When seeing how others view Swedenborg, or the New Church, one point always comes up: is there marriage in heaven? For in the gospels, Jesus was asked this question, and it would seem that He answered no, angels do not marry. However, in his visions of the heavenly world, Swedenborg observed that after our bodily death we will rise in a spiritual body, in a complete human form. Not only that, but if we were male we will continue to be male, and if female we will continue to be female. The angelic form is that hidden human form that developed inside of us, which we become aware of after we shed this physical body. And not only that, but in heaven, especially the highest one, angels join together in heavenly married pairs, to their enjoyment to eternity.
For those who were brought up and taught that sex was something evil, this is obviously not the heaven that they were expecting. But sex is the physical form of the highest love between a man and a woman. The origin of sex is spiritual: for the male is the physical form of the intellect, or truth, and the female is the physical form of volition, or love. Love and truth are always seeking to be united into one, and this is the spiritual origin of sex. A natural love of sex is just the love of having sex, but a more spiritual love of sex is the love of one of the other sex. But since Jesus said there was no marriage in heaven, and Swedenborg said that there was, Swedenborg is obviously wrong, right?
Not so fast. While some of the sayings of Jesus are straightforward, others are not. And if you take some of His sayings literally, you will have no idea what He was talking about. For at times He speaks in a spiritual manner. For example, so let's go through a few statements of Jesus, where if we take Him literally, it is going to cause a lot of problems:
DID JESUS COMMAND HIS DISCIPLES TO "EAT ME"?
"I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world."The Jews therefore quarreled among themselves, saying, "How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?" (6:51-52).
Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, "This is a hard saying; who can understand it?"When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this, He said to them, "Does this offend you?" (John 6:60-61)
From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. (John 6:66)So, when taken literally, Jesus told them if anyone eats Him, they will enter heaven. We now know of course, He is speaking of the ritual of communion, where the bread is symbolic of His body, or the Divine Love, and the wine is symbolic of His blood.
DID JESUS SAY HE WOULD REBUILD THE JEWISH TEMPLE?
So the Jews answered and said to Him, "What sign do You show to us, since You do these things?"Jesus answered and said to them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up."Then the Jews said, "It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?"But He was speaking of the temple of His body.Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said. (John 2:18-22)The Jews thought He spoke of the literal temple. But He was speaking of the temple of His body. Obviously, saying this in the temple is going to confuse people who take things literally. He gives no explanation of the saying...only later, when He rose from the dead, did the disciples understand He spoke of the temple of His body.
DID JESUS SAY THAT THE CHURCH WOULD BE BUILT UPON THE APOSTLE PETER?
Ok, now for a controversial passage:
When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, "Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?"So they said, "Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets."He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"Simon Peter answered and said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."Jesus answered and said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. (Matt. 16:13-19)Interpreted literally, Jesus says that His church will be built upon St. Peter, which the Roman Catholic Church uses to justify the authority of the Papacy, and the authority of its priesthood to forgive and let others into heaven. Which is false: for "Rock" symbolizes the truth, the church is not built upon a hierarchy of men, it is built upon the truth that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Not only that, but upon the truth that His human is Divine. But what about the "keys to the kingdom of heaven" - didn't he give that to the Apostle Peter? Not so: in the spiritual sense, each apostle represents a different aspect of the church, and Peter represents faith - for faith is the first step for entering the kingdom of heaven, and it is the truth of faith which keeps the falsity out. So the Protestants are correct in that this should be interpreted symbolically.
So the point is, Jesus does this over and over again - hidden behind His literal sayings, there was a hidden spiritual meaning. And Jesus did not always clarify what He said. In fact, He said things at times to be ambiguous. Thus on many occasions, He spoke in parables. Thus literalism leads to some very false errors. And the biggest error? Well since He used personal pronouns, that of course means there is a trinity of three persons, right? No, that is the falsehood which corrupted the Christian church.
