Make everyone in your household an enemy!

What makes the title of this post even stranger is that it is taken from the New Testament (Matthew 10:34-36 and Luke 12:53). Passages like this are why religion often gets a bad rap from those who point out these biblical absurdities and consider themselves more “enlightened.”

Why would a God of love instruct us to hate our closest relatives? Isn’t this a contradiction to the spirit of “loving the neighbor”—one of the two prime commandments upon which all the laws of the prophets hang?

The reason for the apparent contradiction comes from the fact that the true wisdom of this “odd” biblical passage lies much deeper than the literal meaning of its message. The path to becoming more spiritual includes the challenge of reading Scripture not just with one’s worldly eyes, but interpreting its passages with the eyes of one’s inner spirit.

When we switch from one set of “eyes” to another, an amazing transformation can take place in our understanding of the Lord God’s revealed wisdom. As an experiment, let’s see how this applies to the biblical passage of “making everyone in your household an enemy.” How can we see this biblical phrase through the eyes of our spirit?

The trick is to take any worldly term or physical object and find its psycho-spiritual equivalence (correspondence). God has created the physical world in such a way that all things in it represent some spiritual idea.

For instance, we entertain certain thoughts and feelings in the same way we invite special friends and guests into our home. Even more intimate to us are the ideas that make us feel the most at home. One’s belief system or worldview, and all its related values, constitutes one’s spiritual household. Our ideas and personal beliefs are the habitation of our soul.

This inner abode is where each of us really lives. We are what we think and love. And that is exactly where God takes aim when He wants to bring about spiritual change in out lives.

When the Lord came into the world, His ministry involved changing people’s value systems. He challenged us to make the many selfish and worldly ideas that we entertain in our hearts and minds, our real enemy. This requires us to make an inner inventory and a follow-up housecleaning. So we must kick these bad influences out of our house (spiritual abode).

Scientists and non-believers have often ridiculed religion because having a strong faith meant putting all the power of belief in ignorance alone. But true faith leads one out of ignorance. The Lord’s Holy Word is designed to lead us out of ignorance because its lessons are inexhaustible and contain layers of meaning.

I hope my example of “making one’s household an enemy” shows how the Holy Word can be easily misinterpreted by a culture which no longer is sensitized to these higher meanings and teachings.

About thegodguy

EDWARD F. SYLVIA, M.T.S. Philosopher/Theologian Edward F. Sylvia attended the School of Visual Arts in New York and received his Master of Theological Studies at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA and a Certificate of Swedenborgian Studies from the Swedenborgian House of Studies. He is a member of the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences (C.T.N.S.) and the Swedenborg Scientific Association (S.S.A.). Award-winning author of "Sermon From the Compost Pile: Seven Steps Toward Creating An Inner Garden" and "Proving God," which fulfills a continuing vision that God’s fingerprints of love can be found everywhere in the manifest universe. His most recent book, "Swedenborg & Gurdjieff: The Missing Links" is an edgy collection of anti-intuitive essays for personal transformation that challenges and inspires. He has been a student of the ideas of both Emanuel Swedenborg and George I. Gurdjieff for over thirty years. Read more about TheGodGuy, his books and his ideas at
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9 Responses to Make everyone in your household an enemy!

  1. Sue says:

    Excellent! That’s your best post I’ve read so far.

  2. thegodguy says:

    Dear Sue,

    Consider this blog my research strategy to see what the most effective way to reach an audience is. A scientist would prefer a different approach to the blog post above.

    One thing is for sure, I will never write about Swedenborg’s ideas in the traditional way that has been adopted by most ecclesiastical thinkers and the clergy.

    Spiritually yours,

  3. Well, I am a scientist, but I would criticise your estimate just from the opposite side: it’s rather trivial, too few (and no new) spiritual “layers” here. I should be not a simple scientist but a higher being, an angel or something… 🙂 That would explain why they pay me so little, in your grotesque material world. 🙂

    What you say is actually very close to quite canonical, major interpretation of this and other “contradictory” passages of the New Testament, “I came not to send peace, but a sword”, “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me”, etc. With the implied “higher” but quite evident meaning of a much greater spiritual truth brought to the world, which one should follow more than all those “everyday family values”, etc. You’re saying basically the same, so what’s so special? Apart from the fact that practically nobody really follows that announced “new truth” (always ill-specified, by the way) or even the old good Commandments, for two thousand years already, both before and after Swedenborg. But that’s another problem. They hear and understand but don’t really want to follow, the less and less… And even less to search for anything new. Would you be ready to accept something really new for you, provided that it’s more consistent than what you know?

