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Marriage

Marriage-making for the earth,
With gold so much,—birth, power, repute so much,
Or beauty, youth so much, in lack of these!
Be as the angels rather, who, apart,
Know themselves into one, are found at length
Married, but marry never, no, nor give
In marriage; they are man and wife at once
When the true time is: here we have to wait
Not so long neither! Could we by a wish
Have what we will and get the future now,
Would we wish aught done undone in the past?
So, let him watt God's instant men call years;
Meantime hold hard by truth and his great soul
Do out the duty! Through such souls alone
God stooping shows sufficient of His light
For us i' the dark to rise by. And I rise.
—Browning
Just as true marriage is the highest blessedness that can come to man or woman, so a false marriage, a marriage conceived in vanity or avarice or sensuality, is the most fearful calamity. The binding of two loveless, selfish hearts together can only result in mutual misery. The resulting state is not simply hell, as it is frequently called. It is that more painful, out at the same time more hopeful condition, which in figurative language we may describe as the compelling of persons who are fit only for hell to dwell perpetually in heaven. It is a condition which calls for the expression of the most tender and unselfish love at every point of constant contact, imposed upon persons who have no love to give. The supreme blessedness of the ideal marriage measures by contrast the superlative wretchedness of a loveless union. The modern man brings to his wife a wide range of business sagacity, political influence, scientific and speculative Interests. The modern woman brings to her husband rich acquisitions in literary and esthetic taste, social life and philanthropic and religious fervor. Each life is reinforced and multiplied by all that is in the other; and thus both enter through the portals of the family into the life of the Universal Spirit, of which at best only vague and shadowy glimpses come to them in the blindness of their individualistic isolation.
—William DeWitt Hyde
But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.
"For this reason shall a man leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife,
"And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh."
"For this reason will a man leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife."
—Mark 10: 6, 7, 8.

The mystery of marriage is in the twain becoming one. If we go back to the allegorical story of creation, we find there this statement:

"Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. So God created man in His own image; in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them." —Genesis 1:26

The remarkable part of this statement is the introduction of unity and duality both in reference to God and man. The Hebrews believed in God as being one. The world has never had a purer monotheism than that held to by this people; and yet in this first chapter of their sacred books is found a declaration of unity, duality, and trinity.

To satisfy the mind of the Biblical student, let us make a careful examination and see whether the foregoing statement is borne out by the actual facts in the case, taking the thought of unity, first: "So God created man in His own image; in the image of God created He him." The thought of duality is as directly brought out in, "Let us make man in our own image." Those who declare for the Fatherhood of God should not fail to perceive that the Motherhood is just as clearly set forth. The trinity is affirmed in the statement of the Father-Mother God creating man in His own image and likeness; the Father-Mother begetting the child which is the third principle of the Godhead. That which is true of God is also true of man, and must of necessity be so in order that man should show forth the perfect image and likeness of God. Careful reading will make it plain that God is a unit as regards animating life and controlling intelligence.

But the full image and likeness of God is in father, mother, child; it is one life in all and through all and above all. And one intelligence controlling and directing all. Oneness in spirit and diversity in form.

We must always remember when we think of man, that image and likeness of God is spirit, not body. That the body at best can only be an outer symbol of the inner man.

Again, I wish to impress you with the fact that in this spiritual creation of man, which is really the foreshadowing of the physical creation, there is no separation between the male and the female. This is the spiritual creation, God's ideal of Himself, involved in the soul of man, the child of God. When we come to the allegorical second chapter of Genesis, we find another statement of man's creation. Here we have the physical creation, and at this point we have the differentiation of the male and the female. It is as though the soul had become divided, each part having a separate life or existence of its own.

In this division, the question naturally arises, did each retain the full image of God or did the physical condition point also to a division of soul or mind?

Emmanuel Swedenborg in many of his writings, tells of love as being the feminine principle and wisdom the masculine. Now, in all true marriages it is the love in the woman and the wisdom in the man that forms the magnet to attract and hold them together. Love and wisdom begets the at-one-ment between soul and mind.

