Marriage In Heaven?
No - and Here's Why
Will There Be Marriage In Heaven? No - and Here's Why, by John Lilley
Recently a reader emailed me a question about Matthew 22:30 where Jesus says that "in the resurrection" there will be no marriage. He was (understandably) having trouble wrapping his head around the fact that there will be no family units "in the resurrection", because we are so accustomed to living in family units today.
Before I give my reply to this question, let me briefly make an important distinction.
Let's Get This Straight: The Bible Clearly Teaches Our Ultimate Destiny Is Life With God On Earth - Not In Heaven
The Bible clearly teaches that we are not actually going to be in heaven for very long after the rapture. Shortly after the rapture we will return to earth with Christ to rule and serve humanity with Him for 1,000 years (Rev. 19:1-20:6), and then later on the New Jerusalem will come down from heaven to a new earth (Rev. 21-22)...so we will eventually live in immortality with God on earth, not in heaven.
This is why Jesus used the phrase, "in the resurrection" rather than "in heaven" to describe the future of resurrected humans - because we were designed to live on earth and our destiny is to fellowship with God on earth in immortality. Modern Christians are often confused on this point because we have inherited a bit of paganism from the Catholics on this subject. (Catholicism started as a politically expedient combination of Christianity with pagan religions, and one of the main features of pagan religions is the idea of a conscious afterlife.)
Thankfully, once we throw out the pagan leftover ideas and traditions we inherited from Catholicism (conscious death and eternal punishment) and stop trying to artificially superimpose them on top of the Bible by mistranslating a few key words and butchering a few important passages in Scripture, the Bible suddenly makes perfect sense and contains no contradictions whatsoever on the subject of what happens at death and God's ultimate plan for mankind. For all the Biblical details on exactly what will happen to those who believe in Christ in this age and those who don't, both at death and in God's ultimate plan, you can read my book
Hell Is A Mistranslation: God's Ultimate Plan For Humanity Revealed In the Accurately Translated Bible.
Now that you understand that "in the resurrection" refers to our future life and fellowship with God in immortal/incorruptible bodies on earth (both this present earth and a new earth later on see Rev. chapters 20 through 22), here's the reply I gave to the gentleman who wrote me with the excellent question about marriage and family units "in the resurrection".
Why No Marriage In the Resurrection?
According to Jesus in Matthew 22:30, "in the resurrection" when we get our incorruptible/immortal bodies we will not be in family units (marriage and kids) like we are in this age in our current corruptible/mortal bodies. From what I know of Scripture, the Bible doesn't state exactly why God will make it so that we will not be in family units anymore, but from simple common sense I can think of five reasons why He would do that:
1) There are many people who get married more than once in this age (due to death of a spouse, divorce, etc.)...so obviously it would be kind of weird in the resurrection to make it so that two wives (who never lived with each other or in many cases never even knew each other) must live with their one husband or vice versa.
2) Family units are more necessary in this age than they will be in the resurrection; they serve as a buffer, protection and support system in an age where there are many problems and challenges due to the fact that God is allowing Satan to rule (2 Cor. 4:4, Luke 4:5-6). In the resurrection people in immortal bodies will no longer have a need for such a support system because general circumstances will be so much better and there will be far fewer difficulties for them.
Side note: In the next age (the millennium reign of Christ on earth with Christians and Israel as His leadership team) there will be two types of people on earth: those who took part in the rapture and are in immortal bodies, and those who lived all the way through the end of the end times (did not take part in the rapture) and into the beginning of Jesus reign. These still-mortal people will have children, live in family units with sexual reproduction, and die etc. just like we all do in this age. (We know this because the Bible predicts that the health and lifespan of these people will increase significantly in the millennium, see Is. 65:20-25.) The immortals will rule over and serve (Jesus' definition of leadership) the mortals. The immortals will obviously have advantages and joys that the mortals do not have, and thus there will be no need for the immortals to operate in family units.
