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New Church Perspective
is an online magazine with essays and other content published weekly. Our features are from a variety of writers dealing with a variety of topics, all celebrating the understanding and application of New Church ideas. For a list of past features by category or title, visit our archive.

Entries in relationships (6)


Good Relationships

Social anxiety can be a difficult barrier in knowing how to build good relationships. This was a problem for Helen for much of her life. But after much reflection and work to understand God's desire for people to live and interact with other people to eternity she has found peace and confidence. -Editor.

Then the cities which the Philistines had taken from Israel were restored to Israel, from Ekron to Gath; and Israel recovered its territory from the hands of the Philistines. Also there was peace between Israel and the Amorites. 1 Samuel 7:14

In my mind, the recovery by the Israelites of territory that the Philistines had taken represents the Lord restoring to the spiritual mind much of the natural mind that had turned away from it, all the way toward the outermost parts which have to do with our knowledge of how to live. The land the Israelites held was more interior, while the land of the Philistines was further west all the way to the ocean. The Writings say a sea represents knowledges (Secrets of Heaven 2761:2).

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Love Your Neighbor (yep, even those different than you)

Rather than argue her perspective with quotes from scripture, Michelle urges people to listen deeply to each other and maintain a humble and open mind when discussing homosexuality. While certainty remains out of reach, mutual love and respect must inform the search for it. This is the final entry in our July series on homosexuality. -Editor.

I am sure I’m not alone when I say that I’m still trying to balance my view on homosexuality between its modern cultural context and the authority I give the teachings of the New Church. We are probably the majority out there— wishy-washy about what we believe, or too hesitant to say what we actually believe in fear of offending someone. But the truth is, offense has happened. Feelings have been hurt. People have died over this issue. No matter what conclusion people come to, there is discomfort out there around homosexuality and it’s not going anywhere right now.

Here’s the way I see it: it is fairly evident that homosexuality is not completely orderly or within the parameters of “conjugial love”— procreation the obvious example.

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This is the opening essay in our series on homosexuality. Here Coleman elaborates on his position that homosexual attraction is disorderly. By voicing that conclusion, he feels he can offer people who experience same sex attraction the opportunity to disconnect from that inclination with integrity and pursue a higher path. -Editor

“Growing up I thought homosexuality was kind of gross, and I just kind of accepted the church’s teaching that it was wrong, although even then I guess I had doubts about it. Then as I got older and went to high school, and then to college, I made friends with a lot of gay people. And I realized they were real people. And not only real people: real good, loving, warm, funny people. I realized that the ones who were in relationships truly loved their partner and were committed to the relationship. And so, yeah, I think the General Church’s stance on homosexuality is wrong. God cannot possibly disapprove of a loving relationship between two people. Love can’t be a sin.”

That quote isn’t from any one person, but it’s a sentiment that I’ve heard expressed again and again by my peers. If you did a poll of people raised in the General Church in my generation, I think you would find that the vast majority of them think that homosexuality is not evil, and that many homosexual relationships are positive and healthy.

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Can She Still Be With Me?

Having had a child after her mother passed away, Abby writes about her struggle to comprehend how connected she and her mother are now and how this may change after her own death. She draws heavily on one of her husband's theological papers which leaves her central question unresolved. Ultimately, though grieving the loss of her mother, she is confident that the Lord is in charge. -Editor

Author's Note

For the last several months I’ve had the idea to write this article about the interaction between people here on earth and their loved ones who have died. Parts of it keep rolling around in my head, but every time I come back to trying to write it I can’t capture really what I am trying to say. A year ago my husband wrote a paper about whether or not people recognize each other after death for one of his theological school classes. This paper says a lot of the things that I have been wanting to say. So I thought that rather than essentially plagiarizing his paper I would just include chunks of it with my thoughts interspersed. The sections from Malcolm's paper are in block quotes, and the long quotes within the quotes from the paper are in italics. If you'd like to read the whole thing, here it is: “Why People Do or Do Not Recognize Each Other After Death” (PDF).

Can She Still Be With Me?

Just over two years ago my Mom died. She had cancer and had been sick for many years, so in a lot of ways it was a relief when she died. But that doesn’t change the fact that I miss her.

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Dating “Outside” the Church

In this article Garrett Smith explores his changing attitude toward dating "outside" of the New Church. Like Meryl Cowley a couple weeks ago in Spirituality in Relationships, Garrett concludes that spanning differences of religious background with romantic interest offers some unique benefits as well as challenges. - Editor

So… who am I, and what does dating “outside” the church mean? First, a little background:

I grew up in about as New Church a family as they come. As a preacher’s kid, I had the privilege of living the gypsy-esque lifestyle that is normal for any preacher’s family—in our case moving from Mitchellville, MD to Westville, South Africa before finally ending up in Kempton, PA. Through these moves, the New Church was always strong focus in our day-to-day life and I remember that our family had worship most weeknights at home and went to church pretty much every Sunday. (Religiously you might even say.)

For schooling, all three of my older brothers ended up going to “normal”, public schools—although they might disagree with calling the uniformed, British, all-boys, public high school that they went to, “normal”. I on the other hand managed to skip public school all together. Through careful planning started as a 5-year-old, I managed to go from Washington New Church School to Kainon New Church School to Kempton New Church School to The Academy of the New Church finally ending up at Bryn Athyn College of the New Church for freshman and sophomore year of college. (You may notice a common suffix to all of these school titles.)

With religion classes standard in the curriculums of all of the above, I mention my schooling only as a preface to illustrate the pervasiveness of New Church teachings that I was exposed to by the end of sophomore year in college. The specific doctrine relevant to this particular story is that by this stage I was very familiar with was: you should not marry outside of the church. The very reasonable reason for this being that having the same religion is the most important criteria to be sure of when getting married. This being the case, it’s probably best to not even date outside of the church.

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Spirituality in Relationships

Meryl and her husband Diogo both come from deeply spiritual backgrounds but the shared elements of spirituality between were not necessarily what she expected while growing up. In this article Meryl explores her evolving understanding of what it means to have spiritual alignment with another person. -Editor

What does it mean to share a spiritual vision with your partner? As a person raised in the New Church, I grew up hearing about conjugial love and the importance of finding somebody who shares your beliefs. As a child, this meant to me that New Church people would naturally marry other people in the New Church, since they shared this special connection to Swedenborg and his wonderful teachings. I remember once overhearing my parents talking about a woman that we knew who was struggling in her marriage. I asked what they were talking about, and they said that it was a great source of sadness to this individual that her husband showed no interest in the New Church, and did not want to come to church services with her. I found this hard to believe. “How could you fall in love with someone who didn't like the same things you like?” I asked them. They smiled a knowing smile and told me that it happens to lots of people. That stuck with me for a long time. I was determined that I wouldn't end up like that woman, but how could I be sure? What did it really mean to be spiritually aligned with your partner?

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