THE MYSTERY OF LIFE
Some of the most interesting revelations that have come to the New Covenant Church have been on the relationship of male to female. These have led us to review just what male and female are especially as we live in a Western society that has, over the last two or three decades, been progressively eroding distinctions. This has led to what is sometimes popularly called a "unisexual" society. The blurring of the difference between genders has had many manifestations and we see, for example, how men and women wear the same clothes and even the same hair-styles, women opting for short hair to look more masculine and men opting for long hair to look more feminine. We have also seen women become more aggressive as they have found themselves having to compete with a false male patriarchy. And whilst, on the positive side, many men have become more sensitive, by and large society has become more "male" as both economically and socially the law of the jungle replaces wisdom and restraint.
My purpose today is not, however, to look at these areas of the male-female relationship which have been examined in some detail elsewhere (See Women's Ministry in the First Church of Christ: An In-Depth Study of the Teachings of Peter and Paul). What I would like to do is to look at some biology, at what is sometimes called the "Second Book of Scripture" (relative to the Bible), or nature. For in nature we can find all sorts of clues as to the order of spiritual things.
The Human Reproductive System
One very good place to start in trying to understand the differences and similarities between male and female is in the human reproductive system. Recently I read a very interesting article in Time Magazine (September 30, 1991, No.39, pp.46-54, Making Babies) which summarizes what is presently known about human reproduction. Some of the findings of science alerted me to a pattern found on the spiritual plane that I would like to share with you.
The human testicles churn out 1,000 sperm cells per second, or 30 billion (30,000,000,000) per year. In an average life-span of 70 years, a man will produce something in the order of 2,100,000,000,000 (21 trillion) spermatazoans.
By contrast, a woman is usually born with about 2 million (2,000,000) egg cells. By puberty, normal degeneration will have reduced this number to about 400,000.
Whereas men are constantly manufacturing new sperms in their testicles, even into old age and up to death, a woman's ovaries never manufacture one single egg. The 2 million she has are what she is born with. When her supply of eggs become exhausted, her ovaries shut down and so she goes through what is called the menopause. This limited supply of eggs is believed by biologists to be the chief reason why fertility decreases with age. Each month, starting at puberty, hundreds of eggs begin the maturation process. One of those eggs, growing in the fluid-filled sac called the follicle, quickly establishes itself as the first among equals. In a normal cycle, only that single egg will be released into the Fallopian tubes for possible fertilization. About 1,000 more will wither away and disappear. So although a woman may have 400,000 eggs to start with, the number she can effectively use is closer to 400, or 0.1% (0.02% of the original 2 million).
The eggs that remain in a woman's ovaries get older and less fertile with each passing year. Recent studies show, interestingly, that it is the age of the eggs, and not the age of the reproductive system, that causes fertility to decline sharply after the age 40: older women who receive eggs from younger women get pregnant at rates comparable to the age of the egg donor, not the age of the recipient.
The Cosmic Principle
These facts confirm much of what we have been told in the revelation received by the Church of Christ called the Cosmic Principle I which says that male principle is that of multiplication whereas female principle is that of stasis. Whereas a man is multiplying sperms at a prodigious rate all his life, the woman is born with a fixed compliment of eggs that progressively age. No doubt there was good reason anciently to marry young for the children of young people are invariably more fertile and strong than those who are older. The tendency in the Western world is, by contrast, for a woman to start life with a career and then have children later. The result has, by and large, been a weak gene pool. In poorer countries where the luxury of women's careers does not exist, a more vigorous biological population is the result, though this tends to be weakened and decimated by poverty, famine and disease rather than by genetic weakness.
I should add, having said this, that there are sound social reasons for marrying and having children later rather than earlier but I would not offer these "reasons" as an excuse. In my opinion, those who are educated in the Gospel from a young age and have developed moral and social responsibility, should marry young, but finding such spiritually progressed people is extremely hard these days. When at a young age people tend to marry for passion rather than for spiritual compatibility and this can be disastrous as the couples mature and then find themselves quite unsuited for each other. Therefore when I speak of the advantage of marrying young I speak of a Holy Order context, where children can be patterned in the right sort of environment. But then again I must add as a footnote there will always be exceptions to every rule and we as New Covenant Christians must be sensitive to all possibilities.
Now the story of our sperms and eggs also has a cosmic dimension. "As above, so below," but equally, "as below, so above" in certain cases. As we look at the fatality of sperms and eggs in the course of a human life span, we become aware of an enormous wastage. We also become aware of an enormous battle. The two hundred million sperms released in a single ejaculation all meet their end, with the exception of one...if it is lucky. Knowing, as we do, that God is not wasteful but highly economical, and knowing that the present Creation is fallen and therefore removed from the Edenic ideal, we can, with a certain degree of confidence, speculate as to what heavenly fertility is like.
