Didn’t Jesus Say There’s No Marriage in Heaven?

Contrary to popular belief, Jesus did not say that there’s no marriage in heaven. What he did say is that people who achieve eternal life don’t get married in the afterlife. There’s a big difference!

Elderly lovers

Elderly lovers

Further, marriage in Jesus’ day was very different from what many people think of as marriage today. It had nothing to do with “true love,” “soulmates,” or any inner connection at all. Believe it or not, the concept of marriage as a relationship based on love developed in human society only within the last two or three centuries, and it has become widespread only within the last half century or so.

For Jesus’ listeners, and throughout most of human history, marriage was what we today would call a contractual and business relationship. Its purpose was to provide financial advantages and social recognition to married couples and their clans, and to perpetuate the family’s lineage, property, and inheritance. And as Jesus said, that sort of marriage does not exist in heaven. There is no need for it there.

And yet, there is more to Jesus’ words than meets the eye. Jesus was a master of metaphor and parable. If we look at his words more deeply, we can learn a great deal about what kind of marriage does and doesn’t exist in heaven. And more importantly, we can learn a great deal about how to live here on earth so that we can experience real, eternal marriage in heaven.

Yes, there is marriage in heaven. We’ll get to that, and to the deeper message of Jesus’ words, in the next two articles.

In this article, we’ll look at exactly what Jesus did and didn’t say about marriage and the afterlife. Though it may get a little detailed and technical at times, that is necessary in order to dispel the myths and misunderstandings about marriage and the afterlife that have been rampant in Christianity for nearly two thousand years now.

If you don’t want to get into the nitty-gritty, but just want the basics about spiritual marriage and the afterlife, please read this article instead: “How does Marriage Fit In with a Spiritual Life? Is There Marriage in Heaven?

However, if your minister or priest has told you there’s no marriage in heaven because Jesus said so, and you need something more solid and comprehensive to put your mind (and your heart) at rest, then this is the article for you.

For more on marriage and the afterlife, please click here to read on.

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Posted in Sex Marriage Relationships, The Afterlife, The Bible Re-Viewed

A Star in the East

For a video reading of this article on YouTube, click here.

Matthew 2:1–12

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.”

When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. He called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, and asked them where the Christ was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written, ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.’”

Herod called the wise men secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go, make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another way.

A star in the east

A star in the east

For more on a star in the east, please click here to read on.

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Posted in All About God, The Bible Re-Viewed

God Is Unconvincing To Smart Folks? – Part 5

(This is Part 5 and the conclusion of my response to the article, “God Is Unconvincing To Smart Folks,” by J. H. McKenna. For Part 1, click here. For Part 4, click here.)

Points 19–21 of Dr. McKenna’s article make the closing argument, which in a nutshell is: “There just plain ain’t no God, and if you’re smart, you’ll figure that out!”

19. God belief can be explained naturally (and that makes God unconvincing)

Under this heading, Dr. McKenna writes:

Modern university disciplines like anthropology, psychology, sociology, evolutionary biology, and evolutionary psychology adequately explain the rise and success of religion and God belief. In prehistoric times, simple ignorance of natural causes led people to suppose there were super-natural causes for things. And when the natural causes were eventually discovered by some new science, some part of the super-natural God dissolved. It was thought for thousands of years that a God dragged the sun across the day-time sky in a chariot. Then came astronomy and cosmology and astrophysics to explain the real reason the sun appears to move across the sky. It was thought for thousands of years that God or demons cause diseases. Then medical science and biology uncovered germs. It was thought that God painted all the rainbows. Then came meteorology and optics with the true explanation. And on and on. Psychology has credible ideas about the rise of the ‘Father-Figure’ God.

I already dealt with some of this under point 14, in Part 4.

The idea that “In prehistoric times, simple ignorance of natural causes led people to suppose there were super-natural causes for things” is simply a matter of opinion. It begs the question. Were these university-trained Smart Folks actually there in prehistoric times? Do they actually know that this is where the earliest concepts of God came from?

No. They don’t know this at all. It’s simply an explanation they’ve come up with that sounds plausible to people who don’t believe in God and are trying to figure out where the idea of God came from. It is based on an already existing assumption that there is no God and no spiritual realm.

This is no different from religious folks who have already decided what they believe going to their holy books to “prove” that their beliefs are right. The human mind can be very ingenious in coming up with “explanations” for what it already believes. And this applies to atheists just as much as it applies to religious folks.

In reality, all of this is pure speculation.

For more on “There just plain ain’t no God!” please click here to read on.

