Is marriage biological, social, or spiritual?
Answer: All of the above. Not to mention divine.
Yes, we humans have the same biological drives to mate and reproduce as the rest of the higher animals. And yes, marriage does help to provide social stability and a healthy environment for raising children—assuming the marriages themselves are healthy.
But marriage goes far beyond biology and sociology. At least it does according to Emanuel Swedenborg, who published a controversial book on the subject back in the eighteenth century. Marriage, says Swedenborg, is a spiritual and eternal relationship because it comes from the very nature of God.
What? Is God married?
Yes . . . but it’s not what you’re thinking! There is not a marriage between male and female deities and a whole family of little gods and goddesses running around some celestial Mount Olympus. Instead, there is a marriage of divine love and divine wisdom. From that marriage comes everything God says and does, including all of creation.
From its origin in God, marriage goes down through every level of a human being. And when marriage is a spiritual union of two people who share common loves and common values, it becomes heavenly, spiritual, holy, pure, and clean on all levels, from the spiritual right down to the physical.
Get the book banned in Sweden!
I’m talking about Emanuel Swedenborg’s book Marriage Love, published in 1768 and promptly banned (but not for long) in his native Sweden. Its direct, practical, and spiritual perspective on marriage and sexuality was too much for the religious authorities of the time.
Today, attitudes toward sex and marriage are much more open-minded. Yet these are still among the most sensitive, hotly debated topics in our society. If anything, with the roles of men and women changing and traditional marriage being questioned in many quarters of society, the debate has only increased.
What can a book published over two hundred years ago add to the subject?
In a word: spirit.
Most of today’s discussion about men, women, and marriage revolves around biology and social roles. In those areas, Swedenborg’s book on marriage is dated. But when it comes to the spiritual side of marriage, what he wrote still goes beyond most of what’s available in today’s society. In fact, it traces the origins of marriage right back to the very nature of God.
Let’s take modern look at what this classic book has to say about marriage.
Is marriage spiritual?
From a materialistic perspective, marriage is simply a human cultural and legal manifestation of the biological urge to mate and procreate—which is one of the most basic drives throughout the animal kingdom. Like other mammals, humans come in male and female. The continuation of the species depends on the two coming together and mating, and then protecting, nurturing, and raising their young through the greatly extended time that human infants take to reach maturity. A long-term commitment between the two parents is one of the best ways to make sure that happens. Marriage is the result of all that.
But from a spiritual perspective, everything in the material world—including the realms of biology and human culture—is an expression of deeper spiritual realities. And since humans come in male and female, and the two are clearly designed to mate, produce offspring, and raise them to maturity, this also must reflect a spiritual reality.
The divine marriage
Swedenborg tells us that marriage reflects even more than a spiritual reality. It has its origin in the very nature of God, from whom all things come.
In the first chapter of Genesis we read:
And God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness.” . . . So God created humankind in his image; in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:26–27)
If humans, both male and female, are created in the image of God, and they are created to become “one flesh” (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:4–6), this means that the origin of both male and female, as well as the origin of marriage itself, is in God.
Marriage, Swedenborg tells us, comes from the core “marriage” in God: the marriage of divine love and divine wisdom. These two, perfectly united in God, are God’s being and essence. And from this divine marriage comes everything God says and does. So the entire created universe is a “child” of the marriage of love and wisdom in God.
In human beings, marriage love is one of the primary expressions of the union of love and wisdom in God. And if human marriage is an expression of the nature of God, clearly it goes beyond the biological and social to the spiritual.
Is there marriage in heaven?
Unfortunately, over the ages in which humanity has existed on this earth, marriage has most often been considered a mere coupling for purposes of childbearing, political and social advantage, sexual pleasure, or other worldly purposes. For men, a common reason for marriage historically has been to secure a woman (or several women) almost like property so that her labor and offspring would be exclusively his. For women, being married was a source of security and of status in society—especially if she bore sons for her husband.
Marriage was commonly viewed this way in Bible times. However, Jesus rejected this view of marriage. In an often misinterpreted passage he said:
The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. But those who are considered worthy of taking part in that age and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. (Luke 20:34–36)
Did he mean that there is no marriage in heaven, as many Christians believe? I don’t think so.
The idea of marriage as a spiritual relationship between equals as we can conceive of it today simply did not exist among the people Jesus was talking to. And that is not what they would have understood when Jesus used the word “marriage.” In essence, what he was saying to them in their language was, “In the spiritual world, marriage as you understand it does not exist. Women are not married off nor given in marriage to men almost like property, to be owned, controlled, and sent away at will. That is not how things are with the angels.”
