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.

I can’t be with my soulmate in heaven?!?

Throughout much of the history of Christianity, the idea that there was no marriage in heaven wasn’t particularly upsetting to most people. That’s because marriage as a deep spiritual connection of love between two people either didn’t exist at all or it was so rare that very few people ever experienced it. Yes, some people did love their marital partner. But that was considered a pleasant add-on, not something critical to the purpose or success of a marriage.

Today, however, millions of men and women do experience a deep inner connection with their partner. And for these people, the idea that their marriage relationship will come to an abrupt end at death can cause great pain.

After I had already written the first draft of this article to follow up on a conversation with a reader named Foster starting here, I received a Spiritual Conundrum from a reader named Nita, in which she said:

I am widow and a believer in Jesus Christ. . . . I am so lonely without my husband of 38 years, we did everything together, even in the ministry. Will we be together in heaven? Jesus told the religious leaders that there will be no marriage in heaven. I miss my husband so much, my life without him has been turned upside down. Many tell me move on with my life and find someone else. He was my soulmate. Please help me understand! Thank you. I still trust God and love him.


Very Sad Widow

Nita’s feelings reflect those of millions of widows and widowers who dearly and deeply love their deceased husband or wife. For people who have experienced true spiritual marriage—or who long for it—the common Christian belief that there is no marriage in the afterlife creates a deep wound in the heart. And Christianity is supposed to heal wounds, not inflict them.

Happily for those who hope for eternal marriage, traditional Christianity has been wrong on this issue all these centuries precisely because it, too, has thought of marriage as a merely earthly coupling for the purpose of reproduction and social stability in this world—just as the people of Jesus’ day did.

Besides, Jesus simply didn’t say that there’s no marriage in heaven.

Let’s take a closer look.

The story

First, let’s read the story everyone’s talking about. It is told three times in the Bible: in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. As you read it, please pay close attention to exactly what Jesus says, and to the wording of the question that he’s responding to.

Here is the fullest version of the story, which occurs in the Gospel of Luke:

Some of the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Jesus with a question. “Teacher,” they said, “Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife but no children, the man must marry the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. Now there were seven brothers. The first one married a woman and died childless. The second and then the third married her, and in the same way the seven died, leaving no children. Finally, the woman died too. Now then, at the resurrection whose wife will she be, since the seven were married to her?”

Jesus replied, “The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. But those who are considered worthy of taking part in the age to come 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. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection. But in the account of the burning bush, even Moses showed that the dead rise, for he calls the Lord ‘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, for to him all are alive.”

Some of the teachers of the law responded, “Well said, teacher!” And no one dared to ask him any more questions. (Luke 20:27–40)

The same story occurs in slightly shorter versions in Matthew 22:23–33 and Mark 12:18–27, which I encourage you to read also.  The quotation in the next heading is from the Matthew version.

“You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.”

The Sadducees thought they were pretty smart!

Jesus had just silenced the rival Pharisees, with their trick question about paying taxes to Caesar (see Matthew 22:15–22; Mark 12:13–17; Luke 20:20–26). That didn’t slow down the Sadducees. They had formulated an even more elaborate word trap for Jesus.

They told an over-the-top hypothetical tale about one woman who married seven brothers in a row under the law of levirate marriage (more on that in a minute), none of whom fathered a child with her before they died one by one. She herself survived them all and died childless.

The Sadducees’ purpose in asking the question had nothing to do with marriage. It was meant to force Jesus into admitting that there is no afterlife.

You see, the Sadducees were the biblical literalists of their day. They didn’t believe anything unless they could read it in the plain, literal meaning of the Bible—which for them was the Hebrew Bible that Christians call the Old Testament. And since the Hebrew Bible says virtually nothing about any afterlife, the Sadducees didn’t believe in an afterlife.

According to the Law of Moses, every one of that woman’s seven marriages, to seven brothers in a row, was a legal and valid marriage. And yet, unlike men, who could have multiple wives under the law, a woman could not have multiple husbands at the same time. So—the Sadducees’ reasoning went—if all eight of them were resurrected and lived on in an afterlife, they would be in the illegal and impossible situation of one woman having seven husbands.

Obviously, there can’t be an afterlife!

Jesus didn’t bat an eye.

He told the Sadducees, who believed they were the supreme experts on the Scriptures, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God” (Matthew 22:29). And he referred them to the words of God speaking to Moses himself at the burning bush:

I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.

God, Jesus calmly said, “is not the God of the dead, but of the living.”

The Sadducees, too, were silenced.

The law of levirate marriage

What were the Sadducees talking about, with all those brothers marrying the first brother’s wife one after another?

It’s what is known as the law of levirate marriage. This law was not unique to the ancient Hebrews. It was fairly common in the cultures of that time—and continues to be practiced to this day in some tribal cultures around the world.

Here’s how it is expressed in the Law of Moses:

If brothers are living together and one of them dies without a son, his widow must not marry outside the family. Her husband’s brother shall take her and marry her and fulfill the duty of a brother-in-law to her. The first son she bears shall carry on the name of the dead brother so that his name will not be blotted out from Israel.

However, if a man does not want to marry his brother’s wife, she shall go to the elders at the town gate and say, “My husband’s brother refuses to carry on his brother’s name in Israel. He will not fulfill the duty of a brother-in-law to me.” Then the elders of his town shall summon him and talk to him. If he persists in saying, “I do not want to marry her,” his brother’s widow shall go up to him in the presence of the elders, take off one of his sandals, spit in his face and say, “This is what is done to the man who will not build up his brother’s family line.” That man’s line shall be known in Israel as The Family of the Unsandaled. (Deuteronomy 25:5–10)

Many present-day commentaries on the law of levirate marriage emphasize that it was to protect the widowed woman, so that she would have a son to take care of her in her old age. And while that may be true, that is not the reason stated in the Hebrew Bible for the practice.