When we see men and women drawn together in this way it seems to be the divine plan, although in times past it has been thought by some very wise men that each sex had the possibilities of both, potentially, and that in the process of development each soul would unfold to the fullness of the Godhead, or disclose the perfect image and likeness which was involved in the beginning; that men and women were not in reality complementary one to the other.

Balzac in his wonderfully beautiful story of "Seraphita" brings out the thought of a man and woman of very high spiritual development begetting a child, the parents passing away on the ninth anniversary of the child's birth. The great central idea is that the souls of the father and mother unite in the life of the child, and when the child has grown to maturity, men fall in love with the feminine nature, and women fall in love with the masculine nature, but the united soul has need of neither. The idea as thus set forth is worthy of serious consideration; in fact, the union, or marriage, of soul with soul is one that should command far greater attention than it does command at the present time. Marriage, without doubt, is the greatest event in this earthly life of man or woman; it is a sacrament fraught with happiness, with all that is highest and noblest in life; or it is a base counterfeit wherein sorrow and degradation usurp the place of the highest and holiest thoughts and emotions of mind and soul.

A thousand other questions of far less importance occupy the minds of the people, but this question which is of the most vital importance to man's well-being, is kept in the background. Children are brought up so woefully ignorant that they have no conception of what awaits them in the married life. The whole subject of the relation between man and woman is tabooed; it is as though people were ashamed to think or give expression in words to things which, although sacred, nevertheless should be thoroughly understood.

Some people go on the principle that the young will find out soon enough, but it is surely a mistaken policy on the part of parents to keep their children in ignorance of the many problems that await them in wedded life. Some little light, some little knowledge might avert many tragedies that so often arise in the married life. Is experience the only teacher or can we profit by the mistakes of others?

In this question, as in every other, we must take into consideration the three planes of development, and that marriage differs, in a sense, on each plane.

On the physical plane there is little besides the desire for reproduction, and the purely sensuous desires; and if nature's laws are observed, comparative peace and happiness are the result. The requirements of the physical plane are so limited that there is less liability to mental friction and discord than on the intellectual plane, where there is greater diversity of thought. Two souls uniting on this higher plane, having the same desires and aspirations, should blend harmoniously together, but too often the aspirations and desires are so wide apart that there is no oneness of thought or purpose, and there is failure to understand each other. We find on this plane far more unhappy marriages than on the physical and spiritual planes; one reason being, that on the physical there is a purely physical basis for marriage, and on the spiritual plane there is a purely spiritual basis, while on the intellectual plane a hundred things may act as controlling influences to marriage. Man here is torn by many and conflicting desires—social ambition, ambition influenced by wealth, intellectual greatness, distinction in any part in life, and other considerations without number.

It makes little difference how much two people may desire to do right, if they are not at one in heart and mind they cannot enter into sympathetic relations, they cannot become mutually helpful. Failure to understand each other begets a discordant mental state, which, instead of being lessened, is increased as time goes on.

All spiritual marriage has God as its foundation; that is, has love as its basis. Here, as on the physical plane, there is only one basis for marriage. The marriages on the two planes below are the unions for time. Spiritual marriages are the marriages for eternity. For two souls uniting and blending as one through the power of love there can be no separation, either in time or eternity. Whom God hath joined together, no man can put asunder. They were created one in the beginning; there is no chance or haphazard in God's plan. There is a spiritual affinity between the soul of man and the soul of woman. Only one thing will disclose this affinity—the power of pure and unselfish love in the souls of both. No animal desire, no earthly consideration; love and love alone—love that thinketh no evil, love that suffereth long and is kind, love that flows from the soul of the universe into the soul of man, this is the undying factor in all real marriage. Man may not annul this or set it aside, and all that man can do through rite or ceremonial shall not add to it.

Some have come falsely to believe that the ceremonial constitutes the marriage, and the Church has rather seemed to foster this idea than to make plain that marriage in its truest sense had to do with heart and mind more than anything or everything else.