Some people may think this is stretching Jesus’ words. But if marriage is not eternal, when the Pharisees asked him if it is legal for a man to divorce his wife for any cause, why did Jesus say:
Haven’t you read that at the beginning the Creator “made them male and female,” and said, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh”? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate. (Matthew 19:4–6)
What God does is not temporary, but eternal. So if God joins man and woman together in marriage, it is a relationship that can last forever.
If we interpret Jesus’ earlier statement in Luke to mean that there is no marriage in heaven, we create contradictions in his words. But once we realize that he was referring to an unspiritual form of marriage, the contradictions disappear. If we put together all of Jesus’ statements about love and marriage, we can see that he wanted to break those traditional, worldly views of marriage and point us toward a more spiritual, God-given ideal of marriage. That is the kind of marriage that continues after death.
Swedenborg reports that angels in heaven have happy eternal marriages. If we have been involved in real, spiritual marriage with our partner on earth, our marriage will continue in heaven. If we have been mismatched on earth but long for a real marriage, after death we will find a partner suited to us, and get married before heading to our eternal home in heaven.
And yes, marriages in heaven are complete on all levels from soul to body, just as they can be on earth. The only difference is that no children are born in heaven. The spiritual “children” of marriages in heaven are the new love and new insights that are “born” in course of the eternally growing marriage relationships there.
What is spiritual marriage?
Spiritual marriage goes far beyond the old, materialistic forms of marriage in which one partner dominates and controls the other for personal advantage and pleasure, or both use the other to achieve their own goals. It involves building marriages based on a deeper ideal of mutual love and service in which there is no thought of dominance, ownership, or expediency, but instead a deep, heartfelt desire to do what makes the other happy.
This ideal of marriage is based on the origin of marriage in God. We are not male and female simply because this is an effective method of biological reproduction for a complex species. We are male and female because both express the nature of God. When two people unite in marriage, this also expresses the nature of God.
The nature of God is the union of love and wisdom, giving birth to an active life of loving and serving others. Marriage is not about getting something for ourselves. It is about actively, intelligently loving the other person. This kind of love is not just a feeling or passion inside us. If it is true love, it involves doing things day in and day out, year after year, to make our partner happy.
It may seem obvious to say that marriage is about love. But it’s not so much about being in love, as in the popular romantic view of marriage, as it is about loving someone . . . and loving everyone around us, too.
In fact, everything we do, including marriage, is driven not by some external force of attraction that we might call “passion,” but by love within ourselves that moves us to do what we do.
Yes, I know. There are many things we do each day that we don’t particularly love to do. Yet even then we have some motive for doing them—and our motives involve achieving the things we love.
What moves us most? When do we feel the most alive? Isn’t it when we are doing the things we truly do love? And don’t we feel most alive when we are with someone we love, and the relationship is flowing strongly and fully as we each find joy in discovering the joys and pleasures of the one we love, and entering into those joys and pleasures with him or her? Isn’t it when we are with the people we love, working together, playing together, getting to know each other in a closer and deeper way?
At our core we are beings of love. That’s because we are created in the image and likeness of God—and God is love (1 John 4:8, 16). The love that forms the heart of God is the same love that flows into us, through us, and between us and the ones we love.
True love is not a physical urge based on hormones, biology, and instinctual reproductive drives. It is not based some outward attraction, or a realization that this person fits well into our plans for social and financial advancement. It is not even the discovery of common interests and talents.
All of these things do have subordinate roles in the complex relationship we call marriage. But true love is a presence, a force, a substance that comes to us from God and forms the deepest core of our existence. It is an inner, living, moving reality that motivates us in everything that we do. If it is true love, it is a desire focused on discovering what makes other people—and what makes that special other person—truly and deeply happy, and doing what we can to help them find and experience their happiness.
In doing so, we find our own happiness as well. When we are using our God-given knowledge, wisdom, and talents toward the happiness of others, we are also expressing our own deepest self.
The labor of love
This does not happen easily or automatically in life or in marriage.
Fairy tales often end with a wedding and the parting line, “And they lived happily ever after.” But for those who get married in real life, the story doesn’t end on the wedding day. It keeps right on going. And somehow the “happily ever after” part doesn’t always turn out exactly as advertised. When we are living at close quarters with another person, our social veneer soon wears thin. We come face to face with the real person underneath—and I’m speaking not only of our spouse, but of ourselves.
