Junior Ganymede
We endeavor to give satisfaction

The problem of unrequited love

December 05th, 2016 by Bruce Charlton

finwe-and-miriel

Finwe and Miriel as depicted by ‘steamey’

I was reading in JRR Tolkien’s posthumous History of Middle Earth about how unrequited love and the grief of the bereaved were regarded as a serious flaw in the elven paradise of the undying lands; and it struck me that much the same might be supposed about the Mormon understanding of Heaven.

Even on earth, the primacy (rightly) accorded to Marriage and Family does necessarily challenge those Mormons who (for many possible reasons) lack one or both. And since Celestial Marriage is an essential pre-requisite of the highest exaltation, and current revelation seems to be is that this marriage is monogamous, there appears to be a problem…

At a ‘numerical’ level, there is the matter that there seems to be a requirement for an exact matching of the numbers of men and women, and that each individual will have find one beloved spouse among this number – with none left over.

But of course, all depends on agency, and some will almost-certainly choose not to marry (indeed, some may choose not to be incarnated). And then there is this problem of unrequited love…

I mean when one truly loves the other and nobody else, but that love is not reciprocated. Or that more than one woman a particular man or vice versa – perhaps many-fold?

It seems that the numbers do not add-up and cannot necessarily be made to do so?… This is surely a flaw in the ‘perfection’ of Heaven.

But the problem is illusory – or, at least, not necessary nor permanent – in the context of an open-ended, evolving universe such as Mormons envisage.

In the first place Heaven is not a state of perfection. That is to say: for Mormons perfection is not a state but a process. Heaven changes and the loving creative-process of exaltation is the perfection of Life. The population is being added to (presumably without ultimate limit, assuming the number of ‘intelligences’ is not fixed; and especially once Men become fully divine and can beget spiritual children), and the individual people themselves are each becoming more exalted – they continue to change, experience and grow.

Therefore, over time, there is no reason why everyone should not find a truly-loved spouse; and having found such a person, celestial marriage will of its very nature make an unbreakable creative dyad of husband and wife; such that there is no ‘comparison’ of the kind we experience between potential-spouse A and potential-spouse B.

The perfection of love is both permanent and also a dynamic state ; and will overcome all such temporary problems in the course of eternal time.

Comments (6)
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December 05th, 2016 05:38:58
6 comments

G.
December 5, 2016

Bruce, this is excellent.

Of course, there is a sense in which unrequited love is written into the nature of things. That is to say, there is no way around the dilemma that love for a free agent makes one vulnerable to the free agent rejecting the loving relationship. That is the point of “the weeping God of Mormonism” and “the tragic vision of Mormonism.” That vulnerability to wounding at the heart of things is one reason why the Passion should be viewed as a fundamental, not just a response to a contingency.

Of course, you are talking about a specific and very important kind of love. This passage is key: “Therefore, over time, there is no reason why everyone should not find a truly-loved spouse; and having found such a person, celestial marriage will of its very nature make an unbreakable creative dyad of husband and wife; such that there is no ‘comparison’ of the kind we experience between potential-spouse A and potential-spouse B.”

That irrevocableness is what I think is the essence of the celestial. God cannot cease to be God. I cannot quit loving my wife.

It occurs to me that of all the classical Christian doctrines Mormons are skeptical of, perhaps the one we should most doubt is middle knowledge.


GSO
December 5, 2016

How can arranged marriage factor into this? Adam and Eve didn’t have a selection of partners they got to know, and yet were willing to Fall to stay together. I suppose Adam could have offered another rib and said he needed a new wife due to Eve’s disobedience. Indeed it seems the way many approach getting married and staying married today.


Bookslinger
December 5, 2016

GSO, they may have chosen each other in their pre-mortal existence.

The Saturday’s Warriors model of soul-mates has been discredited from being universal. However, the concept may still be true in some individual circumstances.


GSO
December 6, 2016

What’s more likely, a select few have an arranged marriage, or a God who demands his children be one with and like him, expects any of his children to be able to love the other if they place God first in the relationship. And I mean actually do it, not give lip service to the idea.

While the exclusive romantic love we fallen mortals idealize, it is interesting to note just how little attention was given to Adam and Eve’s sexual compatibility, or what have you.

Any proposed doctrine that has to point to Saturdays Warrior (whatever it’s merits as a pop musical) to explain Adam and Eve’s coupling should be suspect.

It’s better to believe that becoming one with God actually means being a no respector of persons. A person couldn’t be exalted if they weren’t like heavenly mother or heavenly father, and what justification is there for rejecting either one?


Bookslinger
December 6, 2016

GSO, if Heavenly Father does the “arranging” that’s still not the “anyone can marry anyone” end of the spectrum.

My point was that any arranging or choosing was done in the pre-mortal existence. If Adam and Eve were fore-ordained to be the first embodied spirit children of God on this planet, and I think that such fore-ordination of them is consistent with LDS doctrine, then indeed God “arranged” that marriage.

And since Adam and Eve accepted that fore-ordination, they consented to the arrangement.

I suspect that I would be inclined to accept an arranged marriage, if I knew that Heavenly Father was doing the arranging.

But, here in mortal reality, my last girlfriend told me that I did some woman, somewhere, a big favor by staying single. And I see her point.


G.
December 6, 2016

@GSO,
I’m temperamentally inclined to agree with you . . . except that my own marriage was one of those starry-eyed true-love affairs. Basically in spite of myself.

Regardless, I think the scriptures are pretty clear that *after* marriage one is supposed to be very much a respecter of persons.

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