Rather, as you can see in the above passage, its purpose was to produce a son for the deceased man so that his name and lineage would not end, but would continue. In fact, in the law as delineated here in Deuteronomy, even the widow is to speak of a refusal of her deceased husband’s brother to marry her as a refusal to “build up his brother’s family line.”

And it goes without saying that the first son born from a levirate marriage was also entitled to the deceased brother’s share of the family inheritance along with his name and position in the clan.

What is “marriage”?

With the biblical background under our belt, we can now look at one of the major reasons that Jesus did not actually say what traditional Christians think he said about marriage and the afterlife.

How would you define “marriage”?

Here are some definitions from standard dictionaries:

(1) : the state of being united to a person of the opposite sex as husband or wife in a consensual and contractual relationship recognized by law (2) : the state of being united to a person of the same sex in a relationship like that of a traditional marriage <same-sex marriage> (Merriam-Webster)

1 The legally or formally recognized union of two people as partners in a personal relationship (historically and in some jurisdictions specifically a union between a man and a woman): ‘a happy marriage’ ‘the children from his first marriage’ [as modifier] ‘marriage vows’ (Oxford Dictionary)

1. (broadly) any of the diverse forms of interpersonal union established in various parts of the world to form a familial bond that is recognized legally, religiously, or socially, granting the participating partners mutual conjugal rights and responsibilities and including, for example, opposite-sex marriage, same-sex marriage, plural marriage, and arranged marriage: Anthropologists say that some type of marriage has been found in every known human society since ancient times. (Dictionary.com)

Though there is some mention of a “personal relationship,” the common threads running through all of these definitions are that marriage is a consensual, contractual relationship that is legally or socially recognized and that grants the partners various mutual, social, and legal rights. Historically, those rights have included sexual rights, property rights, rights to children born of the union, rights of inheritance granted to those children, and so on.

This general form and view of marriage has, as pointed out in the third definition, existed in every known human society since ancient times. Including the ancient Jewish society in which Jesus lived.

Based on the hypothetical situation they presented and its social context, what was the Sadducees’ view of marriage? What was their society’s view of marriage?

Evidently, they saw marriage as a contractual-type relationship whose primary purpose was to produce offspring that would carry on the husband’s name and role in the clan, and that would inherit his property. The whole point of the law of levirate marriage was to ensure that this function of marriage, seen as essential in that society, would be carried out.

When a man married a woman, and a woman was given in marriage to a man, he and she were entering into that formally recognized, contractual-type relationship, in which they secured various legal and property rights, and their children were given rights of inheritance and property as well.

Jesus told his listeners that in the resurrection, this type of legal “marrying” and “being given in marriage” does not happen.

“And they can no longer die”

The language Jesus uses in his response to the Sadducees’ question has prompted even some traditional Christian theologians to question whether Jesus really meant that marriage does not exist in heaven. (See, for example, this commentary by Ben Witherington.)

Here is Jesus’ response again, from the Gospel of Luke:

The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. But those who are considered worthy of taking part in the age to come 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. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection. (Luke 20:34–36)

If Jesus’ main point here is taken to be that there is no marriage in the afterlife, some of the things he said don’t seem to fit in. Why does he say, “and they can no longer die”? And why does say that they are “God’s children”? What do these things have to do with marriage?

It is important to recognize that Jesus is talking to the people of “this age” (specifically, 2,000 years ago) according to their view of marriage. Marriage, as they saw it—and as many people even today still see it—is a legal and social contract whose purpose has to do with offspring, property rights, and certain other legal and social rights and privileges.

Notice that the Sadducees’ story is all about the woman having children for her husband. The whole point of this particular law of Moses was to provide offspring for a man, to continue his name and inherit his property after he died.

But what if there were no such thing as death? What if a man (or woman) never died? What would be the purpose of all of these marriage laws whose purpose was to carry on a man’s name and lineage, provide for the future ownership of his property, and ensure that his land is tended to and his business continued after died?

In a world in which there is no death, all of the laws about providing for offspring for a family’s lineage and inheritance would serve no purpose whatsoever.

So that odd-sounding statement, “and they can no longer die,” is actually right on target. In the resurrection, Jesus is saying, there is no death. This means that all of your marriage laws (such as the law of levirate marriage), whose purpose was to provide for children, property, and inheritance, have no purpose in the afterlife.

He then deals specifically with the issue of children—one of the primary functions of marriage as traditionally understood—by saying, “They are God’s children.”

With these words Jesus is saying that in the afterlife there are no human parents, children, and family lines. There is no inheritance of the father’s property, no carrying on of the father’s name and lineage. All people who achieve the resurrection and the age to come will be God’s children, not children of Abraham or Isaac or Jacob or any other human being.

In short, Jesus is saying: All of your laws and ideas about marriage, family, children, inheritance of property, family lineage, and so on, simply don’t exist in the afterlife! “You are badly mistaken!” (Mark 12:27).

And that, my friends, is why the Sadducees were so wrong.

Of course, they were wrong about there being no resurrection and no afterlife.

But more specifically, their concept of “marriage,” and the purposes for which people “married and were given in marriage” in their culture, were wildly inappropriate to the state that people live in after death. Their earthly, human, legal, property-based ideas about marriage betrayed a complete ignorance of the realities of the afterlife, and of spiritual life in general.

And the reality is that vast numbers of people even today still think about marriage in these same earthly, materialistic, and legalistic terms. Just look at the dictionary definitions of “marriage” given above. Even today, people who live together long-term without getting a legal marriage complete with a marriage license (which is a legal contract), or at least having a clergy-officiated wedding ceremony, are considered “not married.” Even in our day and age, vast numbers of people still think of marriage primarily as a legal and social contract.

Jesus is also telling present-day people who think this way: Marriage as you understand it does not exist in heaven. In heaven, men don’t “marry,” and women aren’t “given in marriage” the way they are here on earth. In the afterlife, there is no need for all of the legal and social rights and privileges conferred by marriage contracts and ceremonies. Your earthly “marriage” doesn’t exist in the afterlife.