THE SPIRITUAL MARRIAGE
Marriage, in the Christian Church, is symbolic of the union between the Lord and the Church. This union is a spiritual marriage. Not a literal one. So when Jesus discusses marriage, we must keep in mind: is He talking about a literal marriage, or a spiritual one? For example:
Then the disciples of John came to Him, saying, "Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but Your disciples do not fast?" And Jesus said to them, "Can the friends of the bridegroom mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast. (Matt. 9:14-15)The Lord is the bridegroom. Was He talking about a literal marriage, or a spiritual one? He is talking about a spiritual one. The spiritual marriage is one where one enters into the kingdom of heaven, shown in these passages:
"The kingdom of heaven is like unto a man, a king, which made a marriage for his son, and sent forth servants and invited . . . to the wedding" (Matt. 22:1-14). "The kingdom of heaven is like unto ten virgins, which . . . went forth to meet the bridegroom; five of whom . . . that were ready went in to the marriage" (Matt. 25:1 seq.). "The time of the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife hath made herself ready. . . . Blessed are they who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb" (Rev. 19:7, 9).Swedenborg describes this spiritual marriage in more detail in the parable of the ten virgins:
He said, The kingdom of the heavens is like ten virgins, who, taking their lamps, went forth to meet the bridegroom; five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil; but the wise took oil in their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil, for our lamps are going out. But the wise answered, saying, Lest perchance there be not enough for us and you, go ye rather to them who sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and they who were ready went in with him to the marriage; and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not (Matt. xxv. 1-12). That in all these words there is a spiritual sense, and hence a Divine holiness, no one sees but he who knows that there is a spiritual sense, and what its quality is. In the spiritual sense by the kingdom of the heavens is meant heaven and the church, by the bridegroom the Lord, by the wedding the marriage of the Lord with them by the good of love and the truth of faith, by virgins those who are of the church, by ten all, by five some, by lamps the things which are of faith, by oil the things which are of the good of love, by sleeping and rising the life of man in the world which is natural and his life after death which is spiritual, by buying to procure for themselves, by going to them who sell and buying oil to procure for themselves the good of love from others after death; and because then it is no longer procured, therefore, though they came with lamps and the oil which they had bought to the door where the wedding was, still it was said to them by the bridegroom, I know you not. The reason is, that man remains after the life in the world such as he had lived in the world. From these examples it is plain that the Lord spake solely by correspondences, and this because He spake from the Divine which was in Him and was His. (True Christian Religion, n. 199).So: Jesus spoke in correspondences, in parables. While the men around Him thought of earthly matters, His mind was always on heavenly matters. When asked a question on earthly matters, He would often answer with the heavenly kingdom in mind. And with that understanding, we can now address this question of Jesus by the Sadducees, who believed in no resurrection:
"Teacher, Moses said that if a man dies, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife and raise up offspring for his brother.Now there were with us seven brothers. The first died after he had married, and having no offspring, left his wife to his brother.Likewise the second also, and the third, even to the seventh.Last of all the woman died also.Therefore, in the resurrection, whose wife of the seven will she be? For they all had her."Jesus answered and said to them, "You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God.For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven.But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying,'I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob' ? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living." (Matt. 22:24-32)So the question here is: is Jesus talking about a literal marriage, as the Sadducees were, or was He talking about a spiritual marriage? He is talking about the spiritual marriage. For the spiritual marriage occurs once, and it occurs upon the resurrection when we enter the kingdom of heaven.
ANGELIC MARRIAGES IN HEAVEN BETWEEN TRUE SOUL MATES
Are there actual literal marriages between angelic beings in heaven? Jesus left this unanswered...but those who interpret His saying literally will say Jesus said no. But for the New Church, one of the revelations given in this new dispensation is that there are angelic marriages in heaven, especially in the higher ones. Here is a passage of a description that Swedenborg had of one angelic couple, which I will quote at length:
We have perceived and now see that you are meditating on Marriage Love; and we know that as yet no one on earth knows what true marriage love in its origin and in its essence is; and yet it is important that it should be known. It has therefore pleased the Lord to open the heavens to you, that illustrating light and thence perception may flow into the interiors of your mind. With us in the heavens, especially in the third heaven, our heavenly delights are chiefly from marriage love. By permission given us we will therefore send down to you a married pair, that you may see them.The older Christian churches are not ready to receive this truth, so this is one item they always bring up against the New Church since they read scripture literally. The Catholic Church will probably not accept it as they tell their priests to be celibate - which blocks this heavenly influx of marriage love. An angel then told Swedenborg, that this truth will only be received by those who will belong to the church of the New Jerusalem:
And lo! a chariot then appeared descending from the highest or third heaven, in which an angel was seen; but as it approached two were seen in it. In the distance the chariot glittered like a diamond before my eyes. And young horses were harnessed to it, white as snow; and they who sat in the chariot held two turtle doves in their hands. And they called to me, saying:—
"Would you like us to come nearer? But have a care then that the effulgence from our heaven whence we have descended, which is flaming, does not penetrate interiorly. By the influx of this the higher ideas of your understanding are indeed illustrated, which in themselves are celestial; but in the world in which you are these are ineffable. Receive therefore what you are about to hear rationally, and so address it to the understanding."
I answered:—"I will take heed; come nearer." And they came, and lo! they were a husband and his wife.
And they said:—"We are a married pair. From the earliest age, called by you the golden age, we have lived happily in heaven; and always in the same flower of youth in which you see us today."
I observed them both attentively, for I perceived that they represented marriage love, in its life, and in its adornment; in its life in their faces, and in its adornment in their apparel. For all angels are affections of love in human form; their ruling affection itself shines forth from their faces. And from their affection and in harmony with it their garments are chosen. It is therefore said in heaven that his own affection clothes every one. The husband appeared to be at the age between manhood and youth. From his eyes beamed forth a light sparkling with the wisdom of love. His countenance was as if radiant from this light within, and by the irradiation from it the skin outwardly was as it were refulgent. Thence his whole face was one resplendent comeliness. He was clothed in a long robe that reached to the ankles, and under the robe a vestment of blue, and this was girded about with a golden girdle on which were three precious stones—two sapphires at the sides and in the middle a carbuncle. His stockings were of shining linen interwoven with threads of silver; and his shoes were entirely of silk. This was the representative form of marriage love with the husband.