This is when the labor of love begins. At their root, the struggles we have with our marital partners are not battles between us, but battles within us. As the Apostle James said:
What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? (James 4:1)
When our own self-centeredness and self-absorption rears its ugly head, that’s when we butt heads with our partner. Learning to love and get along with our partner requires us to overcome the faults within ourselves. Our labor of love is to fight our inner battles against putting ourselves first, while still being true to our own best values and acting from a position of self-respect.
It is also the struggle to unite our heart with our head. It is the effort to find a balance between our emotions and our understanding. It is the work of becoming motivated by a deeper love and guided by a deeper wisdom in everything we say and do.
Only as we fight these inner battles and create a spiritual marriage within ourselves will we be able to experience a full, deep, and happy love in our marriage with our partner. And when we have gotten married in our soul here on earth, we will be prepared for eternal marriage in heaven.
In other words, if we want a happy and loving marriage, we must have the same kind marriage inside ourselves that exists within God: a marriage of love and wisdom in our souls. After all, that’s where marriage comes from.
Marriage is a forum for spiritual growth
Marriage in its healthiest form fits perfectly with a spiritual life. It comes from the very nature of God. Angels in heaven are happily married if they want to be married. And marriage is one of the best ways to experience spiritual growth.
Because in order to be in a healthy and growing marriage, we must do the work of laying aside our own self-absorption, and of learning to value others just as much as we value ourselves. We must also do the work of expressing our deepest beliefs and making our own unique contribution to the world from a position of inner strength.
If we do engage in the work of spiritual growth, we will become a person who can experience a full, rich, and deep marriage that continues growing to eternity.
This article is © 2013 by Lee Woofenden
For further reading:
- Real Marriage vs. Legal Marriage
- Didn’t Jesus Say There’s No Marriage in Heaven?
- How to Know if Mr. or Ms. Right is Right for You: Pointers from Gloria and Emilio Estefan
- What are the Roles of Men and Women toward Each Other and in Society?
- Can you Fall in Love in Heaven if you Haven’t Found Someone on Earth?
This is beautifully written piece. The mainstream protestant and catholic views on marriage, based purely on one misinterpreted passage have always been astonishing me. It simply makes no sense in context of the bible. Why would it stress so much about family, marriage, love etc. only in order to annihilate it at death. And the people asking the question did not even want to know about marriages in heaven. They did not believe in afterlife and with this trick question wanted to refute Jesus- they didn’t have a slightest interest in knowing the answers since they didn’t even believe in such a thing.
As Swedenborg said, two beings in true marriage, or bond make one angel. When the scriptures say that the two become one flesh it is clearly symbolic. I have never seen anyone becoming one flesh with his/her spouse – it is clearly about becoming one in spiritual sense.
When Jesus says they are like angels he is meaning this. They are not in legal relationship under Mosaic law, they are like angles – they are in true love with another person, forming one angel instead.
Thanks for stopping by, and for your good thoughts. I’m glad you enjoyed the piece!
Marriage as we know it today–as a union of souls and lives between two equal, complementary partners who form one–was barely known, if at all, in Jesus’ day. When he said that in heaven they are neither married nor given in marriage, it was a true statement about marriage as his listeners thought of it: as a relationship in which a man takes control of a woman so that he is her ruler and she is his indentured servant. That sort of “marriage” does not exist in heaven.
Beautiful post Lee! I believe spiritual marriage is true marriage, I plan on never getting married the old fashion way nor do I require a romantic partner. It’s the great bonding with another human of great friendship I would love called passionate friendship.
Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it. We each have our own way of finding love and intimacy. The essence is care for one another and trust in one another, and a sense of inner union in values and goals in life.
This blew me away….. i will keep reading and hoping….
My husband went to be with the Lord suddenly seven months ago and I have been trying to hold onto the belief that my marriage with him will continue even in heaven. Thank you for this article.
I’m so sorry to hear about your husband’s sudden death. I’m glad this article was helpful to you. Annette and I wish you comfort and solace.
I really enjoy reading this post, and you take the meaning of love and marriage to a higher level for most people. As you said, it is really crucial that only as we fight these inner battles and create a spiritual marriage within ourselves will we be able to experience a full, deep, and happy love in our marriage with our partner. I feel most people just want to have a “life partner” because they are scared of being alone for the rest of their lives. Thanks for writing this.
You’re very welcome! Thanks for your thoughtful comment. I’m glad you enjoyed the article!
