Extracts

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Sex and afterlife

swedenborg

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[1 of 1] Swedenborg (1688-1772, Sweden): primary subject "Sex, reproduction, porneia" (search under Inner Life/Evil, Negative Emotion, Vice)": source "Conjugial Love": detail "Section 44"
At that instant two angelic spirits happening to meet them, accosted them, saying, "Whence are you?"
 They replied, "We have departed out of a world, and again we live in a world; thus we have removed from one world to another; and this surprises us."
 Hereupon the three novitiate spirits questioned the two angelic spirits concerning heaven; and as two of the three novitiates were youths, and there darted from their eyes as it were a sparkling fire of lust for sex, the angelic spirit said, "Possibly you have seen some females;" and they replied in the affirmative; and as they made inquiry respecting heaven, the angelic spirits gave them the following information:
 “In heaven there is every variety of magnificent and splendid objects, and such things as the eye had never seen; there are also virgins and young men; virgins of such beauty that they may be called personifications of beauty, and young men of such morality that they may be called personifications of morality; moreover the beauty of the virgins and the morality of the young men correspond to each other, as forms mutually suited to each other."
 Hereupon the two novitiates asked, "Are there in heaven human forms altogether similar to those in the natural world?"
 And it was replied, "They are altogether similar; nothing is wanting in the male, and nothing in the female; in a word, the male is a male, and the female a female, in all the perfection of form in which they were created: retire, if you please, and examine if you are deficient in anything, and whether you are not a complete man as before."
 Again, the novitiates said, "We have been told in the world we have left, that in heaven they are not given in marriage, because they are angels;— is there then the love of sex there?"
 And the angelic spirits replied, "In heaven your love of sex does not exist; but we have the angelic love of the sex, which is chaste, and devoid all libidinous allurement."
 Hereupon the novitiates observed, "If there be a love of sex devoid of all allurement, what in such cases is the love of sex?" And while they were thinking about this love they sighed, and said, "Oh, how dry and insipid is the joy of heaven! What young man, if this be the case, can possibly wish for heaven? Is not such love barren and devoid of life?"
 To this the angelic spirits replied, with a smile, "The angelic love of the sex, such as exists in heaven, is nevertheless full of the inmost delights: it is the most agreeable expansion of all the principles of the mind, and thence of all the parts of the breast, existing inwardly in the breast, and sporting therein as the heart sports with the lungs, giving birth thereby to respiration, tone of voice, and speech; so that the intercourse between the sexes, or between youths and virgins, is an intercourse of essential celestial sweets, which are pure. All novitiates, on ascending into heaven, are examined as to the quality of their chastity, being let into the company of virgins, the beauties of heaven, who from their tone of voice, their speech, their face, their eyes, their gesture, and their exhaling sphere, perceive what is their quality in regard to the love of the sex; and if their love be unchaste, they instantly quit them, and tell their fellow-angels that they have seen satyrs or priapuses. The new comers also undergo a change, and in the eyes of the angels appear rough and hairy, and with feet like calves’ or leopards', and presently they are cast down again, lest by their lust they should defile the heavenly atmosphere."
 On receiving this information, the two novitiates again said, "According to this, there is no love of sex in heaven; for what is a chaste love of sex, but a love deprived of the essence of its life? And must not all the intercourse of youths and virgins, in such case, consist of dry insipid joys? We are not stocks and stones, but perceptions and affections of life."
 To this the angelic spirits indignantly replied, "You are altogether ignorant what a chaste love of sex is; because as yet you are not chaste. This love is the very essential delight of the mind, and thence of the heart; and not at the same time of the flesh beneath the heart. Angelic chastity, which is common to each sex, prevents the passage of that love beyond the enclosure of the heart; but within that and above it, the morality of a youth is delighted with the beauty of a virgin in the delights of the chaste love of the sex: which delights are of too interior a nature, and too abundantly pleasant, to admit of any description in words. The angels have this love of the sex, because they have conjugial love only; which love cannot exist together with the unchaste love of the sex. Love truly conjugial is chaste, and has nothing in common with unchaste love, being confined to one of the sex, and separate from all others; 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 infesting the spirit."
 On hearing this, the two young novitiates rejoiced, and said, "There still exists in heaven a love of sex; what else is conjugial love?"
 But the angelic spirits replied, "Think more profoundly, weigh the matter well in your minds, and you will perceive, that your love of the sex is a love extra-conjugial, and quite different from conjugial love; the latter being as distinct from the former, as wheat is from chaff, or rather as the human principle is from the bestial.”