And with the wife it was this:—I saw her face—and did not see it. I saw it as beauty itself, and did not see it because it was transcendent. For there was a splendour of flaming light in her countenance—such light as is with the angels of the third heaven—and it dimmed my sight, so that I was simply struck with amazement. Observing this she spoke to me saying:—
"What do you see?"
I answered:—"I see only marriage love and a form of it. But I see—and do not see."
At this she turned herself partly away from her husband, and then I could regard her more intently. Her eyes glistened with the light of their heaven—which as was said is flaming, and for the reason that it is derived from the love of wisdom. For in that heaven wives love their husbands from wisdom and in their wisdom; and husbands love their wives from and in that love towards themselves—and they are thus united. Hence her beauty!—which in its form was such as no painter could emulate and portray; for there is no such lustre in his colour, nor any such beauty expressible by his art. Her hair was gracefully arranged in correspondence with her beauty, and had flowers inserted in it like a coronet. She wore a necklace of carbuncles, and pendent from this a rosary of chrysolites; and she had bracelets of pearls. She was arrayed in a flowing robe of scarlet, and under this had a waistcoat of purple, clasped in front with rubies. But, which was a marvel to me, the colours varied according to her aspect towards her husband, and according to this they were now more now less brilliant—more when they were mutually turned towards each other, and less when they were partly turned from each other. (Angelic Wisdom concerning Marriage Love, n. 42)
After this an angel of that heaven appeared to me having a parchment in his hand, which he unrolled, saying:—The only other church that I am aware of that accepts this is the Mormon heresy. This is because Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, borrowed some of his ideas from the writings of Swedenborg, and criticized Swedenborg for not using the revelation for his own profit.
"I perceived that you were meditating on marriage love. In this parchment there are arcana of wisdom on that subject not hitherto made known in the world. They are now disclosed, because now it is of advantage. There are more of these arcana in our heaven than in the others, because we are in the marriage of love and wisdom. But I predict that none will appropriate that love to themselves but those who are received by the Lord into the New Church, which is the New Jerusalem."
Saying this the angel let the unrolled parchment fall. And a certain angelic spirit took it up and laid it on a table in a certain room which he immediately closed, and handed to me the key and said, "Write." (Angelic Wisdom concerning Marriage Love, n. 43)
THE SPIRITUAL UNION OF TWO SOUL MATES
So what about intimate marital relationships (i.e., sex)? Yes, but of a higher, more spiritual nature. The human form is retained in the afterlife, and in the spiritual world, it is nothing but the world of one's ideas, where one's internal psychological states become the immediate reality. Those who wish to hide their sins will choose a realm of darkness to hide them. Those who have lived by the truth will be drawn towards the light. This is outside of space and time: instead of space, there is only distance according to love, and instead of time, there are changes of state. Concerning these spiritual unions, Swedenborg wrote:
...married pairs enjoy similar intercourse with each other as in the world, only more delightful and blessed, but without prolification; for which, or in place of it, there is with them spiritual prolification which is of love and wisdom. The reason why married pairs enjoy similar intercourse as in the world is that the male is male and the female is female after death, and in both an inclination to conjunction is implanted by creation; and this inclination in man is of the spirit and thence of the body; and therefore after death when man is a spirit the same mutual inclination continues—and this cannot be without similar intercourse. For man is man just as before. Nothing whatever is wanting in the male, and nothing whatever in the female. They are like themselves in respect to form, and equally so as to affections and thoughts. What else can follow then but that they have similar intercourse? And because marriage love is chaste pure and holy the intercourse is also full. ...The intercourse is then more delightful and blessed because when the love becomes of the spirit it becomes more interior and purer and therefore more perceptible, and every delight increases according as it is perceived—and so increases that even its blessedness is distinguishable in its delight.The point here is that - even if you do not accept that Jesus was talking about a spiritual marriage, if it is true that each angel is in fact a married couple...then yes, angels do not marry because they are in fact internally a married couple. He was not so clear in His answer to the Jews about internal spiritual matters because the Jews were not willing to listen about a heavenly kingdom: their focus was on an earthly material one.
The reason why marriages in the heavens are without prolification, but that instead of it there is spiritual prolification, which is of love and wisdom, is that,—The third degree which is the natural is wanting to those who are in the spiritual world, and this degree is the containant of things spiritual, and spiritual things without their containant have not fixity after the manner of those who are procreated in the natural world,—and in themselves regarded spiritual things pertain to love and wisdom; these therefore are what are born of their marriages. It is said that these are born because marriage love perfects an angel, for it unites him with his consort, whereby he becomes more and more man (homo). For, as was said above, a married pair in heaven are not two but one angel. (Angelic Wisdom concerning Marriage Love, n. 51-52)
For those who have lost their loved ones, or who never had a true spiritual marriage - something special is awaiting them, beyond everyone's imagination. And if you want to watch a movie on this topic, I could recommend the movie Somewhere in Time, with Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour.