July 1, 2009

Will I Still Be Married in Heaven?

A common question concerning the resurrection and the eternal state has to do with marriage. In eternity will we be married to our current spouse? This question becomes even more cumbersome if a person has experienced multiple marriages (Matthew 22:23-28).

Romans 7:3 and 1 Corinthians 7:39 teach that a person is bound in marriage as long as they are alive. Once a spouse dies the marriage bond is broken. Given the fact that death is the vehicle of choice by which most of us will enter eternity, this means our marriages will effectively be over. When the Sadducees tried to trap Jesus with the cumbersome multiple marriage/resurrection question Jesus answered that in the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage (Matthew 22:29,30).

There will be two responses to this idea. Some will be saddened by this news (like my wife Shannon, right my love!). Others will be secretly relieved (careful)! Wherever you fall on this it is hard for us to conceive of life with relationships being redefined. How can you be married to someone for decades and not understand them to be your husband or wife in heaven? How can you be married to a person and not want them to be your spouse also in heaven? Honestly, I don’t know. We know from Scripture that God will be the perfect fulfillment of our relational needs and that in eternity we will perfectly relate to one another. The church in fact is called the “bride of Christ.” The new Jerusalem descends from heaven as a bride adorned for her husband. There will be lots of marriage language in heaven, and as such it is safe to say that in heaven we will still know what marriage means, but yet somehow and in someway the relationships will be redefined.

Another common question here concerns gender definitions in heaven. Will we be men and women as we are now? Most mistake Jesus’ comment in Mt. 22:30 that we will “be like the angels” to mean we will be eternally androgynous. This is not the case. John McArthur has a good discussion of this on pp. 135 – 138 in his book The Glory of Heaven.[i] He points out that after Jesus resurrection he was recognized as male. In fact when Mary first saw Jesus in the garden, having no conceivable thought that Jesus would possibly be alive, she mistakenly thought Jesus was the gardener. She referred to him as, “Sir (John 20:15).” After they saw Jesus, Jesus was Jesus, the male Jesus. The same could be said for the postmortem appearances of Moses and Samuel. They were recognized as who they were. There is nothing to indicate their gender had been blurred or redefined. They were male.

A post of this nature will arouse a multitude of questions. I welcome them, but I must warn you, I am like you, I probably cannot answer them. However, if you will send them on in, I will give it a shot Thursday or Friday.

_______________________
[i] I should also add that Hank Hanegraaff has an interesting chapter on “Sex” after the resurrection in his book simply titled “Resurrection.” With that said, Mr. Hanegraaff, you can thank me in heaven for making your book a best seller.

10 comments:

Jesus tells the Sadducees that they don't know the scriptures and the power of God in this same discussion. Are there specific Old Testament verses that Jesus is referring to about marriage and the lack thereof in heaven? Also, I was never bothered by the fact that I would not be married in heaven until my husband of 23 years just passed away. Now I find myself in your first camp, like you hope your sweet wife is in, very disappointed and saddened at this thought. I still want to be married in heaven, at least from my current, earthbound perspective. And as to the male/female issue, is it possible that the reason Jesus and Moses and Samuel are still recognized as male is that they still don't have their new resurrected body, which after we all get them are then "as the angels" neither male nor female.
Thanks in advance, Judy in Florida

I am not sure Jesus is referring as much to specific verses about post-resurrection marriage (if He is I cannot recall them) as much as he is speaking to their lack of belief in any sort of resurrection. The Sadducees were strict materialists who did not believe in resurrection. Their question was designed only to show how ridiculous the idea of resurrection was in any context. The problem is, their question backfired.

As far as not being married to your spouse in heaven it is difficult to grasp with our mind. We are only accustomed to certain definitions of things. We cannot conceive of how it may be more fulfilling to relate to our loved ones outside of the current defined relationships, but yet we know this will be true, somehow. What we must be careful of is not to grieve over the state of eternity but rather over the reality of death. Death is the enemy that severs our current relationships.

As far as the male/female issue and the resurrected bodies, your statement may hold true for the OT saints, but it could not be said of Jesus. His resurrection was the first “full” resurrection and glorification. He was in his glorified body when Mary referred to Him as “sir.” He is the firstborn among many brethren.

Judy, thanks for your input. I will certainly be praying for you. I am sorry to hear of your husband’s passing. May God be a husband and a father to you during this time.

BB
Gal. 2:20

Another thing to consider... This passage "about marriage" may not actually be "about marriage."

Jesus is not really defining marriage in the future, so much as He is discussing the Resurrection. The Saducees try to trap him, by asking about the Resurrection (ours, not His), in a tricky way. He avoids the trap, the trick...

In other words, they weren't seeking a true answer to the question in the sense that we might ask it, "My wife died... will we still be married when I get to Heaven and see her again...?"

Rather, they were asking a word game, a mind game... a trap... about something they did not even believe in (the Resurrection).

Their chief error here, according to Jesus, was that they "did not know the Scriptures or the power of God" (see Mark's account of this story, Mark 12:24).

Perhaps we should look at other passages... then?

In Romans 7:3, Paul is not defining marriage so much as he is defining our relationship to the Law- and it's bind on us. In 1 Corinthians 7:39 he speaks of marriage in this life... but doesn't address the future.

So, we can't really build the argument from any of these three passages (Paul is not addressing marriage in Heaven; Jesus skims at it, but is really answering a different question and maneuvering around a trick question- not necessarily trying to outline clear definitive teaching).

