Therefore the whole structure wills this from its several parts, and the parts from the whole. Hence, when the love is attacked, it defends itself by its understanding, and the understanding by things rational and imaginative whereby it represents to itself the outcome; and, more especially, by those things which make one with the love which is attacked. Were this not done, the whole form would fall asunder because of the loss of that love. [2] Hence then it is, that in order to resist attacks, love hardens the substances of its form and erects them into crests, as it were, being so many pricks; that is to say, it bristles up. Such is that exasperation of love which is called zeal. Therefore, if there is no opportunity to resist, anxiety arises, and grief; for the love foresees the extinction of its interior life together with the delights thereof. On the other hand, if the love is favored and soothed, the form relaxes, softens, dilates; and the substances of the form become smooth, bland, gentle, and alluring.

CL 362. III. THAT A MAN'S ZEAL IS SUCH AS HIS LOVE IS, THUS OF ONE KIND WITH HIM WHOSE LOVE IS GOOD, AND OF ANOTHER WITH HIM WHOSE LOVE IS EVIL. Since zeal is the zeal of love, it follows that it is such as the love is; and since in general there are two loves, the love of good and thence of truth, and the love of evil and thence of falsity, therefore, in general, there is a zeal for good and thence for truth, and a zeal for evil and thence for falsity. It should be known, however, that both loves are of infinite variety. This is manifestly evident from the angels of heaven and the spirits of hell. In the spiritual world, both the latter and the former are forms of their love, and yet there is not a single angel of heaven or a single spirit of hell absolutely like any other as to face, speech, walk, gesture, or manner, nor indeed can there be to all eternity, howsoever many the myriads of myriads into which they may be multiplied. Such being the case with the forms of love, it is evident that the loves themselves are of infinite variety. It is the same with zeal, zeal being the zeal of love; that is to say, the zeal of one cannot be absolutely like or the same as the zeal of another. In general, there is the zeal of good love and the zeal of evil love.

CL 363. IV. THAT IN OUTER MANIFESTATION, THE ZEAL OF A GOOD LOVE AND THE ZEAL OF AN EVIL LOVE ARE ALIKE, BUT INWARDLY THEY ARE WHOLLY UNLIKE. With every man, zeal in its outer manifestation appears as anger and wrath; for it is love enkindled and inflamed for the protection of itself against a violator and for the removal of that violator. The reason why the zeal of a good love and the zeal of an evil love appear alike in outer manifestation is because in both cases, when there is love in the zeal, it is in flames; but with a good man, it is in flames only in its outer manifestation, while with an evil man, it is in flames both outwardly and inwardly; and when the internals are not seen, the zeals appear alike in their outer manifestation. That inwardly they are wholly unlike will be seen in the article next following. That in its outer manifestation zeal appears like anger and wrath, can be seen and heard in all cases when men speak and act from zeal. When a priest, for instance, preaches from zeal, the sound of his voice is loud, vehement, sharp, and harsh, he grows hot in the face and perspires, towers up, beats the pulpit, and calls forth fire from hell against evil-doers. Many others act in a similar way.

CL 364. In order to acquire a distinct idea of zeal with the good and with the evil, and of their dissimilarity, it is necessary to form some idea respecting internals and externals with men. That this may be formed, take the idea of the vulgar respecting them, for this is for the common people also. The matter can then be illustrated by nuts or almonds and their kernels. With the good, the internals are like inner kernels, in all their perfection and goodness, enclosed in their usual and natural shell. With the evil it is altogether different. Their internals are like kernels, either inedible because of their bitterness, or rotted or worm-eaten; but their externals are like coverings or shells, either like their natural shells, or reddish like shell-fish, or many-hued like iris stones. Such is their external appearance within which lie concealed the internals mentioned above. It is the same with their zeal.

CL 365. V. THAT INWARDLY IN THE ZEAL OF A GOOD LOVE LIE LOVE AND FRIENDSHIP, BUT INWARDLY IN THE ZEAL OF AN EVIL LOVE LIE HATRED AND REVENGE. It was said that in outer manifestation zeal appears as anger and wrath, both with those who are in a good love and with those who are in an evil; but because the internals differ, the anger and wrath also differ. The differences are: I. The zeal of a good love is as a heavenly flame which never bursts out against another but only defends itself; and its defense against an evil man is as a defense while the latter is rushing into the fire and being burned. But the zeal of an evil love is like an infernal flame which bursts out of itself and rushes upon another and wills to consume him. 2. The zeal of a good love instantly dies down and becomes mild when the assailant withdraws from the attack; but the zeal of an evil love persists and is not extinguished. 3. The reason is because the internal of him who is in the love of good is in itself mild, bland, friendly, and benevolent. Therefore, while, for the purpose of defending itself, his external is rough, bristles up, and erects itself and so acts with severity, yet it is tempered by means of the good in which is his internal. Not so with the evil. With them the internal is inimical, fierce, hard, breathing hatred and revenge, and it feeds itself on the delights of these passions. Even hen there is reconciliation these passions are still latent, like fire in the embers beneath the ashes; and these fires break out, if not in this world yet after death.

CL 366. Because in outer manifestation zeal with a good man and zeal with an evil appear to be alike; and because the ultimate sense of the word consists of correspondences and appearances; therefore, in the word it is often said of Jehovah, that He is angry, is wrathful, avenges, punishes, casts into hell, besides many other expressions which are the appearances of zeal in its outer manifestation. For the same reason, He is called jealous, when yet in Him is not the least shade of anger, wrath, and vengeance, He being mercy, grace, and clemency itself, thus good itself, in Whom nothing of the kind is possible. But of these matters, see more in the work on HEAVEN AND HELL, nos. 545-50, and in THE APOCALYPSE REVEALED, nos. 494, 498, 525, 714, 806.

CL 367. VI. THAT THE ZEAL OF CONJUGIAL LOVE IS CALLED JEALOUSY. The zeal for love truly conjugial is the zeal of zeals inasmuch as the love is the love of loves, and its delights, for which also it is zealous, the delights of delights; for, as shown above [no. 64], that love is the chief of all loves. The reason is because that love induces on the wife the form of love, and on the husband the form of wisdom, and from these forms united into a one, nothing else can proceed but what savors of wisdom and at the same time of love. Since the zeal of conjugial love is the zeal of zeals, therefore it is called by a new name, zelotypia,* in that it is the very type of zeal.

CL 368. VII. THAT JEALOUSY IS AS A FIRE BLAZING OUT AGAINST THOSE WHO MOLEST THE LOVE WITH THE PARTNER; AND THAT IT IS A DREADFUL FEAR FOR THE LOSS OF THAT LOVE. Here the jealousy of those who are in spiritual love with their partner is treated of; in the following article, the jealousy of those who are in natural love; and after that, the jealousy of those who are in love truly conjugial. With those who are in spiritual love there are various jealousies because various loves, for there is not a single love, whether spiritual or natural, which is ever the same with any two persons, still less with many. [2] That spiritual jealousy, that is, jealousy with the spiritual, is as a fire blazing out against those who molest their conjugial love, is because with them the principle or beginning of that love is in the internals of each partner, and from its principle, their love follows the principiates to their ultimates; and from these, and at the same time from firsts, the intermediates which are of the mind and body are held in lovely connection. In their marriage, such persons, being spiritual, look to union as an end, and therein to spiritual rest and its amenities. Now because they have rejected disunion from their animus, their jealousy is like a fire stirred up and darting out against those who molest. [3] It is also as a dreadful fear, because the intention of their spiritual love is that they be a one, and if there exists a falling away, or if an appearance of separation occurs, there comes fear--a dreadful fear, as when two parts which are united together are being torn asunder. This description of jealousy was given me from heaven by those who are in spiritual conjugial love; for there is natural conjugial love, spiritual conjugial love, and celestial conjugial love. As to the natural and celestial, and their jealousy, these shall be spoken of in the two articles which now follow.

CL 369. VIII. THAT JEALOUSY IS SPIRITUAL WITH MONOGAMISTS,AND NATURAL WITH POLYGAMISTS. That jealousy is spiritual with monogamists is because they alone can receive spiritual conjugial love, as abundantly shown above. It is said there is spiritual jealousy with monogamists, but what is meant is that it is possible; for in the Christian world, where marriages are monogamous, it exists with very few. Yet, that it is possible there, has also been confirmed above. That with polygamists conjugial love is natural may be seen in the chapter on Polygamy (nos. 345-47); so likewise their jealousy, for this follows their love. [2] As to the nature of the jealousy of polygamists, we learn concerning this from the accounts of men who have witnessed it among orientals. These men relate that wives and concubines are guarded like captives in prisons, and are held back and restrained from all communication with men; that no man is allowed to enter the women's apartments or the rooms wherein they are confined, unless accompanied by a eunuch; that close observation is made as to whether any of the women look at a passing man with lascivious eyes or countenance, and that if this is observed the woman is punished with stripes, and if she practices lewdness with any man introduced into the outer room by stealth, or outside the harem, she is punished with death.

CL 370. The above illustrates the nature of the jealous fire into which polygamous conjugial love breaks out--a fire breaking out into anger and revenge, into anger in the case of the meek, and into revenge in the case of the fierce. This is because their love is natural and does not partake of what is spiritual. This follows from what was demonstrated in the chapter on Polygamy, namely, that polygamy is lasciviousness (no. 345), and that a polygamist, so long as he remains a polygamist, is natural and cannot become spiritual (no. 347). With natural monogamists, the jealous fire is different. Their love is not inflamed in this way against the women but against the violators. Against the latter it becomes anger, and against the former cold. Not so with polygamists. Moreover, the fire of their jealousy burns with vengeful fury. This also is among the reasons why after death the concubines and wives of polygamists are for the most part set free, and are assigned to unguarded women's apartments, there to make various things which pertain to women's work.

CL 371. IX. THAT WITH MARRIED PARTNERS WHO TENDERLY LOVE EACH OTHER, JEALOUSY IS A JUST GRIEF FROM SOUND REASON, LEST THEIR CONJUGIAL LOVE BE DIVIDED AND THUS PERISH. Within all love is fear and grief, fear lest it perish, and grief if it does perish. There is the like fear and grief in conjugial love, but the fear and grief of this love is called zeal or jealousy. That with partners who tenderly love each other this zeal is just and from sound reason, is because it is at the same time fear for the loss of eternal felicity, not only his own but also his partner's; and because it is also a protection against adultery. As regards the first point--that it is a just fear for the loss of his own and his partner's eternal felicity--this follows from all that has hitherto been advanced respecting love truly conjugial, and also from the fact that from that love comes the blessedness of their souls, the happiness of their minds, the delight of their bosoms, and the pleasure of their bodies; and because these remain with them to eternity, there is fear for each other's eternal happiness. [As regards the second point]--that the zeal is a just protection against adulteries--this is evident; therefore it is as a fire blazing out against violation and defending itself against it. From this it is evident that one who tenderly loves his partner is also jealous; but the jealousy is just and sane according to the wisdom of the man.

CL 372. It was said that in conjugial love is implanted fear lest it be divided, and grief lest it perish; and that its zeal is like fire directed against violation. Once, when meditating upon this, I asked certain zealous angels respecting the seat of jealousy. They said: "It is in the understanding of the man who receives the love of his partner and loves her in return, and its quality there is according to his wisdom." They also said that jealousy has something in common with honor, which also is within conjugial love, for he who loves his partner also honors her. [2] As to the reason why with a man zeal resides in his understanding, they said: "Conjugial love protects itself by the understanding, as good protects itself by truth. So a wife protects those things which she has in common with the man by her husband. Therefore, zeal is implanted in men, and through men and on account of men, in women." To the question, in what region of the mind does it reside with men, they answered: "In their souls, because it is also a protection against adulteries, and because these are what principally destroy conjugial love. Therefore, in the presence of attempts at its violation, the man's Understanding hardens and becomes as a horn smiting the adulterer."

CL 373. X. THAT WITH MARRIED PARTNERS WHO DO NOT LOVE EACH OTHER, JEALOUSY IS DUE TO MANY CAUSES, AND WITH SOME TO VARIOUS KINDS OF MENTAL SICKNESS. The reasons why married partners who do not mutually love each other are also jealous are principally, honor from potency, fear of dishonoring one's name and also that of one's wife, and dread lest one's domestic affairs be ruined. That men have honor from potency, that is, that from this they wish to be accounted as great men, is well known; for so long as they have this honor, they are as though raised up in their own mind and not shamefaced among men and women. Moreover, to this honor is attached the attribute of bravery, and therefore military officers have it more than others. As to fear of dishonoring one's name and that of one's wife, this makes one with the preceding reason; added to which is the fact that cohabitation with a harlot, and having a brothel in the home, are infamous. That jealousy exists with some lest their domestic affairs be ruined, is because the husband is so greatly disgraced, and mutual duties and services are done away with. With some, however, this jealousy ceases in time and becomes nonexistent, and with some it turns into a mere simulation of love.

CL 374. That with some, jealousy is from various mental sicknesses is no secret in the world; for there are jealous men who continually think of their wives as unfaithful, believing them to be harlots, and this merely on hearing or seeing that they talk amicably with men or about men. There are mental blemishes which induce this infirmity, the first among which is a suspicious fantasy. If long cherished, this brings the mind into societies of like spirits, from which it can be delivered only with difficulty. Jealousy also gives itself added strength in the body, by the serum and thence the blood becoming viscous, tenacious, thick, sluggish, and acrid. Moreover, it is augmented by lack of the virile powers, this rendering the mind unable to be raised above its suspicion; for their presence elevates, and their absence depresses, this absence causing the mind to droop, collapse and languish. It then immerses itself in that fantasy ever more and more until it becomes insane; and this insanity has its outlet in the delight of upbraiding and, so far as allowed, of reviling.

CL 375. Moreover, in certain regions there are families which labor under the sickness of jealousy more than others. By them Wives are imprisoned, tyrannically withheld from converse with men, shut off from the sight of them by windows provided with lattices stretching [from top] to bottom, and are terrified by threats of death if the husband find reason for the suspicion he nurses; besides other hardships which wives there suffer from their jealous husbands. Of this jealousy there are two causes: One is the imprisonment and stifling of the thoughts in respect to the spiritual things of the Church, the other is an intestine lust for revenge.

