Many people want to spend eternity with their spouse in heaven, especially if separated from them through death during their marriage. Although Christian doctrine states that we (Christians) will be together for all eternity, what does it say about our former marriages? Will we be married to each other for eternity in heaven?
The real marriage
A marriage is described in heaven. The "bride" is composed of all believers in Jesus Christ. The "groom" is none other than Jesus Himself. This kind of idea seems okay for women, but tends to make us men a little nervous. I find it difficult to consider myself as a bride. However, the "marriage" to the lamb (Jesus Christ) is obviously a symbol of the unity of believers with Jesus Christ in heaven (Revelation 19:1). We know that it is symbolic, because scripture itself defines it as such:
"Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb [Jesus] has come and His bride has made herself ready." It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. (Revelation 19:8)
The "fine linen" of the bride (body of believers) are the righteous acts of the saints. Obviously, this would make a rather poor covering. The analogy of a wedding is given because it represents the most intimate relationship that we can experience on earth. However, like all earthly examples, it pales in comparison to the kinds of relationships possible in heaven.
What will people be like in heaven?
The Bible says the physical laws will be vastly different in heaven. From this description, it is apparent that our current bodies would not be acceptable in such a place.1 The Bible poses the question, "But someone will say, "How are the dead raised? And with what kind of body do they come?" (1 Corinthians 15:35). The answer to the question is given in a series of comparisons:2
|Mortal Body||Resurrection Body|
To a certain degree, we will be given some of the characteristics of God in heaven.3 Without at least the dimensional characteristics of God, we would not be able to see Him, which the Bible says we will do.3
Contrary to the Mormon view of heaven,4 it doesn't seem that people in heaven will be either male or female. Jesus was asked a complicated question about heaven by the Sadducees (a religious sect that did not believe in the resurrection of the dead) that directly leads us to this conclusion.5 The Sadducees gave a scenario of a woman who married 7 men (sequentially, since they all died prematurely) in her lifetime. They asked whose wife she would be in heaven. Jesus answered:
"You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures, or the power of God. "For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. (Matthew 22:29-30)
In other words, there will be no marriage or sexual differences among those in heaven, since reproduction is unnecessary. This concept is supported by other biblical verses that indicate that males and females are spiritually equal.6 The same concept applies to the races.7 I doubt that there will be racial differences in heaven.
The idea that we will no longer be married is disturbing to some people. Personally, I like to be married. From an earthly perspective, the dissolution of marriage in heaven doesn't sound like a good thing. However, in heaven, we will be "married" to Jesus, who will be our spiritual "husband."8 If you are not currently a follower of Jesus Christ, you cannot understand what this will be like, and it will probably not have any appeal for you. However, if you have experienced the "highs" of following Jesus as He leads you, you will have a glimpse of how awesome this experience will be. God would not take away something good if He did not replace it with something better. Not only will we be changed, but Paul says that we cannot even imagine the kinds of things God has prepared for us:
but just as it is written, "THINGS WHICH EYE HAS NOT SEEN AND EAR HAS NOT HEARD, AND which HAVE NOT ENTERED THE HEART OF MAN, ALL THAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM." (1 Corinthians 2:9)
Besides receiving a new body, those who enter heaven will be given a new name9 and will be incapable of committing sin.10 Therefore, all the problems we have by being mean to each other will be gone. We will be able to enjoy each other's company without the fear of being hurt by anyone.
No need for marriage and children
Jesus made it clear that angels do not marry and have children.5 He also indicated that we will be like the angels in that regard.5 God has allowed the human race to increase dramatically in numbers, so that there will be billions of God's people in heaven. There can be no further reproduction in heaven, because it would violate God's principle of free will and voluntary choice. All humans are required to choose to accept God or reject Him. If children were born in heaven, they would have no ability to choose to accept or reject God. This is because there is no allowance for rebellion and sin in heaven. For example, we know that angels do not receive grace,11 but are condemned on their first act of disobedience to God.12 Therefore, any children born would be forced to accept God - something God never does. This does not necessarily mean that God is necessarily finished producing spiritual creatures. It is possible that God could create another universe to allow other spiritual creatures the ability to choose God and enter into heaven. However, this is mere speculation.
Although marriage is good and represents the most intimate relationship we can experience on earth, it should not be idolized. If you love your spouse more than God then he/she has become an idol. The most important commandment is to love God "with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind."13 We will be with our loved ones in heaven (for those who believe). However, we will not be married to our spouses, since that relationship will be superseded by our relationship with Jesus, since we will be "married" to Jesus. This is not the description of a sexual relationship, but a description of an intimacy that is only approximated by what exists between a husband and a wife. Marriage on earth is merely a glimpse of the relationship God intends to have with us in heaven. It is the purpose for which we were created. Religion that substitutes marriage and family as an idol in place of God is a false religion.
- Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. (1 Corinthians 15:50)
- So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. (1 Corinthians 15:42-44)
- Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is. (1 John 3:2)
- The Mormons (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) believe that obedient Mormon men will become gods in heaven with their own kingdoms and wives. In fact, a neighbor recently offered my wife to become his queen when he becomes a god in his own kingdom. The only thing she had to do was to be baptized in the Mormon church. She declined the offer.