    So I don’t find particularly deep or new “layers” in this example. In addition, all such interpretations will remain ambiguous by definition. Of course, having good family relations remains a good thing, and of course it’s not the only good thing, and maybe not the greatest one, and (new) spiritual values should be the greatest attachment… OK, nice, everybody agrees, for millennia, but why should all these traditional word plays be a great eye-opener and world-changing device, especially today? Because a one trillion and first mechanical repetition of the “great truth” will finally change everything?

    Look, beyond all “advanced” interpretations, what’s quite evident is that at certain previous epochs people did massively believed in, were motivated for and understood the Bible content, in all its possible “layers”, much more than it can ever be expected today (at both “common” and “professional” levels). They also hoped for a “transformation” as promised by Jesus Christ (to happen long ago) but nothing ever happened, apart from regular, explicable, knowledge-driven degradation of spirit. Taking into account such evident evolution, what can be your point today, in this obviously de-spiritualised world (more than ever!)? I mean apart from the true, truly unpredictable miracle (you do try to remain logical).

    What you seem to express in your previous post is that criteria are so loose today that even an advanced believer like you cannot say whether you’re a good person or otherwise, but finally it doesn’t matter so much because “God will save us all”, etc. Well, maybe, impossible to disprove that having only finite time at one’s disposition. But then it appears that all that “advanced” interpretation activity (which is not always so advanced…) has approximately the same ordinary meaning of just preferably not too bad passing of one’s lifetime (i.e. actually amusement) that cannot change anything too much… Everything will be OK, even though for the moment it’s not quite. Some would call it general common-sense optimism, maybe of an American flavour. Others call it new science and get paid for it. Why not, if everything will be OK anyway?

    I wonder whether you and other “Swedenborgians” would maintain the same “relaxed” kind of “great truth”, if you happened to live not in the all-given and all-permitted USA-today but in a much harder part of the world, where even a miserable survival is not ensured at all… And the God Guy, just don’t consider it as another “attack” on you and your work: it’s only science … and just a little more. What I would really dispute is those loose, arbitrarily “fluctuating” criteria (a Christian tradition, one should acknowledge, but you pretend to provide something essentially better). The “complex” character of being doesn’t mean that criteria should be ambiguous. In the TRUE understanding, they are ultimately, including mathematically, exact and absolutely unambiguous – and therefore directly selective – for everything, everybody, and all layers including. Selectivity can only grow with the truth (and love).

  4. thegodguy says:

    Dear Andrei,

    Thank you for your most thoughtful response. I am sincerely depressed by your pitiful salary as a scientist. You are indeed very intelligent with valuable things to say. The world of humanity is quite bad at determining the real value of things!

    My final estimation of myself is that I am most definitely a SLUG and any goodness manifested by me comes from God’s influence of Love supervening on my “slug-ness.”

    God never promised transformation or that “great knowledge” would ensure such transformation from some miraculous external event. Things will not simply become OK from some Divine snap of the fingers. True transformation is a CHOICE and requires continual effort.

    There is no ambiguity in Swedenborg’s science of correspondences. Yes, it is a science and has a mathematical precision!. My new book provides a model to show how physical, mental and spiritual process all proceed by the same rules. The universe is more perfectly fine-tuned than even scientists suspect.

    One of my chapters is entitled “Did Noah’s Ark Travel Across Possibility Waves?” It is certainly an eye-opener and much different than any other attempt at biblical exegesis!

    Ultimately, you are a materialist. Earthly survival is a passing presence. The real orphans and sufferer’s of the world can have full bellies, clothing and a roof over their heads.

    You also aren’t too thrilled about Americans it seems.

    Spiritually yours.

  5. Sue says:

    Okay, I took your advice, Godguy, and made everyone in my household my enemy …
    Geeze some husbands can get so pouty! The kids were easy, though, I just informed them “the money store is now closed” and that seemed to do it.

    And then I explained to them all that it’s because I believe in Swedenborg.

  6. While we still remain submerged in this passing presence where many devoted believers are still trying very energetically to take the biggest possible slice of the available material pie, why not to try something indeed more thrilling in the special direction of “unifying” approaches and attempt their explicit emphasis and direct interaction, for all of them? The point is that actually there have been quite a few properly unifying attempts of this scientific-spiritual kind, so that such explicit “unification of unified approaches” would be, first, feasible and, second, quite useful for each of them and common knowledge/spirit progress. The purpose would be not to put them in competition and “choose the best” but rather let them interact freely (also including user’s perception) and thus progress together and individually in the best possible way. Despite the huge science-and-religion support in the not-so-thrilling USA today, such obviously most thrilling unifying activity was not attempted, at a time when it would be most needed in view of the critical general situation (in all world’s dimensions!). What is generously supported instead, it is separated attempts and even among them fundamentally narrow, non-unifying and “model”/abstract approaches to separated issues, in the absolute majority of cases (I omit the long list of obvious cases). That’s what is precisely not good enough, not for today.