[2] As regards the first cause--the imprisonment and stifling of the thoughts in respect to the spiritual things of the Church--its effects can be concluded from what has previously been demonstrated, namely, that every one has conjugial love according to the state of the Church with him; and that this love is from the Lord alone because the Church is from Him (nos. 130, 131). Therefore, When men, living and dead, are approached and invoked in place of the Lord, it follows that there is no state of the Church with which conjugial love can act as one, and the less so when men's minds are terrified into that worship by threats of a frightful prison. Hence it comes to pass that their thoughts, and with them their speech, are violently imprisoned and suffocated, and with these suffocated, things flow in which are contrary to the Church or which, if they favor the Church, are imaginary. From all this, nothing else redounds but burning heat for harlots and icy cold for the consort. It is from these two together in one subject that this ungovernable fire of jealousy comes.

[3] As concerns the second cause, namely, an intestine lust for revenge, this entirely inhibits the influx of conjugial love, absorbs it, swallows it up, and turns its delight which is heavenly into the delight of revenge which is infernal; and the nearest object to which it is determined is the wife. Moreover, it is from appearance that the malignity of the atmosphere there, Which is impregnated with the virulent exhalations of the surrounding region, is a subsidiary cause.

CL 376. XI. THAT WITH SOME THERE IS NO JEALOUSY, AND THIS ALSO FROM VARIOUS CAUSES. There are many causes of an absence of jealousy and of a cessation of jealousy. Those especially have no jealousy who make conjugial love to be of no more account than scortatory love, and who at the same time are inglorious, counting a good reputation as of no value. They are not unlike married pimps. Those also have no jealousy who have put it away from a confirmed belief that it troubles the mind and that it is useless to keep watch on a wife; that if watched she is incited, and that therefore it is preferable to shut one's eyes and not even set them looking through the keyhole lest something be detected by the sight. Some have put it away on account of the stigma attached to the name jealousy, thinking that a man who is a man fears nothing. Some have been driven to put it away lest their domestic affairs be ruined, and also, lest they incur public censure were the wife to be convicted of the lewdness of which she is guilty. Furthermore, With men who, being themselves impotent, grant license to their wives in order to raise up children for the sake of their inheritance; also with men who do this for the sake of gain, and so on, jealousy recedes until it wholly disappears. There are also scortatory marriages in which, by mutual consent, both parties are given license to practice venery; yet they meet each other with a civil countenance.

CL 377. XII. THAT THERE IS JEALOUSY ALSO FOR MISTRESSES, BUT IT IS NOT OF THE SAME NATURE AS FOR WIVES. With man, jealousy for wives springs from inmosts, but jealousy for mistresses from outmosts. Therefore they differ in kind. That jealousy for wives springs from inmosts is because in inmosts resides conjugial love; and it resides there because, by reason of its eternal pact established by covenant, and also by reason of equality of right, in that what belongs to the one partner belongs to the other, marriage unites souls and binds minds together more deeply. This binding and union, once imposed, remains unbroken, whatsoever be the later love between them, whether warm or cold. [2] Thence it is, that invitation to love by a wife chills the whole man from inmosts to ultimates, while invitation to love by a mistress does not thus chill the lover. To jealousy for a wife is added ambition for a good name for the sake of honor, while jealousy for a mistress lacks this accessory. Yet both these jealousies vary according to the seat of the love received from the wife, and of that received from the mistress, and at the same time, according to the state of the judgment of the man receiving it.

CL 378. XIII. THAT THERE IS JEALOUSY ALSO WITH BEASTS AND BIRDS. That it exists with wild beasts, such as lions, tigers, bears, etc., when with their young, is well known; and also with bulls, even when there are no calves with them, and most conspicuously in cocks which fight with rivals for their hens, even to the death. The reason why these latter have such jealousy is because they are vainglorious lovers, and the glory of that kind of love does not brook an equal. That they are vainglorious lovers above every other genus and species of birds is apparent from their carriage, their nod, their gait, and their crowing. That with men, whether lovers or not, the glory of honor induces jealousy and exalts and sharpens it, has been confirmed above.

CL 379. XIV. THAT JEALOUSY WITH MEN AND HUSBANDS IS DIFFERENT FROM JEALOUSY WITH WOMEN AND WIVES. The differences, however, cannot be distinctly set forth; for with married partners, jealousy is of one kind with those who love each other spiritually, of another with those who love each other only naturally, of another with those who are of dissident minds, and of another with one who has subjected the other to the yoke of obedience. Considered in themselves, manly and wifely jealousy are different, being from different origins. The origin of manly jealousy is in the understanding, but that of wifely jealousy is in the will applied to the understanding of their men. Therefore, manly jealousy is as a flame of wrath and anger, but wifely jealousy is as a fire restrained by a variety of fears, a variety of attitudes to the husband, a variety of regards to her own love, and a variety in her prudence in not disclosing this love to the husband by jealousy. These two kinds of jealousy are distinguished, because wives are loves and men are recipients; and to wives it is obnoxious to be prodigal* of their love before their men, but not so to the recipients of that love before their wives. It is different with the spiritual. [2] With these, the man's jealousy is transferred to the wife, just as the wife's love is transferred to the man. Therefore, in both, the jealousy against the attempts of a violator appears to be the same; but the Wife's jealousy against the attempts of a harlot violator is inspired in the man as grief weeping and moving the conscience.


Swedenborgian Marriage Handbook
for Husbands

As seen and understood by Leon James

Doctrine of the Wife: Part 1 || Doctrine of the Wife: Part 2  || Spiritual Genes and Marriage || Husband's Voluntary Self-Subordination to Wife in Inner Things || Psychobiology of Marriage || Conjugial Love || Gender Genes || Gender Words || Spiritual Causes of Divorce ||

See also Odhner's article on Sexual Equality in the Bible

I would be delighted to know your reactions. Please e-mail me now.


Correspondence on Love


Love or Lust?

Date: Fri, 24 Oct 1997 07:57:46 -1000
From: LIAS on the Web Workstation 
To: leon@hawaii.edu
Cc: crp115@psu.edu
Subject: "From your leon.html File"

Dear Mr James,
        I was discussing with a friend the topic of love, which my friend does
not believe in.  He believes that love is simply a passion that lasts
longer(or a lust).  He makes the claim that there is no definition,
therefore love cannot exist.  Also, love is a word and an invention by
man, therefore, it does not exist.  His main argument is that there is
no love that isn't just a bigger form of lust or passion.  In other
words, love does not exist because if it did over 50% of couples
wouldn't get divorced in the United States and people would not be
unfaithfull,etc.
        So if you get the time I would truly appreciate your thoughts on love
and the meaning of it, as well as how we can see it in each other,
society, and in all things.  And see it not as lust or passion, but as
love.  Any reply would be greatly appreciated. Thank-you.
                                        Sincerely,
                                                Christopher Peck
                                                student-PSU University

Date: Fri, 24 Oct 1997 10:19:09 -1000
From: Leon James 
To: LIAS on the Web Workstation 
Cc: crp115@psu.edu, Leon James 
Subject: Love

Hi Christopher Peck, You asked about how to formulate a counter-argument
to your friend's denial of the existence of love. Here is what I would
say:

1) We are not living from ourselves but from God, who is pure Love and who
has created the universe out of the substance of Love.  This substance is
the primary substance and contains all other substances and matters.  That
is, all things are made out of Love.

2) The source of Love is the Spiritual Sun from which streams forth
spiritual heat (which is Love) and spiritual light (which is truth).
These two substances stream forth from the spiritual sun and create and
animate all things.  The spiritual sun is the sphere that surrounds God
and is God.

3) Just as the physical sun (which is from the spiritual sun) enters and
animates things on earth and make up the matter of all things on earth,
the spiritual heat (or Love) and the spiritual light (or Truth) stream
from the spiritual sun into our soul or spirit or mind (as you wish).
Thus our loves and our true thoughts are made up of these two substances.

4) Each individual is created a unique receptor of Love and Truth
streaming into the mind.  Thus each individual personalizes and adapts and
transforms the Love and Truth, resulting in unique personalities and
characters.  In other words, we pick and choose and convert and retain
only what we desire and want and prefer.  This accumulation is our
character, or our spiritual body, and is what lives after the death of the
body.  About 30 hours after the body dies, you wake up in your spiritual
body in the spiritual world where you can see the spiritual sun with your
eyes.  Your life then is fully determined by your character or spiritual 
body--what you have gathered to yourself while in the body--all the
thoughts and feelings you've chosen to be with and conjoin with as your
own.

5) As Love streams into us (the affective organ, or will), and creates our
unique feelings, emotions, and passions, so does Truths stream into us
(the cognitive organ, or understanding), and create our unique thoughts,
ideas, and reasonings.  Thus each of us has the freedom to alter and
modify and concentrate on aspects of Love and Truths, as well as CHANGE,
DEFORM, AND ADULTERATE them, rendering them into their exact opposite
within us.  Thus, as Loves and Truths stream into our mind from the
spiritual sun, we have the freedom to change them into their opposites.
Thus they become hatreds, selfishnesses, vengeances, lusts, cupidities,
and cruelties; as well as falsities, lies, appearances, contradictions,
and delusions.

Conclusion

There is Love and Truth, and we all receive it from the Divine every
second.  But we can pervert and turn them into opposite feelings and
thoughts.

These points are explained and proven by E. Swedenborg--whom you can study
from the materials on my Site.  Hope this helps.  Please let me know how
your friend (and yourself) react to these ideas.  Take care!

Leon James

From harrisb@poboxes.com Sat Feb 21 06:39:52 1998
Date: Fri, 20 Feb 1998 10:03:31 -1000
From: Byron Harris
Reply-To: swedenborg@newearth.org
To: swedenborg@newearth.org
Subject: For A Successful Marriage, Listen To Your Wife
Leon, here's something from the Reuters news line to support your Doctrine of the Wife. Byron

Friday February 20 6:32 AM EST

For A Successful Marriage, Listen To Your Wife

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Men who want their marriages to succeed should just do what their wives suggest, psychologists say.

John Gottman, a psychologist at the University of Washington, and colleagues said advice to engage in "active listening" and other interactive ways to resolve differences may be on the wrong track.

They said couples who tried to follow such trendy advice did not have fewer divorces.

"This was the biggest revelation we've had about how conflicts are best resolved in successful marriages," Gottman said in a statement.

"Our analysis suggested that active listening occurred very infrequently in marital conflict resolution and its use didn't predict marital success."

Gottman's team followed 130 newlyweds for six years, tracking how they handled disagreement. Many tried the "active listening" model, which calls in part for each person to re-phrase what the other has said and to indicate they are listening with responses such as "I hear what you are saying".

They compared these couples to couples followed in an older study in which successful marriages were followed for 13 years. They found the people who stayed together almost never used such listening techniques.

Gottman said this was because "active listening" was unnatural. "Asking that of couples is like requiring emotional gymnastics," he said.

Instead, the marriages that seemed to work had one thing in common -- the husband was willing to be influenced by his wife.

"We found that only those newlywed men who are accepting of influence from their wives are winding up in happy, stable marriages," Gottman said.

"Getting husbands to share power with their wives by accepting some of the demands she makes is critical to helping to resolve conflict."

The best predictors of divorce were what Gottman called the "Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse -- criticism, defensiveness, contempt and stonewalling.


Date: Mon, 27 Oct 1997 03:15:11 -1000
From: crp115@psu.edu
To: Leon James 
Subject: Re: Love

Dr. James,
        Thank you very much for your thoughts on love, I greatly appreciate it.
It was weird, because I assumed that everybody had an idea of what love
was, and for someone to say that there "is no love" was kind of unexpected.
 So I thank you very much for taking the time to respond to my question.
                                                Sincerely,
                                                        Christopher Peck

From crp115@psu.edu Wed Oct 29 11:44:36 1997
Date: Wed, 29 Oct 1997 06:54:58 -1000
From: crp115@psu.edu
To: Leon James 
Subject: Re: Love

Have a question Doc.
	I wrote to you earlier on the existence of love, to which you gave a
reply.  Reading your return letter I noticed that you wrote that everybody
has a spiritual body and how we are when we die is how we will be for all
eternity.  In other words, life and experiences are important because they
teach us to live in the afterlife.  My pastor has talked about this many
times before when "preaching" and I asked him the same question I will ask
you. 
 
	I asked him what happens to young children who die and don't have a chance
to ever learn about spirituality?  My pastor said that although the death
is sad, many times it raises the belief systems of many others.  For
example: last year a young girl died  after being hit by a drunk driver
around where my church is.  Although her death was very sad and
unfortunate, the place where she died became kind of a holy spot. All of
her friends from school would come and hold hands while they prayed, lay
flowers and gifts, making a little shrine. Now I agree that it showed a lot
of faith and love for her friends to do that and brought a love greater
between all of them, but what about her?  This girl wasn't even fifteen
years old, how will she ever be able to live in an afterlife where growth
and experience are what counts?  She had no time to live and to learn.  

	My pastor beat around the bush with this question and never actually
answered me, so I decided I would ask you:)  If a young child dies while
they are being born what happens to them?  If someone never believes
because there are so many philosophies and religions, what happens to them?
 If someone never believes because they have never known about it, like a
young african boy living in the jungle all of his life, what happens to him?

	A lot of people say that if you don't believe you go to
hell...bang...that's it.  But I don't see a rational being doing that.  I
see a rational being looking at the life that this person has led and
seeing the difficulties and heartaches.  How can someone say "you are going
to hell" because you don't believe?  That doesn't sound like a very loving
God to me?

	Well, if you get the time I would appreciate an answer. Thank you for your
time.
				Sincerely,
					Christopher Peck
					student-PSU University

From leon@hawaii.edu Wed Oct 29 14:03:39 1997
Date: Wed, 29 Oct 1997 12:07:03 -1000
From: Leon James 
To: crp115@psu.edu
Cc: Leon James 
Subject: Re: Love

Hi Christopher Peck!  You asked two questions:  What happens to children
who die? and why would God condemn people to hell just because they made
mistakes?

Swedenborg has answers to both of these and they make a lot of sense, so I
shall transmit them to you.  First, all children who die before the age of
reason or adulthood (this being a range...), are awakened within 36 hours
in the spiritual world (as everyone else is), and are taken charge of by
loving women who live as angels in heaven and desire to nurture children.

