Conjugial Love
Emanuel Swedenborg

Swedenborg (b. 1688) was a Swedish scientist who began writing spiritual treatises in 1749, after a profound spiritual awakening. Without intending to he founded a spiritual movement, denominations of which exist to this day.

He considered the highest form of connection between a man and a woman to be monogamous union, which ideally mirrors the androgynous pairs (joined together as one) that are human beings’ true nature beyond the material plane. He viewed the masculine and feminine aspects of humans as complementary. The other person in a heavenly dyad is not necessarily one’s earthly spouse. Still, chaste monogamous union advances spiritual understanding because it brings the partners closer to their spiritual reality.

Conjugial Love also deals with love between the sexes in all its aspects, including sexual relations outside of marriage.


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[3] Again the newcomers said, “We have heard, in the world from whence we have departed, that in heaven [females] are not given in marriage, because they are angels. Is there then the love of the sex?”

The angelic spirits replied: “Your love of the sex is not there, but the angelic love of the sex which is chaste, free from all allurement of lust.”…

Hearing this the two newcomers said again: “Then there is no love of the sex in heaven. What is a chaste love of the sex but the love emptied of the essence of its life? Are not then the companionships of young men and maidens there dry joys? We are not stones and stocks, but perceptions and affections of life.”

[5] Hearing this, the two angelic spirits, indignant, replied, “You do not know at all what the chaste love of the sex is, because you are not yet chaste. That love is the very delight of the mind, and thence of the heart, but not at the same time of the flesh below the heart. Angelic chastity, which is common to both sexes, prevents the passing of that love beyond the enclosure of the heart; but within that and above that, the morality of the youth is delighted with the beauty of the maiden, with the delights of the chaste love of the sex that are too interior and too rich in pleasantness to be described by words.

But the angels have this love of the sex because they have only conjugial love, and this cannot coexist with the unchaste love of the sex. Love truly conjugial is a chaste love, and has nothing in common with unchaste love. It is with one only of the sex, all others being removed; for it is a love of the spirit and thence of the body, and not a love of the body and thence of the spirit. That is, it is not a love that infests the spirit.”

[6] The two young novitiates were rejoiced at hearing this, and said, “There is still a love of the sex in heaven. What else is conjugial love?”

But to this the angelic spirits replied: “Think more deeply, reflect, and you will perceive that your love of the sex is  outside of conjugial love and that conjugial love is altogether different; that it is as different from the former as wheat from chaff, or rather as the human from the bestial. Ask women in heaven what love outside of the conjugial is, and I assure you they will answer: ‘What is that? What do you say? How can such a question come out of your mouth that so offends the ears? How can a love that was not created be begotten in a man?’

Then ask them what love truly conjugial is, and I know they will answer that, ‘It is not the love of the sex, but the love of one of the sex,’ which only  springs forth when a young man sees the maiden, and the maiden the young man whom the Lord has provided, and  they mutually feel the conjugial enkindled in their hearts, and perceive, he that she is his, and she that he is hers. For  love meets love and makes itself known, and instantly conjoins the souls, and afterwards the minds, and thence  enters the breasts, and after the wedding, farther; and thus it becomes a full love, which from day to day grows into  conjunction, until they are no more twain but as one.

[7] “I know also that they will solemnly aver that they know no other love of the sex. For they say, ‘How can there be a love of the sex unless it is so responsive and reciprocal that it breathes after an eternal union, which is that the  twain may be one flesh?’”

To this the angelic spirits added: “In heaven they do not know at all what promiscuity is, nor that it exists, nor that it can be. Angels are cold throughout the whole body towards unchaste love, or love outside of marriage; and, on the other hand, they grow warm throughout the whole body from chaste or conjugial love. As to the men in heaven, all their nerves are unstrung at the sight of a harlot, and grow tense at the sight of a wife.”

[8] Having heard these things the three newcomers asked, “Is there a similar love between married partners in  heaven as on  earth?”

And the two angelic spirits answered: “It is quite similar.” And perceiving that they wished to know whether there are similar ultimate delights there, they said: “They are altogether similar, but far more blessed, because the perception and sensation of the angels is far more exquisite than human perception and sensation.

And what life has that love unless from a vein of potency? If this fails does not that love diminish and grow cold? And is not that vigor the very measure, the very degree, and the very basis of that love? Is it not the beginning, the foundation, and the complement of it? It is a universal law that first things exist, subsist, and endure from the last. And so it is also with this love. If then there were no ultimate delights, there would be no delights of conjugial love.”

[9] Then the newcomers asked, “Are offspring born there from the ultimate delights of this love, and if there are not offspring, of what use are they?”

The angelic spirits replied, “There are no natural offspring, but spiritual offspring.”

And they asked, “What are spiritual offspring?”

They answered, “Through ultimate delights married partners are the more united in the marriage of good and truth, and the marriage of good and truth is the marriage of love and wisdom; and love and wisdom are the offspring which are born of that marriage. And as the husband in heaven is wisdom, and the wife is the love of it, and as both of these are spiritual, therefore no other than spiritual offspring can be conceived and born there.

Hence it is that the angels do not become sad after the delights, as some do on earth, but cheerful. And this comes of the perpetual inflowing of fresh powers succeeding the former, which renew and at the same time illustrate them; for all who come into heaven return into the springtime of their youth, and into the vigor of that age, and remain so to eternity.”

…51. (7) That married partners 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, they have spiritual prolification which is of love and wisdom. The reason why married partners enjoy similar intercourse as in the world is that the male is a male and the female is a female after death, and in both an inclination to conjunction is inherent by creation; and this inclination in man [homo] is of his spirit and thence of the body; and therefore after death when man becomes a spirit the same mutual inclination continues, and this cannot be without similar intercourse.

For man [homo] 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 conjugial love is chaste, pure, and holy, the intercourse is also full. But see further on this subject the relation in n. 44. The intercourse is then more delightful and blessed, because when the love becomes of the spirit it becomes more interior and pure, and therefore more perceptible, and every delight increases according as it is perceived, and increases until its blessedness is discernible in its delight.

52. 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 consistence after the manner of those that are procreated in the natural world, and regarded in themselves spiritual things relate to love and wisdom; these therefore are what are born of their marriages.

It is said that these are born, because conjugial love perfects an angel, for it unites him with his consort, whereby he becomes more and more man [homo]. For, as was said above, two married partners in heaven are not two
but one angel. By conjugial unition they therefore fill themselves with the human—which is the desire to become wise and to love what pertains to wisdom.

…144. (5) That all the delights of love truly conjugial, even the ultimate, are chaste. This follows from what has been shown above, that love truly conjugial is chastity itself, and the delights constitute the life of it. That the delights of that love ascend to heaven and enter it, and on the way pass through the joys of the heavenly loves in which the angels of heaven are; so also that they conjoin themselves with the delights of their conjugial love has been mentioned above. Moreover, I have heard from the angels that they perceive those delights within themselves to be exalted and filled when they ascend from chaste married partners on earth.

And, on account of some that were standing by who were unchaste, to the question, whether they meant also the ultimate delights, they nodded assent, and said tacitly, “Why not? Are not these delights those in their fullness?” From whence these delights are, and of what quality they are, may be seen above in n. 69, and in the relations, especially in those that follow.

…145. (6) That with those who become spiritual from the Lord conjugial love is purified more and more and becomes chaste. (a) Because the first love, by which is meant the love before the nuptials and just after the nuptials, partakes somewhat of the love of the sex, thus of the ardor peculiar to the body, not yet moderated by the love of the spirit.

Swedenborg, Emanuel. Conjugial Love. American Swedenborg Print. and Pub. Society, 1885.