I am very blessed to have met the love of my life at the age of 13 years old. I married him at age 16 . We couldn’t stand to be apart and knew it was love at first sight. He was my first love and only love . I have no desire to ever get married or meet nobody else. We spent 33 years together and cancer took my husband from me. We have 3 adult children and 4 grandchildren. He loved life and his family and didn’t want to leave us . I read so much that my eyes hurt on this subject. In my heart I feel my husband is with me everyday and know that he is watching over us all. My question is he was only 51 and just turned 51. I was only 47 and now just turned 49 . We had so many more years that I feel we got cheated out of .Would if I live another 20 years ? Will my husband be waiting on me ? Is that when we go through that first stage? What does he do mean while? I know a lot of people can remarry on down the road but for me nobody could ever be my husband or come close and that would always be that to compare to in my mind. I feel that God sent him my way at a young age and always felt blessed that we have that kind of love. There is so many that spend a life time looking for love . Thanks in advance for any answers to my question.
Thanks for stopping by, and for your comment and question. I’m glad to hear that God blessed you with such a true and close love, and with 33 years of good marriage. And I am very sorry to hear that your husband died when he was still fairly young.
I think you know in your heart that the two of you will be together forever, even if you now have to endure some years of physical separation as you continue your life here on this earth while he begins his life in the spiritual world. Couples who are truly, inwardly, spiritually one are never really separated, even by death. Your two spirits are close together, even if you cannot now be physically present with one another. And though that is certainly difficult and painful, from the perspective of eternity it is only a temporary separation.
Yes, your husband will continue his life in the spiritual world. But if the two of you were as close as you describe, he will indeed wait for you, and will continue to feel close to you in spirit until you can rejoin him after your life here on earth is over. That sort of close spiritual bond can never die.
Meanwhile, you can continue to be there for your children and grandchildren, and continue to grow in love and understanding here on earth as your husband continues to grow in love and understanding in the spiritual world, so that in the end, the two of you can once again be together in body and in spirit in heaven, never to be separated again.
In the meantime, our thoughts and prayers are with you.
I take so much comfort from this as I too am finding it harder than hard without my Anne beside me on Earth . The thought that we just have to have this temporary separation until we are together is doable I guess . Since my wife passed over and Swedenborg came into my life I am a changed person – we used to have such fun together and our souls entwined throughout the years , 37 in fact , I have so much pure love for her than I couldn’t conceive before . But the yearning and missing , the banter and intimacy are missing , living only in my memories and heart . I pray to God on my kness every day to let us be together for all time doing His work .
how could the angels have formally been people? Doesn’t the bible till us that the angels were with god before the world and thus mankind was created?
As a matter of fact, the Bible doesn’t say anything about the creation of angels, and the idea that angels were with God before the world and humankind were created is based more on interpretation and tradition than on anything the Bible itself says. For more on this, please see: “What is the Biblical Basis for Humans becoming Angels after they Die?”
Hi, interesting perspective on marriage. I’m curious to know what you think about the question posed to Christ regarding people who have had more than one marriage, for example widows/widowers who remarry. Do they then have more than one marriage in heaven?
Thanks for stopping by, and for your comment. About your question, please see: “If You’ve been Married More than Once, Which One will you be With in the Afterlife?” Short version: anyone who has been married more than once will have the opportunity to connect with former spouses, but will end out married to the one that he or she is closest to in spirit.
If Swedenborg is accurate about this marriage theory, why didn’t Jesus say something about it when he was walking this earth? I get that the institution of marriage was view differently at that time in history, but why didn’t he qualify his statement about there being no marriage in heaven.
Doesn’t it bother you allittle bit that Swedenborg was the only person to advocate marriage love and its importance in the resurrection when every other Christian denomination advocates the opposite? How can you be so sure just because one man in history has advocated this view?
I admit Swedenborg’s theory makes more since to me. But why didn’t Jesus at least elude to this idea of marriage love if it was as important in heaven as Swedenborg says it is?
Jesus could only speak to the people of those times according to their understanding of things. He could expand their understanding to some extent, but not beyond the boundaries of what their minds and their culture were capable of grasping. That’s why he said:
If he had tried to tell them what real marriage was, they would have been completely incapable of grasping it, and would simply have rejected his words. So he had to talk to them in terms of their concept of marriage.
Unfortunately, that earthly, non-spiritual concept of marriage continued for many centuries after Jesus as well. It wasn’t until Swedenborg’s time that people were finally ready to begin grasping and accepting what is now becoming a more dominant view of marriage as a relationship based on love between two equal partners. On this, I recommend the book, Marriage, a History: How Love Conquered Marriage, by Stephanie Coontz.