Education and special supervised experiences are given them until they
grow to adulthood, or around age 17, and are then married to others who
have also grown up in the spiritual world.  As couples they thus live to
eternity in their heaven along with others from earth who passed on at all
ages, but all appear to be young adults in their prime of youth, beauty,
and wisdom.  This is the reason that I do not feel sad when a child dies,
knowing its fate which is wonderful!!  Many people who pass on as adults
betake themselves to hell and live there, only some to heaven.  However,
ALL children who pass on are led successfully to heaven.  Great, yeah?

Second, the Lord does not punish and condemn people to hell on account of
their sins or mistakes.  You need to understand that our moment by moment
daily life and decisions (what we say, what we think, what we favor, what
we practice, what we acquiesce to, etc.) create our mind or spirit in a
gradual growth process, just like the body is created by food and
exercise.  When you pass on, you are given the opportunity to visit all
sorts of heavens.  However you need to understand that heaven is a state
of mind--you breath and live and think and feel heavenly atmospheres.  So
you can live in heaven only if your mind or spirit has been fashioned (by
your daily decisions) to breathe that atmosphere, which is an atmosphere
of love and wisdom and obedience to the Lord's Order, the Lord's Thoughts,
the Lord's Love. 

You can see that people who develop a selfish or dishonest way of thinking
and acting develop a mind or spirit who can live only in atmospheres that
are made of these selfish things and dishonest things.  Thus when they're
given the chance to visit heavenly atmoshpheres (or "cities"), they cannot
breathe and experience extreme torture as if they're going to swoon and
die (like a fish in the atmosphere, or like a bird caught under water).

Swedenborg witnessed this many times. Hence, they willingly betake
themselves to "hellish" atmospheres (or "cities"), where they live their
eternal life out in company with like-minded people or spirits.  As
Swedenborg describes them there, they're not to be envied!  Yet it's their
choice and the Lord cannot change this despite His Omnipoence and His
Perfect Love, since to remove  their current desires, motives, and
concepts would be to render them lifeless,  like a statue.  Hence the Lord
lovingly cares for them in hell, providing angelic Overseers or Governors,
who have the power the punish and compel people there to withold
themselves from doing evil to their comapnions.

So as you can see, it is a perfect and loving universe.  Hope this helps
and stimulates you to read Swedenborg's Writings further.

Leon

From crp115@psu.edu Fri Oct 31 10:34:58 1997
Date: Fri, 31 Oct 1997 07:57:43 -1000
From: crp115@psu.edu
To: Leon James 
Subject: Re: Love

Hi there Dr. James.  I have another question for you if you don't mind.  Do
you?.....good...I didn't think you would:)
	If we are discussing love and spirituality, obviously one major thing that
brings people closer or makes them hate each other is sex.  I am currently
chatting with a friend who claims that sex and oral sex are totally
different, meaning that intercourse is giving more of yourself then oral
sex.  I personally disagree, because both acts can show love, affection,
etc. and both basically achieve the same thing.  And since you seem to know
everything:) about what I ask about love and spirituality, I was wondering
what your thoughts are.

Do you think people just say oral sex isn't as
"bad" as sex so they have an excuse to fool around with everybody, or do
you think that actual intercourse is an act seperate and more dangerous(or
better) spiritually and physically?
			A reply would be much appreciated,
							Christopher Peck
p.s. happy?...summed it up nice and short for you.

From leon@hawaii.edu Fri Oct 31 11:00:42 1997
Date: Fri, 31 Oct 1997 10:52:55 -1000
From: Leon James 
To: crp115@psu.edu
Cc: Leon James 
Subject: Re: Love

Hi Christopher,

From the spiritual perspective, sexual activity is created by God in
individuals for the purpose of conjoining the minds of a man and a woman
so that they as a couple, can constitute a full fledged human being.

All marriages start as external conjunction and grow into internal
marriage in which there is an external marriage.  However, this requires
spiritual work on the part of both partners, especially the subjection of
the man's roving desires to his wife only.  This can be accomplished only
if you view marriage in its true and holy function, namely the uniting in
mind of a man and a woman.

All sexual activity prior to marriage interferes with this spiritual
effort to be conjoined as one on the inner plane.  However, pre-marital
sex is not as grave or damaging as adulterous sex, or sex with a married
partner not your own.  When people are having pre-marital sex, it is
better to have imposed limits for the sake of marriage than not to have
any.  Thus, if people make a rule for themselves, such as you mention,
that they can have one kind of sex (say, oral sex) but not another kind of
sex (say, intercourse), and they are doing this because they are motivated
to maintain marriage as special, then I can see that it is better than to
make no distinctions.

In general, damaging spiritual acts or decisions, vary along a scale of
how damaging they are--just like certain diets or poisons are for the
body.  In the case of oral sex vs. intercourse, what matters is WHY the
person is choosing to make a distinction.  If the person is motivated by
spiritual motives, that is, to reduce possible damage, then it's better
than making no such distinctions.  It's never the act itself that counts
in the presence of God, but the motive.  It's the motive that has
spiritual significance, not the act itself.  This is because the act
itself is external, and is but a consequence of the motive.  The motive is
the person.  The motive remains in the person forever, and determines the person's condition and fate in the afterlife. 

Leon

Active Listening in Marriage
From bsur@fcs.net Sun Feb 22 11:54:16 1998
 Date: Sat, 21 Feb 1998 11:25:03 -1000
 From: Karl Parker 
 Reply-To: swedenborg@newearth.org
 To: swedenborg@newearth.org
 Subject: Appearances and Generalizations (Re: For A Successful Marriage...)

Dear friends,
What is a successful marriage? Would we KNOW one if we saw it? Always??


We probably have some idea of when a marriage is working and when it is not. But appearances can be deceiving. The Lord, through Swedenborg's book Marriage Love (or Conjugial Love) seems to speak directly to the subject currently under discussion here: "There are hellish marriages in the world in which the partners are inwardly bitter enemies and YET OUTWARDLY SEEM LIKE THE CLOSEST OF FRIENDS. Actually, I am forbidden by wives of this sort in the spiritual world to bring the existence of such marriages to public notice... However, being spurred by men in the same world to make known the reasons for their inner hatred and virtual rage against their wives...

 

I would like simply to present the following reports." "Now because these men wondered theselves why there arose in them such animosity inwardly and such apparent amiability outwardly, they sought the reasons form women who knew the secret art that caused it; and from what those women told them... they learned that women deeply conceal a knowledge within them by which they are able to skillfully tame men IF THEY WISH and make them subject to their command... For they know that the nature of men makes it altogether imporssible for them to withstand the persistent efforts of their wives, and that once men have yielded they then submit themselves to their wives' wishes. At that point, said the men, once the wives have them under their control, they then show their husbands courteous and amiable treatment." WOW! Stong language (I added the emphasis).

 

And it sounds like the wives are to blame. But God via Swedenborg) continues... "I have also heard justifications from the aforementioned women in the spiritual world as to why they entered into the practice of this art. They said they would not have entered into it except that they foresaw the supreme contempt, future rejection, and therefore utter ruin that lay ahead for them if they were to be beaten down by their husbands. THUS, they said, OUT OF NECESSITY THEY HAD TAKEN UP THESE WEAPONS OF THEIRS." "To this they added the following warning for men, TO LEAVE TO WIVES THEIR RIGHTS, AND WHEN THEY EXPERIENCE PERIODIC STATES OF COLDNESS, NOT TO REGARD THEIR WIVES AS INFERIOR AND TREAT THEM WORSE THAN THEY WOULD SERVANTS." What I get from this is that it is hard to know when a marriage is good and when it is not. On the surface it could look great, but within, it could be "hellish". And the converse is true. So how does this relate to "active listening"? First, the study that concluded that active listening did not "work" was probably limited in its capacity to discern whether or not the marriages under scrutiny were working spiritually.

 

More importantly, the study (as reported) may have done people working to build a healthy marriage a great disservice by using a term that has become a buzz phrase in our culture without adequately defining it. (which kind of reminds me about recent discussions of translation!) If the husbands who practiced "active listening" in the unsuccessful marriages were simply patronizing their wives, and merely going through the motions of caring, etc., then it's not surprising that the technique failed to work! But the basic problem lies not with the technique, but with their fundamental lack of commitment. As I understand it, active listening is simply a tool whereby one person strives to understand the heart of another. Leon's address tag quotes a powerful teaching that has direct relevance here: "Thoughts are from affections." Affections are from loves. Love is the life of man. So... to truly know another, we must connect with their loves. Often, our main tool is words -- the end of the love/affection/thought chain. And as we all have experienced countless times in our lives and in the pages of this forum, words are often misunderstood. In most human affairs, and most certainly in marriage, these misunderstandings can lead to all manner of pain, anguish, and destruction.

 

So much of the time, it seems, we begin reacting to another's words without really understanding 1) the actual words they spoke or wrote and/or 2) the affection underlying the thought underlying the words. As a consequence, a lot of energy is consumed and wasted on tangents. (As I write this I am painfully aware that I may be DOING it!!) A lot of this has to do with perception. "We see the world not so much as it is, but AS WE ARE." So many things enter into and affect our perceptions -- our heredity, our mood, our biochemical state... So what can we do? How can we receive from the Lord a "union of two persons in respect to their interiors, which belong to the thought and the will (in which) one ... loves what the other thinks and what the other wills; thus ... to be united to the other, and to become as one person?" (Heavenly Secrets 10169) Lots could be said about that, but in my mind it would all boil down to this: "Love the Lord your God with ALL your heart, with ALL your soul, and with ALL your mind/strength. This is the first and great commandment, and the second is like it. You shall love your neighbor AS YOURSELF." In marriage, this translates to "Love your partner with ALL your heart, with ALL your soul, and with ALL your mind/strength. This is the first and great commandment, and the second is like it. You shall love your partner AS YOURSELF.

 

No one likes or wants to be misunderstood. It's one of the more frustrating experiences we can have in life, especially when there's a strong emotional charge around the issues under discussion (as is often the case in marriage!). How many marriages, friendships, and other relationships fail to reaach their potential because of the cumulative effects of poor communication and misunderstanding? I believe "active listening" (that is, turning off the noise in my own head long enough to hear what my partner is REALLY saying... checking my perception of what my partner has said by paraphrasing and relecting it back with the respectful, sincere question "This is what I heard -- did I understand you correctly?"... and not reacting or responding until I'm certain I understand what it is that my partner is saying or wants me to do...) is a VITAL TOOL. It enables us to deal with reality, using the God-given tool that separates us from animals -- rationality.

 

James Taylor, in his song "That Lonesome Road" poignantly expressed the need for such communication: "If I had stopped and listened once or twice/If I had closed my mouth and opened my eyes/If I had cooled my head and warmed my heart/I'd not be on this road tonight..." As a divorced person, I believe my first marriage could only have benefited from more active listening on my part. As a re-married person, I am committed to doing more active listening with my partner, not less. And so, for what it's worth, I pray that I and all humanity will learn to do more active listening, not less. With love and humility, Karl E. Parker


Thank you Byron for the newsclip on new findings by psychologists.  A  comment on these two:  "Many tried the "active listening" model, which calls in part for each person to re-phrase what the other has said and to  indicate they are listening with responses such as "I hear what you are  saying".
...and...  Instead, the marriages that seemed to work had one  thing in common -- the husband was willing to be influenced by his wife.  "We found that only those newlywed men who are accepting of influence from  their wives are winding up in happy, stable marriages," Gottman said.
++++++++++++
The so-called "active listening" doesn't work because it just becomes   another tool in the husband's arsenal against his wife.  The reason   "obeying your wife" works when "active listening, etc." does not, is  because, as we know from the Writings, that obeying is compelling oneself   in freedom, and that counts for regeneration, while merely communicating > and arguing ("active listening") is not serviceable for regneration for it  is not from the reformed will, but from the old will.
Leon


Pellicacy, Sex and Eroticism

Correspondence on sex and eroticism as viewed by some New Church people who were electronic participants. 

Note that they are responding to each other and when they quote someone you'll see various symbols next to the paragraph:  < or << or : or *

 

Date: Tue, 3 Mar 1998 05:26:01 -1000

Subject: Affirmative Action for Wives

Leon,

Have your written anything regarding "Affirmative Action for Wives"? I am

interested in understanding my role as a wife and how I may take concrete

clearly defined steps toward understanding and improving myself in this

role.

I am looking for the counterpart to your "Husbands confess Here" - what

should I as a wife confess? and "Doctrine of the Wife" - a doctrine of the

Husband would be useful to help my understanding; and "Husbands Self

Subordination to the Wife" - is there a complementary role that the wife

should play and if so, what is that role? I understand that the wife has a

"moderating" effect on her husband and I would like to understand this more

and learn how I should use it for good.

Thank you for your wonderful insightful writings. I visit your page often.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Date: Wed, 4 Mar 1998 14:51:42 -1000

Subject: Re: Evangelism

Leon writes:

> There is a crucial fourth step that I think we need to add if we are to

> reflect teachings from the Writings:

> 4) strive to shun our evils as sins against the Lord.

Thanks Leon for this important reminder.

In comparing the "Old" Christian church with the "New" Church I'd like to

throw out a couple of questions related to this:

1) How does the New Church definition of evil differ from the Old Church?

2) What tools do the Writings provide to help us shun evils as sins

against the Lord that weren't previously available?

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Date: Wed, 4 Mar 1998 19:58:49 -1000

From: Leon James <leon@hawaii.edu>

Subject: Re: Affirmative Action for Wives

> I am looking for the counterpart to your "Husbands confess Here" - what

> should I as a wife confess? and "Doctrine of the Wife" - a doctrine of the

> Husband would be useful to help my understanding; and "Husbands Self

> Subordination to the Wife" - is there a complementary role that the wife

> should play and if so, what is that role? I understand that the wife has a

> "moderating" effect on her husband and I would like to understand this more

> and learn how I should use it for good.

+++++++

Hi,

What a wonderful question indeed! I think my wife Diane would be the one

to answer you properly. I can say what I think based on what I have

learned from her point of view:

The wife is not at all in the same position as the husband so there is no

need for wives to confess as there is for husbands.

This is because our world is oriented or biased towards male prerogatives

and against female ones. Also, wives have an inner urging, irresistible

for the most part, to conjoin themselves with the husband--his way of

thinking and reasoning. Diane says she had to learn what my peculiar

("Rumanian" un-American) sense of humor is so she can make me laugh and

feel comfortable. And she imbibed all my wisdom and intelligence and

science to the extent that she understood as much or more than I--but with

a difference.