The history of marriage

Believe it or not, marrying for love is a fairly recent concept. Even a few hundred years ago, the idea of marrying for love would have sounded strange and ridiculous, if not dangerous to society.

I invite you to read the excellent 2006 book, Marriage, a History: How Love Conquered Marriage, by Stephanie Coontz. In this book, Ms. Coontz looks at the institution of marriage throughout history. As surprising as it may sound to many people today, up until less than a century ago marriage was almost entirely about property, inheritance, business, and procreation—and in the nobility, about preserving royal bloodlines. Love had very little to do with it. If a married couple were lucky enough to actually love one another, that was just an added bonus.  Divorcing because there was no love in the relationship would have been seen as downright silly.

The simple fact of the matter is that throughout most of human history, people did not seek love in marriage. Instead, they sought out marital partnerships that would be advantageous for childbearing to continue and strengthen the lineage of the family and clan, for increasing and solidifying the family wealth, property, and business, and for establishing social status and privilege.

Even today, in many parts of the world and in much of human society, marriage is still primarily a social, legal, and business matter.

That is the sort of marriage Jesus was talking about. That is the sort of “marrying and giving in marriage” he said does not happen in the afterlife. Because that’s the only kind of marriage his listeners knew about.

Jesus couldn’t possibly have been talking about today’s idea of marriage as a relationship of love and inner connectedness, because that idea didn’t exist in his day. If he had tried to talk about what many people today have come to think of as marriage—as a relationship based on love, an inner connection, and shared moral and spiritual values—his audience would have been totally confused.

We’ve spent all this time on what “marriage” meant back then compared to what it means to many people today because without understanding what “marriage” meant in the culture in which Jesus lived, we cannot understand the meaning of his words about marriage and the resurrection.

To round out this article we’ll deal much more briefly with two more reasons traditional Christianity hasn’t understood what Jesus taught about marriage. We’ll take both of them up more fully in the next article.

“They will neither marry nor be given in marriage”

A second major reason traditional Christianity has misunderstood Jesus’ words is that they have read into those words something that Jesus didn’t actually say.

If you read Jesus words’ carefully you will see that he simply didn’t say, “There is no marriage in heaven.” Here is what he did say, once again:

Jesus replied, “The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. But those who are considered worthy of taking part in the age to come and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage.” (Luke 20:34–35, italics added)

It’s important to understand that the Greek words used here for “marry” and “given in marriage” are verbs, not nouns or adjectives. They are talking about the act of getting married, not the state of being married.

So Jesus simply didn’t say, “In the resurrection they are not married.” Rather, he said, “In the resurrection they don’t get married.”

That’s why Mormons believe that it is important to get married here on earth in a properly blessed wedding so that the couple can be eternally married in heaven. They read Jesus’ words as saying that weddings must take place on earth for marriages to continue in heaven. And that is a perfectly valid, though somewhat limited, interpretation of what Jesus said.

But he was saying much more than that. He was saying that spiritual marriages—the kind that do exist in heaven—are made on earth, not in heaven.

No, this does not mean that if you don’t get married here on earth, you’ll never get married in heaven. For what it does mean, please see the next article, which will be about the deeper meaning of Jesus’ words on marriage and the afterlife.

For now, the main point is that Jesus did not say that there’s no marriage in heaven. He said people don’t get married in heaven. Traditional Christian theologians, priests, and ministers are jumping to conclusions when they say that there will be no marriage in heaven based on Jesus’ reply to the Sadducees’ question. That just isn’t what Jesus said.

The Bible presents marriage as made by God

A third major reason traditional Christianity has misunderstood Jesus’ words and believed that there is no marriage in heaven is that it has not paid sufficient attention to the fact that the Bible presents marriage as something created by God.

In fact, the Bible compares heaven itself to a marriage, and says that God’s people are married to God like a bride to a bridegroom. See, for example, Jeremiah 3:14; Isaiah 62:5; Hosea 2:16; Matthew 22:1–2; Matthew 25:1; Revelation 19:6–9. (We’ll return to these passages in the next article.) So it would be very strange if there were no marriage in heaven, and if angels were sexless beings, as traditional Christian churches commonly teach.

Jesus himself said:

At the beginning of creation God “made them male and female.” “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 flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate. (Mark 10:6–9)

Interpreting Jesus’ words to the Sadducees to mean that there is no marriage in heaven would cause Jesus to contradict both himself and the Bible as a whole. God created male and female to be joined together as one. And just as God is not the God of the dead but of the living, so everything God does is not temporary, but eternal:

I know that everything God does will endure forever. (Ecclesiastes 3:14)

God will not violate God’s own commandment by separating at death what God has joined together. If God—and not merely a member of the clergy or a justice of the peace—has joined together two people in marriage, then that marriage will endure forever.

What Jesus said about marriage and the afterlife

Once again, Jesus simply did not say that there is no marriage in heaven.

Here is a summary of everything we’ve discussed above about what he did say:

  1. Marriage as understood at the time Jesus lived on earth, and throughout most of human history, does not exist in heaven. There is no need for such marriage in heaven because in heaven there is no death, there are no parents and children (all are brothers and sisters there, with God as their parent), and there is no need to provide for the legal, property, and inheritance rights that legal marriages here on earth are designed to provide.
  2. Getting married is something that happens here on earth, not in heaven. But on this point, Jesus was talking about real, spiritual marriage. (And no, this doesn’t mean you have to find a partner here on earth and get legally or ceremonially married or you’ll never be married in heaven. We’ll cover that in the next article.)
  3. Real, spiritual marriage is created by God. And what God creates and joins together cannot be separated. It is eternal.

In the next article, we’ll look at the deeper meaning of Jesus’ words about marriage and the resurrection. As it turns out, his words tell us a great deal about how to live our life here on earth so that we can be in a loving marriage to all eternity. You can read all about it here: Marriage in the Resurrection: The Deeper Meaning.

This article is a response to various comments and questions by readers here on the blog, and to a spiritual conundrum submitted by a reader.