So yes, it bothers me that it wasn’t until Swedenborg’s time that God could finally start showing us the true meaning of Jesus’ words about marriage in the resurrection. Unfortunately, that’s how long it took us boneheaded humans to make the spiritual progress necessary to be able to have at least some understanding of what real, spiritual marriage actually is.
However, I’ve covered this whole question in much more detail in this two-article series:
I hope you find them helpful!
Jesus say “for they are like the angles” wouldn’t that passage mean humans don’t become angles? And are a seperate being or creature? Why didn’t Jesus say they become angles if Swedenborg is accurate?
Once again, Jesus had to speak to the people based on their understanding of things. And angels were commonly seen as a whole separate kind of being than humans. In fact, many of the Jews didn’t believe in any afterlife at all. So the idea that humans would even become like the angels was radical enough for the people of that time.
Hi Lee. Thanks for another well-written piece. A few questions have been burning a hole through my mind recently: If all good people will find their true conjugial partners in heaven, is it a bad idea to be celibate here on earth and just wait for the real thing, afterlife? If one decides to go on this path (keeping in mind that Swedenborg himself didn’t get married), does it affect his or her spiritual growth? I’m asking this because, in view of all the complications associated with finding your conjugial partner here on earth (social, religious, spiritual etc.), it might be simpler to just wait. I’d like it if you can give me some quotations from the writings concerning this.
I doubt you’ll find any passages in Swedenborg’s writings saying that it’s better or simpler just to wait until after death to find your marriage partner and enter into married life.
Swedenborg did say that people who don’t find their partner on earth, but who long for a good and loving marriage, will find their partner after death. (See: “Can you Fall in Love in Heaven if you Haven’t Found Someone on Earth?”) And as you say, he himself never married during his lifetime on earth—though he did seek out marriage as a young man, and apparently in his older years looked forward to marriage in the afterlife. And certainly spiritual growth is available and attainable to single people here on earth just as it is to married people. However, it’s clear that Swedenborg saw being married as preferable to being single.
These days, many people do choose to be single over being married or in a committed relationship precisely because of all of the complications involved in finding and maintaining a relationship. And there is nowhere near the social stigma attached to being single that there once was. Personally, I think that this greater freedom to choose not to be in a relationship is a good thing—if only because it means fewer people will be in bad relationships due to social pressure to be in a relationship and get married. Being single is preferable to being in a bad relationship.
For that reason, I would not counsel you or anyone else to go all-out in finding someone just to be able to be married. For those who feel a drive to do that, it’s all well and good. But for those who are happy in their current non-attached situation, it’s rather artificial to force the issue, and is more likely to result in a mistaken connection than a good one.
By the same token, I would counsel anyone who is single not to avoid a potentially good relationship for fear that bad things will happen in this confusing social, religious, and spiritual time period in human history. One thing Swedenborg does say is that for those who long for marriage, the Lord provides a partner, if not here on earth, then in the afterlife. If we’re not self-consciously going out and looking for someone, but are minding our own business, and someone comes along, and if we then avoid that person and put him or her off, we’re in danger of saying “No thanks!” to a person and a relationship that the Lord has sent our way.
My own view is that the best way to find the right partner is to go about our life pursuing the work, interests, and activities that we love and are drawn to. When we engage in the things we love to do, especially those that are of some benefit to other people (“useful,” in traditional Swedenborgian terms), that is likely to bring us together with others who love the same sorts of things we do. And it is from that pool of people that our future partner is most likely to come.
Speaking personally, as a young man, for many years I doggedly pursued someone whom I thought was right for me, and did eventually marry her and have three (great!) children with her. But the relationship itself never really worked. The second time around I had no intention of getting into another relationship, nor was I seeking one. One just found me while I was teaching an online class on Swedenborgian beliefs (something I love to do), which put me in connection with someone who shares that love, to whom I am now much more happily married.
So from personal experience also, while I am skeptical of putting the hard sell on finding a partner, I do believe we should remain open to who and what the Lord may have in store for us here on earth. Good marriage relationships are always going to require dedication and a lot of hard personal work. But assuming we find someone who is a good fit for us, it also brings with it great joys and satisfactions, and many opportunities for growing in love and understanding.
St. Paul said being single was preferable to being married, why do you think he wrote that?