The wife does moderate the husband, yes. Diane says she always has to

tone me down so I'm less brutal. She tells other wives (only few desire to

hear this she says) that they can't give up on anything, that they've got

to fight for everything, that they can't win unless the husband is bound

by higher moral or religious rules and principles of conduct, that the

wife must appeal to whatever principles the husband subscribes to and use

it as a tool to compel him to live up to it. Etc.

As for me and all husbands: the wife is my only chance--she is taking me

to her heaven, for by myself, I'm hurtling deeper into hell. This I must

keep in front of me all the time, every minute of every day. I've started

counting the number of time each day I remember to say to her: Thanks for

taking me to heaven, sweetie. What can I do for you?? I owe you big!!

Here is a real arena for all couples: partnership driving. This is my

agreement as the driver to let her tell me how to drive: slow down, Leon,

you're making me nervous. Yes darling. Don't change lane, Leon. No I

won't. Wave to that man who let you in. OK, I'm waving. Fix your face,

Leon--you look like you're mad. OK, darling, I'm smiling. etc.

It's a wonderful challenge, well worth it....

Leon

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Date: Thu, 5 Mar 1998 11:22:26 -1000

Subject: Pellicacy

I've started my study of pellicacy with CL 459-460.

Here "pellicacy", or the taking of a mistress, is described as a kind of

stop-gap "finger in the dyke" measure. It is *some* means of restraint for

those who, for whatever reason, can't get married, and are full of

"immoderate", "inordinate" or "salacious" lusts.

Pellicacy isn't to be confused with conjugial love because it is "an

unchaste, natural and external love". But *at least* it's better than

indiscriminate bed-hopping, deflowering virgins, commiting adultery,

contracting STDs, or going generally nuts.

I read nothing in here about an active exploration of one's sexuality as

something positive and inherently orderly. I hear no respect or dignity for

the man or his mistress. (and no consideration for a *woman* who might find

herself unmarried and horny).

As a single person I find this passage deeply offensive. Some might say

that, given the "state of things", Swedenborg is offering a very

compassionate alternative. I don't *want* compassion. My sex drive is a

very healthy and pervasive part of my being. It is not a barely-contained

disease apart from marriage.

I can't see that my reading is simply due to a bad translation or old ANC

buttons being pushed.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Date: Thu, 5 Mar 1998 16:12:00 -1000

Subject: Re: Pellicacy

Ya see, I think this IS a translation issue. Sort of. The words you are

quoting have implications of, oddly, "UN-natural" lustiness, while yet,

they actually are being used to describe what the numbers go on to say is

a "natural, external (I read this as hormonally driven rather than as

driven by common spiritual bonds) love" "unchaste" doesn't mean "dirty"!

It means, "not settled on one final selection with whom I shall live to

eternity seeing God as if out of her/his eyes". The descriptives used

aren't necessarily commendatory, but neither are they condemning. The

English words chosen by the translator may have those nasty overtones, but

does the Latin? Yes, in general, following the trend of one's natural

urges to the nth degree leads to unhappiness, but this is true of

gluttony, drunkeness, and other complete abandonments to physical pleasure

independent of a consideration of the uses involved.

"Pellicacy isn't to be confused with conjugial love": surely you can tell

the difference between a hearty load of junk food from McD's and a really

nourishing, organic veggie dinner? You don't mix _them_ up, right? Sw.

is just saying, don't go trying to make a sacrament out of a light

snack--not, "Don't you dare presume to accord pellicacy the sacred stature

of marriage, you little worm", but, "Get it that there are levels of

feeling involved here, and satisfaction of natural urges with a

cooperative, clear-eyed partner isn't on the same level as eternal

internal union." So what? So just keep it straight, that's all.

: But *at least* it's better than

: indiscriminate bed-hopping, deflowering virgins, commiting adultery,

: contracting STDs, or going generally nuts.

 

But isn't it? I don't see why the desiderata below couldn't be carried

out in the context of pellicacy.

: I read nothing in here about an active exploration of one's sexuality as

: something positive and inherently orderly. I hear no respect or dignity for

: the man or his mistress. (and no consideration for a *woman* who might find

: herself unmarried and horny).

Well. I don't know if "unmarried and horny" women existed in Sw's

day--when a woman might find herself married before her first mensis,

even. "Horny" doesn't kick in in an overwhelming way till ovulation is

driving the survival of the species, oh, I mean, the continuation of the

heavens from the human race...I know women even my age who state that they

never experienced an overwhelming, "I will trip him and beat him to the

floor if he doesn't come home interested" feeling, although I also know

many who say they have.

As a more-and-more leaning towards Nova Heirosolyma person, I also suspect

these passages have something to do with the ways in which each of us lets

truth mate with good in our individual minds. I know for a fact I have

experienced episodes of lustful, profligate acquisition of knowledges in

my life, taking in subject after subject without much consideration for

what the topic is doing for me, but only stuffing myself full of more and

more to know! Just reveling in my mind's ability to learn and hold on to

it all. I put it to some use, but not to anything long-term or especially

beneficial to my neighbor. This is promiscuity of the mind, which the

Lord put to good use in spite of me by making me a Spec. Ed. teacher. I

have to know a bit about everything, in case some particular bit is what

the current student is struggling with, along with the primary learning

problem. (Isn't God a smarty?)

: My sex drive is a

: very healthy and pervasive part of my being. It is not a barely-contained

: disease apart from marriage.

Interestingly, I just don't read these numbers as being in conflict with

that assertion. The Writings don't seem to me to deny the value of a

healthy sex drive, of learning about one's physiology and its pleasures,

or any of that great stuff. What it seems to me _is_ encouraged is

clarity about motive, and caution about inconsiderate greed for

experience.

: I can't see that my reading is simply due to a bad translation or old ANC

: buttons being pushed.

Dunno. I dream of translations that are as moral-neutral as possible. I

don't deny the existence of evil, but I re-define it as "what people do

that is in conflict with true happiness" rather than as "what people do

that we ought to all point fingers at and say 'tsk, tsk' about" or as

"what people do for which they ought to burn in fire". My reading of the

Writings is what leads me to this redefinition.

Also, I would like to note the distinction between reveling in a quality

and wallowing in it.

I feel sad for the hurt and resentment I hear in your message. Sounds

like you would like to reconnect with the Writings, if they would just

stop smacking you in the face...

Love to all,

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Date: Fri, 6 Mar 1998 11:09:38 -1000

Subject: Pellicacy

>>I feel sad for the hurt and resentment I hear in your message. Sounds

like you would like to reconnect with the Writings, if they would just

stop smacking you in the face...<<

I feel no real investment in "reconnecting with the Writings" other than to

stop the chain of abuse.

I don't mean to sound melodramatic; but when some one is made to feel that

their sexuality is evil, disorderly, dirty or second rate because of the

condition of their hymen, their marital status, the "legitimacy" of their

offspring, or the plausibility of their reasons for divorce...THAT is

sexual abuse.

I am not just "hurt and resentful" about this abuse. I am very *angry*. It

needs to stop.

Now, I submit that a very horny AND very idealistic 15 year old boy could

carry his copy of Conjugial Love to his room, read CL 459 and get this

message from Swedenborg/the LORD: "If you really, really don't have the

self-discipline to wait for the precious gift of conjugial love <sigh> you

may go off in the corner and take a mistress (assuming you can find one).

Of course, if you really cared about the sanctity of marriage you'd

*wait*....

Oh,and, by the way, stop touching yourself."

Let's talk about this business of "waiting".

I've known several who simply couldn't wait -whose hormones carried them

head-long into marriage as *the* *only* *legitimate* place they could have

sex...with predictable results. Sex is one of God's most marvelous

creations. It still is no basis for marriage.

I've known those who couldn't wait and had "the flower of their virginity"

taken away _before_ marriage or who got carried away and "violated" some

girl's "innocence" in the back seat of a car and, in fear and shame, turned

to marriage as their only salvation...Again, with predictable results.

I've known those who have continued the waiting processs *after* marriage,

meekly enduring a listless, empty, or even abusive sex life...hoping that

something would get better -with no help from Swedenborg and no opportunity

for escape.

And I've known those who have simply continued to wait...and wait...and

wait. If you want to understand the physiological implications of sex after

*decades* of waiting...go into your living room. Sit in your favorite chair

and deliberately try to reverse your toilet training.

These people were not intentionally abused but they *were* abused.

I'm actually rather tired of beating on the parents, teachers and

translators of our youth. As an adult reading the passages which they read

I can easily understand their interpretation and their willingness to pass

on the "ideal" message of CL as something "worth wating for"

It was a message passed on in fear...the parent's fear, the teacher's fear,

the clergy's fear, the translator's fear, and Yes,(Swedenborg, you're not

off the hook) the revelator's fear.

Either passages like CL 459 reverse that message of fear or they continue

to promote it.

Maybe Swedenborg isn't presenting pellicacy as some sort of consolation

prize for those who "can't hack it".

Maybe pellicacy really is a truly wonderful way for people to experience

respectful and affectionate sexual interaction in all those "in-between"

places" in which they find themselves.

I have no right to make demands on a church which I'm no longer a part of.

I've cheerfully forfeited that right. But I challenge those who are still

"believers" to shout a "new pellicacy" message from the roof-tops.

It is not only the final goal which is holy. The *process* must be seen to

be holy as well. It is only then that we stop abusing those within the

process.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Date: Fri, 6 Mar 1998 13:18:02 -1000

Subject: Re: Pellicacy

His response feels disputatious, whereas I was hoping we were looking

together (the group of us here) at the passages that offend him to see if

they might be construed less offensively. I am especially motivated in

this direction since I find in them an offer of mercy and understanding of

the human condition, and not condemnation for the same. I still feel that

the condemnatory implications are translator's choice, and not present in

the shame-inducing way Kent seems to experience them. This I feel doubly,

having just read the Latin Jan so kindly sent along.

It felt like the message there was, "If you can't hold it together to

abstain, and most of humanity can't, then here are some acceptable ways to

deal with your lack of perfection (which, since you aren't ME <says the

Lord>, you aren't expected to have any of anyhow, and this doesn't make

you any less worthy or loveable in MY eyes). Now (He continues)--MY first

choice for those who aren't blessed at the age of 16 with finding their CP

and marrying them instantly is that they trust ME to get them there

eventually, and channel their procreative urges into useful physical

activity and creative mental effort. However, since I know how improbable

it is that people can stand to live according to that high-minded

expectation (I made all of you, right?), here are some other okay

choices:" and "pellicacy" is one of them, as are some other options.

: I don't mean to sound melodramatic; but when some one is made to feel that

: their sexuality is evil, disorderly, dirty or second rate because of the

: condition of their hymen, their marital status, the "legitimacy" of their

: offspring, or the plausibility of their reasons for divorce...THAT is

: sexual abuse.

"Evil,", "dirty" and "second rate" do not occur in the passages which

offer options to folks whose natural proclivities leave them unable to

wait.

"Less orderly" is used to indicate that human sexual behavior occurs on a

continuum from "terribly damaging to oneself or others" to "really

splendid for all concerned!".

: I am not just "hurt and resentful" about this abuse. I am very *angry*. It

: needs to stop.

I hear this--I agree with this. I think that where may not agree is in

the locus of abuse.

: Now, I submit that a very horny AND very idealistic 15 year old boy could

: carry his copy of Conjugial Love to his room, read CL 459 and get this

: message from Swedenborg/the LORD: "If you really, really don't have the

: self-discipline to wait for the precious gift of conjugial love <sigh> you

: may go off in the corner and take a mistress (assuming you can find one).

: Of course, if you really cared about the sanctity of marriage you'd

: *wait*....

: Oh,and, by the way, stop touching yourself."

Um. *(Deep breath, and R-rating warning)* "AND very idealistic" leads me

to think that a LOT of the guilt was self-induced--would this be a boy who

had incredibly high, noble aspirations who is angry at himself for failing

to live up to them? Get off it, I want to say to this kid--who died and

left you God? You get to be human too, and part of that is you aren't

virgin Mary, so have at it and enjoy it--the Lord gave you this current

desire and experience to let you know that something even better awaits

you. If you think this feels good, think how wonderful you will

feel sharing this with your partner some day! Just get the sock into the

hamper for me, thanks.

: Let's talk about this business of "waiting".

But that's just it! God did not tell people to wait, come hell or high

water! He graciously detailed many options for those who can't, none of

which were included in the sad litany Kent provided. The wait if you can,

try this out if you can't approach is one that I find endearing about God

and also about 12-step programs, and also about behaviorist psychology.

Each simply asks one to do what one can, and to make successive, or one's

own personal best, approximations to betterment. I still feel that the

folks who have taken one of the paths Kent expounded on (and I was one of

them for a time) have done so, not at the Lord's behest, but out of

pig-headed determination to be even better than He expects us to be, or

out of insistence that we know better than He does what we 'ought' to be

doing. Spurious conscience!

: These people were not intentionally abused but they *were* abused.

And by themselves as much as by parents, teachers, and translators...

: Maybe pellicacy really is a truly wonderful way for people to experience

: respectful and affectionate sexual interaction in all those "in-between"

: places" in which they find themselves.

There--my vote is that this is what the Writings do say. And: I still

opine that the social structure of most GC towns would have a hard time

dealing with a frank statement by a couple that this is where they are.

However, a pre-1900 _NC Life_ (wish I could remember where I saw this

quoted!) included the affirmative answer from a minister to the question,

"Ought a concubine be received socially as having the same status as a

wife?" So things were different once, and could be again.

: It is not only the final goal which is holy. The *process* must be seen to

: be holy as well. It is only then that we stop abusing those within the

: process.

As a teacher whose entire lesson plan most days is about process not

product, I heartily endorse this POV.

What about the passage that says that making no distinction between levels

and degrees of disorder (some hardly matter, some are grievous) is making

a featureless, pasty mess of things? Anyone have that readily available?

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Date: Fri, 6 Mar 1998 13:44:22 -1000

Subject: RE: Pellicacy

#I don't mean to sound melodramatic; but when some one is made to feel that

#their sexuality is evil, disorderly, dirty or second rate because of the

#condition of their hymen, their marital status, the "legitimacy" of their

#offspring, or the plausibility of their reasons for divorce...THAT is

#sexual abuse..