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Posted in All About God, Science Philosophy and History

God Is Unconvincing To Smart Folks? – Part 4

(This is Part 4 of my response to the article, “God Is Unconvincing To Smart Folks,” by J. H. McKenna. For Part 1, click here. For Part 3, click here.)

Points 12–18 of Dr. McKenna’s article deal with big issues of God’s causative position and beneficial effects on the universe and humanity.

12. God is not a convincing cause of the universe

Under this heading, Dr. McKenna writes:

God is not a solution as to the origin of the universe but only another layer of mystery. What caused God? It’s more believable that a material universe emerged from preexistent matter or energy than from a non-material Mind.

More believable for materialists, yes. Because their basic assumption is that nothing but the material universe exists. It’s not anything they can prove, any more than theists can prove that God exists. On that, see the article, “Where is the Proof of the Afterlife?

These days, all sorts of wild theories about the physical universe are coming out of science itself, and from philosophers of science. Is the universe a hologram? asks Science Daily. How about a Multiverse—another current theory that is probably unprovable. And if those two aren’t enough for you, see Top 10: Weirdest cosmology theories on New Scientist.

For more on God as the cause of everything good, please click here to read on.

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Posted in All About God, Science Philosophy and History

God Is Unconvincing To Smart Folks? – Part 3

(This is Part 3 of my response to the article, “God Is Unconvincing To Smart Folks,” by J. H. McKenna. For Part 1, click here. For Part 2, click here.)

Points 6–11 of Dr. McKenna’s article deal with human experience of and testimony about God, and with the phenomenon of divine revelation.

6. Personal testimonies of God are unconvincing

Under this heading, Dr. McKenna writes:

People who testify that they experience God in some way are found in every religion under the sun during the entire span of human history. Does the personal testimony of an ancient polytheist convince you all those ancient Gods existed? Does the personal testimony of a Voodooist convince you of the truth of Voodoo? Does the personal testimony of a Caodaist convince you of the truth of Caodai? All these people have had ‘an experience’ (a sensation or a special feeling) but it wasn’t God they experienced: it was a ‘feeling’ triggered by the very idea of God.

It’s true enough that the experiences of others really can’t convince us that there is a God. Nor does God want the experiences of others to be the only basis for our own faith in God. That’s something we must each come to for ourselves, in our own way. And atheists, of course, are perfectly free to convince themselves that there is no God.

For more on the human experience of God, please click here to read on.

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Posted in All About God, Science Philosophy and History, The Bible Re-Viewed

God Is Unconvincing To Smart Folks? – Part 2

(This is Part 2 of my response to the article, “God Is Unconvincing To Smart Folks,” by J. H. McKenna. For Part 1, click here.)

Points 3, 4, and 5 of Dr. McKenna’s article deal with three key characteristics of God: God’s omniscience, God’s omnibenevolence, and God’s omnipotence.

3. God as all-knowing is unconvincing

Under this heading, Dr. McKenna writes:

Does God know terror, fear, pain, indigestion, menstruation, sexual attraction, sexual climax, pregnancy? Does God know the last number? No one is all knowing. Again, a nonsensical claim.

So God really is just a slob like one of us, with all of our limitations?

(And hmm . . . more issues about God and sex . . .)

Yes, God does know all of these things, if only because God fully knows every one of us—in fact, much more fully than we know ourselves—and is fully present in every one of our experiences, whether or not we are aware of it.

We don’t need to get down into the nitty-gritty of exactly how all of these things might exist within the nature of God. We wouldn’t be able to understand most of it anyway because our minds are finite whereas God is infinite. Suffice it to say that everything in the created universe is, in one way or another, an expression of the nature of God. The things we experience don’t exist in the same form in God as they do in us. After all, our reality is limited to the physical and the spiritual, whereas God exists on the divine level of reality. But all of these things do exist in divine form in God.

However, it is also important to understand that much of what we experience, though ultimately derived from God, is a distorted version of its original version in God. We’ll get to the problem of evil in a moment, too.

For more on God as all-knowing, all-good, and all-powerful, please click here to read on.

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Posted in All About God, Pain and Suffering, Science Philosophy and History

God Is Unconvincing To Smart Folks? – Part 1

The title of this article, minus the question mark, is the title of an article posted recently (December 1, 2016) on the Huffington Post Blog. Its author is J. H. McKenna, Ph.D., Senior Lecturer on the History of Religious Ideas at the University of California, Irvine. Here is the article’s introductory line:

As far as I can discover from interviews and from books, there are at least 21 reasons smart people find God unconvincing. Here are the 21 reasons, explained.