If being single here in this life is preferable to marriage (according to Paul) what makes you think god perfers his human creation to be in marriages, and not loving all people as sisters and brothers?
How can you for instance love a woman as a wife and at the same time love her as a sister?
It sounds like Swedenborg emphasizes married love to the the exclusion of brotherly love? Is that accurate?
Brotherly love and marriage love are two different loves. A wife is not a sister, but a wife, and in a genuine marriage a husband will love his wife as a wife, not as a sister. Their friendship will also be marital friendship, not sibling friendship.
To make it practical, the love and friendship between husband and wife express themselves in sexual union, which is an act in which two people become as close to one another as possible physically, and become as much “one flesh” as it is possible for two people to be. That closeness and oneness, in a genuine marriage, is a physical expression of their oneness of heart, mind, and spirit.
The friendship of siblings or of non-marital friends, by contrast, does not, or at least should not, express itself in sexual union. That would be a false representation and non-matching “expression” of the type of connection they have. Siblings and good friends can be close, but they are not united in mind, heart, and spirit into one the way truly married couples are.
If you read Paul’s statement in context, you’ll see that he advised single people to remain single because he expected Christ to return within that generation. He was mistaken about that, and I believe he was mistaken about remaining single as well.
Jesus, for his part, affirmed that God created male and female to be united in marriage, so that they are no longer two, but one flesh, and that no one should separate what God has joined. And what God joins is eternal, not temporary. Of course, there are plenty of bad marriages that God never joined, but that were joined by misguided human beings. But true, spiritual marriage of people who are one in heart, mind, and spirit, are created and joined by God, and they are eternal.
I would recommend your reading my three-part series on marriage in the resurrection, starting with:
Didn’t Jesus Say There’s No Marriage in Heaven?
I am also planning to write and publish an article on Jesus’ saying about marriage and eunuchs in Matthew 19, following up on a long conversation going on in the comments section of another article here. Watch this space! 🙂
My Orthodox priest say brotherly love will be the only love in heaven, because there is no longer any need for marriage due to the lack of procreation. Personally the Orthodox view sounds depressing, but I don’t want to be tortured in hell for no believing the church’s view.
It is common for traditional Christians to believe that there is no marriage in heaven both because they have an earthly, non-spiritual view of marriage and because they have misread Jesus’ words on the subject. For more on this, once again, please see my three-part series of articles starting with:
Didn’t Jesus Say There’s No Marriage in Heaven?
What is your opinion of being able to get pregnant and have a baby again? I haven’t had a child with my husband and am almost 40 so running out of time. We had a miscarriage but nothing else. I want my baby back…I want sons with his intensity and daughters with his eyes! What of women who have longed for a baby but couldn’t in this life? My thought is the picture wouldn’t be complete without the ability to have children.
What is your thoughts about the resurrection of the body? What are your thoughts on reincarnation…to experience life again to continue growth and development of the soul?
Thank you for all of your good and searching questions.
I am very sorry to hear about your miscarriage. That is a sadness of this life for many women and men. I don’t have a definite answer about what happens for embryos and fetuses who do not reach full term to birth. However, you can see some (a lot!) of my thoughts about this in a comment here in response to another reader who had had a miscarriage.
On your other questions, here are the quick answers:
For longer and more detailed answers to your questions, please see these articles:
I hope these articles help. If you have any more thoughts or questions as you read them, please don’t hesitate to leave further comments.
Jesus bless you, Lee. Your writing is helping me get through these years and make it home to my beloved wife. I am grateful. —Mike
Thank you for your comment and for your kind words. I’m glad our articles here are helping you through this time until you can be reunited with your wife. Meanwhile, Godspeed on your spiritual journey.
Your articles are always wonderful. Thinking of marriage in the afterlife I came up with a question: I understand that after we die we will live in a community of like-minded people and I also understand that we will find our soulmate in heaven in case we haven’t found him or her here on earth. But what if someone falls in love with someone who is a completely different person (assuming, of course, that it’s a real, genuine love)? How do we reconcile the fact that we will live in a community of like-minded people and at the same time live with our soulmate in cases where the soulmate has a very different mentality? Theoretically shouldn’t he or she live in a different community? I assume that even in each community there are people who are quite different from each other to some extent, but also have many similarities, since after all, they are still members of the same community.
We say loosely that in heaven we will live in a community of like-minded people. But to be more accurate, we will live in a community of people who have similar “ruling loves,” meaning compatible core motivations in life. This is not at all the same thing as everyone having the same character and personality.