For further reading:


Lee Woofenden is an ordained minister, writer, editor, translator, and teacher. He enjoys taking spiritual insights from the Bible and the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg and putting them into plain English as guides for everyday life.

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Posted in Sex Marriage Relationships, The Afterlife, The Bible Re-Viewed
44 comments on “Didn’t Jesus Say There’s No Marriage in Heaven?
  1. I actually posted on this exact topic just yesterday. Here are my thoughts, if you’re interested: http://www.hippieheretic.com/2017/01/no-marriage-in-resurrection-what-jesus-really-said.html

    • Lee says:

      Hi Chuck,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for the link. Nice article! And nice beard! 😀

      On one particular point in your article:

      Though I used to go for the “women were property” thing, I see it a little differently now.

      There were human beings who were property in those days. They were called “slaves.” Both men and women could be slaves.

      Women who were not slaves had a higher status in society than slaves. Women who were married had even higher status. And women who were married and had borne at least one son had even higher status. But their status was still much lower than that of non-slave men, and therefore much lower than their fathers, husbands, brothers, and so on. So while in some ways women were treated “almost like property,” they weren’t actually property unless they were slaves. It would be more accurate to say that they were of lower status in society than men, and they were commonly under the tutelage and control of men.

      However, even that is not as hard and fast as many people unfamiliar with the Bible story think. There are many strong-minded women in the Bible who had a decisive effect on the family, social, and spiritual history and narrative of the Bible. These women were quite capable of outmaneuvering their husbands and even of overruling their husband’s will in some instances. They commonly made choices for themselves about their own lives, including whether they would or would not marry a particular man. These women were given much more respect by their husbands and their society than the “women as property” idea would suggest. I cover some of them in my article, “Is the Bible a Book about Men? What about Women?” (Yes, my wife put me up to it! 😉 )

      I’m not saying we should go back to the culture and gender roles and status of those days. We’ve made immense progress since then, especially in the last few centuries, in moving toward a rightful equality for women in society. But I also don’t think we should paint those societies and their gender rules as worse than they actually were. Women did have a much lower status than men in those societies, and that is not a good thing. But they were not the property of men unless they were slaves.

      And incidentally, the Bible story portrays women as well as men as owning slaves—though most traditional translations use less explicit terms such as “servants” or “handmaidens.”

  2. Alex says:

    I know that it should not surprise me, but it still does when I realize just how much sense Jesus was talking. His answers may be cryptic and have multiple layers of meanings, but each meaning is so blunt, logical and irrefutable. The way he said it makes it sound as natural as 1+1=2. Even better, it is almost as if he wasn’t just talking about the present but to all people who will ever read the word of God, because His words about marriage make just as much sense now as they may have done in the past.

    Pretty cool, when you think about it. It is truly worth listening to His words. The wisdom is infinite.

    Cheers 😉

      • Marko says:

        I propose ” they neither marry nor are they given in marriage ” is given in plural here,as in people marry repeatedly BECAUSE they are mortal,ergo why Jesus said we won’t be “marrying” after the resurrection because we’ll be immortal(our spouses won’t be dying).The topic of the discussion is resurrection,not marriage.If there truly is no marriage in heaven,mentioning people’s immortality as a reason for there being no marriage is redundant on Jesus’ behalf.He could’ve simply said “There is no marriage in heaven” after all.Obviously,the idea there is no marriage in heaven because there is no death,hence no reason to procreate,is in opposition to genesis.Adam and Eve were married,in spite of the fact they suffered no death,and going back to the Edenic ideal is the essence of God’s salvation plan i would presume.

  3. Foster says:

    Did Adam and Eve actually exist?
    Or is that part of the Genesis story symbolic of the state humanity was in before the fall?
    Did Swedenborg ever claim to know the origins of the Human race?

    • Lee says:

      Hi Foster,

      Adam and Eve did not exist as individual human beings. They are symbolic of a whole culture of people who existed at the time, similar to the personification of the United States as “Uncle Sam.” So yes, the story is symbolic of the state of humanity before and during the Fall. For a related article, please see:

      Which Tree is in the Middle of Your Garden?

      In his theological works Swedenborg mostly wrote about the spiritual state and progress (or regress) of the human race. As for the physical origin of the human race, his view reflected the dominant view of the day, before Darwin, which was that each species was created directly by God through what would now be called “spontaneous generation,” but with the ability to reproduce itself from then on.

  4. April says:

    If Adam & Eve didn’t exist why did God tell us the age of Adam when he died, the names of his children (some) etc? After losing my husband suddenly at a young age I was happy to find this article. However your comment about Adam & Eve now have me back where I started. I’ve never heard anyone say they were just symbolic vs. actual people? Thank you for your help.

    • Lee says:

      Hi April,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your comment and question. I’m sorry to hear about your husband’s death. I’m glad this article was helpful to you at least to some extent.

      The important thing about the Bible is not whether everything in it is literally, historically true, but whether it delivers God’s message of love and salvation to us humans on earth. The story of Adam and Eve is important not because it tells us about early human history, but because it tells us about our relationship with God. Whether Adam and Eve were two individuals or were representative of a whole culture of people (like “Uncle Sam” representing the United States) isn’t all that important. What’s important is that we can learn from that story something about how we humans got to be the mixture of good and evil that we are.

      For some of the meaning in the story of Adam and Eve, please see: “Which Tree is in the Middle of Your Garden?” And if you have any more questions as you read, please don’t hesitate to ask.

      Meanwhile, our thoughts and prayers are with you as you grieve the loss (on this earth) of your husband.

      • April says:

        Thank you for your kind words Lee, and taking the time to explain your beliefs about Adam & Eve etc. I feel very overwhelmed trying to understand God’s word and I’m always searching for help to understand His word better. I’ve had many Pastors, church leaders etc. tell me in no uncertain terms that there is no marriage in heaven. This has been hard to accept, causing extreme depression & confusion. I get worried thinking I don’t have the Holy Spirit, which is causing me to have trouble understanding the Bible (or that’s what I’ve been told at least). I have another question about parents. Are you saying that our parents won’t be known to us as our parents on the new earth? (some call it Heaven, but I think? we’ll be on the earth after the resurrection). I lost my Dad about 3 months before losing my husband and I’m not sure how those relationships will be? Thank you again for your help.