- On that day some Sadducees (who say there is no resurrection) came to Him and questioned Him, saying, "Teacher, Moses said, 'IF A MAN DIES, HAVING NO CHILDREN, HIS BROTHER AS NEXT OF KIN SHALL MARRY HIS WIFE, AND RAISE UP AN OFFSPRING TO HIS BROTHER.' "Now there were seven brothers with us; and the first married and died, and having no offspring left his wife to his brother; so also the second, and the third, down to the seventh. "And last of all, the woman died. "In the resurrection therefore whose wife of the seven shall she be? For they all had her." But Jesus answered and said to them, "You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures, or the power of God. "For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. (Matthew 22:23-30)
- There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28)
- For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is
Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call upon Him; (Romans 10:12)
--a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all. (Colossians 3:11)
- for the Lamb [Jesus Christ] in the center of the throne shall be their
shepherd, and shall guide them to springs of the water of life; and God
shall wipe every tear from their eyes." (Revelation 7:17)
"Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready." (Revelation 19:7)
And he said to me, "Write, 'Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.'" And he said to me, "These are true words of God." (Revelation 19:9)
And one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues, came and spoke with me, saying, "Come here, I shall show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb." (Revelation 21:9)
FOR THIS CAUSE A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER, AND SHALL CLEAVE TO HIS WIFE; AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. (Ephesians 5:31-32)
"For your husband is your Maker, Whose name is the LORD of hosts; And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel, Who is called the God of all the earth. (Isaiah 54:5)
- 'He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, to him I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it.' (Revelation 2:17)
- ... as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her; that He
might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the
word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having
no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and
blameless. (Ephesians 5:25-27)
But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. (2 Peter 3:13)
"In that day you will feel no shame Because of all your deeds By which you have rebelled against Me; For then I will remove from your midst Your proud, exulting ones, And you will never again be haughty On My holy mountain. (Zephaniah 3:11)
- It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven--things into which angels long to look. (1 Peter 1:12)
- "Then He will also say to those on His left, 'Depart
from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for
the devil and his angels; (Matthew 25:41)
For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment; (2 Peter 2:4)
And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day, (Jude 1:6)
- And He said to him, " 'YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.' This is the great and foremost commandment." (Matthew 22:37-38)
We are what we think.
- 03/11/2014 02:06 AM
Engaging in Christ-Centered Conversation
Last week, my colleague Krista Bontrager shared her insights into Son of God and the TV mini-series from which the film was derived. Whether you choose to see Son of God in theatres (or any of the other faith-based films … Continue reading
- 03/07/2014 02:30 AM
Quote of the Week: John 15:26
But when the Helper [3rd] comes, whom I [2nd] will send to you from the Father [1st], the Spirit [3rd] of truth, who proceeds from the Father [1st], he will bear witness about me [2nd]. — John 15:26, ESV
- 03/04/2014 02:52 AM
“Son of God:” Representing the Bible on Screen
With the release of the Jesus biopic Son of God in theatres last week, this is a great time to engage in a conversation with others about the historical basis of Jesus. For those of you considering whether to see … Continue reading
- 02/28/2014 02:28 AM
Quote of the Week: St. Augustine
In your great wisdom you, who are our God, speak to us of these things in your Book, the firmament made by you. — St. Augustine, Confessions (New York: Barnes & Noble, 1992), book XIII, section 18, 326.
- 02/25/2014 02:44 AM
Music Points to a Creator
This February marked the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ arrival in America. My article “Beatlemania Plus 50: Can Christians Appreciate the Fab Four?” explored these musicians’ religious views and how believers can navigate choices in popular entertainment. The Beatles in … Continue reading
- 02/21/2014 03:27 PM
Quote of the Week: Restless Heart
The man doesn’t find the truth the truth finds the man. — Bishop Ambrose to Augustine, from the movie Restless Heart (Ignatius Press, 2013)
- 02/18/2014 02:52 AM
Reflections on a War Movie: Lone Survivor
I’ve seen most of the war movies made over the last seventy years (see “Ken’s Top 50 World War II Films”). I rank Band of Brothers, the 10-part miniseries produced by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks about the real-life heroism … Continue reading
- 02/14/2014 02:49 AM
Quote of the Week: Paul Helm
The classical Christian theologians, Augustine of Hippo, say, or Aquinas or John Calvin, each took it for granted that God exists as a timelessly eternal being. They accepted it as an axiom of Christian theology that God has no memory, … Continue reading
- 02/11/2014 02:01 AM
Beatlemania Plus 50: Can Christians Appreciate the Fab Four?
This month marks the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ first trip to America. I remember how depressed my family was following President Kennedy’s assassination, but how excited my siblings and I were to see The Beatles on our black-and-white television … Continue reading
- 02/07/2014 04:01 PM
Quote of the Week: Louis P. Pojman
In a sense, philosophy is just hard thinking about the important issues of life. — Louis P. Pojman, Philosophy: The Pursuit of Wisdom (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 1994),12.
Last Modified August 31, 2006