#I am not just "hurt and resentful" about this abuse. I am very *angry*. It

#needs to stop..

This, of course, is not a result of the Writings or any other spiritual

guide. What you've explained is the sexual attitudes of our culture.

*People* have hang-ups about sex. Guilt from hell and false idealism have

brought us to this point (we often refer to Victorian values with this

subject).

When we face a dilemma, our solutions can not come solely from written

doctrine. There are two fountains of truth. The other fountain is nature

(and the experience we receive from nature [actually Providence]). In my

experiences, I've had to weight the doctrinal interpretations of others with

what I have experienced. As far as I'm concerned (as well as my wife), the

marriage of virgins in today's Western culture, sets them up for many

awkward moments that will be imbedded into their lives forever.

In nature, animals go through many rituals to insure compatibility and

synchronization before they mate. We don't have these rituals. What we

have are these rules that we are supposed to be followed - and hope for the

best after the wedding day. Sexual relations prior to marriage is a way to

see intimate compatibility - to get syncronized. Our Victorian heritage

turns this "truly wonderful way for people to experience respectful and

affectionate sexual interaction" (as Kent says) into a dirty act.

Besides, this rule of being a virgin at marriage is rarely true in practice.

We all say it's preferable, but very very few actually do it. So in the

case of Pellicacy, the Lord isn't telling us to go ahead and do it -

Pellicacy is a definition of something that already occurs within cultures.

We all are going to do what we want to anyhow - and forming intimate

relationships is one of our primary drives.

I share your anger at society over this schizophrenia - although most

likely not for the same reason. I think that false projections of truth

continue to make us more guilty that we should be - which is one of the main

tools of the underworld. But this is not the fault of revelation (which can

be turned any direction we wish), but is a hard to break affection

(affectation) of our culture.

P.S.

In a perfect world, virgins will marry. In this world, our partners will

probably have prior experience.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Date: Fri, 6 Mar 1998 05:15:43 -1000

Subject: Re: Translations Not the Issue

> I'm sorry, but in considering passages such as CL 445 and

> their acceptance by the world at large, I feel gender issues and

> translations are pretty much beside the point.

Thanks.. I think this whole thread is wonderful. Now, birds are doing

WHAT with their large bills, and do I really want to know? :)

Some of these passages from the Writings remind me of Bible stories like

Judges 19:

A Levite and his concubine were besieged in a house by a vicious mob, and

the solution to the problem was for him to hand over his concubine, who was

then raped to death. The appropriate response to that was to chop up her

body and use the pieces to send a message to his countrymen, to get their

help in attacking the villains. If the numbers are to be believed, this

action cost more than eighty thousand lives, and had Jehovah's endorsement.

Now, we're told, there were only six hundred men left of the tribe of

Benjamin. Apparently it had also been necessary and proper to slaughter all

of the women (Judges 21:16). But of course it is UNTHINKABLE that the few

surviving Benjamites should be deprived of women. The solution was to find a

city that had not participated in the action against Benjamin, kidnap all

the virgin women and kill everyone else. When that action didn't produce

enough women, the Benjamites were urged to invade a religious gathering and

kidnap some others.

In response to this, I like the words at the end of the opening article in

_Doctrine of the Sacred Scripture_:

What does this mean? What does that mean? Is this Divine? Can God, to

whom belongs infinite wisdom, speak in this way? Where is its sanctity,

or where does it come from but from people's religious gullibility?

(SS 1).

Where does this story place women in the scheme of things? And what does it

say about the men who uphold that scheme of things? I'd really like to

believe that story contains an inner meaning that somehow compensates for

the horror it depicts. I'd even like to believe that about the lesser horror

of _Married Love_ 445 and similar passages. The second heading in _Doctrine

of the Sacred Scripture_ says:

In the Word there is a spiritual meaning, hitherto unknown (SS 5)

Of course, "hitherto unknown" often means "unknown by ME, right up to, and

including NOW."

Why would I like to believe that, instead of taking the simpler and more

humane course of dismissing these books as false and destructive? As a

participant in more than one religious community, I can see the destruction

all around me, and in me, right now. To say that there's a hidden meaning

that justifies all this only makes the picture of God worse, doesn't it?

When God isn't being angry and violent, he's passive-agressive, and hiding

his real meaning -- or using this weird symbol system to argue that when he

smites us, "It hurts me more than it hurts you." It doesn't comfort me a bit

to think that God let people get slaughtered and raped in order to provide a

cover story that would safely encrypt his precious Truth. That isn't an

explanation, but another thing that demands explanation.

For myself, I continue to hope and even believe that there is something

deeper within these texts, that can and does answer my previous paragraph.

This I think mostly because, in reading these books, I have at times had the

experience of relating to God as to another human being, and in using ideas

from these books, I have at times experienced positive changes in my life,

that I could not have brought about by myself. HERE AND THERE in those

books, I find this experience of having a face-to-face relationship with

God, and of being shaped for the better by God's hands. In a great many

passages, however, it don't find any trace of that experience. Sometimes I

am confused or even disgusted. But going along with that is an intuition, or

gut feeling, that the experience is still there waiting for me, under the

veil of what annoys and disgusts me.

Should I believe that the obscure places still contain an inner message that

is good and useful, even though I don't see it? Is it possible that the

parts of the books that DON'T shed light for me, or even the parts that I

find perfectly awful, are still a revelation of sorts?

Some of the passages that shine brightly for me are speaking to this

possibility. One of these is SS 55:

The doctrine of genuine truth may also be fully drawn from the literal

meaning of the Word; for the Word in that meaning is like a person

clothed, but whose face and hands are uncovered. Everything in the Word

pertaining to a person's life and thus to his/her salvation, is unveiled

there. In many places where it is veiled it shines through as the face

appears through a thin veil of silk.

This passage resonates strongly with my own experience, in which I sometimes

feel that I am looking right into the Lord's eyes, and being molded by the

Lord's hands. It also speaks to my experience of feeling confused and put

off by the ragged, dirty, bloodied clothing in which the Lord often shows up

at my door.

If there is truth in _Married Love_ 443 and Judges 19 then for me, it is

deeply veiled, under cloth that I would rather just burn than attempt to

wash. Still, I am hoping, and am acquiring some reason to think, that they

are concealing something precious, some spiritual or heavenly treasure. My

experience and intuition tell me something is hidden there, not just

missing. So I keep looking, and make an effort to act according to the

things that DO make sense to me. I hear the Lord telling me that I'll be

happy if I act on what DOES make sense to me -- and happier still if I keep

my mind open to deeper truths, that will shed light on the things that don't

yet make sense to me.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Date: Fri, 6 Mar 1998 15:41:03 -1000

From: Leon James <leon@hawaii.edu>

Subject: Re: Pellicacy

 

I enjoyed L's contribution to this topic! It's a modern view that has

merit, I believe! I ran across this, which suprised me: that Swedenborg

in Journal of Dreams (No.?) has an entry that says his sexuality has been

his STRONGEST passion in life! and that now he was experiencing a change

since being introduced into the spiritual world and that this change was

welcome in his eyes, though it greatly surpised him that his sexual drive

suddenly ceased to be in the forefornt of his mind.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Date: Sun, 8 Mar 1998 06:04:28 -1000

Subject: Re: cyber-romance and adultery

> >Hi, this is my first reply after reading probably 100 messages. I don't see

> how Cyber-Romance can be considered adultery. You have to put it into

> perspective. When two people share an interest they can have a relationship

> with that interest but not have intamacey. It works both ways. Romance

> doesn't have to be intimate.

The thing that concerns me about this is that we are going back to the

physical-only definition of adultery. When a person is married, any

romantic exchange between him/herself and another of the opposite sex

takes away from the relationship with one's legal partner. I think there

is a big difference between friendship and romance. If people play at

romance, it pulls each toward the other, and saying "but we are not having

sex" is a bit - I don't know: false reasoning? Prevaricating? Of course

people who share interests are going to have interesting conversations,

feel comfortable with each other, etc. It is natural to enjoy the company

(even if it is non-present company) of people with commonalities. But I

think we delude ourselves if we think that a light flirtation, genltly

romantic comments and teasing, is not somewhat adulterous. It's like

mind-sex: it really does direct away from one's spouse the thoughts and

actions and feelings that would otherwise be strengthening the marital

relationship. It makes me uneasy when we begin to justify as "nothing,

really" the kinds of interactions that, where it 40 years ago and were

sent as letters to a married man or woman, would have been deemed, well,

divisive to the partner to whom the letters were NOT addressed. If one

is engaging in the types of conversations that one would NOT want a spouse

to hear, then I am uncomfortalble.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Date: Sat, 7 Mar 1998 02:38:13 -1000

Subject: Re: Pellicacy

A couple of thoughts on this always-difficult subject. In the midst of a

culture that is positively fixated on the sensual degree of sex and that

appears to be doing its best to completely overturn/eliminate the

traditional concepts of marriage, it sometimes is difficult to see things

in perspective. This seems to me a classic demonstration of why the Lord

provides revelation, to dispel those, in this case literal, illusions of

the senses. And, even more, to point out the ideal. Spiritual laws,

after all, are even more immutable than physical laws. You can disbelieve

in the law of gravity as you jump off a building, but the law continues to

hold - with less than pleasant results for you. Similarly, the Lord tells

us about spiritual laws to help us on the road to happiness. We can

disbelieve/ignore them, but the results for us are never as happy as they

would have been if we'd paid attention to the laws. In fact, we may make

ourselves miserable. And there certainly is no more dramatic

demonstration of this than the sexually "liberated" (read "licensed")

culture we live in, full of wrecked lives on every side. Pure sensuality

burns out at the marrow as much as it ever did!

The point here, it seems to me, is that our job is to try to help the

world go back - or forward - to square one, the ideal. For instance, a

quote from a Rev. Louis King article in an old Sons Bulletin:

"Yet with few men can the fountain of virtue be shut up during the

preceding age and reserved for a wife."(CL459)

"Few men! ...Are not these the same few to whom the Lord speaks when He

tells us that is not so difficult to live the life that leads to heaven?

Does He not also speak of serious repentance, once or twice engaged in,

becoming easier? Does not thought bring presence, the presence of untold

angelic hosts to assist us in the battle against evil? Is any man ever

tempted beyond that which he can sustain?

"The New Church numbers but a few... Are these not the few with whom the

evil of lust can be controlled? Are they not among the few who can attain

the ideal? We must be capable of it or why would the Lord devote one full

volume of His second advent to the establishment of it... Let us never

forget that idealism is the most precious gift the New Church has to offer

the world."

And what is the reward of applying this idealism and hanging in there?

"In all that comes to them, the youthful husband and the virgin wife

perceive and sensate things ever new, and thereby they are in a continual

initiation and thence in a lovely progression." (CL 323)

This is not to say we do not need to confront the unfortunate permission

realities of this whole unhappy cultural situation, just to recall what

star we're navigating by.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Date: Sun, 8 Mar 1998 00:47:31 -1000

Subject: Pellicacy

>>Trust and confidence and mutual good will are basically

what women want from a love relationship, too. As a matter of fact, isn't

that what we hope for in all our friendships, not just from romantic

relationships? I think we labor under a cultural assumption that there's

no correspondence between healthy relating in friendship and healthy

relating in romance, and there's no language that spans between these

two.<<

The reason I referred to the different degrees of premarital trust and

friendship is that they can be readily seen as positive relationships in

and of themselves or as preparatory steps towards marriage friendship.

Certainly one can have misguided or harmful friendships but we tend to look

at friendship in a generally good light whether it is a part of marriage or

not...more or less ideal; but still good.

On the other hand, when Swedenborg speaks of the degrees of premarital

sexuality he seems to be distinguishing between varying levels of disorder

-as if sexuality had a kind of gravity which pulls one downward unless it

is contained within the confines of marriage (or, at the very least,

something *like* marriage). It doesn't sound to me like he's saying it's

good to explore sexuality as a positive step towards marriage (as one might

explore a friendship with "marriage posibilities") He doesn't seem to say

that sex is a positive thing to be to engaged in casually (as one might

engage in a casual friendship with no marriage possibilities). He certainly

doesn't say that one should have a lot of sexual partners (like one might

have a lot of friends).

Swedenborg's degrees of sexual interaction seem to have rules of their own

-unlike other relations. And it seems like most of those interactions

outside of marriage are being permitted only so we don't do something

worse. Again, I may be reading this wrong; but it doesn't sound like a

ringing endorsement for premarital sex.

>>I think the last part of CL basically says, "Hey, God knows it's a long,

soul-searching trip from being a horny teenager to living in heaven with

your angel spouse. Here's what you can do to keep open the possibility.

Just keep your eye on the goal in the meantime."<<

Thank you, for this supportive message...

And IF Swedenborg is also saying that while we "keep open the possiblity"

our sexual activity has value and dignity it is a long overdue message both

for the New Church and for mankind.

Sexuality is not just a quality we have. It is an emotional/physical

_drive_. If some one cannot actively use that basic part of his/her nature

except in more or less _dis_ orderly ways it is not only disheartening, it

eats away at one's entire sense of self worth, and in some cases one's

ability to function sexually.

We need to know from the Lord that our sexuality (like the rest of our

lives) can be good even if not ideal.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Date: Sun, 8 Mar 1998 04:25:01 -1000

Subject: Pellicacy

>>One other thought, a little more brutal: Nobody wants to deflower

virgins. But if somebody didn't, there would be no supply of deflowerees

for men to have disorderly relationships with. So a man who makes use of

a deflowered woman is in effect accessory after the fact, an

implicit participant in the defloration.<<

This observation is right on! *Somebody* had to deflower those virgins.

And, I think, you have pointed out one of the main difficulties in

interpreting Swedenborg's message as "Just do your best and keep your eye

on the goal" (*Much* as I would love to believe that's what he is saying)

As long as so much hinges on the preservation and loss of virginity -as it

does in Swedenborg's sexual ethics- the emotional ramifications are

staggering. This is serious business. And this fact is not lost on

teenagers who are serious people.