    So you see, contrary to infinite “expectations”, assumptions and ambiguous guesses, there is something concrete, new, really advanced, feasible and definitely good for all, from both “material” and “spiritual” point of view, that can be done in the direction of our interest, in your best of all possible worlds. And simultaneously we obtain a practical criterion and estimate of goodness, slug-ness and thrill of all potential participants and their flourishing lands: if they do, then they are good and thrilling, and if they don’t do… then welcome to hell, ladies and gentlemen (kidding … but who knows…).

    From my part, I have one (provably) unifying, variously confirmed approach to contribute (and extensive knowledge of various other attempts and interaction experience). I guess you, The God Guy, can contribute another one (or even their whole “family”). And I think it would be not difficult to specify a few other potential contributions, from the present and the past, at least in the form of interactive summary, discussion, etc. The purpose is to advance with unification and consistent holism as much as possible, intellectually and spiritually. Particular forms of activity (meetings, publications, public events, internet activity, eventual permanent public association…) can be easily specified. It remains then to find a support for just such “super-interaction” of just these, explicitly holistic sci-spi approaches, which appears to be indeed quite thrilling right now and therefore practically feasible, if only there is still some genuine thrill in your land of miracles. Am I not constructive and universally good with this idea? What about others?

  7. thegodguy says:

    Dear Andrei,

    Your efforts (and heart) are to be commended. I have no doubts that we can form some future partnership towards reaching our similar goals. People with similar concerns indeed need to form potent partnerships and novel communities.

    We will keep in touch. Such a venture would take lots of groundwork. This spring I have lots of real groundwork tending to my homestead. I suspect that in a few months we can change the direction of our communications.

    Spiritually yours,

  8. And in an extended version of the same question-challenge-initiative: how a “wise” and spiritually advanced person should behave at such a special time of particularly critical opposition between good and evil in the world, with almost lost good and omnipresent, triumphing evil? Should one remain in one’s nice but shrinking realm of good entities, or should one try to oppose the advancing evil and propagate goodness much more widely and actively? What is better? It was easy to make the first choice and plunge into one’s preferred learned books and high ideas in a relatively mild epoch of ensured spontaneous development, but now that it’s finished and nothing good can be ensured any more (including within the canonical church and science), should a much less coherent, painful but maybe progress-bringing efforts be initiated and supported by the true adherents to all good things?

    In other words, every theory becomes really interesting when a strong potential application is knocking loudly at the door. And it is, isn’t it?

    Since you like so much allegorical interpretations, your recent post “Should I open my heart and load my gun?” can also be interpreted in a wider sense. The “garden” with your “home” and “family” that you want to protect from evil invaders by force is in reality the whole world, especially in its spiritual dimensions and with its dwelling lay souls, while your “gun” is a powerful spiritual teaching providing you with a much greater force (than any usual dweller). It follows (from your attitude) that you and any “advanced” adherents to goodness should indeed apply such “top gun” (and the toppest one they must find!) to protect the world and give it a new chance, quite similar to the well-known Jesus allegory of a sword (and not peace) he brought to the world (also in a critical state then!). They should not remain only with a passive prayer and their “personal”, internal devotion to good and love, they should fight, advance and win. But is it what’s actually going on now in your real advanced-believer, “very good” circles, in face of evidently advancing and so obviously unified forces of evil? It seems that you still prefer to remain in your respective comfortable, separated shells of “theoretical”, learned good from that previous epoch of “automatic“ progress and “moderate” evil… This “great” theory of good here, that particularly good foundation there … and growing oceans and rivers of lie and destruction pouring onto billions of ordinary souls, which cannot stand it, those peaceful, unarmed peasants with open souls… And the Pope, the official top protector of humanity forced to denounce particularly ugly, scandalously growing sins in his own chosen troops…

    No, enemies are not missing in the household, really. But where’s the really top gun and especially the knights of goodness behind it, when they’re most needed? If we’re in a society of spectacle, then some key characters are missing in the show and the plot becomes completely flat, practically non-existing (let alone the terribly missing happy end!). Where are they, those typical “real” (and until then secret) fighters for good, all those “last templars” appearing at the very last moment to save the main heroine (already raped but still alive 🙂 )? Because the moment seems to be as last as it can be…

  9. thegodguy says:

    Dear Andrei,

    Sorry I have failed to meet your expectations.

    Spiritually yours,

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