Marriage, Homosexuality, and the Ideal of Ephesians 5
When Oscar Wilde penned the impassioned essay, “De Profundis”, from prison, it was “from the depths” of a soul wracked with torment over the way in which the life he had led before his imprisonment, a life in service, he thought, only to the beautiful, had resulted in the suffering of that imprisonment.
In the lives of Søren Kierkegaard, of Oscar Wilde, and of Valentin Tomberg, we find the tragedy of gifted individuals whose freedom to continue to develop towards the fulfillment of the promise of those gifts was undermined by circumstances that were able to prevail in their lives by the age of 42: resulting, in Kierkegaard’s case, in his early death; in Wilde’s, in the breaking of his will by his imprisonment (his death, too, followed soon after); in Tomberg’s, in the loss of the capacity for research into the spiritual worlds--in his regression to a mystical form of discourse with them, rather than his progress into a complete initiate of a degree such as that to which Rudolf Steiner had risen.
The forces at work in the destruction of these three European lives, so ripe in their development of the consciousness soul, were those to which they had subjected themselves by the utterness of their dedication to truth. Utter dedication to truth draws to it, in our age, the most powerfully destructive occult forces, which work upon the life of the soul in ways that undermine the soul’s connection to the spiritual unless that connection’s nature is grasped by immersion in the discipline of spiritual science. That even Tomberg’s own immersion in this discipline failed to protect him, finally, from the powers that severed him from the fulfillment of his world-historical mission, indicates the extraordinary difficulty of grasping the nature of this connection between--the marriage of--soul and spirit.*
Let us review, then, what spiritual science has to say about this marriage:
When we direct our inner gaze towards the phenomena of thinking, feeling, and willing that make up the life of what anthroposophical spiritual science refers to as the “soul”, we discover it to be characterized by concepts in the life of thinking, sympathy and antipathy in the life of feeling, and desires in the life of the will. The way in which these four kinds of soul-forces relate to one another, in the moment-by-moment experience of time, can be the subject of scrutiny that could be called psychosophical: scrutiny resulting in "wisdom about the soul." A truly objective scrutinizing, in this sense, of the life of thinking, feeling, and willing--a life of forces--can bring the observer to the following awareness:
1. In the life of thinking, the concepts we develop about reality flow from two kinds of experience, that of our sense perceptions throughout life, and that of our receptivity to the concepts of others. In either case, the life of concepts is one dependent upon something coming to us from without, at least to begin with. (The capacity to develop new concepts will be discussed below.)
2. In the life of feeling, the sympathy we feel towards certain phenomena, and the antipathy we experience in relation to others, arise in us without our own volition being involved. The life of sympathy and antipathy is one to which we are subject through no will of our own, generally speaking.
3. In the life of willing, the desires that arise within us have, in a certain sense, a deep kinship with the sympathy and antipathy spoken of above, and, in another, with the concepts that make up our lives of thinking; that is to say that desires are, on the one hand, realities to which we are subject, which arise without our willing them, and, on the other, the result of what we have experienced through sensory stimuli or been given by our contact with others who awakened them in us by introducing us to possible objects of desire.
In all three spheres of the life of the soul, spiritual-scientific observation perceives the receptivity of the soul to what is given to it from without, or arises within it through no exertion of its own. It is for this reason that the soul has always, in esoteric wisdom, been grasped as female, that is to say, receptive to penetration. It is the Bride, whose bridegroom is given it by fate unless it ascend to the capacity to seek out the One for which it truly longs, refusing entry to any who may come to act as His usurpers.
Here we may turn to Ephesians chapter five for the key to further knowledge; in this book of Paul, who was the initiate Christ had called to teach what was the essence of the Christ impulse to those who lived in the generation of his death, we find, in verses 22 to 27:
"Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church; and he is the savior of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish."
That the soul of man--his life of thinking, feeling, and willing--should be "holy and without blemish" is the will of the divine beings who guide mankind in its evolution, an evolution towards higher and higher spiritual capacities. Such capacities are constituted in the kind of potential for active--creative--intervention in the life of the soul that can be realized in the disciplines of art, science, and religion. Based on the thought one has received, one can develop new concepts; based on what one has been given to feel, one can work to transform one's life of feeling through cultivating contact with higher worlds; based on the desires one has been raised to experience, one can sublimate the baser ones through the active work of uniting them with higher motives and ideals.
Kierkegaard, Wilde, and Tomberg were each characterized by a devotion to this kind of discipline, in the spheres of religion, art, and science, respectively. The qualities of devotion that, in an earlier age, might have produced a Joan of Arc, a Schiller, or a Paracelsus, in the advancing age of the development of the consciousness soul more and more result in the penetration of the receptive soul by demonic forces (and in the rise, correspondingly, of mental illness among many gifted souls not so fortunate as Kierkegaard, Wilde, and Tomberg). These forces gain access to the soul especially of those who yield themselves to truth because the power of even the most subtle error becomes stronger and stronger as man advances towards the development of Spirit Self--towards, that is, the quality of consciousness that proceeds from the transformation of the astral body, which gradually becomes more and more receptive to every kind of spiritual impulse.
The phenomenon of homosexuality emerges and expands under such circumstances because the soul's receptivity to spiritual impulses makes it especially sensitive to the work of angels in the astral body. This work results, for certain individuals, in an intuition of their future destiny to be one with one another in the way the angels are. Imaginatively speaking, this oneness can be expressed as an act of penetration. Certain very sensitive men are especially receptive to the inspiration that leads to homosexuality because the penetrative quality of forces of divine-spiritual love resonates, through their feminine etheric bodies, with the penetrative constitution of their physical-material sheaths.
In the battle around the matter of marriage that has begun to rage in these early years of the 21st century, we can see the influence of forces that want to bring about the consciousness of the divine-spiritual origin of inspiration that leads to homosexual love, forces, however, whose working is being infiltrated by others that want to deny the essential and objective distinction between the divine-spiritual essence of procreative activity (whether or not it leads, in fact, to conception) and the powerful but very different beauty homosexual men can experience in their sexual contact. The former is related to the way in which the act that leads to conception is the reflection of the mystery given expression in Ephesians 5, the latter, to the progress of the spiritualization of the material that the work of angels in the astral body represents.
*The author is conscious, in all that he writes about Valentin Tomberg, of the great sacrifice consciously performed by this initiate when the outer administration at the Goetheanum failed to recognize the authenticity of his work out of anthroposophy, resulting in the necessity of his uniting himself with the cultural stream flowing in the Catholic Church, and that this sacrifice has resulted in access to the social order--both in and outside of the outer institution known by that name--of powerful transformative forces whose activity will become more and more visible, at least to those capable of occult discernment, as the 21st century proceeds.