"...With women conjugial love makes one with their virginity. Hence the

chastity, the purity, and the sanctity of that love. Wherefore, to pledge

and give up her virginity to any man, is to give a token that she will love

him to eternity...It is also the crown of her honor" (CL 460:2)

"(After her virginity has been removed), the virgin becomes a wife and if

not a wife she becomes a harlot." (CL 503)

"Defloration without the purpose of marriage is the infamous act of a

robber." (CL 504)

There are passages which even suggest that a woman should have no desire

for sex until it is awakened by the loss of her virginity.

For a young man or woman with even a moderate sense of responsibility,

these teachings make premarital sexuality a veritable mine field of shame.

It's self-evident that those who do the losing or the taking of virginity

should be vulnerable to shame. They, after all, have become "harlots" and

"robbers".

But there also will be those girls who live with the secret shame of

"wanting it" when they're not supposed to yet, boys who will feel for the

rest of their lives that they are dirty in the presence of women who (if

they are decent) don't want them, women who marry as virgins and are

ashamed because they still *don't* want it, those who will wonder if their

virginity still "counts" despite oral sex or mutual

masturbation...Sexuality for these young people has nothing to do with

making a conscious choice, making sure there is free and mutual consent,or

tenderness and sensitivity towards one's partner but merely a constant

effort to avoid shame. For many, tip-toing through this mine field will

continue well into the (married or unmarried) sexual relations of

adulthood.

There is no question that Swedenborg presents an admirable goal to work for

with terrific rewards for the few who get there with their virginity intact

(CL 323)

But does he equip us to handle the attendant shame which comes for the many

who *don't* get there or for those who do and continue to feel shameful

anyway?

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Date: Sun, 8 Mar 1998 12:01:56 -1000

Subject: Re: Pellicacy

>The reason I referred to the different degrees of premarital trust and

friendship is that they can be readily seen as positive relationships in and

of themselves or as preparatory steps towards marriage friendship.

I agree, it's not an either/or situation. There's intrinsic value in

heterosexual friendships apart from whether they lead to marriage or not. But

these friendships have been socially acceptable only if they are perceived as

platonic, and have to date only been promoted as the premarital course of

preferred action for teenagers. Because it runs a boarding school full of

adolescents and fledgling adults, the GC has primarily focused what little

attention it has given to sexuality onto the sexuality of adolescence. What

mature unmarried or formerly married adults do within their heterosexual

friendships hasn't been much discussed, which seems odd given the fact that CL

is about a state only attainable in adult life, not even remotely attainable

until regeneration is at least in progress.

>..."On the other hand, when Swedenborg speaks of the degrees of premarital

sexuality he seems to be distinguishing between varying levels of disorder -as

if sexuality had a kind of gravity which pulls one downward unless it is

contained within the confines of marriage (or, at the very least, something

*like* marriage).

I don't get this read at all. Pleasure in sexuality is consistent with the

pleasure we get from food, music, beauty in nature, and in general all

sensuality. The pleasure comes from the thoughts and feelings we have

associated with the sense experience, not from the mere fact that we have

sexed bodies. The biggest sex organ we have is the one is between our ears.

This is in accord with the general spiritual principle that inner levels of

our life manifest themselves in what we do and say.

Swedenborg points out that it isn't a problem that we have a sex drive, any

more than it's a problem that we have other sensual appetites. I got clarity

about what Swedenborg says about sex by substituting other natural pleasures

for the word "sex." Dub in "food" or "money", or "luxury cars" or "elegant

homes" in instances where Sw talks about sexuality (AKA "love of the sex" in

old translations). It's why and how we indulge these sensual appetites that

solidifies inner character.

>..."good to explore sexuality as a positive step towards marriage (as one

might explore a friendship with "marriage posibilities"). He doesn't seem to

say that sex is a positive thing to be to engaged in casually (as one might

engage in a casual friendship with no marriage possibilities). He certainly

doesn't say that one should have a lot of sexual partners (like one might have

a lot of friends).

Swedenborg says that the sense of touch belongs to conjugial (married) love.

We know that touch isn't always about sexual relating: witness how we freely

embrace our children, relatives. Even near-strangers get hugs or handshakes.

We metaphorically "keep in touch" with friends, relatives, colleagues. Touch

is about connecting. But by dedicating the sense of touch to marriage, I think

Swedenborg means that there _is_ a difference between every other human

relationship and marriage in the potential for fullness of connection between

two individuals. The fullest possible physical connection between two human

beings is sexual union. There's a correspondence between marriage and sexual

expression, just like there is between music and hearing: sex is the

appropriate vessel into which marriage flows. I think it would be consistent

to say that our relationships with other people have appropriate touch

expressions, but sexual union represents an endeavor to approach the married

state.

>..."Swedenborg's degrees of sexual interaction seem to have rules of their

own -unlike other relations. And it seems like most of those interactions

outside of marriage are being permitted only so we don't do something worse.

Again, I may be reading this wrong; but it doesn't sound like a ringing

endorsement for premarital sex."

Just because sex within marriage has the fullest potential to represent an

inner married state doesn't mean that sex outside of marriage is therefore not

useful. But it is likely to be less about connection between two lovers and

more about sensual pleasuring by separate individuals. In that respect, sex

happening within legalized matrimony can also be "outside of marriage", or

what Swedenborg calls "connubial conjunctions." Swedenborg reports several

instances where angel wives were dismayed because they perceived that their

husbands weren't in love with them. These angel wives characterized themselves

in that state as "mistresses," not wives.

>..."And IF Swedenborg is also saying that while we "keep open the possiblity"

our sexual activity has value and dignity..."

I believe he is, if we read what's there without the Victorian/Pauline

glasses. I think the early church tried to do this and the project had to be

scuttled because they were still too embedded in Victorian/Pauline culture.

Now that we've had a century of looking at sexuality and marriage through many

other lenses, perhaps we are ready to read CL Pt.2 again.

 

BTW, Swedenborg was unmarried throughout his entire earthly life, how did he

handle his sex drive?

 

>..."it is a long overdue message both for the New Church and for mankind."

To say nothing of womankind! :- )

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Date: Sun, 8 Mar 1998 21:17:59 -1000

Subject: Re: Pellicacy

I really have no answers to your deep, painful and challenging

questions. In truth, my spirit has been taxed with the effort of

processing them and the discussion prompted by them. This is a measure

of my limitation, NOT a statement that I disagree or criticize anything

that has been said, or the saying of it. I appreciate and respect the

courage and honesty manifest in your words!

Reflecting on the "pellicacy debate" and "What DO I think about all

this??", a few thoughts have surfaced and remained salient in my

consciousness. I share them in the hope that they may be of some use to

you and perhaps others. What follows is offered with the belief that

what is true for me may not be TRUTH, and it may not be TRUTH for you.

It certainly is not advice.

1. Above all else, the message I get from the Word (all 3 installments)

is that God is loving AND forgiving. Cease to do evil. Learn to do

good. Parable of the lost sheep/prodigal son. Story of the woman taken

in "the very act" of adultery ^ÿ "Woman, where are your accusers?...

Neither do I accuse you. Go and sin no more."

God never gives up on us. Never. "Even if I take the wings of the

morning and dwell in the farthest parts of the sea..."

2. The "rules" must exist for a reason. Growing up in the 60s & 70s

and living our lives in the latter half of the 20th century has made

that hard to see and accept, let alone experience as the expression of

Divine Love. I'm not saying I always understand or appreciate the rules

and the constraints they impose upon my life. Quite the contrary.

Sometimes I, too resent them, if not in action, at least in my heart.

But, I truly, deeply believe in God, and because of that, I can't stop

thinking that He must know a lot about me and my race that I don't.

To take the specific case of virginity... I believe that the Lord in

His love and wisdom created a powerful mechanism for bonding between a

man and woman. Virginity and sexual intercourse are an integral part of

this. Behavior that ignores this introduces confusion, disrupts God's

design, and creates countless problems. The fact that such behavior

happens a lot in our culture and/or other cultures (despite misguided or

wrong-minded efforts to prevent it) doesn't change God's design or make

it wrong or abusive or unhealthy. People fall off cliffs, but that

doesn't make the law of gravity wrong or abusive or unhealthy. It's

there for a reason, and it helps us a lot ^ÿ when we respect it and use

it correctly.

It would be horrible if, having broken "the law" accidentally, in

ignorance, intentionally, or worse, as a result of another's ignorance

or malice, we were forever condemned or stuck. But it is my belief that

God is a lot more loving than that. It's just that the work of

relationships, marriage, reformation and regeneration has become more

difficult ^ÿ less of a smooth natural progression (which I imagine it

once was), and more of a tortuous journey. There's more junk in the way

^ÿ pain, confusion, guilt, etc.. That junk makes the process painful ^ÿ

something that we experience as an actual death. I believe God laments

this consequence, but resists the urge to fix our problems (something we

often wish God would do!) for reasons that are not always easy for us to

see let alone accept.

Along the way, it often seems that I and an awful lot of my fellow

travelers have taken a lot of nasty falls. We're bruised and broken at

times ^ÿ rather a shabby lot. Yet, miraculously, we ALL retain the

capacity to respond to the Lord's call and learn to love ^ÿ REALLY love.

Sometimes, paradoxically, the falls are the very things that get us on

that path!

3. "Thought from the eye closes the understanding. Thought from the

understanding opens the eye." I think I had to memorize this saying in

the Olivet Day School. Although sometimes these have seemed like fancy

and tricky words, I've come to appreciate it as a useful concept.

Interestingly, it seems to be expressed in many different (not just

Western) religious traditions. Perhaps a universal truth? I think it

comes to mind in connection with the "pellicacy" debate because it is so

darn easy for human (at least this one's) judgment and perception of

truth to get obscured by experience, feelings, heredity, and the like.

4. Most importantly... In past couple of years I've been finding

incredible help and comfort in what I believe is a growing prayer

relationship with God. Perhaps my strongest criticism of my religious

education in the General Church is that my experience with prayer was so

limited and ritualized. I can take responsibility for being lazy and

not paying attention and not creating the time because I was too busy

and lacked humility, especially as entered adult life. But I think

something basic was missing from what I was taught and what was modeled

around me.

Whatever, I'm deeply, joyously grateful to have been given the

opportunity to get involved with a prayer group and have the experience

of learning to talk ^ÿ really talk with the Lord. It's hard to explain.

I don't want to sensationalize my experience, but I must testify that

making a commitment to be with the Lord in prayer, talking AND listening

for an hour every day has made a great difference in my life. As I'm

learning to tune into the "still small voice", profound and beautiful

changes are taking place in my heart and mind.

I would recommend this discipline to you and anyone struggling with

pain, confusion, guilt, and all that other stuff that gets in the way of

peace and happiness. My problems haven't magically vanished, but

somehow, they have become less powerful and frightening. "Ask, and it

WILL be given to you..." Maybe you're already doing something like

this. But if not, perhaps you will discover a new way to experience the

Lord in your life. If you would like some more information, I'd be

happy to help.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Date: Mon, 9 Mar 1998 07:10:25 -1000

Subject: Re: Pellicacy

What is YOUR read on what the Writings say about pellicacy and

concubinage? What IS the underlying emotional tone? We have heard from

two distance points of view: the Writings make it sound disgusting, and

the Writings show great compassion. What do you think the Lord is saying?

I would like to say something about your comment that in your experience

sex outside of marriage is not a happy experience: my suspicion is that

the women of the world, and of this church, know a lot more about sexual

responses that do the men. I think there is a lot happening that the men

do not even know about. Many women - not all, but a large percentage -

talk about things that men do not, analyse them from their

emotional/practical/and spiritual aspects. (I'm sure this is not news to

you!). Sexuality is very high on the women's discussion topics-list. I

have been aware over the years of many women's conclusion that sex outside

marriage is not the horror one is lead to expect. It may not be the ideal

one is looking for, but there are many non-ideal things in life: the

house is not cared for by one's kids, the car doesn't get regular oil

changes, the husband does not remember birthdays or that you've asked him

time and again NOT to touch you there during certain times of the month,

etc. NO situation is fully happy. Obviously, some things make one

happier than others, and we all try to have the choices that make us the

happiest - the choices that make us feel closer to our ideals, closer to

those we love, closer to our "ultimate dream goal". Women don't tell the

people around them that "Hey, I had great sex with this guy I met and it

made me feel really happy for the first time in months" (ESPECIALLY

if they live in a NC community) because the society around them makes it

impossible to do so. I think we may be missing an opportunity for good

education of our young as a result. There are a huge range of realities

around sexuality and sexual activity. I've known women who absolutely

hated a man who pressured her into "proving her love" - even when they

"stayed in love" and got married. I've known women who take the greatest

pleasure and get joy from tender sex with the men they are dating -

having no intention of marrying! (Women tend to sleep with only one man

at a time, unlike a man who is more likely to want to have several

partners intermixed. But contrary to expectation, women tend to have had

more lovers than men)

My main point here, I guess, is that there is a lot of information "out

there" that there does not seem to be an "appropriate" (safe) place to

collect it. I think there is a lot of wisdom out there that could benefit

the church and our youngest sexually mature members. I know I wish I had

known "then" some of what I have heard over the years. Yes, I have been

shocked, amused, saddened, filled with joy, *educated*, and Ah-HAHed by

it. All important stuff! What do you think we might do - how can we

change our tension about teaching sexuality so that we allow for good

useful discussions within eyesight of the ideals? I want so much for my

kids and their kids to be freed from the shame, nervousness, insecurity

that lack of thorough discussion brings.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Date: Mon, 9 Mar 1998 12:31:07 -1000

Subject: Re: Pellicacy

>..."And perhaps, in time, how mature singles interact (sexually and

otherwise) in NC culture will inform how adolescents learn to behave."

I think most kids would gag at the thought of "old people" doing it, and take

their cues far more from their peers or pop culture. But if the available

mature examples were also admirable people it would have some effect, I'm

sure. I recall being impressed by the professional and personal strengths of

several single women who taught high school. I don't know if any of them had

a lover off in the wings, and given the prudishness of the culture I'm sure

they wouldn't have paraded one to school or church events! But had it

happened, it might have made me reconsider spinsterhood as a desirable state

and opt for a few years of single adulthood myself. As it was, their

apparently bleak social life was one of the factors that spurred me into a

disastrous marriage rather than going on to finish college in my twenties.

>..."Maybe it will become clear that unmarried sexual interaction does not

have to be indiscriminate, hedonistic, or reckless."

