I have been married to my wonderful wife now for eight months and must say that the relationship is the second greatest experience that envelops my life (the first being the relationship I have with God). Here, though, is what bothers me concerning the marriage relationship:
It is difficult, if not impossible, for me to conceive of any worthwhile existence without my wife. If marriage was instituted by God before mankind fell from Him, how would a pure marriage relationship (between a man and a woman) not persist on into our future existence? If I am to be married to my wife on this earth, that marriage is instituted by God and I am to invest so much of my life under the authority of Christ to this marriage; why must the love I give to my wife become void in the resurrection?
I must admit, I find it difficult to believe that God would have us dedicate so much of our existence to one another only to separate us from the intimacy that He created for us to enjoy.
Let us consider the beginning. God created man, and then created woman out of man, giving the woman (Eve) to the man (Adam) as a suitable helper (Gen. 2). There was created, by God, a marriage relationship.
- This marriage relationship was not designed for procreation, though procreation was commanded for the sake of filling God’s earth with His image. This will undoubtedly be fulfilled in the coming of the new earth (Rev. 21). Thus, we must know that procreation will not be on God’s agenda, nor will there be a need for it as there is now. People will not continue to have children on the new earth.
- The man and the wife together were to be stewards of God’s creation. They were to rule over the earth. This command, given by God has not yet become void, nor can we know whether or not it will be void on the new earth. If mankind is to be God’s authority over creation, then men and women are to fulfill that role together.
- Furthermore, the man and the woman united present a full (though currently corrupted because of human sin) image of God (Gen. 1:27). If we are to be the full image of God on the new earth, then we must exist in unity (man and woman).
- The primary purpose of the marriage relationship, as presented in Genesis 2, was to grant the gift of companionship. Because God did not want man to be alone, He created woman. Now, neither man nor woman have to live alone, but have each other. Concerning this, we must note that man was not alone in the Garden of Eden. He had God and lived in perfect relationship with God because he had not yet rebelled against God. Yet, God still blessed man with the companionship of a wife.
Considering these things, it is entirely plausible for us to dream of the marriage relationship continuing on into our existence with God on the New Earth. It is also reasonable for us to think that we will experience this type of companionship on the New Earth even if some have not experienced these pleasantries on this earth or experienced them in a way that may not have been so pleasant. It is rational for some to think that they will be reunited with a lost spouse or gain a spouse after living a celibate life. But even considering the rationalities we can plausibly hold concerning our future existence, we must consider the words of Jesus Himself as He spoke to the Sadducees concerning the Resurrection. Consequently, amidst the wedding imagery of the entire Biblical narrative, this story remains the only story that apparently insinuates that there will be no marriage on the New Earth.
Now there were seven brothers among us. The first got married and died. Having no offspring, he left his wife to his brother. 26 The same happened to the second also, and the third, and so to all seven. 27 Then last of all the woman died. 28 In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will she be of the seven? For they all had married her.”
29 Jesus answered them, “You are deceived, because you don’t know the Scriptures or the power of God. 30 For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage but are like angels in heaven. (Matthew 22:25-30 HCSB)
There were seven brothers. The first took a wife, and dying, left no offspring. 21 The second also took her, and he died, leaving no offspring. And the third likewise. 22 So the seven left no offspring. Last of all, the woman died too. 23 In the resurrection, when they rise, whose wife will she be, since the seven had married her?”
24 Jesus told them, “Are you not deceived because you don’t know the Scriptures or the power of God? 25 For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage but are like angels in heaven. (Mark 12:20-25 HCSB)
Some of the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came up and questioned Him: 28 “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother has a wife, and dies childless, his brother should take the wife and produce offspring for his brother. 29 Now there were seven brothers. The first took a wife and died without children. 30 Also the second 31 and the third took her. In the same way, all seven died and left no children. 32 Finally, the woman died too. 33 In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For all seven had married her.”
