What does it mean to be a woman? What are we essentially? How are we different from men?
This week we are publishing an excerpt on these topics from the book Married Love (aka Conjugial Love) by Emmanuel Swedenborg and asking our readers to share their thoughts in comment form. The more variety of opinions, the more robust the conversation so if these passages strike you in any way, please join the discussion.
A male is then still a male, and a female still a female. Since a person lives as a person after death, and people are male and female, and since it is one thing to be masculine and another to be feminine, with the two qualities being so different that one cannot be converted into the other, it follows that after death a male still lives as a male and a female still lives as a female, each of them being a spiritual person.
We say that masculinity cannot be converted into femininity, nor femininity into masculinity, and that after death a male is consequently still a male, and a female still a female. But because people do not know what masculinity consists in essentially, and what femininity consists in essentially, therefore we must say a few words about it here.
The difference essentially consists in this, that the inmost quality in masculinity is love, and its veil wisdom, or in other words, it is love veiled over with wisdom, while the inmost quality in femininity is that same wisdom, the wisdom of masculinity, and its veil the love resulting from it. This second love, however, is a feminine love, and it is given by the Lord to a wife through the wisdom of her husband, whereas that first love is a masculine love, which is a love of becoming wise, and it is given by the Lord to a husband according to his reception of wisdom. Consequently, the male is a form of the wisdom of love, and the female is a form of the love of that wisdom. Therefore from creation there was implanted in both male and female a love of uniting into one. But more on this subject will be said later.
Testimony that femininity is derived from masculinity, or that woman was taken out of man, appears from these verses in Genesis:
“Jehovah God…took one of the ribs of the man, and closed up the flesh in its place. And the rib which He had taken from man He fashioned into a woman, and He brought her to the man. And the man said: “She is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. Therefore she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” (Genesis 2:21-23)
Elsewhere it will be said what a rib symbolizes, and what flesh symbolizes.
33. It is owing to this original formation that a male is born intellect-oriented and that a female is born will-oriented, or in other words, that a male is born with an affection for knowing, understanding and becoming wise, while a female is born with a love for joining herself to that affection in the male.
Furthermore, because interior qualities form the exterior ones to their likeness, and the masculine form is a form of the intellect while the feminine form is a form of the love of the intellect, therefore the male has a different look, a different sound, and a different physique from the female. Namely, he has a tougher look, a rougher sound, and a stronger physique, and moreover his lower face is bearded. In general, he has a less beautiful form than the female. The two sexes also differ in behavior and manners. In short, nothing in the two sexes is the same, although there is nevertheless a capacity for conjunction in every detail.
Indeed, masculinity in the male is masculine in every part, even in the least part of his body, and also in every idea of his thought, and in every bit of his affection. So, too, with femininity in the female. And because one cannot as a consequence be converted into the other, it follows that after death a male is still male, and that a female is still female.