By the way, this is another thorn in the side of those who believe in the pagan leftover concepts of conscious death and eternal punishment - what are we supposed to tell these mortal people who live, reproduce, and die in the millennium? "Don't have kids because they'll go straight to hell when they die, because it's too late for them to get saved...even though they were born after it was already too late and never had a chance to get saved!" Just another logical and Scriptural problem that can only be solved by no longer trying to artificially superimpose conscious death and eternal punishment on the Bible through mistranslation and misunderstanding. See my book Hell Is A Mistranslation for more details on exactly why God will carry out His plan for the millennium the way the Bible predicts, and what will happen after that.
3) Although sexuality and sex sometimes seem like a "big deal" in this age (because God wired us to desire it as a means of ensuring that billions of people come into existence that He can then enjoy throughout our eventual immortal existence with Him), in the resurrection there will surely be many joys and pleasures that will supercede sexuality and man/woman romance - life will be far more enjoyable in general. In this age romance and sexuality are also a "special pleasure" to look forward to and enjoy that makes life in this troublesome Satan-ruled age a bit more bearable. But in the resurrection there will not be nearly as much trouble to bear, and with the absence of sexual desire we will not miss romance or sex. (For example, my dad loves to go running and derives great pleasure from it, but I don't. If my dad couldn't go running he would miss it...but if I couldn't run I wouldn't miss it at all...because I have no desire to do it. In the absence of a desire for something you don't miss it at all.)
In my book Hell Is A Mistranslation I explain a bit more about why God chose to use sexual reproduction to bring billions of humans into existence over an extended period of time rather than all at once.
4) In the resurrection, God wants to give each person a reward according to his or her own deeds (1 Cor. 3:14). There are many cases where one spouse serves God faithfully in this age while the other doesn't serve God or barely serves Him...so it would be unfair for one spouse to "get stuck" with the "zero to little" reward of their spouse or for the other spouse to get a higher reward level just because they happened to marry an amazing saint. That being said, the Bible does not say that we will not have the choice of living with or near whoever we want; it just makes it clear that there will be no marriage or sexual reproduction for resurrected immortals like we mortals know today.
5) In the resurrection, billions of people will have already been created through sexual reproduction, and at the white throne judgment (Rev. 20:1-6, Phill. 2:10) God will correct everyone who doesn't come to know Christ in this current age (and then give them immortality later at the consummation of God's plan - see 1 Cor. 15:20-28)...so it makes sense that at some point in His future plan God would no longer want or require sexual reproduction as a means of bringing more people into the world. At some point He wants to teach and train the billions already in existence to live His way (perfect love) - again see 1 Cor. 15:24-28.
We don't know exactly what will happen after the consummation of God's plan (1 Cor. 15:20-28) but obviously if new humans start coming into existence again who have not had the personal experience of living in an age (like this current age) where God allows humans to do whatever they want as a "learn later on in hindsight that obeying the Designer works and everything else is stupidity and just causes pain" exercise...there would probably have to be some type of new "let them learn from experience by trying other ways of living for themselves and seeing how it works out" period of history for these new human beings.
I don't know if God will ever create more humans again after He teaches the billions that will become immortal at the consummation of the plan He outlines in the Bible (1 Cor. 15:20-28). I'm simply pointing out that the current "crop" (my word, not a Bible word) of humanity, as intelligent beings, are being allowed by God to spend some time learning from experience to a certain extent in order to get rid of our doubts about whether God is withholding something good from us when He says, "This is the way I designed you to live." That is the reason He is allowing most of humanity to go its own way for thousands of years in this age.
In this age it seems a bit of a strange thought to us that there would be life without family units "in the resurrection" when we become immortal, but I think it will be much like parents are in this age with their kids who grow up, leave the home and experience their own lives and their own rewards and experiences in life - we will probably have a special closeness with them that we may not have with others, but we won't be required to live together anymore (and there will be no more sexuality or reproduction).
We must also note that the Bible does not say we will not be allowed to live with or near whoever we want. I'm not sure exactly what it will be like in this regard but we can certainly trust God to make life in the resurrection absolutely wonderful.
Thanks for your excellent question,
Learn more about John's book Hell Is A Mistranslation: God's Ultimate Plan For Humanity Revealed In the Accurately Translated Bible
Return from Marriage In Heaven to More Questions page.
Will There Be Marriage In Heaven? Copyright 2011 John Lilley