34 Jesus told them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage. 35 But those who are counted worthy to take part in that age and in the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. 36 For they cannot die anymore, because they are like angels and are sons of God, since they are sons of the resurrection. (Luke 20:27-36 HCSB)
My one question is this, and I am not sure that it can be answered satisfactorily this side of our existence with God on the New Earth: why would God institute marriage in perfection for the sake of companionship, only to dissolve it in a restored state of that perfection? It seems counter productive and illogical to act in such a way. Now this thought is either a result of my impaired rational facilities or it is a correct thought and we have interpreted the above story wrongly. Of these two options, I am not sure which is true, but I am convicted to share my thoughts with you on the subject. As we continue on, we must remember that much about our existence to come will remain unknown to us at this present time. God has not chosen to reveal those things to us yet because, in our service to Him on this earth, we are to live in this world; not just stand by and wait for our future existence (which we would do if we knew exactly how glorious it will be). With this in mind, here are some of my thoughts:
- Even though Jesus claims that none will be married or given in marriage, we must contend with our uniting eternally with Christ. It is described throughout scripture as a type of marriage relationship, where the bride (God’s Church) will be united with the Lamb (Jesus- Rev. 19:7). Furthermore, after the marriage there will be a great marriage feast in which we will eat from God’s table (Rev. 19:9). This does not include the sexual aspect of marriage, but nonetheless incorporates the companionship, unity and satisfaction we will have in Christ. Despite Jesus’ claim that no one will marry or be given in marriage, the concept of marriage will remain and we will experience a relationship with God that is just as intimate (if not more intimate) as the relationship Adam and Eve first had with God in the Garden.
- The fact that the concept of marriage will still exist and that we will experience a type of marriage in Christ, must mean that Jesus, in His rebuttal to the Sadducees, did not include all notions of marriage and may not have been denying a pure notion of the marriage relationship at all.
- Jesus was primarily addressing the false precept that a resurrection state did not exist. He was defending a resurrection, not attacking a concept of marriage. Even so, we must realize that if Jesus was God, then what little He shared about our future existence must be true.
- In Luke’s account, Jesus explains by saying that since there will be no death, there will be no need for procreation, which was an essential part of the marriage relationship in His day. If a woman could not produce, she was worthless to society in the mind of popular culture. Furthermore, a woman being married to a man meant that she was his property (not a helper or companion). These notions of marriage are not Biblical descriptions of what marriage should be. It is possible that, since Jesus is not referring to all notions of marriage (see #2), He could be stating inadvertently that people will not be the property of people on the New Earth and that we will not need procreation to continue on a certain family line.
- There should be no doubt that we will experience pure companionship on the new earth, both with Christ and with each other. If marriage was designed for pure companionship, we can still reasonably hope for it in light of the above passage.
A quick Google search (or Bing if you protest Google’s internet dominance) will provide a plethora of opinions regarding the subject. No doubt, there are some reading this who were curious and typed “will we marry in Heaven?” into their search bar. As for arriving at a conclusive answer, I am not sure it’s possible. There is room to interpret a systematic look a Scripture in both directions; but to do so conclusively is to rely too heavily on personal speculation. As for hope, though, we can always hope. We can hope to be reunited with our spouses as we are ushered into a pure and unhindered life existence. Those who are not married can hope to experience such a delight on the new earth. Those who have been married multiple times or who were married to an unbeliever can hope to overcome those implications as we dream and live for the future life God will provide for us. In light of all our hope (which we can reasonably hold) we must remember that things will be the way that God has already designed them to be. According to Revelation 21, there will be unhindered happiness and joy. There will be no crying or emotional pain. People will not die any longer! We will experience pure companionship. According to John 10:10, Jesus came to give life and give it to the full. We will not fall short of a full and abundant life on the New Earth. Whatever God designed life to be (which I believe the first married couple experienced in the Garden), we can guarantee that we will experience it to its fullest. We will serve God, we will worship God in that service, we will enjoy that service, we will be with God and we will be along side each other. Through everything and no matter what our future existence will look like, we give God praise and trust that He will provide something greater than any of us could ever imagine!
P.S. I hope to share that full life with my wife (even if we don’t get to be married) =).