Right, doesn't have to be, and for most mature singles it isn't for long,

because that's too emotionally exhausting.

>..."example by unmarried elders (perhaps even unmarried parents) that sexual

relations should be considerate, deliberately chosen, honest and free of

manipulation, coersion, or denigration."

There are many divorced people who are raising kids and who also date. Their

kids get to see up close and personal how their parent deals with issues of

trust, friendship, and sexuality. Whether the parent handles them well or

not, it's got to be an education for the kids.

>..."they can, by example, become an important tool for instilling values in

the young. ("It takes a village...")

I used to co-edit a support newsletter for divorced people in the church. How

to instill the values of marriage in our kids was a big topic of discussion. I

agree, it takes a village.

>" I wish I could be as clear as you are that Swedenborg is also saying it;

but, that's kind of beside the point. My hope for the church is that there are

a _lot_ of people like you who can show that message to be clearly taught."

I assume that you're not advocating married people flagrantly parading their

"concubines," as was suggested by some old geezer a century ago. I assume

your concern is for the church to accept that fact that mature single adults

have sex lives. I don't recall reading anywhere in Swedenborg that adults

should be celibate, in fact there's places where he discusses what becomes of

monks and nuns in the spiritual world. It's not clear from the CL text how

single adults should conduct their sex lives, aside from refraining from

deflowering virgins and committing adultery. As far as I can see, Swedenborg's

advice to single adults is: "pray for a legitimate and lovely relationship

with one partner, and spurn wandering lusts as offensive to the nostrils. "

Seems to me that Swedenborg is saying that sex in itself doesn't stink, but

wandering lust does.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Date: Mon, 9 Mar 1998 14:49:27 -1000

From: Leon James <leon@hawaii.edu>

Subject: Re: Pellicacy

 

"The point that the Writings make is that while this is

true, some types of sexual activity outside of marriage are less painful

and isolating than others. It is an obvious point. Of course you may

also think, as Woody Allen explained, that "as empty experiences go,

casual sex isn't bad.

I would urge people not to think in terms of good and bad, condemned and

not condemned. Think in terms of happy and less happy. There is a vast

continuum between pain and joy, and the lines that are crossed are not

easy to recognize. If you really believe that there is happiness in sex

outside of marriage then I think this is the real issue."

++++++++

An additional approach, for me, is to think of it scientifically. For

instance, with non-abstinance you risk this because of that, etc.--in the

natural realm. Psychologically or spiritually (these two being the same),

thinking about it scientifically means considering the SPIRITUAL FIBERS

that are being built up in life through our choices and loves. These

fibers stay in place and grow deeper with each repetition of a thought or

affection, especially the two together. This is what the individual must

think about--in addition to the sin angle (which to some appears abstract

and distant. But the fibers are real, concrete, now.)

And so you can think of injurious ("forbidden") fibers we build up each

time we favor a sallacious joke that puts women down (when we hear it, and

when we think about it at various times, smile, and enjoy it within

ourself). Think also of the injurious fibers being formed in your will

and understanding when you rebel against the Lord's sexual ethics as you

understand them and excuse them within yourself.

I think it's important to remember that it's not what you have done that

really matters but why you have done it and how you justify it. If we

expose ourselves to an injurious sexual act or episode, what then becomes

most essential is what we do about it. For this is what determines the

fiber's fate of existence. Thus it becomes most important to acknowledge

the disorder in what we have done or enjoyed, identify it as a bad fiber,

and reject it on account of its injuriousness to the spiritual organs.

And we must do this over and over again, tirelessly, and with conviction

that the Lord will eventually bring us a feeling of aversion against it

(our final rest from its pesky influence!).

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Date: Fri, 13 Mar 1998 08:37:09 -1000

Subject: Re: Pellicacy

There has been some discussion here about the high correlation between sexual

abuse and religious extremism.

I believe that there is not only a strong correlation here, but a direct cause

and effect relationship. However, we must define the nature of that religious

extremism more carefully than we have so far.

We are not talking here about people who are simply devout, dedicated and

highly committed to their church community and their spiritual life. There is

no correlation here with sexual abuse.

The groups that correlate highly with sexual abuse are highly controlling,

sexually repressive, legalistic groups that depend on fear, guilt, punishment

and silence as primary tools for dealing with sexual issues.

There is a direct connection between sexuality and spirituality, and

consequently a direct connection between perverted sexuality and perverted

spirituality.

Swedenborg often notes that Christians have been of all peoples in the world

the most self-righteous and the most adulterous. When religion becomes

twisted, it brings people into an abusive relationship with "God". Springing

from an intense need to control others (love of dominion) supported by a

strong belief in one's own superiority and rightness (faith alone), comes an

image of a god who abuses his own children (predestination to hell, Jesus sent

to die).

This type of god is brandished by religious extremists as a threat, to control

people and silence their objections through guilt, shame and fear.

One of the reasons that this kind of religious abuse has a high correlation

with physical and sexual abuse is that there is a correspondential cause-and-

effect relationship between the two. Spiritual abuse and spiritual adultery

is the cause of physical abuse and physical adultery.

Psychologically, groups that operate this way set the stage for physical and

sexual abuse by strongly punishing any evidence of sexual expression ("Don't

even talk about it!"), denying the validity or goodness of any sexual

feelings, and by using guilt and fear to repress sexual feelings.

When sexual deviation surfaces, the response is generally to blame the victim

and look for a scapegoat. This dysfunctional response is idealized in twisted

views of Christ's Crucifixion.

The danger of sexual repression is clearly spelled out in the Writings:

"Sexual inclinations are within people from creation and consequently from

birth. When they are restrained and repressed, there is no alternative but

for this inclination to go off into heat, and with some into burning heat.

This heat, when it rises up from the body into the spirit, infests and with

some defiles it. Moreover, it may be that the spirit, thus defiled, will

defile also the things of religion. It may cast them down from their internal

seat where they are in holiness, into mere externals where they become things

of the mouth and gesture alone." (CL 155)

My intention here is not to make judgments about other religious groups. The

connection between religious extremism & sexual repression and sexual abuse &

perversion is observed not only by Swedenborg, but by many modern secular

psychologists and social scientists. Is such adultery and religious extremism

as prevalent today as it was in Swedenborg's time? This is a very subjective

judgment that depends in part on what slice of today's world one is exposed

to. On the one hand it is vital that we take a positive, loving approach

towards other faiths, seeing all religions as part of the Greatest Person. On

the other hand, it is vital that we not blind ourselves to the diseases within

that body (whether in our own church or in another) by participating in a

system of denial about the abuse that is going on.

I believe K's observations about his own experiences with the General

Church give us an opportunity to examine our ourselves. There is no doubt

that in "New Church" groups there have been sexual abuse and repression, as

well as fearful, oppressive approaches to religion. This is to be expected,

given our heredity and culture. Perhaps with honesty, openness and

willingness we can engage in a process of spiritual growth (repentance) that

will bring healing spiritually and sexually.

The story of the woman taken in adultery (John 8) gives us an example of how

the Lord responded to a situation like this.

1. Confront the system of denial and repression that perpetuates the abuse

("Let him who is without sin among you cast the first stone").

2. Approach those caught up in disorders with complete absence of

judgmentalism ("Neither do I condemn you").

3. Invite them to heal through a process of spiritual growth and repentance

("Go and sin no more").

I suspect these three things must be done in order. If we ask for repentance

before there is a sense of complete acceptance and while a person is still

caught in a system of denial and repression, what is intended as an offer for

spiritual healing will probably come across as blaming the victim.

My thanks to K and others who are willing to bring these issues into the

light.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Date: Sat, 14 Mar 1998 18:49:03 -1000

Subject: Re: pellicacy

A couple of years ago, a friend told me that he believed

masturbation by a married man is nothing but adultery.

I've heard from others that it is totally innocent.

Pastor Ed Cole, a men's evangelist, said that habitual

masturbation is a form of worship -- he didn't say what

was being worshipped, but clearly it wasn't pretty.

The fact is that masturbation is mostly an act of imagination. So what is

being imagined? What kind of fantasies are being indulged? Is it a young

teenager dreaming of true love, through a hormonal haze? Is it a young

man just home from a decorous evening with his fiancee, overwhelmed with

love waiting to be fulfilled? Is it a husband who has come to hate his

wife, and is dreaming of that sweetie at work? Or a husband whose wife

has been unavailable for a couple of weeks due to family cares or illness,

and he mistakenly thought this was the night? Or the same guy who has

gone without for a couple of weeks, and is really upset by the reactions

he's having to the ladies around him? Or someone who can't find a partner

to satisfy his kinky and domineering desires, but has found a love slave

in his dreams? Masturbation is not a difficult subject. It is as many

difficult or easy subjects as the ideas and motives that lie behind it.

What kids need to be taught is to watch what they are thinking,

to be very careful about what they are imagining at all times.

Wash first the inside of the cup or platter ...

And totally different is a problem with the prostate or vesiculae --

"treating" this kind of physical problem has no spiritual content at all,

and should NOT be considered part of the same subject, IMNSHO.

---Clumsy segue---

As for the idea that being married without being "in their use" was

disorderly, that's BOSH.

First of all, Conjugial Love says that a young man should probably not be

married until he is DETERMINED TOWARDS a use. Certainly theological

students, or any serious students, may qualify here -- as far as the

Bishop could have observed, at any rate. I remember two theologs --

one now quite prominent in the church -- wrestling on the floor of the

theological library. Is THAT a disorder? (I think not.) ;-)

Second, the General Church culture of the early 1900's made total hash out

of the meaning of "Use" -- I grew up hearing "Use" used to refer to any

participation in church society functions, to any occupation, always to

some concrete but often insignificant activity. Washing dishes after

a society supper may be useful, and one might inspire others in a useful

way by doing this chore; but the chore is just a chore.

Back to the theological students being "in disorder": Somewhere in the

Writings it is said that those perform the highest use who learn truths in

order to be perfected in the good of love. I'd say theological school

could be a good place to be doing that, depending on the student's state

and intentions. And marriage is one of the best states in which to learn

that kind of truth. (This list ain't too shabby in that respect, either.)

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Date: Mon, 16 Mar 1998 20:28:06 -1000

Subject: Re: fantasy

On Mon, 16 Mar 1998, Leon James wrote:

> To "be very careful" about our thoughts means to me to (1) be aware of

> them (witness them) (2) assess their quality whether from heaven or

> hell, and (3) reject them and hold them in aversion if from hell.

Right, that's what I had in mind, although an alternative (3) is

just to run away very fast; be very afraid, as the kids say nowadays.

Not denying our thoughts, but being conscious of where they come from.

And where they lead to. The point is, the fantasy is the REALITY that has

to be dealt with -- re-read Swedenborg's prescriptin for self-examination.

A physical act, of any sort, is just an effect, an acting-out.

It's also true that the act in question is generally a RESULT of a train

of thought that may have been building over several days. This may be a

perfectly orderly response from being near a loved one, or it may be an

obsessive or stubborn concentration on personal satisfaction. In either

case there are physical/chemical responses to the thoughts, and these

eventually can produce tension, depression, self-pity, emotional fragility

and an un-loved feeling, hypersensitivity to the opposite sex, etc. which

are likely to continue until something is done.

That's for men. I don't know if it can build up like this for women;

hopefully they get a break in this area, since they have their own

chemical tortures in PMS and menopause. The Writings say that (unmarried)

men have "excitation," and women don't, so women don't need an "outlet"

before marriage. But then it says in Conjugial Love that things are

different with women who have acquired allurement by learning about it.

At that point (and as Kurt points out, we're pretty saturated with that

kind of "learning" nowadays), probably a lot of what is said about young

men can currently be true of young women also, though I'd bet that the

chemical effect is less compelling.

To concentrate on what is of use, and on the needs of others instead of

our own frustrations, can reduce the kind of pressure and tension that

leads to a need for physical relief. Yes, the cold shower is a myth

as was pointed out. But a husband can in some cases go months without

physical relief, because he is cultivating deeper feelings that can be

expressed and satisfied in many ways, and is receiving loving support and

reassurance, as well as reinforcement from good spirits.

But still he's human. And any time a man concentrates on his frustrated

desires and starts indulging in self-pity or a feeling of entitlement to a

certain amount of satisfaction, he's likely to cast that wandering eye or

let his mind drift into selfish fantasies, and then he's started subtle

physical processes that will get his nerves on edge within a few hours or

days. Of course circumstances can also fool a husband into building false

hopes, and some of those same physical results can occur.

The extreme case is a deliberate concentration on physical pleasure or

selfish fantasies, which can lead to an obsessive and constant slavery to

the lust for continuous physical pleasure. Hopefully a person does not

need to confront this "dark side" too closely before learning to keep it

at a safe distance.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Date: Mon, 23 Mar 1998 02:51:38 -1000

Subject: Pellicacy

I can see what L was saying about the mild use of erotica in order to

stimulate feelings more easily between a married couple. Almost everything in

creation can be made to serve a good purpose. Every so often the Writings

talk about evil spirits from hell that are vastated to the point where they

can serve good uses in the spiritual world. But I except they would have to

have overseers. (I wonder if this is where the original idea for slavery came

from? I expect it didn't exist before the fall of the Most Ancient church.)

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Date: Tue, 24 Mar 1998 08:35:28 -1000

Subject: Re: food and sex

I believe that we all need to feel and to taste, and to take pleasure

in these sensations. We can either do it in a healthy way or in a

destructive way, either with gratitude or with shame. Only sometimes

we cannot deal with these sensations in a healthy way, because they

are so tightly enmeshed with shame, and we cannot find a doctrinal

basis for loosing them. Then we seek distractions to draw our minds

away from the sensations, but we fail, and the shame is compounded.

I really think it can be good and important to eat with attention to

the taste, and enjoy it gratefully, even when we are alone. I do not

think this is what leads to obsession with eating (or with sex).

Heavenly happiness consists of doing useful things for ourselves and

for others. In school we are given so many things to do to prepare

ourselves for being useful to others, we hardly get a chance to

actually serve others. But in our sex lives we are not even allowed

the first part, to be good to ourselves.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Date: Tue, 24 Mar 1998 05:03:13 -1000

Subject: Re: Re: fantasy

Brace yourselves--I'm going to talk about my experiences with

fantasy and erotica. The short answer to the questions I've received

on this subject is "What Deborah said." (Many thanks for your response

to my communication, Deborah.) Having stuck my neck out this far, I

might as well back it up with some specifics. Just not too specific

specifics, more like general specifics.