As an earthly analog (which I’ve used before), presumably everyone working for SpaceX shares a common love of rockets and space travel. However, in order to accomplish that goal, SpaceX needs people of all different skills and personality types, from engineers and computer programmers who commonly focus their mind on technical matters while shutting out the rest of the world, to accountants and lawyers who deal with all of the complicated interactions of the company with the financial and legal system, to public relations people who interact with a wide variety of people every day. All of these people, and more, are very different in character, personality, and skills. Yet they all come together to achieve a common goal held by all of them together.
I believe that communities (traditionally “societies”) in heaven will be similar. They will be filled with people of all different characters, personalities, and skills, who all work together to accomplish common goals as a community.
This also means that a married couple does not necessarily have to be the same in terms of character and personality. An extrovert may marry an introvert. A head-type may marry a heart-type. An idealist may marry a realist. What binds them together is deeper than their particular personality type. What binds them together is their core loves, motives, and goals in life. If they share these in common, an inner oneness binds them together regardless of their outer differences. In fact, in their outer differences they complement one another so that together they are stronger and more balanced than either would be alone.
For more on this, please see:
How to Know if Mr. or Ms. Right is Right for You: Pointers from Gloria and Emilio Estefan
Hi Lee. Thank you for your answer. Making another analogy, would it kinda be like in the Harry Potter books, where in Hogwarts, students go to one of the four Houses? Each of the Houses have what could be called a “ruling love”. In Gryffindor they value courage, in Ravenclaw they value wisdom, and so on. In each one of the Houses there are all kinds of people but they have common values and interests that bind them together in the same House.
The four Houses at Hogwarts are probably more like regions of heaven than like specific communities.
Okay, thanks for the insights!
This is a wonderful article! It shows the true depths of what marriage love is all about. It really is a love which wants the best for the other person. a love which wants to make him happy. And it does require work, as you really soul-search and let go of selfish desires, so a true marriage love can blossom.
Glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for your good and kind words.
You’re very welcome! 😀
Hi Lee. Thanks for the wonderful article.. It really bought some sort of comfort reading this as I lost my partner one month ago due to cardiac arrest. We were totally into each other and I still feel that we are deeply connected to each other even after his death( though I don’t like using this word foe him because for me he is still with me) We were about to get married after two months but before it this happened. I am heart broken and finding no reason to survive anymore without him but your article bought some sort of hope and relief to my life today to meet him afterlife.. Thank you so much.. I just want to ask you this since we were not married will he still wait for me?
I’m so sorry to hear about your partner’s death. I’m glad this article gave you some comfort and hope.
In answer to your question, in the spiritual world the important thing is not whether a couple was married on earth, but whether they are one in mind and heart. If you and your partner were one in mind and heart, then it won’t matter that you never had the opportunity to get married here. I can’t look into your hearts, nor do I know the future. But if the two of you are right for each other, he will wait, because the two of you are still together in spirit even though you are physically separated by death.
Thank you so much for your response.
I am so happy to hear that and I am so relief that I will meet him again and it’s not a permanent loss for me.
Just one more question I need to ask..Like you always say that “our deceased loved ones are still connected to us in spirit”. What does that mean actually . It would not be wrong if I say that I am 24*7 connected to him through my mind and keep communicating to him and talking to him in my mind. It just feel that he is with me. Is this what you mean connected in spirit means or is there any meaning .
You are very welcome.
Being connected in spirit means that the couple is spiritually together even though they are not physically together because one is in the physical world and the other is in the spiritual world.
Even while we are alive on earth, our spirit is connected to a particular area of the spiritual world. It is the area where other angels and spirits live who are in a similar state of mind, or spiritual state, to us. We are normally not visible to them, nor are they visible to us, but our spirits occupy the same spiritual space, or area, in the spiritual world. Couples who are truly married in spirit continue to occupy the same “house” spiritually, though they are not normally visible to each other.
Sometimes when people on earth are in deep thought, especially if it is about spiritual subjects, they do become visible to spirits and angels in the spiritual world. They appear to be lost in their own thoughts, and they vanish if an angel or spirit tries to talk to them, because the person still living on earth is not conscious in the spiritual world, and therefore cannot consciously interact with people there.
My sense is that for spiritually married couples, the one in the spiritual world cannot read the mind of the one still on earth, nor see and sense the physical surroundings of the one on earth, but can sense the feelings and state of mind of the one on earth, and therefore has some awareness of their closeness in spirit even if the one on earth isn’t aware of it. Still, the one in the spiritual world does sometimes find ways to make his or her presence known to the one still on earth. I have had a number of people tell me about instances in which they felt the presence of their beloved husband or wife who had gone on to the spiritual world.