        • Lee says:

          Hi April,

          You are very welcome. I hope I can give you some comfort and hope about both your husband and your father.

          Of course, you will have to make up your mind what to believe. Unfortunately, it sounds like your pastors and church leaders have been quite literal and physical-minded in their beliefs about the Bible in general, and about marriage in particular—just as were the Sadducees who asked Jesus a question with a very physical-minded example of “marriage.” I suspect that your pastors and church leaders also think that the primary, and almost the only, reason for marriage is to have children.

          As wonderful as having children is, I think you are aware that there is much more to marriage than that. Marriage—real marriage—is a spiritual connection, a union of hearts and minds, that lifts us up to higher things. For more on what marriage is really all about, please see: “How does Marriage Fit In with a Spiritual Life? Is There Marriage in Heaven?” And though some of the things it says may seem strange at first, and contrary to what you’ve been taught, I would invite you as you read to consider whether it rings true to you in your heart.

          Your pastors and church leaders, unfortunately, have been caught up in “the letter that kills” rather than “the spirit that gives life” (2 Corinthians 3:6). And one of the things their literal and physical-minded view of marriage will kill, if you let it, is your hope for a happy, eternal marriage with your husband. Christian teachings are not supposed to cause extreme depression and confusion. They are supposed to lighten our “yoke” and give us new life and new hope. Consider, then, whether you truly want to accept the literal and physical-minded teachings you’ve been given previously, or whether you are ready to grow into something greater and more spiritual. After all, the greatest treasures in the Bible are not physical, but spiritual.

          About your father, yes, you will know him and he will know you when you arrive in the spiritual world. You will be able to catch up with each other and reconnect with each other. And that will last as long as you need it to. In the long term, though, both you and your father will come to think of God as your divine Parent, and you will see each other as children of God. If you have many things in common, you will still be able to see each other and enjoy each other’s company. But for those who have gone in a very different direction from their parents, that relationship fades away—as it often does even while they’re still here on earth.

          The main thing for now is that you will be able to see your father again, and spend as much time with him as you want. For more on losing a parent, please see: “What Does it Mean When My Parents Die? Will I See Them Again?

  5. Thank you so much for this article. All to often, I go to videos or web sites and find myself arguing with people who just tow the church party line on no marriage in heaven. They say the “Jesus said there’s no marriage in heaven” line ad nauseum. One video even claimed that our glorified resurrected bodies will be “limited” to not having mates. “Limited glorified bodies”? Does that sound ridiculous to anyone but me? Most often these pages and videos simply use trite language and re-use coined bumper-sticker catch phrases that have been repeated millions of times to re-iterate the common church belief that we simply do not have mates in heaven.

    By contrast, your article is a detailed study of the history of marriage, what marriage meant to people at the time of Jesus, and what the Sadducees were really referring to when they asked that question. You also point out that Jesus uses marriage is a verb in the future tense, and not a noun or adjective, something that 99% of people completely miss. Thank you that you provide more in-depth study and give true context to the meaning of what is said in these passages. Great article!

    • Lee says:

      Hi DelphiPro,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your comment. I’m glad you found the article helpful, and I do appreciate your kind words.

      Godspeed on your spiritual journey!

  6. kris says:


    You have to understand one thing:

    In Jesus day, the “Book of Enoch”, was considered cannon. Without the Book of Enoch, your line of reasoning is tempting.

    The clear line is “like the Angels”. In the Book of Enoch, THE ONE MOST HIGH curses the Watchers(Angels), who left their post to marry women, because they had no need of it(as immortal beings, they do not need to produce offspring to continue their line, so God had no need to create womenfolk for them).

    The only emotional, loving relationship, people will have in the Resurrection, will be with the Heavenly Father/Christ.

    Hence why, Jesus taught of the banquet and the “marriage”, to the Heavenly Father/Christ.

    • Lee says:

      Hi kris,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your comment.

      Like many other ancient books, and like the first several chapters of Genesis, the book of Enoch was likely never intended even by its original authors to be taken literally. It presents a metaphorical story intended to speak about spiritual themes related to the relationship between God, the spiritual world, and humankind. Taking it all literally is making the same mistake as taking the first few chapters of Genesis literally, and insisting that the world was created in six days when we know from science that it came into being over several billion years. See:
      Can We Really Believe the Bible?

      Also, the relationship of the body of believers with Christ as a bride with her bridegroom does not negate or abolish the individual relationship of a woman with a man as bride and bridegroom. Rather, each relationship reflects the other, as Paul teaches in his letters, and as is clear from the Gospels and from the rest of the Bible as well.

  7. Richard Peddicord says:

    Your article about marriage has good insights and opens the mind, I agree marriage is a bond between two people contractual or otherwise. When we read an account or story we do it in modern thinking and you pointed that out, we must put our thinking in the times of Jesus and how people thought then. Thank You

    • Lee says:

      Hi Richard,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your good thoughts and kind words. I’m glad you found the article thought-provoking and helpful.

  8. James says:

    This is exactly why there are so many denominations and splits in the church. Here we have a question that Jesus directly answers in simple language, and yet still we find a way to argue around it.
    If anything, you can always tell people that Paul thought it better not to marry so you can serve the church without divided attention, so there is no need to remarry. But in my opinion it is pretty clear there will be no marriage in heaven.

    • Lee says:

      Hi James,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your comment.

