Vladimir Solovyov, The Meaning of Love



Higher forms of natural organisms distinguish themselves with self-consiousness and spontaneity. They strive to push the the bounds of the law of death, so must not man in the historical process completely abrogate this law?

If man only multiplies like other animals, will he not perish like them? But simple abstinence from sex will not deliver mankind from death: both virgins and eunuchs also die. To remain in sexual dividedness means to remain on the path to death. Only the human being in his entirety can be immortal. In what then does true union in the sexes consist, and how is it accomplished?


There is no clearly articulated norm in sexual relations, so any enquiries are arbitrary. Sexual impulses which are comparatively rare are pronounced to be pathological deviations demanding treatment. This treatment often cures one disorder only to lead to another. Perversions of sexual feeling studied in medical books are serious for us, as being extreme development of the same tendency, which has made its way int o the everyday usage of our society and is reckoned permissible and normal. Various attractions of a man toward a woman, such as her hair, hands, or feet, are seem to be an appellation of fetishism in love. But these are only parts of the body and not the whole. And the body is not the whole person/being. But fetish worshipers are not considered to be insane by psychologists.

These people take a woman’s body for the satisfaction of an emotional need, and by so doing separate body from soul, buts be acknowledged abnormal in sexual relations, mental defectives, fetish-worshipers in love, or even worshipers of carrion.  But they are reckoned normal people, and through this living death almost the whole of mankind passes. There is no isolation of lower animal spheres in the human being from higher ones. How do we find a distinction between what is normal or abnormal in the domain of sex? These persons are spreading the terrible infection, which is a sufficiently common consequence of the natural satisfactions of natural needs.


He does not condemn nature, but the so-called natural methods of satisfying sexual feeling. Man is a complex creature and what is natural for one of this constituent principles or elements may be contrary to nature for another. As an animal, it is perfectly natural to allow unlimited satisfaction to his sexual needs. But as a higher being, a moral being, he is ashamed of such behaviors.  Before, legal unions in the social-moral order do not deliver us from death, ought to be union in God, which leads to immortality. That which is wholly natural considers  the man in his entirety. In this way, we partake in the supreme divine principle, drawing a link between with the source and the world.  Reducing ourselves to animals is contrary to our own nature. This logic would also hold for simple moral-social civil unions, while neglecting proper spiritual principles. This neglect becomes ‘normal’, which is a prevalent perversion.


Psychologists devote their attention to unusual variations of a general pervading perversion, but which sin and death are maintained and perpetuated. There are three bonds, or links between the sexes:

  1. The bond of animal existence
  2. The bond of earthly morality, subject to law
  3. The bond of spiritual life –union in God

It appears that most put the first what in reality should be the first, the animal physical bond. Many recognize it today as the basis of the whole business, while it should be the ‘final crown’. Others the foundation is reared the social and moral structure of a legitimate family union. Then the exceptional phenomenon, for an elect few a pure spiritual love, which which all genuine contents are ousted beforehand by other inferior ties without any real tasks or ends in life. Most intelligent people ‘do not believe in such love’, or take it for poetry.

Exclusively-spiritual love is as much an anomaly as exclusively-physical love. The absolute norm is the restoration of the integrity of the human being. We should not separate the spiritual from the sensuous. Genuine spiritual love is not a feeble imitation of death, but a triumph over death–a transfiguration of the mortal into the immortal, a taking of the temporal into the eternal. A false spirituality is a denial of the flesh, true spirituality is the regeneration of the flesh, the rescue of it, the resurrection of it from the dead.


Man was created to be in the Divine image. We relate to the other sex as Christ relates to His Church. Christ is the absolute fulness of being to the pure potentiality of being. Christ relates to the Church as actual perfection to the potentiality of perfection being revealed in realized perfection. The relation of husband and wife is the relation between two differently functioning, but yet equally incomplete potentialities, which attain perfection only in the process of action upon one another. And and his email mutually complete each other, not only in the real, but also in the ideal sense.

Christ has power by nature, while we have power by grace and adoption. Authentic love is the process of the integration of man’s nature, or the restoration in him of the Divine image.


Genuine love is about faith. This transcendent relation to the other, this mental transference of it into the sphere of the Divine, presupposes the same relation in oneself. I can only acknowledge the unconditional significance of a given person, or believe in him (without which true love is impossible), by affirming him in God, and therefore by belief in God Himself, and in myself, as possessing in God the centre and root of my own existence. The act of faith is prayer. The indissoluble union of oneself and another in this relation is the first step towards authentic union. It is a small step, but without it, nothing more advanced or greater is possible.


Perfection is in God and for us still being realized. Our world is aspiring toward that ideal unity, both historic and cosmic. The object of true love is twofold:

  1. We love the ideal creature, the creature whom we ought to install in our ideal world.
  2. We love the natural human creature, the ‘personal material’ for the realization of the former, and who is idealized by means of it in the sense of its objective transformation or regeneration.




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