The ideal of oneness (in marriage)

A Sermon by Rev. Jan H. Weiss
Preached in Boston on February 23rd 1997

“And lo, a chariot was seen descending from the highest heaven, and in it was seen a single angel, but as it drew near, two were seen” (CL42:2).

This passage in Conjugial Love [by Emanuel Swedenborg, HS] expresses “die Sehnsucht der Mensch”, the age old longing of human beings, the longing for marital oneness and agreement. After the description of many visual appearances, we also find this statement: “When the husband was speaking, he spoke at the same time as though from his wife, and when the wife, she spoke at the same time as though from her husband”.
It does not say that the husband was speaking from his wife, or the wife from her husband. Instead it says that when the husband spoke, he spoke at the same time as though from his wife. And when the wife spoke, she spoke at the same time as though from her husband.

Marital oneness does not require that each partner loses individual identity and individual opinion. But marital oneness does require repeated and continual conjunction of an individual man and an individual woman, who are committed in love to each other. After each conjunction this oneness becomes more perfect, and this to eternity.

The concept of oneness applies to many forms of humanity. The heavens are as one before the Lord. There is a oneness between angels in a society, between angelic societies in a heaven. Oneness also applies to the human body and all its individual parts.

But marital oneness is a very different concept. Marital oneness is only possible between one man and one woman, because conjugial love is mutual and reciprocal (AC2740). Marital oneness is different because it is a oneness between two very different and complimentary forms of Divine life, namely between the male and the female mind. Marital oneness is different and unique also because its first being is from the marriage of good and truth (AC10168).

Two more descriptions of this ideal marital oneness, before we descend into the reality of marital life. He or she loves what the other thinks and will and does, and he or she loves to will as the other does, to be united to the other, and to become as one man (AC10169).
Her life is in me and mine in her. Our union is like the union between the heart and lungs of the human body, where heart means love and lungs wisdom. So that she is the love of my wisdom and I am the wisdom of her love. Her love veils my wisdom from without, and my wisdom is in her love from within (CL75:5).