      Yes, there are many different denominations because everyone has their own different reading of the Bible, and everyone thinks theirs is right and everyone else’s is wrong, and far too many people think that the most important thing is what you believe, instead of what Jesus taught, which is that the most important thing is loving God and the neighbor. If Christians actually lived as Jesus taught, even if there were many different churches to serve many different types of people, they would all get along with one another instead of constantly fighting with one another. See:

      Now about there being no marriage in heaven, as I said in the article, Jesus simply didn’t say that. If you want to believe there is no marriage in heaven, you are welcome to do so. But it’s not something Jesus taught. Nowhere in the entire Bible does it say that there is no marriage in heaven. However, I’ve already covered all of this in the article so there’s no need to repeat it all here.

  9. Brandon says:

    The way I see it is in the beginning God made man and woman to be together forever there was never an end originally. There was never an end until Sin came into the world so when we die and go to heaven where there is no sin why would it be any different than the original plan. God doesn’t change.

  10. Jacques says:

    What is your take on Romans 7? It seems quite clear that if your spouse dies then the ‘bond of marriage’ is done away with between yourself and your partner.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Jacques,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your comment and question. I presume you are referring to the first few verses of Romans 7:

      Do you not know, brothers and sisters—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only during that person’s lifetime? Thus a married woman is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives; but if her husband dies, she is discharged from the law concerning the husband. Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man, she is not an adulteress. (Romans 7:1–3)

      This is explicitly talking about legal marriage. Under the old law (specifically, the Law of Moses, as well as Roman law under which the Jews were living at that time), a woman was legally bound to her husband as long as he, and she, lived. But if her husband died, she was no longer legally married to him, and was free to marry someone else. That is still true of most legal systems today. Legal marriage is “until death do us part.” It has no application or power beyond death.

      Spiritual marriage, however, is not bound by earthly law, but by spiritual law. And that law is that those who are one in spirit are spiritually married in a bond that even death has no power to dissolve. These are the marriages that God (not humans) has put together, and that no human can put asunder. For a related article, please see:
      Real Marriage vs. Legal Marriage

  11. Samson says:

    Hello, Lee.

    Your article about marriage in heaven is a beautiful one. It helps comfort me in that while I might miss out on finding a partner here on earth due to my severe physical disability, I will find my true soulmate in heaven.

    However, a huge part of my heart is rejecting this kind of thought. Please allow me to elaborate, and keep in mine I have trouble with conveying my points clear due to being born deaf.

    You often say the bible doesn’t teach this from that whenever someone points out specifics ( i.e, that sex outside of marriage is sin.)

    And you are right, at least I believe you are. Because I also don’t see where the bible prohibits sex outside of legal marriage.

    However, I also don’t see where the bible teaches the idea that marriage continues in heaven, neither do I see where the bible teaches that those who did not find a partner here on earth will find their partner in the next life.

    If you asked me “ Samson, should I wear a jacket and a pair of dressing shoes to the party you are inviting me to? tomorrow”, and I replied “ People don’t wear jackets neither dressing shoes to such party”, would you conclude that my response means it’s okay to wear a jacket and a pair of dressing shoes to such a party?

    Absolutely not. I think you would realize right then that such dressing code is not advisable

    Likewise, Jesus was asked about a woman who got married to multiple men, and His response was that “ They neither get married or given in marriage at the resurrection.”

    His response addressed both physical matter and spiritual substance, because they wanted to know who would be the woman’s husband in the SPIRITUAL world, while she has been married multiple times in the PHYSICAL world.

    This is how my brain is capable of understanding Jesus’s clear as day statement and/or response to the question.

    If you are right, however, I will be the happiest man on earth. Because I don’t believe I will ever find someone here on earth, and I would love to be given a chance to be in marriage with someone of the opposite sex. However, the bible doesn’t teach about marriage in heaven, except Christ married to His bride ( Church.)

    • Lee says:

      Hi Samson,

      I understand why you would be hesitant. Most Christian churches teach that there is no marriage in heaven, based both on a basic misreading of Jesus’ words and on a physical-minded and earthly view of marriage.

      The Bible gives very little detail about the afterlife. Throughout most of the time period of the Old Testament, the Israelites didn’t believe in an afterlife. They believed that God would bless or curse people in this life based on whether they obeyed or disobeyed God’s commandments. Even in New Testament times many Jews still didn’t believe in an afterlife (represented especially by the Sadducees). In that general atmosphere of disbelief and skepticism about an afterlife, God couldn’t reveal very much about the spiritual world and what it is like.

      Besides, the main purpose of the Bible is to get us to eternal life by teaching us what we must believe and how we must live in this life in order to go to heaven rather than to hell. So it wasn’t really necessary for the Bible to give us a lot of detail about the afterlife. And most of what it does say about the afterlife is put in metaphorical language, not literal language. There isn’t a plain description of the afterlife anywhere in the Bible.

      About marriage in the afterlife, as I point out in the above article, Jesus simply didn’t say that there is no marriage in heaven. And the Bible gives us good reason to believe that true, God-given, spiritual marriage continues after death. I would encourage you to reread the article, and also to read the follow-up articles. It’s all laid out there. Then we can discuss it further if you like.

  12. K says:

    Is it possible for angels to slip up and have an affair?

    Or does it become literally impossible for angels to commit adultery?

    • Lee says:

      Hi K,

      For angels, having an affair would be unthinkable and horrifying. At the very thought of being intimate with anyone else besides their partner in marriage, they grow cold to the very marrow of their bones. That’s because they are truly one with their partner in heart, mind, and soul. Their oneness in physical intimacy expresses that oneness of soul, such that they can have it with no one else, nor do they have the slightest romantic or sexual interest in anyone else.

      • K says:

        That’s a relief to know. Didn’t Swedenborg say Heaven is a place of rest in that the battle with temptation to sin is over?

        • Lee says:

          Hi K,

          Yes, as the Scripture says:

          They will rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them. (Revelation 14:13)

          This doesn’t refer to physical labor. Angels still have jobs, which they love to do. It refers, rather, to the spiritual labor of trials and temptations. There is no more temptation of the sort that we experience here on earth, in which our soul comes into danger of damnation.

