How this central human relationship prepares us for the afterlife
by Greg Laurie
When people think of the end times or the Book of Revelation, they invariably think of Heaven. What will it be like for us? Will it feel like home? Will I be wearing angel wings and playing a harp all day long? (Um, no. That’s not in the Bible.)
Our thoughts about eternity tend to become abstract or surreal. They are definitely influenced by culture. But there’s nothing foggy about Heaven.
The Bible presents Heaven as a future destination—a real place—and a home that will be inexpressibly better than anything we are experiencing right now. We will be given new, strong bodies in Heaven. Those who may be unhealthy today will find optimum health in the afterlife. We will never have to face pain or sorrow or fear again.
Revelation describes Heaven this way:
“He will wipe away all tears from their eyes, and there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying, nor pain. All of that has gone forever.”—Revelation 21:4 (TLB)
That’s good news!
But as I teach people about eternity, several questions invariably surface. These are down-to-earth questions about a beyond-the-earth reality. I want to answer one of them today: Will we still be married in Heaven?
My friend Jimmy Evans is the expert on marriage and has devoted his career to helping men and women build strong, healthy relationships. But I’m still going to take a stab at answering this question, simply because it gets asked so often.
The Answer: Yes and No
Some people would be very happy to think that they will still be married in the afterlife. Others…maybe not. So what’s the answer?
It’s a little more complicated than a simple Yes or No. Here’s what I mean.
In Heaven, you will still have many of the relationships that you had on earth. Yes, you will be receiving a new, eternal body, and you will relocate ultimately to the new earth God will establish. But don’t think of that as erasing your past—the history you are living right now.
Think of Heaven as the culmination of that history.
Jesus was actually asked about the marriage relationship by a group of religious leaders known as the Sadducees. In contrast to the Pharisees, the Sadducees didn’t believe in the resurrection of the dead or life after death. What a bleak outlook on life! It’s not how they got their name, but it is pretty sad to live without hope of life beyond the grave.
Anyway, this group of leaders were trying to trap Jesus with a hypothetical situation they’d dreamed up. Matthew 22 explains it:
23 But that same day some of the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection after death, came to him and asked, 24 “Sir, Moses said that if a man died without children, his brother should marry the widow and their children would get all the dead man’s property. 25 Well, we had among us a family of seven brothers. The first of these men married and then died, without children, so his widow became the second brother’s wife. 26 This brother also died without children, and the wife was passed to the next brother, and so on until she had been the wife of each of them. 27 And then she also died. 28 So whose wife will she be in the resurrection? For she was the wife of all seven of them!”—Matthew 22:23-28 (TLB)
These guys must have felt so smug. They thought they had Jesus trapped! But Jesus didn’t take much time before putting that idea to rest. Here’s His response:
But Jesus said, “Your error is caused by your ignorance of the Scriptures and of God’s power! 30 For in the resurrection there is no marriage; everyone is as the angels in heaven.”—Matthew 22:29-30 (TLB)
So…is that the answer? Is Jesus saying we won’t be married in Heaven?
Not necessarily. No, you won’t be married to your spouse in Heaven, but you will be married to the Lord—the Bible clearly describes us as the Bride of Christ. In Heaven, we will join the Bridegroom, Jesus, for the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. Jimmy Evans wrote about that here.
In that sense, yes, there will be marriage on the other side.
An Echo of the Ultimate Marriage
But what about our relationship with our spouse? My wife, Cathe, and I are just a couple years away from our 50th anniversary. If you have been married to someone for that long, the idea of not having any connection to them in eternity is, well, a little troubling.
I love spending time with Cathe, whether it’s an hour, a day, or a whole week of vacation. I can’t imagine not spending eternity with her!
Here’s what you need to know: Your relationship with your spouse will not end. In Heaven, Cathe and I will know each other. We may not be husband and wife in the same sense that we were on earth, but we will certainly still be in relationship.
In his excellent book, Heaven, Randy Allcorn puts it like this:
“Earthly marriage is a shadow, an echo of the true and ultimate marriage. The purpose of marriage is not to replace heaven but to prepare us for it.”
Remember, God created marriage. It’s a gift He gave us! The institution of marriage finds its ultimate culmination in Heaven. We may not technically still be married to each other, but we will experience everything God has been using marriage to prepare us for.
God’s plan for our lives doesn’t stop at death. It continues in Heaven. It continues throughout eternity. God doesn’t abandon His purposes on the other side, but fulfills them.
So I do not hesitate to say this when asked about marriage and heaven: Every friendship and relationship that began on earth will continue in Heaven. And there, in God’s presence, the relationship will be richer than ever.