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  • Writer's pictureHoward Thompson

The Origins of Marriage

This week and over the following three weeks, I want to lead you through an exploration of marriage, a divine institution that has taken on various forms and interpretations in today's diverse society. Simply addressing this topic these days is like walking in a minefield, as ideals, especially in a religious context, often lead to inadvertent judgments on anything that doesn’t quite measure up to them.

In this era where traditions are continually evolving, the sacred covenant of marriage is not exempt. What was once viewed as a lifelong commitment has in some cases been reduced to a mere contractual agreement, easily dissolved and tied only to the lifespan of the parties involved. In the midst of these changes, it’s crucial to remember and acknowledge the spiritual dimensions of marriage that transcend our physical existence and persist beyond death.

Emanuel Swedenborg takes a deep dive into the nature of true marital love in his book Conjugial Love. He described it as a rare and sacred bond, something even rarer in today’s world, where the essence of true marriage is often overlooked.

At its core, marriage is a divine union of love and wisdom, a reflection of the harmonious relationship between goodness and truth. In this spiritual partnership, the wife embodies love, while the husband embodies wisdom, together creating a complete and balanced unity that mirrors the divine image. This relationship is a journey of continuous growth, support, and deepening spiritual connection.

Swedenborg emphasised that conjugial love, this special kind of marital love, is rooted in the very act of Creation, and its purpose extends beyond procreation and societal stability. It is intended to be a spiritual union reflecting the divine essence of love and wisdom.

Moreover, this divine dance between love and wisdom is not confined to marriage alone; it also symbolises the sacred relationship between the Lord and the church. It should be noted that in this context “church” is not an organisation or even a faith, but a spiritual mechanism that connects all of humanity with the Divine. In this beautiful metaphor, the church is portrayed as the bride and the Lord as the bridegroom, highlighting our collective spiritual journey towards divine unity.

The New Church upholds a unique vision of marriage, encouraging us to look beyond societal conventions and legalities, and to delve into the spiritual dimensions of this sacred union. Conjugial love is about uniting not just in body, but in soul and mind, in search of a spiritual companion to join us in our journey towards greater love and wisdom.

A note on terminology: we use the term “conjugial” as it carries with it profound spiritual connotations, stemming from its historical and theological roots, helping to convey the depth of true marital love as we understand it.

In closing, let us silence the external noise surrounding marriage, and instead, celebrate it for the sacred and divine union that it truly is. Let’s strive together to form deep, eternal bonds that fully embody divine love and wisdom.

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