          However, angels do still have their ups and downs. Sometimes they forget that it’s all about the Lord and not about themselves. Then they experience a time of despondency, and they temporarily fall down from their place in heaven into a lower place (but never into hell). Through that experience they once again realize that everything good they have, and are, is not their own but is from the Lord. And when they turn back to the Lord and pray to the Lord, recognizing their mistake and asking for the Lord to be with them, they rise back up to the usual joy and fulfillment of their lives in heaven.

          As for committing sins such as breaking the commandments against murder, adultery, stealing, and bearing false witness, such things are so far from them that doing them never enters their mind, or if it does, it is with an abject horror at the very thought of it. They are no longer tempted to commit sins such as adultery because the Lord has removed those desires from their heart, and replaced them with a love for God and for their fellow angels and humans, and specifically in this case with a deep love for the sanctity of marriage and for their partner in marriage. They would never violate that love in such a flagrantly evil and sinful way, even if they may sometimes get a little snippy, as we imperfect human beings tend to do.

          Angels, after all, are not perfect either. They are simply people who have gone to heaven. Just as happens for us here on earth when we are on a spiritual path, angels are continually learning and growing toward perfection. As they do so, they continually move closer and closer to God and to one another. This continues to all eternity, keeping their lives fresh and new every day.

  13. Eric Breaux says:

    How accurate and fair would you conclude pastor Jack Wellmans opinion of Jesus context of marriage in eternity is, knowing the Greek understanding of the words used originally in that account with the sadducees? https://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/will-there-be-marriage-and-sex-in-heaven/

    • Lee says:

      Hi Eric,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your question and link. I have edited the link to point to the top of the article rather than to one of the comments down below.

      In answer to your question, Mr. Wellman makes the same mistake as most of the rest of traditional Christianity in confusing getting married with being married. As explained in the article above, Jesus said that in the resurrection they don’t get married. But he never said that there is no marriage or sex in heaven, as Mr. Wellman incorrectly states.

      As for the rest of the article, though there are a few good points in it, for the most part it falls into all of the usual errors of literalism and faith alone, contrary to both the letter and the spirit of the Bible.

      In short, I believe Mr. Wellman is among the blind leaders of the blind that Jesus spoke of in the Gospels.

      My heart goes out to all of the people who left comments asking questions, and received unbiblical and disheartening answers. I hope that over time they find better answers to their questions. This man is misleading them and taking away their hope and joy for eternal God-given marriage with their beloved partners.

      What God has joined together, let no man put asunder.

  14. Joseph says:

    Hey, very interesting article I just have a few questions/things to clarify.
    So there will be no sex in heaven?
    Do You stayed married, spiritually, to your partner in Heaven (you said you do so what’s your basis for this, just to clarify)?
    Do Angels Marry and or Have sex?
    And what happens if a woman or man does get married to multiple, who is he/she spiritually connected with in heaven (and does the bible discuss this?)

    • Lee says:

      Hi Joseph,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your comment and questions.

      The Bible doesn’t give us any detailed description of life in heaven because the main purpose of the Bible is to get us there by teaching, guiding, and motivating us to live a good life of love, faith, and kindness here on earth. And much of what the Bible does say about life in heaven is metaphorical rather than literal. That’s why there are so many contradictory views of the afterlife among Christians.

      That’s also why, although the things I teach here about heaven are not contradictory to what the Bible teaches if the Bible is properly understood from a spiritual perspective, they do draw on other sources, primarily the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg, about whom please see:
      Do the Teachings of Emanuel Swedenborg take Precedence over the Bible?

      In answer to your specific questions:

      • Yes, despite the rather prudish and physical-minded view of sexuality in most of traditional Christianity, there is sex in heaven.
      • Yes, we stay married to our partner in heaven to eternity.
      • If a man or woman has been married multiple times, in heaven he or she will be married to the one who is the best match in heart and mind.

      For more on these points, please see these additional articles:

      I hope these articles help. If you have any further questions as you read, please don’t hesitate to ask. Meanwhile, Godspeed on your spiritual journey!

      • Joseph says:

        Thank you for the good reply, I just had this last question to clarify on. So when Jesus did say that nobody will be getting married in Heaven, why did he say that as a response to the pharasies question? Wouldn’t it be more logical to say that his response was that there would be no marriage in heaven or if not, why not?
        Cheers, and have a good Christmas

        • Lee says:

          Hi Joseph,

          You’re welcome. Please do read the linked articles as well, since they take up some of these questions in more detail.

          I would certainly be happier if Jesus had replied in a way that made more sense to modern readers.

          However, Jesus was speaking to Sadducees in their culture of 2,000 years ago, not to people of today’s day and culture. As explained in the above article and its follow-up article, for them, “marriage” was an institution that does not exist in heaven. In heaven, there is no legal marriage. Women do not become almost the property of men by the institution of legal marriage as they did at that time, nor are there any of the concomitant institutions of legal property ownership, inheritance, continuation of the family line and name, and so on—all of which were what defined “marriage” in the society of Jesus’ day. That sort of “marrying and giving in marriage” does not exist in heaven, as Jesus said.

          What we commonly think of as marriage today—a relationship and partnership of mutual love forming a oneness of hearts and minds between two people—likewise didn’t exist in the cultures of Jesus’ day. The idea that a woman could be an equal partner with a man, and that the two were bound together as one in their souls, would have been completely incomprehensible to the people of that time and era. And that oneness of heart and mind is exactly the kind of marriage that does exist in heaven.

          In other words, what Jesus said was correct given the definition and concept of marriage that existed in his day. But that doesn’t mean that true spiritual marriage, which is a union of two minds, hearts, and lives into one, does not exist in heaven.

      • Joseph says:

        Also a side note, it may be interesting to see what the verse says in Hebrew and if the meaning is the exact same. That possibly might strengthen your argument if you find something notable. Thanks again

        • Lee says:

          Hi Joseph,

          I did look at the original Greek in writing this article. The words for “marrying and giving in marriage” are, as stated in the article, verbs, not nouns. They refer to the act of getting married, not the state of being married.