Now the reality of our married life while we are living with these ideals in our mind. These ideals are far from realization within our church. Our marriages are not in a blissful peace, where the wife says what the husband thinks and the husband says what the wife feels.
There are a number of circumstances that can bring strife and disturbances. The first is the fact that we do not see clearly the difference between men and women. We either do not see any difference, or we believe in a difference, but each of us have incorrect ideas, about which the partners disagree. In other words, we either see ourselves as two hearts or two lungs, or we do not quite see the connection between the heart and the lungs.
The second circumstance is the fact that we do not sufficiently focus our love on the other, and we allow this focus to be diverted or distracted. This leaves the other partner in a deep quandary as to what our focus is. An example of such a mistake is when women find it difficult to give up girl friends, and men find it difficult to give up male friends from the past. Not that we have to give up our friends, but we have to recognize that our marriage is all important and that our partner and children come first before anyone else.
The third circumstance is the fact that we do not welcome and tackle temptations and that we do not suffer ourselves to be purified. We avoid spiritual contacts, we refuse to listen to the other, and so spiritual conjunctions do not take place. Oneness only grows out of such repeated conjunctions.
The fourth circumstance is the fact that we are embroiled in heated discussions and interior struggles for supremacy. Conjugial love looks to union of wills and thus to liberty of agreement. But rivalry for supremacy or rule, removes these two objects from the marriage. It divides and separates the wills of the partners, and changes free agreement into servitude. So long as this rivalry continues, the spirit of the one meditates violence against the other (CL248).
The fifth circumstance is the fact that there is not enough time for listening and talking and not enough time for the conjunction of minds. Many wives in our society are working, either because they have to work, or because they want to work. In either case there is interference with the normal husband- wife communication.
For while it is normal for the wife to think constantly and perpetually about conjunction, when she is at work in a pressure- cooker situation, her normal feelings are interrupted, and upon her return to the home, there are too many distractions that block marital communication.
In a marriage, the husband wants to propagate his own truths, and the love of wisdom with his wife, feels that nothing is more pleasing than to receive these truths as though in a womb, and to carry them in a womb and bring them forth (CL115). But this is the case in heaven. On earth the husband is frustrated in this propagation, because there is no time for reception and conception, no time for bringing forth. In many cases the husband and wife have no time for serious communication, no time for marital conjunction.
The opposite is also true. A wife wants to receive from the husband, but that husband is not interested in giving, and so the wife is frustrated and left hanging.
And so the following teaching from Conjugial Love takes on a special meaning. Love truly conjugial is so rare at this day that it is not known what it is and that it is (CL58). In times of temptation we may wonder if we are married to our eternal partner. But the Lord urges us to realize that it is not important to know whether or not our present partner is going to be our eternal partner. What is important is that you husbands are going to be a heavenly partner for your wife, and you wives are going to be a heavenly partner for your husband. The Lord urges us to focus our love on the other, to purify it, and walk towards heaven by ourselves. Then He will take care of the rest. In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Selections for lesson from the Writings.
5. That conjunction is inspired into the man by the wife according to her love, and is received by the man according to his wisdom.
6. That from the first days of marriage this conjunction is effected successively, and with those who are in love truly conjugial, more and more deeply to eternity.
7. That the conjunction of the wife with the rational wisdom of the husband is effected from within, but with his moral wisdom from without.
8. That with this conjunction as an end, the wife is given a perception of the affections of the husband and also the highest prudence in moderating them.
9. That for causes which are necessities, wives store up this perception with themselves and conceal it from their husbands, in order that conjugial love, friendship, and confidence, and thus the blessedness of cohabitation and the happiness of life, may be firmly established.
10. That this perception is the wife’s wisdom, and that it is not possible with the man; nor is the man’s rational wisdom possible with the wife.
11. That from her love, the wife is continually thinking about the inclination of the man to herself with the purpose of conjoining him to herself, not so the man.
12. That the wife conjoins herself to the man by applications to the desires of his will.
13. That the wife is conjoined to her husband by the sphere of her life going forth from her love.
14. That the wife is conjoined to the husband by the appropriation of the forces of his manhood, but that this takes place according to their mutual spiritual love.
15. That the wife thus receives into herself the image of her husband, and hence perceives, sees, and feels his affections.
16. That there are offices proper to the man and offices proper to the wife; and that the wife cannot enter into the offices proper to the man, nor the man into the offices proper to the wife, and rightly perform them.
17. That according as there is mutual aid, these offices also conjoin the two into a one, and at the same time make one home.
18. That according to the above-mentioned conjunctions, married partners become more and more one man.
19. That those who are in love truly conjugial feel themselves to be a united man and as one flesh.
20. That, regarded in itself, love truly conjugial is a union of souls, a conjunction of minds, and an effort to conjunction in breasts and thence in the body.
21. That the states of this love are innocence, peace, tranquillity, inmost friendship, full confidence, and a mutual desire of animus and heart to do the other every good; and from these, blessedness, happiness, delight, pleasure; and from the eternal fruition of these, heavenly felicity.
22. That these are by no means possible except in the marriage of one man with one wife (CL156:3).
They said that the prolific things expended by husbands are received by wives universally and add themselves to their life; that wives thus lead a life unanimous with their husbands, and successively more unanimous; and that hence the union of souls and conjunction of minds exists in effect (CL172).
The wisdom of the man which makes his soul may be appropriated to the wife, and that thus they may become one flesh (CL172).
The wife thus receives into herself the image of her husband, and hence perceives, sees, and feels his affections (CL173). Something of the husband is continually being transcribed into the wife and is inscribed upon her as her own (CL173).
Love truly conjugial is a union of souls, a conjunction of minds, and an effort to conjunction in breasts and thence in the body (CL179).
The sphere of conjugial love is received by women, and through women is transferred to men, and this because women are born loves of the understanding of men and the understanding is a recipient (CL393).
It is from this that the conjugial of one man with one wife is called the precious jewel of human life. This is confirmed by What was said above, namely, That with one wife, because there is union of minds there is also truly conjugial friendship, confidence, potency; that in and from that union are the celestial blessings, spiritual happiness, and thence natural delights which have been provided from the beginning for those Who are in love truly conjugial; that it is the fundamental love of all celestial and spiritual loves, and thence of all natural loves, and that into it are gathered all joys and gladness from their first to their last (CL457).
We are one; her life is in me, and mine in her. We are two bodies, but one soul. There is between us a union like that of the heart and the lungs; she is my love, and she is the love of my wisdom, and I am the wisdom of her love (CORO37:5).
The love between a husband and wife is tempered when the husband is perfected in wisdom and the wife loves that wisdom in her husband. This tempering is effected by and according to the uses which each of them with mutual aid perform in society. Delights then follow in accordance with the tempering of wisdom and its love (CL137:3).