With divorce rates at roughly 50 percent in America, and those marriages lasting on average only 8.2 years, it’s hard to even imagine being married for eternity. It does make you stop and wonder what will happen with you and your spouse around the throne though. So at the asking of a reader, I want to tackle the question: “Is marriage eternal?” Or to put it another way, “Will Christians be married in Heaven?”
It’s difficult to image your life without those you love the most. When you have a great marriage, it’s even more difficult to envision not spending eternity with your spouse. Honestly, it can be depressing at times if you allow your mind to dwell on it.
The truth is that when we start to look at most things in light of eternity it changes our understanding of them. This is true of marriage as well.
Let me just straight out say this so there is no confusion. I do not believe we will be married in heaven. I believe we will be reunited with loved ones, but not united in marriage.
Below you will find the purpose of marriage in this life, and then the understanding of why I do not believe we will be married in heaven, and some common thoughts on the idea.
I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments after you’ve read it.
Marriage In This Life
From before the foundations of the world God has had an eternal purpose: build a home, have His image in the earth, and have a bride for the Son. The purpose of marriage on earth is to be a signpost of the eternal, a shadow of the marriage between Christ and His bride that is to come.
A shadow has no lasting substance. The substance is found in that which casts the shadow.
Some have emphasized marriage to the point of making us believe that the end goal of being a Christian is to have a good marriage. Instead think of it this way; we have a good marriage in order to reflect God and point a dying and hurting world to Him.
As believers, both married and single, we are on a mission on this earth. We are here to bear His image, and eventually be reunited with our bridegroom. When that time comes we will not be concerned with a marital relationship.
Because the pendulum of marriage and divorce is pushed so far to the side of divorce, the church tends to try and push the pendulum back the other way and emphasize great marriages. Instead we as the church need to change the paradigm of the pendulum entirely.
If you are married you are called to continually look at your marriage in light of eternity. Listen to what both Jesus and Paul say:
If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. – Luke 14:26
Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be released. Are you released from a wife? Do not seek a wife. But if you marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. Yet such will have trouble in this life, and I am trying to spare you. But this I say, brethren, the time has been shortened, so that from now on those who have wives should be as though they had none – 1 Corinthians 7:27-29
What they are saying is that your marriage is never meant to detract from your personal relationship with Christ, and your mission to make Him know to this world. This mindset is what helps you to fulfill Paul’s words in Ephesians 5 on how to love your spouse like Christ.
Marriage In Heaven
The viewpoint of being married eternally or being married in heaven is a product of the Mormon religion. They pull this belief from Matthew 16:19 and 18:18,
whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven
This of course is being taken out of context, as Jesus was discussing forgiving sins of one another.
Will we be married in heaven?
Jesus provides us with some insight on this topic in a funny scenario when the Sadducees tried to trip Him up. We can read the account in Matthew 22, Mark 12, and Luke 20. We’ll read from Matthew’s account today:
On that day some Sadducees came to Jesus and questioned Him, asking, “Teacher, Moses said, ‘If a man dies having no children, his brother as next of kin shall marry his wife, and raise up children for his brother.’ Now there were seven brothers with us; and the first married and died, and having no children left his wife to his brother; so also the second, and the third, down to the seventh. Last of all, the woman died. In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife of the seven will she be? For they all had married her.
Since the Sadducees only adhered to the Pentateuch (first five books of the OT) they were using the instructions from Deuteronomy 25:5-10 in an opportunity to try and test Jesus. It’s funny because they are asking about what will happen at the resurrection, yet they didn’t even believe in the resurrection. Here is Jesus’s response:
You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. But regarding the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God: ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.” When the crowds heard this, they were astonished at His teaching.
Jesus tells us what heaven will be like, and He Himself said we will not be married. We will be like the angels. He was not saying we will become angels when we die, which is another article all together. He was referring to the fact that angels don’t get married, nor do they procreate.
After he addresses the marriage issue, He brings home the point that the resurrection shall come to pass. It’s that little jab to the Sadducees when he says, “He is not the God of the dead but of the living.”
Scripture does repeatedly affirm that we will be reunited with loved ones and our fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord. On the other hand, it does not affirm marriage in heaven. Your wedding vows are correct when they say, “until death do us part.” When one of you dies you are no longer bound to the law of marriage (Rom. 7:2).
It not fully clear as to what the extent of our relationships with each other will look like when we cross that threshold of death into resurrected life, but we know that we will be with Him.
Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. – 1 John 3:2
We know that it’s not that there won’t be any marriage in heaven, because there will be one marriage. That is, we will finally be married to our Lord. We will be His bride, and He will be our bridegroom.