If we think on a purely human level (for I would not wish to take this too far) and propose that in a celestial environment there is no wastage, then theoretically (and I stress the word theoretically) a man could make one thousand children a second, or thirty billion each year. Similarly, a woman would be able to make two million children a year. And then when I consider that one thousand earth years is equivalent to one celestial day, then I am not so surprised that God created this world and everything in it in seven days, or even instantaneously for that matter. We do not need millions of years for creation, as evolutionists insist, for on God's scale everything is vastly superior.
A recent revelation says: "Meditate on that which is small, and thou wilt comprehend the large. But if thou meditatest on that which is large, thou wilt be confounded. For it is in the dewdrop that thou wilt understand the lake; and in the lake thou wilt understand the sea" (HOC-Biy.3:16-18). In looking at our own extraordinary reproductive system we can, perhaps, gain a glimpse into the celestial Creator's mind and world. Wherever we look we are forced to stand in awe of our Heavenly Father for His works are too marvelous for us to comprehend. Just looking at the stars, and being aware that there are probably billions upon billions more stars and star systems than there are grains of sand on the whole planet earth makes me stop short and fall silent before the greatness of God. We should, as a result, infuse some of the hymns we sing with even greater meaning than before, such as, "How Great Thou Art!" which begins:
Yet we don't even have to look into the vast universe to be awestruck, for something as microscopic as our own reproductive system ought to provoke the same response of awe from us. Whether on the microscopic or the macroscopic plane, God's wonder is everywhere to be seen...if we will but look for it and develop a consciousness of our own position in the system of things.
O Lord My God, when I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the worlds thy hands have made.
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed!
Let me take you into our reproductive system again so that you can comprehend what happens when sperms are launched into action. Let us assume that a woman has just released an egg, no larger than the dot on an 'i' which slowly drifts down her Fallopian tube, one of a pair of narrow passages that lead from a woman's ovaries to her womb, in a halo of nutrient cells. Note the passivicity. The eggs cannot propel themselves -- they drift slowly. And note also the nutrient cells, especially provided to feed the egg. But the egg is not entirely passive. Like a beacon guiding ships at night, the egg sends out a calling signal.
A convoy of sperm -- the remnants of an armada that was once a couple of a million strong -- sails into view, their long tails thrashing vigorously. Lured by the chemical signal, several hundred of the most energetic swimmers close in on one egg, their narrow tips unleashing a carefully timed sequence of chemical salvos. One substance dissolves the jellylike veil surrounding the egg. Another softens the egg's tough outer shell, preparing it for penetration. In the last moments before conception, a few dozen sperms race to break through the final barricade.
One, and only one, succeeds. The instant it tunnels its way past the egg's outer layer, an electric charge fires across the membrane and a signal from the sperm causes the egg shell to snap shut, blocking entry to any remaining contenders. The successful seed then releases its tightly coiled package of DNA, which fuses with the egg's own DNA and sets in motion a series of genetic events that culminates, none months later, in the birth of a new human being.
We can take this story of egg fertilization and apply it to any level of the creation. True marriage in the spirit is perfectly reflected here for we see that biological mechanisms prevent more than one sperm entering an egg. In the same way it is only possible for a woman to be married to one man in the Celestial Kingdom for she can only fuse spiritually with one man.
As the sperm dissolves the jelly-like substance around the egg, so the wooing man dissolves barriers of her emotional virginity. Once she has let this barrier down, so he can enter her completely. But only he can. All other suitors are immediately cut off by a tight barrier which we call the covenant of chastity of both mind, heart, and body. All others suitors must "perish", metaphorically-speaking, and a woman must not allow herself to feel "sorry" for the others or anything like it because their desires have not been met. Her erecting a "tough outer shell" to further advances, just as the egg thickens its walls to other sperms, is therefore wholly correct. In a similar vein, we too must protect our marriages from external incursions of marauding suitors and we need not feel sorry or guilty if their desires are not fulfilled when we are already married. For to give sympathy to them, just as Eve sympathized with Satan in the Garden of Eden, has the disastrous effect of destroying a marriage spiritually and, invariably, physically too. That is why Jesus taught that to lust after another person's spouse is to commit adultery too.
Of course if two or more sperms were to enter an egg the result would be a genetic monster. This is precisely what happens on the spiritual plane when adultery is committed for a spiritual monster is created. Therefore both as individuals and as a Church we must be in the forefront of guarding our own and each other's marriages. That is the celestial way.