This multi-part article here on Spiritual Insights for Everyday Life is my response to Dr. McKenna’s 21 collected reasons, from the perspective of a perhaps moderately smart theist of the Swedenborgian Christian variety.

The “About” page at Dr. McKenna’s website, “Upon Religion,” ends with these words:

Dr. McKenna often views religious ideas through the lens of benign humor.

Fascinating! As it turns out, I often view atheist ideas through the lens of benign humor! I’m sure Dr. McKenna won’t mind.

Speaking of which, before getting to my point-by-point response to Dr. McKenna’s article let’s take a look at that title.

For more on God and Smart Folks, please click here to read on.

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Posted in All About God, Science Philosophy and History

Is the God of the Qur’an the Same God as the God of the Bible?

Christianity and Islam

Christianity and Islam

Here is a question that was recently asked on Islam StackExchange:

What is the difference between the Christian God and the Muslim God? Is the God of the Qur’an the same god as the God of the Bible?

You can see the original question here, and my original answer here. This is a slightly edited version of the answer I posted there:

In order to properly answer this question, it is necessary to understand that it is actually two distinct questions:

  1. What is the difference between the Christian God and the Muslim God?
  2. Is the God of the Qur’an the same God as the God of the Bible?

For more on the God of Christianity and Islam, please click here to read on.

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Posted in All About God

1,000,000 Hits!

Dear Readers,

Today Spiritual Insights for Everyday Life reached a milestone. We have now received over one million total hits since we first started four years ago on September 17, 2012!

During the four months our modest little blog was online in 2012, it received just over 3,000 hits, averaging 30 hits per day. It has greatly increased in traffic every year since.

Spiritual Insights for Everyday Life currently offers well over 250 articles providing insight and inspiration on a wide variety of subjects, practical, biblical, and spiritual. It seems that you, our readers, are finding this material helpful: we are now averaging nearly 2,000 hits per day!

We would like to thank all of our readers and followers, and everyone who has linked to us and recommended us to family members, friends, and acquaintances. We would also like to thank all of the people who have posted comments and questions here, making this blog into a living—and lively!—spiritual community. And of course, we would like to thank the people who have submitted Spiritual Conundrums that prompted many of the more popular (and sometimes controversial!) articles on this website.

It is truly our joy to offer spiritual insights for everyday life to a growing number of spiritual seekers and fellow travelers.

Godspeed on your spiritual journey!

—Lee & Annette Woofenden

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Posted in Current Events

Doesn’t Ephesians 2:8-9 Teach Faith Alone?

Ephesians 2:8-9

Ephesians 2:8-9

When you’ve been raised to believe something so fundamentally that it forms the basis of your spirituality, it can be quite difficult and disorienting to learn that your belief isn’t supported by the Scriptures or by the facts.

This is especially the case with Protestants who have had the doctrine of salvation by faith alone taught to them since they were children in Sunday School, and preached to them every week from the pulpit at church.

But the fact of the matter is that the doctrine of salvation, or justification, by faith alone simply isn’t taught in the Bible. It originated 1,500 years after the last books of the Bible were written, at the time of the Protestant Reformation. Specifically, the doctrine of justification by faith alone was first formulated and promulgated by Martin Luther (1483–1546) as part of his doctrinal and ecclesiastical break from the Roman Catholic Church.

Yes, Luther had good reason to reject many of the faulty doctrines and corrupt practices of the Catholic Church in which he had been an ordained priest. But when he set up justification by faith alone as the centerpiece of his new branch of Christianity, he jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire doctrinally.

Ever since then, salvation by faith alone has been ardently preached and taught in Protestant churches around the world. And because Protestants hear it preached and taught so often and so forcefully as God’s own unvarnished truth straight from the Bible, whenever they read the Bible, everything in it screams “faith alone” to their minds.

And yet, there is not a single verse in the Bible that says that we are justified, or saved, by faith alone. In fact, the Bible specifically and clearly denies it!

This is very hard—even impossible—for the vast bulk of Protestants to accept. No matter how clearly this fact is pointed out to them, they still continue to maintain that that’s what the Bible really means, even if it doesn’t say it in so many words, and that we really are justified by faith alone, just as Martin Luther taught. It is so deeply ingrained in their minds by continuous teaching and preaching over many years that most Protestants simply cannot see that the key doctrine on which their spiritual life is founded is not supported by the Scriptures or by the facts.

And that is a pity. Because what the Bible actually does teach is far greater and more beautiful than the doctrine of justification by faith alone that Martin Luther set up as the distinguishing feature and foundation stone of Protestantism.

For more on faith alone and Ephesians 2:8-9, please click here to read on.

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