“You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body”
If Lewis is correct then love is a spiritual phenomenon and marriage is more about the union of two souls and less about the union of two bodies. The failure of couples to be intuitively or consciously aware of this is probably the most common cause of disharmony, heartbreak and divorce.
As one of the world’s great anthropologists, Loren Eiseley wrote passionately and powerfully about the physical, mental and spiritual evolution of man. There are hundreds of quotable quotes in his classic, “The Immense Journey,” but perhaps none is more profound than, “The Garden of Eden is a greater allegory than man has ever guessed.”
It is a stunning example of a scientist, who put his faith in empirical thought, suggesting that a Biblical allegory may possibly offer an explanation for the evolution of a human being with a soul or spiritual awareness. The intriguing suggestion that Adam and Eve were embarrassed and covered their genitals is reflected in nearly all of the earliest, pre-Judeo-Christian cultures who also felt the need to cover “their parts.” 😉 No such behavior is demonstrated in pre-human apes.
The uncharted mysteries of the allegorical “Garden” are many and vast and include the concepts of “original sin,” “original blessing” and the emergence of human values, consciousness and free will. These qualities are common to both males and females, but one of the greatest mysteries is the divergent evolution of male and female human sexuality. As an interesting aside, the Bible describes Eve being fashioned out of one of Adam’s ribs, however, all human embryos begin as female and male genetalia appear later and migrate out of the body to create a male.
Even so, all the embryonic and post-natal sexual development is designed to prepare for eventual procreation. This may or may not involve traditional institutions of courtship, love and marriage or some other alternative arrangements.
In Dianne Ackerman’s book, “The Natural History of Love,” she suggests that, due to an elongated human childhood, it is important for couples to be loving and compatible, especially during the formative years. This brings us to the role of love.
Erich Fromm’s, The Art of Loving, was required reading for one of my undergraduate courses. I recall the professor discussing the fact that Fromm was married two or three times and had several extramarital affairs. He was not being judgmental, but suggested that often there is a disconnect between the theory and practice of personal and social disciplines.
Fromm offers many creative ideas about the “art of love” however, his approach was humanistic. Like many followers of Darwin, he probably assumed that Darwin was an atheist. Even though he included “The Love Of God” in his book, he wrote: “Having spoken of the love of God, I want to make it clear that I myself do not think in terms of an theistic concept, and that to me the concept of God is only a historically conditioned one.” It seems strange that he would include a chapter on something he did not believe in. Ironically, further on in, The Art Of Loving, he predicted the decline of Western Civilization will be the result of the societal failure to practice the art of loving. I don’t know if his prediction was based on his own failures, but it is clear that he had no awareness of, or placed any value of the religious or spiritual importance in love and marriage.
Carl Jung, on the other hand, suggested that most human mental suffering was the result of a loss of a spiritual focus. He wrote:
“During the past thirty years, people from all civilized countries on the earth have consulted me. Among all patients in the second half of life—that is to say, over thirty five—there has not been one whose problem in the last resort was not that of finding a religious outlook on life. It is safe to say that every one of them fell ill because he had lost that what which the living religions of every age have given to their followers, and none of them has been really healed who did not regain his religious outlook.”
Jung achieved remarkable success, including helping patients address the growing problem of alcoholism. In fact, there are many who claim that his work led to the emergence of, “Uncle Bill’s” world-wide, 12-step treatment program called “Alcoholics Anonymous.”
Millions of recovering substance abusers are very familiar with steps 2 and 3
We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
We are living in a period of unprecedented material wealth with a converse decline in spiritual awareness. Alcohol and substance abuse are increasing, as is the urban crime rate. Psychologists, family counselors, and sociologists regard the decline in the number of healthy nuclear families as one of the biggest threats to our society. This trend will not likely be reversed unless couples find a spiritual center for their marriage. Sadly, based on his own personal experience, Fromm’s prediction may be correct.