Where do you go for the answer?

I don't know. I'm betting that just as Adam and Eve were created to walk with God- forever- as a couple, so might also we be designed in the same way? Repeatedly, the New Testament authors writing after the cross refer us back to the creation-intention of God... as if the Cross is part of moving back to that and ahead to a more glorious future all at once... Just a thought... still developing it...

You write on, Brian. You seem to be incredibly well-versed here. This is an incredible blog- and I'm glad to have stumbled on it. God bless you and your ministry, brother!

Great to hear from you Andrew.

The only thing I would say is that just because the text is not specifically answering this question that does not mean the statements are not true, or that truths can be gleaned from them. For instance, Romans 7 is about our relationship to the law (primarily), but Paul is stating something plainly true of marriage (and widely accepted) to demonstrate something about Christ and the law.

I agree, the Sadducees were playing a game, a joke of sorts, but Jesus' answer is truthful and does give us some understanding of marriage.

I firmly believe that if a devote Christian couple have been married to one wife and faithfully served the Lord Jesus during that time they will be a couple in heaven and have a mansion with their families dwelling there also. If a christian spouse dies and the partner remarries whose first spouse also died, they will be reunited with them as a couple. As Jesus said, we do not know the power of God and His provision for us in glorious heaven. God bless.

In his new book Heaven Revealed, Paul Enns writes that we'll know other people in heaven and that our relationships will continue and be perfected. So he's saying he'll be reunited with his wife in heaven. Do you agree? Here's a link to the amazon page for this intriguing book http://tinyurl.com/4owsgue

I lost my wife 3 months ago and I miss her deeply , I want to take my own life to be with her . Will I be forgiven ? Please don't judge me .

Anonymous (12/14/11), I am sorry to hear of the loss of your wife and certainly understand that you must be suffering from a great deal of pain. While it is not unnatural for you to have feelings and thoughts of hopelessness at a time like this, we must be careful not to allow ourselves to be overcome with hopelessness, especially to the point of suicide.


Allow me to "think" through some things with you. First of all, I hope you do not see my comments as being judgmental in the sense of that I am ultimately condemning YOU. Judging is sinful when I fail to 1) offer grace and humility as if I am NOT a sinner as well and 2) when I try to play the role of God in ultimately condemning you. When it comes to this idea of suicide people mistakingly believe it to be the "ultimate" condemning sin from which there is no forgiveness. I do not see where the Bible teaches this to be true.

However, suicide is sin. It is the sin of self-murder. We do not have the right to take innocent life under any circumstance. So, if I may help you think about this. . .allow me to offer this scenerio.

You stated, "I lost my wife 3 months ago and I miss her deeply , I want to take my own life to be with her . Will I be forgiven ? Please don't judge me ."

Since suicide is sin, what if someone wrote to me and offered this scenerio:

"I lost my job 3 months ago and I am running out of money. I want to rob a bank. Will I be forgiven? Please don't judge me."

Or, "My wife had an affair on my 3 months ago. I want to kill her. Will I be forgiven? Please don't judge me."

Do you understand the point I am trying to make? While your pain is very real, the solution you propose of wanting to end the pain and reunite with your wife through suicide is destructive and sinful.

Please do not murder yourself. There is incredible hope in the gospel and I would implore you to seek counsel immediately regarding this. While I am thankful that you have written to me, I beg of you to find a godly person to talk to and share your feelings with. I will certainly be praying for you.

BB, Gal. 2:20

Kenneth Kelly said...
This is for everyone, especially Anonymous (12/14/11).
I am often troubled with the thoughts of marraige and other blessed cpmponents of our lives that may not be in Heaven. I cannot imagine God the Father and Jesus the Son completely destroying something so blessed as marraige. So, I believe that while a couple may not be legally or technically married, I do believe that we will fully recognize our former partners, and even share a relationship that will still be unique among our other loved ones even in Heaven.
While Jesus will be our number one focus, I don;t think He wants us to forget all our loved ones from Earth. He also understands how much we love our spouses and while our relationships may not be exactly the same in Heaven, he would never take away the memories or the feelings we have for our spouses. If anything, he would help a couples feelings for one another even stronger and more magnificiant than on Earth!
Basically, I honestly feel that Marraige with your spouse on Earth will be different in Heaven, but not absent. I want to love my spoue for all eternity and over that, praise Jesus for all eternity; thanking him for allowing us to be together in Heaven.

As for you, Anonymous, please don't kill yourself. While I don't believe suicide is a one-way ticket to hell, why would you want to risk it? If you are troubled with the thought of not knowing your spouse in heaven as your spouse, please ask Jesus for help. How does anyone know these answers for sure? If you kill yourself and go to hell, not only will you be separated from the TRUE greater love of Jesus, but also from your loving spouse whom you cherished so much. Don't do that to yourself.
Peace and Love,
God Bless.

No please do not think that way. I too lost my spouse I miss him still but I thank the Lord I had the time I did with him. Infact I am here trying to find out if when I die will I be with him again as his wife. I need to move on. In time you will too. I would want him to keep our memories be happy be greatful for the time we had if the tables were turned and would not want him to think of not living. I am sure your wife would feel the same way. Do something that you always wanted to do. Visit a friend. Start a new hobby. Bible study helped me with so many questions. Remember she is only a memory away.

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