The question may arise in many minds as to whether union on the first two planes constitutes real marriage. Under certain circumstances, and with certain limitations, the answer would be in the affirmative. The circumstance which would tend to real marriage would be the harmonious conditions—the ability resulting from the union to understand each other, the desires and aspirations in common whereby they could enter into each other's lives. The limitation would come from failure to discern the higher law, from the lack of spiritual development, and from placing hopes and desires in externals, so that there would be little influx from the love-nature which tends to unify and free the lives of both from worldly selfishness. Such marriage, however, may find perfect fulfilment and continuation in time and eternity.

Sorrow and unhappiness might be avoided to a marked degree in the marriage relation upon the lower planes of development if harmony were made one of the chief considerations of the union, and selfish considerations, in so far as it were possible, kept in the' background. Two people thoroughly harmonious before marriage would be quite likely to remain so after, but there is little prospect, where lack of harmony exists before the union, that it should develop afterward.

No one should be deceived by the thought that things are going to adjust themselves after marriage when they do not adjust during courtship. There is a glamour about courtship which too often hides defects and inconsistencies that only become really known after marriage. There is some little excuse for this mental condition, but there is no excuse for two people who cannot agree and who are jealous or fault-finding with each other during courtship, yet who, nevertheless, enter into the marriage relation. Occasionally we find women who think that it is their duty to marry a man in order to reform him. To such I would say, reform him first and marry him afterward. This is your only hope, for in taking away the incentive of marriage you only make it the more difficult for him to change his established habits in life.

Parents make very grievous mistakes when they are thoughtful regarding worldly advantages and thoughtless about the advantages which would make their children really happy. Their own experience should show them the better way. No real marriage can have for its foundation lust, the desire for social position, money, or any worldly acquisition. God never sanctions such marriages, neither has He delegated His authority to man to make such unions sacred. Marriage is sacred only when it is whole, complete. Man's law may sanction and uphold, but sorrow, shame and degradation must be the end of all such unholy marriages.

Throughout the universe harmony is the key-note of obedience to law, and where there is no harmony there can be no conformity to law. Many people who believe themselves to be in accord with the law of God would continue to perpetuate these unholy alliances by saying: "Whom God hath joined together, let no man put asunder." Contending for the sacredness of the marriage rite, they violate such sacredness by prolonging a condition which is absolutely untenable and contrary to the law of the universe. All other mistakes in life we are told to correct, to substitute a true condition for a false one; but no matter how great the mistake two persons make in marrying, such a mistake, the divinely appointed say, must not and shall not be corrected.

Thus do men set at naught the laws of God, making of marriage a mockery, a delusion, and a snare. There are degrees of love on every plane, because God is made manifest on every plane. Then let love and harmony, as understood on the varying planes of existence, be the God-uniting power that shall link man and woman in the oneness of life. Such unions will result in happy homes, and children, seeing and feeling the harmony and love of father and mother, will greatly profit by their example. The world today is demanding the solution of this mystery; it cannot be set aside, no matter how much the ultra-conservative religionists may desire it. Their efforts to set aside will only cause the pendulum to swing far in the other direction where extreme radicalism may result in licentiousness, or conditions more unrighteous and contrary to law and order than the unholy marriages of the present.

No problem ever presents itself to man without a way of solving it. The solution of this one, however, will be found not in the do-nothing attitude, or in saying, "Let well enough alone," but through a strong desire to know God's law in relation to it, and through knowing how to bring the life into conformity with it. Let us study God's revealed will, because this will is revealed to a far greater extent, even at the present, than most people think or care to know. When we realize the truth about the real meaning of marriage and all that it stands for, its sacred import and the joy and peace it brings when consummated in accord with divine law, the question will no longer be asked: "Is marriage a failure?" because marriage will be known as it truly is—the crowning act of life, wherein two souls unite and become one, wherein love and wisdom join hands; the at-one-ment wherein the soul becomes one with the universal soul.

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Charles Brodie Patterson

  • Canadian New Thought author
  • Born in Nova Scotia in 1854 and died on June, 22nd 1917

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