My general suggestion is that if someone feels the presence of a loved one who died, don’t think it is just an illusion. The loved one really is there, and occasionally we are able to get fleeting glimpses or touches of our loved one’s presence. And I do believe that when we think intensely about someone who is in the spiritual world, that person does sense it, even if there is no clear communication of thoughts.
Thank you so much fo your response Lee. Feeling much better after reading your article.
I have read about marriages in heaven from the book Heaven and Hell. In the book it is clearly mentioned that people from different religion cannot have a marriage love in heaven as they are from two different religion and their faith might clash. My question is that what about couple who are deeply in love who cannot stay together just because they are from two different religion. Me and my partner are from two different religion and just few months back he passed away.We were very much committed to each other and was about to get married but that could not happen. My only hope is to meet him there in heaven when my time comes and continue our relation from where it had halted here on earth and get married too him. But itz really disheartening to know that just because of our religion we cannot be together. Also I would like to ask what about the couples who are already married and deeply in love . Won’t they be together afterlife just because they are from different religion? Don’t you think it’s unfair because at the time of birth it is we who dont decide our religion. Hope you shed some light in this context. Thank you.
Thanks for stopping by, and for your comment and question.
The statements in Heaven and Hell were made in the context of an earlier world culture, in which the distances between people of different religions were far greater than they are today, both physically and spiritually. Since the time of the Second Coming, there has been a great deal of convergence among the various religions of earth, even as their respective fundamentalist wings continue to duke it out with one another.
For more perspective on this issue, please see:
What if My Partner and I Have Different Religious Beliefs? Can Interfaith Marriage Work?
What binds spiritually married couples together is a common ruling love. Religion may make people’s ruling loves incompatible, but it doesn’t necessarily do so, especially in today’s more open religious environment.
What about those like me who never got the chance to be married or loved because no one loved us wherever we went and no matter how hard we tried? In my case,I’m isolated, but when I do get to go out and meet people, they never love me back, and I’m basically ostracized. I had one boyfriend, whom I deeply loved and who I believe to be my twin flame. But due to life getting in the way, he left me and still hasn’t come back. I’m hoping I’ll see him again someday in Heaven if not on earth.
Hi Deeply Wounded,
If you continue to walk a godly path despite your struggles and heartbreak, God will bring you together with your spiritual and heavenly partner when the time is right. And if it doesn’t happen on earth, it will happen in the spiritual world. See:
Can you Fall in Love in Heaven if you Haven’t Found Someone on Earth?
Meanwhile, our task here on earth is to walk the spiritual path, and make ourselves into a good person who is able to truly love another person, and be loved in return. That is not as easy as people think.
My husband of 53 yrs passed a little over a year and a half ago. I believe in his new life he is pushing me into having a deeper understanding of our faith and getting closer to God. Reason for this belief is because my desire is to understand all and become closer to God. I miss my husband more and more every day and cant wait till I can see and be with him someday. However I recently read that when in purgatory, you must let go of your earthly life as your own desire will be to see and love God. My question is by letting go of your earthly life does that mean he wont remember me, his spouse. Thank you in advance for your response.
It is good to hear that the death of your husband is pushing you toward a deeper faith, even if it is a hard way for this to happen. Though we may lose the people we love here on earth, God does not leave us grieving forever.
I am aware that some churches teach that heaven is sort of like an eternal worship service of rapturous contemplation of God. But in the beginning, God designated one day, not seven, as a day of rest and worship. I firmly believe that in the spiritual world, we will continue to do the good work that God has put in our heart and hands to do, only at a higher level.
The idea of leaving behind earthly things is not that we don’t continue to do anything that we did on earth. Rather, it is that instead of focusing on getting by in this world—making money for food, clothing, housing, and so on—in heaven we will focus on higher things, such as loving God and our neighbor, and doing good deeds for one another out of the love that God has put in our heart.
This is also why I believe that in heaven we can continue all of the good relationships that we formed on earth. This is especially true of real, spiritual marriage in which God has joined two people together.
So yes, you will see your beloved husband again in heaven. The two of you will be able to continue your marriage there, only this time with no fear of death and separation. What God has put together is not torn asunder to eternity. For more on this, please see:
Will Happily Married Couples be Together in Heaven?
I hope this helps. Meanwhile, our thoughts and prayers are with you.