We have sought a pattern in marriage and looked from the female point-of-view. She is to allow only one sperm entry -- she is to allow only for the possibility of one husband both for time and for eternity. Therefore I would counsel the unmarried men and women in the Church, as well as the growing boys and girls, to prepare themselves well for the selection of marriage partners. To marry young is, biologically, desirable, but it is more important to find the right partner and take as long as is necessary. This is going to be particularly important in a Church and Covenant where there are not so many marriage partners to choose from. I should add, however, that the single people should not automatically assume that their partners will be "waiting" for them in the Church -- the chances are they will have to look outside and bring them into the Covenant. Here there are many dangers and always the spiritual quest must precede the desires of the heart and of the flesh. For it is a well-established principle in the Gospel that if you seek out the partner God has ordained for you, learning to listen to the spirit rather than the flesh, then I can promise you that God will add to, and multiply, in perpetuity, the emotional and physical side. But having said that, there are dangers, and I want to briefly dwell on these.
The Dangers of Romance
Once the Spirit has revealed your partner and you are sure that this is the will of God (and this can only come through yourself), you must be sure that your personal desires are not interfering with the spirit of revelation. We must come before God as still as a pond without waves or ripples otherwise our vision will be distorted. If we come before him, saying: "Lord, I am in love with this man or woman, reveal to me whether this is my eternal partner!" He will almost certainly be unable to, because your feelings will be clouding and obscuring the spirit. As I have said many times before, I have never met someone who was in love who has not had a "testimony" that that person was right.
And here I want to make a distinction between "falling in love" and "love in Christ". I am not saying we should come before God dispassionately. By no means. Indeed, we should all be cultivating a deep and overflowing brotherly and sisterly love for each other, both the young and the old, between the sexes and amongst the same sexes. The person we bring to the Lord as a potential marriage partner must be someone we love deeply in the Covenant and whom we would still love in exactly the same way whether we were to marry them or not. Such, of course, may sound easy to speak of, but difficult to do. But if the saints are living their religion as God has revealed, and are true and faithful to their Temple covenants, such an ability to discern will come naturally (in the spiritual sense).
Once the Lord has revealed your marriage partner according to the Spirit, then the two people (if they are in agreement) should enter into a Covenant called Engagement or Dedication. This is a period of getting to know each other in which one might call a "selfish" way! By that, I do not mean that they should switch from cultivating their brother-sister relationship (for that must go on into eternity) but they must allow as an extra the opportunity for a special bond to develop between them. Principally, this should be on an emotional level. Physical passions may also awaken which have to be understood and controlled.
Once this special heart-relationship has begun to be awakened, and their spiritual testimony of their rightness for each other has been confirmed by this emotional attachment, then the time to enter the ordinance of Betrothal has arrived. This, as you all know, is a true and proper marriage that is eternally binding, but without a full physical relationship. Full Marriage follows later once the spirit and the heart have been established and are in their proper order. For this patterning will affect the way the relationship is built up for the rest of the couple's life.
A couple who come together because of the heart or the flesh before the spirit will constantly be waging an internal war as the spirit competes for its rightful place in the marriage. A true New Covenant Christian will never marry until he is absolutely sure that his spouse is irrevocably committed to Christ, and that Christ is her first love. I was once engaged to be married to a woman but when it became apparent that her commitment to Christ was not 100% the engagement was canceled. Thus Engagement, or Dedication, is also a time for a couple to find out prophetically what the future holds out for them together. For it is a fact that if a husband or a wife has to continually look over the shoulders of his or her spouse because he or she is not fully dedicated to the Gospel, he or she will never be able to serve the Lord to the extent that he or she wants to. That's what I believe Paul was concerned about when he warned prospective couples about the time and effort husband and wife spend in trying to please each other when they ought to be pleasing the Lord. Indeed, he even advocated celibacy as a better alternative, and I agree with him. My family knows (and that includes my children) that to please me they should be serving the Lord with all their mind, might, and strength.
In the Patriarchal Covenant of Marriage the wife is questioned three times by her husband during the marriage ceremony. Each time he asks her: "Do you love me?" just as Christ asked Peter. Each time she replies "Yes" he commands her to love others. For if she loves others then, in truth, she is loving him. He does not ask her to love him! And there is a grand secret of the Church of the Firstborn (Holy Order). In the outer Church (local Colonies), and in the world generally, the man and woman covenant to love each other, but there is no mention of loving and cherishing the saints. Not so in the Holy Order -- instead they covenant to love the saints as Christ commanded. They covenant to love Christ, for Christ is the central marriage partner in every firstborn marriage. For it is in loving Christ and loving our neighbour that true love between husband and wife flows. All else is carnal and selfish.
Now let us return to the sperms and eggs. In biological fertilization, an armada of sperms head for the egg. Here we must be careful not to take earthly things and directly apply them spiritually or literally, for I doubt if any woman here has been chased by 200 million men!! A more realistic figure would probably be six to twelve, the number of sperms which make the last dash. I would think that for most, though not necessarily all, we have had to choose partners from around the number of people in our lives. And it is here that I would like to give some advice.