Like most teenagers I guess, I came across some mild sex scenes in

my extensive novel reading. I don't feel I was harmed by them. My

response to them was more curiosity than titillation.

Two years ago D and I saw the movie Angels and Insects, based on

A. S. Byatt's novel Morpho Eugenia. It was the first movie I'd ever

seen with explicit sex scenes. They were tastefully done, with no

genital contact actually shown. I found the depictions of marital sex

incredibly beautiful and erotic, though I knew from reading the book that

the marriage was doomed from the start. I came away from that experience

with more appreciation for my husband, our marriage, and sex, and I feel

that its effect on me has enriched our relationship, although I can't

speak for Dewey about how it affected him. I can't say how I would have

responded to it before I was married; I wouldn't recommend that movie to

my unmarried self.

More recently, the archetype work we did in a performance workshop

provided me with the ideal fantasy couple. (In the realm of fantasy as

well as erotic material, there appears to be a widespread belief that in

order to be exciting, sex has to be dirty or forbidden, and described

with crude words, and that it doesn't matter what you fantasize about

since it's just in your head. Both of these ideas need to be

counteracted.) I found that I wanted to write an account of their

wedding night, which surprised me because I had never before felt an

impulse to write erotic fiction.

Doing so has been a uniquely

gratifying experience which stretched my writing skills as nothing else

has. (I deemed certain anatomical terms off-limits because they don't

fit the mood.) I believe there is a great difference between imagining

oneself making love to another person, and taking vicarious delight in

imagining another couple, even getting "inside the skin" of one or the

other or both of them. In fact, in my account I switch the point of view

from one to the other several times. For me this is treading on holy

ground. Fictional as they are, I treat these people with respect, and

approach the writing with prayer and discipline. D has read it and

assures me that it is not pornographic. I wish I could express what a

special experience this has been for me; I feel as if I've discovered a

whole new dimension to my sexuality.

Sexual energy can indeed be channeled into creativity. Rereading

The Agony and the Ecstasy, one of my favorite books, I was struck by

(among other things) the sexual imagery Stone uses to descibe

Michelangelo's creative work, mostly in terms of insemination, but also

in one place gestation and birth.

I don't consider the allowability of masturbation, fantasy and

erotica a concession to the damaged state of males in our society. I

really think it's okay. If it is a concession to anything, it is simply

that they can't always marry right away. I also think that it is more

difficult for men to find other outlets for their sex drive.

Michelangelo was lucky that way.

I wish I could say more about what all this has done for "us" and not

just "me", but that would be getting into stuff that the white dove

might not stick around for.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Date: Wed, 25 Mar 1998 05:28:02 -1000

Subject: Re: Things I Wish I'd Known

> And then your theolog. Having

> stolen virginity (I assume) and continuing in fornication, is he in an

> appropriate state to be in theological school, as in, are his interiors

> really in line with the study he's engaged in?

Let's suppose that the couple are not seen in public behaving in any way

"offensively", but that their closest friends are aware of the situation.

The adults in the community may be aware - through the grapevine - but the

students of the woman will not (unless their blabby parents tell them).

I would then ask "How bad is this compared to, say, the growing awareness

that the theolog is a pretty heavy social drinker? We're not talking

about someone who misses assignments, who doesn't get his work done, who's

intellectual ability seems in any way impaired. It's just that everyone

knows he parties pretty hardy." I suspect that the community would not

feel the need to take him aside and mini-lecture at him. No one would say

Well, what sort of an example is he setting? His drinking would not be

viewed with the same angst as his solution to the pressures of his

sexuality. We're not talking about a man in his early 20's - Kent

specified a man in his mid-30's. This man has struggled for a long time.

For reasons that were unspecified, he has not found a marriage-partner.

There may be any number of reasons that neither of them are ready to "take

the plunge", but are still looking long-term to the ideal of conjugial

love. I have heard therapists say that abstinence from sexual activity

causes too many people to rush into marriage too soon or with the wrong

partner because the pressure to have sex becomes so strong (a natural

thing when one feels in love!). It is a lousy reaon to get married.

They have said that often the couple do not deal with their issues,

being so "in love" and so distracted by the sexual appeal that they are

not able to get between the tension of attraction and look at reality. I

am convinced that it would be better for a couple in this situation to be

sexually active with each other and - if it so happens that they discover

major problems with each other in areas of ideals, attitudes, hopes, and

dreams - to break the engagement than to get married and end up divorced

because of bitter unhappiness and inability to come to some arrangement

that allows them to stick it out.

I wish we would "sell" sexual abstinence to young people on the basis of

"This is so incredibly wonderful, and you are so precious that you

deserve to choose carefully who and when you become sexually active. You

deserve to choose to wait, you deserve to design the perfect setting. You

do not have to go with the flow of popular culture." rather than "You will

destroy or impede your possiblity for conjugial love. You will be in sad

disorder. You will be so sorry for the rest of your life". Then, if the

choice is sooner than the parents/society finds the "perfect" setting,

discuss non-judgmentally the realities of the choice. For some people,

non-marital sex may be the right choice. (I believe that the "rules" do

indeed change as a person gets older - and the Writings seem to me to

bear that out with discussions about pellicacy and *concubinage* -

which, I suspect, our current community would condemn as adultery and

never, never tolerate).

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Date: Sun, 29 Mar 1998 05:37:06 -1000

Subject: Re: Things I Wish I'd Known

> What kind of light is being shed, do you think -- the light of the Sun or

> the light of the moon? Yes, >some< of the problems have always been

> present but hidden away. Now they are out ion the open and corrupting

> and de-sensitizing our children. How is that better?

>

> I would rather that the disorders in our present society had remained

> hidden and been handled more discreetly through the application of truth.

How is it better is a good question, and one I do not take lightly. One

of the things I have come to realize is that "secrets" tend to damage

people more than ugly truth. The secret in a family of incest, of

alcoholism, of adultery, and so forth, is damaging. Children in those

families suffer, as do their playmates. Kids' radars are highly tuned!

Even is mother never lets on, if the father is unfaithful, the kids feel

the tension and think it's their fault, and damage is done. If the strict

rules of the house are that we don't "notice" or discuss the neighbours

aberrant behaviour due to his alcoholism, the kids wonder and are worried.

If we do not discuss rape with our teens, the emotional load around all

sexuality is increased.

When I was in high school, my mother wanted so badly to believe that the

ANC environment was a protecting, sheltering environment that she

adamantly refused to admit the *possibility* that some of the students

were sexually active with each other. I, of course, knew better. but the

message presented was one of "this is an area of non-discussion. Sex is

so taboo that we never, never admit that disorder could be happening".

Her fear was, of course, that "if we talk about it, kids might be inclined

to try it". We know that, in fact, the more information and discussion

teens have about sex, the LESS likely they are to engage in sexual

activity, so the fear-driven insistence on "not exposing" teens to

"disorders" or sad realities or whatever, actually did damage.

So, uncomfortable as it is, I do think the climate today can be better for

our kids and ourselves. And for adults, I think the awareness of what is

going on arms us to be able to talk to our kids more supportively, more

knwledgeably. And I think it also allows us to consider our own

regeneration more accurately. It is so easy to surround ourselves in

emotional cotton, not looking at the true ugliness of life: we can pat

ourselves on the back and say "I'm a pretty good person! I don't do this

or that or the other thing". But discussion of reactions to some news

story about an appalling situation, or about a situation that others find

appalling but we do not, prompts introspection and forces us to look at

our discomfort and re-evaluate our contentedness about ourselves.

I am NOT suggesting that we allow ourselves or our children to wallow in

ugliness. I am suggesting that when we unavoidably contact that ugliness

that we have the opportunity to step back objectively - or emotionally! -

and analyze what it is that we are shocked by, what are the components of

unhappiness here, what can we do about it, how we can talk to our children

about it, and how we can guide those children in their negotiation around

it. And of course we would much rather live in a time when the ugliness

did NOT exist! But keeping it hidden - pretending it away - is worse than

addressing the issues with heads up and eyes wide open.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Date: Mon, 13 Apr 1998 06:35:23 -1000

Subject: re:things I wish I'd known

Without intending to over-generalize, I think that males can be

a bit more fearless than females. Probably "blind stupid" is a

better term than fear. And I do believe that females are more

vulnerable than males, with regard to the aggression of others,

at least until the females degenerate into vile rapists and

gang-bangers with no regard for human life as so many males

have. I suspect that the inherent "femaleness" of potential

motherhood will prohibit their achievement of total disregard

for human life however. And a very good thing.

The "women's movement" needs to be very clear in avoiding the

appearance of assertion that they want to be [treated] more

like men.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Date: Mon, 20 Apr 1998 03:47:47 -1000

Subject: Hite Reports

About the Hite Reports. I found _Female Sexuality_ and _Women and

Love_ at BATS in the Barn. Yep, in that thrift shop in the heart of Bryn

Athyn. _Women and Love_ had numerous references to _Male Sexuality_, so

I wanted to read that too. I looked at our local Book Swap and sure

enough, it was there. Did I have the nerve to buy it? Seems I did. I

marched over (trying not to blush) and handed it to the friendly

salesclerk, who didn't bat an eyelash.

I have read other scholarly works on sexuality, most of them pretty

old. I know I can find up-to-date books in which experts talk learnedly

about the subject. What makes these books different and valuable to me

is that I can hear people saying, "This is what I've experienced. This

is what I feel. This is what I find confusing. This is what hurts me.

This is what I find fulfilling. This is what I wish for. This is what I

regret." Etcetera. I don't know if there are other books which quote

such large numbers of people from different places and work backgrounds,

of different ages and educational levels.

 

Bias in Shere Hite's presentation is unavoidable. The nature of the

questions in her questionnaires, her manner of distributing them, the

kinds of people who are interested in answering them, which answers are

selected for publication, the way the answers are excerpted and grouped

together, the way they are statistically analyzed and interpreted, are

all subject to bias. But Hite seems fairly honest and up front about

these things, and she gives full value to the subjective nature of sex.

Just being scientific about it misses a lot of the point. Part of her

process included revising her questionnaires on the basis of early

responses, and she discusses people's objections to how the questions are

phrased.

(About the scientific perspective. Perusing a year's worth (1990) of

the American Journal of OB/GYN showed me how the medical model of

childbirth sometimes misses the mark. Observing childbirth in a clinical

and even experimental framework, attempting to control variables and

reduce the information to statistical data, leaves out the personal,

emotional, and spiritual aspects of it. And a lot of science is just

plain out of date. Example: OBs are still calculating due dates with a

law formulated over 200 years ago (by a man, of course). It now appears

that pregnancies may normally run longer than was previously thought, and

that length of pregnancy varies by race and number of pregnancies. The

normal curve is truncated since so many labors are artificially induced

when women are judged overdue.)

I found that a lot of _Female Sexuality_ differed radically from my

own experience. So when I read _Male Sexuality_ I discussed some of it

with my husband, whose manhood I can vouch for, and he opined that men's

perception of their own sexual desires may be influenced by the myth that

sex is irresistible. (So argue with him about that if you need to.)

_Male Sexuality_ has a lot more relationship stuff in it than _Female

Sexuality_. Stuff about relationships with fathers and mothers, how

fathers treated mothers, learning about what it means to be a man, and of

course relationships with women. _Women and Love_ appears to be a deeper

exploration of this relationship stuff from women's point of view. It

does get pretty heavily into male-bashing, but as with the other books,

its value goes beyond its scientific merits or lack thereof.

All three books have a lot of crude words and parts of them I

consider pornographic, especially _Male Sexuality_. In that book, some

of the most moving responses came from older men, ages 60-90, who had

found happiness and fulfilling sex in their marriages.

Having just read Mary Pipher's Reviving Ophelia, about the dangers

faced by adolescent girls, I got a "Do these people live on the same

planet?" feeling similar to my reaction to the Hite Reports. Most

shocking was the account of a group of high school boys who went around

committing gang rapes, one of whose fathers said that if everyone who

did such things were arrested the jails would be overrun. This

complicity with uncontrolled, violent sex struck me as the heart of

obscenity and harmful cultural distortion regarding what is normal and

excusable.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Date: Thu, 30 Apr 1998 00:38:24 -1000

Subject: Re: Women, Men and Priesthood

I have to say that I have been bemused for years about this discussion

about women in the priesthood. In the New Church of all places. There

already are women in the priesthood - they're married to men in the

priesthood. Now don't start jumping all over me about unmarried women who

want to minister or unmarried ministers! I'm talking here about the

ideal. This world is very imperfect and full of confusing permissions

that can tangle up any argument in questions of applying doctrine. So

let's just assume here that a doctrine in which conjugial love (OK,

spiritual marriage or however you want to label it) is central should

apply here of all places. Angel couples appear as one person on occasion,

and that's how I like to think of clerical couples. If the husband

happens to be the voice in the pulpit, is that a problem? His wife's

"moderating" influence speaks through it.

I mean, think about it. Any New Church couple who is really serious about

it has ongoing discussions about doctrine in their life, and any wife

discusses the ins and outs of her husband's forensic use with him on a

routine basis. And I even know clergy types who actually do talk things

over like this with their wives!

My own feeling is that there has been an enormous psychological/social

burden put on discussion of this whole issue by the disorderly way men

have treated women for much of history and that the resulting bias, in

effect, has distorted this discussion in the church. Suppose for a moment

that the organized New Church really was "on earth as it is in heaven" and

every adult in it was in a happy, fulfilling marriage. I think that this

whole discussion would, in that circumstance, be profoundly changed from

what it is today. Matter of fact, I think that if we could fix all that's

broken with regard to marriage within the church, it would have a

transformational effect with ramifications far beyond this issue.


Back to the Index of Swedenborgian Marriage Handbook for Husbands

 

Swedenborgian Marriage Handbook
for Husbands

As seen and understood by Leon James

Doctrine of the Wife: Part 1 || Doctrine of the Wife: Part 2  || Spiritual Genes and Marriage || Husband's Voluntary Self-Subordination to Wife in Inner Things || Psychobiology of Marriage || Conjugial Love || Gender Genes || Gender Words || Spiritual Causes of Divorce ||

See an article by Michael David on God as Mother and Father Figure
  

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