Most women are flattered to be chased by men, and vice versa, of course. Courtship can be quite an ego-polisher. And because humans are easily flattered, they can often make serious mistakes. These days men and women are principally attracted to each other because of sexual credentials, so-called. Men are constantly showing off to try and prove how tough and suave they are. And women are flaunting their bodies to lure men. You don't need me, I hope, to tell you that all of this is not of the Lord.
In this life most men and women will be faced by several suitors. How do they choose? This is the agonising question almost everyone faces. In the world it is a matter of chance. But not so in Zion. In the Temple we have a great number of marriage ordinances on many levels. These are not just designed for those who are already married and who want to deepen their covenants, but it is a way of screening unmarried people also.
Each degree in the Holy Order is matched by marriage covenants. Our faithfulness, or lack of faithfulness, in any particular covenant degree is reflected in our ability to establish everlasting marriages. Because Patriarchs and Matriarchs have the responsibility to council potential marriage partners, it is important for them to know of their spiritual progress. They are then able to interview prospective spouses together and alone and point out strengths and weaknesses in their spiritual makeup and advise them when they need to do before they enter marriage in any Temple degree.
All marriages in the Firstborn Church are wholly Christ-centred, because the only marriages performed are eternal ones. And how do we know whether a marriage is eternal or not? It is not, as some suppose, based on the feelings a couple have for each other, though that is an important part. It is not based on the deepness of inner communion, though that is an important part. Eternal marriage is predicated on 100% dedication to the Lord Jesus Christ.
And this is how it will be at the last day. A couple will approach the Veil of the Firstborn. If one is 100% in Christ, that spouse will cross the veil. If the other partner is, say, only 95% in Christ, that partner will not cross, and they will be separated. God the Father weighs every marriage at the veil; only those who are 100% in Christ cross together. They momentarily part at the veil, because to be 100% in Christ you must be alone in Christ, as you all know from the New Olive Leaf revelations. Every marriage is weighed at the veil, whatever type of marriage it is. And many people who are 100% in Christ who do not marry on this side of the veil will certainly marry on the other side.
The message of the sperm and the egg is a clear one. True marriage must go through certain steps if it is to be an everlasting one, and the most important step is 100% commitment in mind, heart, and deed to Him. Upon that foundation every Holy Order marriage is built.
Many people who come to the Church are already married. They have to be literally "unmarried" and be "remarried" according to correct principles. But don't misunderstand me for I am not talking about partner swopping (God forbid). I have been "unmarried" once in the Temple and expect to be "unmarried" many times over as I grow in my marriage relationship in Christ. In every degree of Temple marriage the candidates are tested to see on what they are building their security and happiness -- whether it is upon their spouse or upon the Lord Jesus Christ. Such "unmarrying" and "remarrying" can be tough for those who have been married according to the world's notions but it is very necessary if it is eternal marriage that is being sought. And untying idolatrous relationships, in which the marriage partners often love each other more than Christ, is often met with fierce resistance.
I have chosen to address this subject today for many reasons not least of which is the fact that this is a National Church Convention. I speak to you today wearing the hat of Church Patriarch. I am also addressing this subject to remind you of the absolute central nature of the Temple in the New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage and of the necessity of its ordinances, and to invite everyone to prepare diligently for their Temple Calls. You all know the seriousness and holiness of the Temple. It is going to become more prominent in the years ahead until only those who are fully a part of Temple life will actually be admitted to Zion. Indeed, the Temple and Zion are inseparable. If you are inside the Temple, you are inside Zion. If you are outside the Temple, you are outside Zion. It's as simple as that. I have heard certain people tell me that they carry the Temple around with them inside spiritually, and therefore don't need it in practice -- such is nonsense, for the Temple is not just a building but a fellowship of living souls under the same covenants. And that special fellowship, whilst indeed is carried about outside the temple, has a unique spiritual expression within sacred space. It is experiencing that sacred space together that prepares us for the sacred space of Zion, for whatever is outside Zion is assuredly unsacred, or profane.
Today you have been invited to participate with my family in what is essentially a temple ordinance. We have chosen to share a part of this temple ordinance with you, our brethren and friends in the Gospel. Our homes should be a type of the Temple -- not the Temple itself (until we are in Zion, when everything is a part of Temple space) -- but an image of it. So I pray that you will be uplifted and blessed by what will happen today. This room in which we are meeting serves a triple role as a Temple, a Church meeting place, and a family place of worship and spiritual instruction. I hope that those of you who are sensitive to atmospheres will sense something of the light in this Holy Space and that it will inspire you in your search to be true to the Covenants of Zion. May the Lord bless you all, in Jesus's Name. Amen.
*HOC = Holy Order Collection of revelations; these are not regarded as scripture by the local Colonies nor used in public.
Adapted from a sermon given in Moss Branch of the Church of Christ, Norway, on Sunday 13 October 1991 by the Church Patriarch.
First created on 21 May 1998
Last updated on 21 May 1998
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