  15. Myava Buchanan says:

    Hi, millions people are not legal married n still living together like common in laws n fornicate constantly out of marriage is sin against God right and they are also Christians. Will they still going to Paradise and pass the judgement day to enter eternal afterlife forever with Jesus and God if they are already salvation?

    • Lee says:

      Hi Myava,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your comment and question.

      In response, it all depends upon whether they are living according to their conscience.

      First of all, legal marriage is not the same as religious or spiritual marriage. (See: “Real Marriage vs. Legal Marriage.”) Legal marriage is a contract with the government granting various legal rights to couples in relation to one another, their property, and their children. Those rights are valuable, and people who want to take advantage of them should certainly do so. But that doesn’t make them married in God’s eyes.

      Spiritual marriage is a oneness of mind and heart between two people who share common loves, values, beliefs, and goals in life, and are therefore partners with one another from the inside out. This can and does exist with many couples who are not legally married. And many legally married couples are not spiritually married.

      In other words, fornication in the biblical sense is not necessarily people who aren’t legally married having sex. If a loving, faithful, monogamous couple decides not to get legally married, but they do have sex, raise children together, and so on, they are not committing fornication or adultery. I do recommend at least having a religious or cultural ceremony to mark them as married in the eyes of the world. But that, too, has to be their own choice.

      Second, unfortunately, not everyone is brought up believing that sex is primarily, or only, for marriage. Many people are taught, either explicitly or implicitly, that sex is just for pleasure and enjoyment, and you can go ahead and have it with anyone that you are “in love” with, or are attracted to. And also unfortunately, some people who are taught by their parents and preachers that sex should be reserved for marriage have parents and preachers who are so harsh and hypocritical that the example they set contradicts the things they teach, so their children reject that teaching and follow the general society’s looser attitudes about sex and marriage instead.

      Even many people who consider themselves Christians don’t have a very clear concept of sex, marriage, relationships, and what they are all about. The Bible does not give as clear a message about this as people think. Polygamy was common in the Old Testament, and is never actually repudiated even in the New Testament. And in general, marriages in the Bible were rather superficial, and focused primarily on bearing children and ensuring family inheritances. That’s why Jesus rejected the sort of “marriage” that the Sadducees presented to him.

      But to get back to the point, people who are sexually promiscuous but do not believe that it’s wrong will not be penalized for that on their day of judgment—although it still does have negative consequences for their lives. Sexually promiscuous people have no experience with a real, deep, committed marriage relationship. And they are spiritually and emotionally poorer because of it. Plus there are STDs, angry exes, and yada yada.

      These are big topics, which I can’t cover fully here. But here’s one more article that goes into some of these issues in a little more detail:
      Is Sex Before Marriage Forbidden in the Bible?

      • Rami says:

        Hi Lee,

        Good to speak with you again, and I hope you’ve been well since we last did. Regarding sexual (im)morality, what of people who, in their consciences, realize and regard promiscuity as wrong, but also at the same time don’t assign a great deal of moral importance to it? I am an admittedly a promiscuous person, and behave this way in deliberate disregard of both my intellect and conscience. At the same time, part of the reason it’s easy for me to do this is because, morally speaking, promiscuity doesn’t seem to carry all *that* much moral weight, at least certainly less than the tremendous emphasis many people in traditional religious circles place on it. It’s certainly not *unimportant*, but it also feels to me something that takes a discernible back seat to much larger, much more important moral considerations that we face in every day life.

        The pattern of my promiscuous experience also feel to me as largely…mixed. That is, more nuanced than a neatly divided sense of good and bad. They’re mutual, they’re respectful, and there’s often *some* sense of connectedness with the other person, at least inasmuch as we enjoy each other’s company. In that sense, the ‘friends with benefits’ experience often feels like an interpersonally uplifting one. On the other hand, there’s an undeniable, unavoidable feeling of hollowness to the experience, especially so once you part ways and notice how neither one of you is interested in spending quality time with the other outside of its relationship to sex. And even in ‘relationships’ in which you do, the emotional distance you ensure to place between you and the other person inhibits any meaningful sense of connection.

        This certainly isn’t an endorsement of this kind of behavior, just rather a detailing of my mindset as I interact with this particular aspect of our moral identities. So what happens when someone ignores their conscience on something that doesn’t strike them as *that* big of a deal? Maybe it should be a bigger deal than I’m allowing it to be? This also relates somewhat to a conversation we had many moons ago, when someone opts to not make the better, loftier choice because it’s not necessary for their salvation, and so instead contents themselves with doing less because that is at least sufficient. In this case, it feels like not doing the right thing because the wrong thing isn’t a damnable offense, which makes me wonder if that apathy, itself, is a damnable offense.

        • Lee says:

          Hi Rami,

          Good to hear from you again.

          To dig right into it, we are judged, not by some absolute standard, but by whether we have lived according to our conscience. And various potentially wrong actions do carry various weights, greater or less, in our conscience. If we do things that we know, and our conscience tells us, are terribly wrong, and do not repent from them but continue to engage in them, then we are in danger of damnation. But if we follow our conscience on the “big stuff” (according to our own lights), but wander and err in the “small stuff” (also by our own lights), this will not cause damnation, though it will require some re-education and reorientation in the spiritual world, and may very well limit what is possible for us there. You can’t keep having “friends with benefits” relationships in heaven.

          The big issue, then, is not so much salvation vs. damnation as it is how much you want out of life, and how far you are willing to go in your spiritual life. In terms of the afterlife, this translates to whether you will be in one of the lower or one of the higher heavens, and whether you will be in the center of heavenly community or relegated to its edges. Mind you, you’ll be happy wherever you are in heaven. But each higher level of heaven carries joys and satisfactions that are a whole order of magnitude higher than those of the heavens below them, and the central areas in any community have much more companionship and joy than the spiritual boonies.

          Specifically about sexual and marital relationships, as long as you’re content with “friends with benefits” relationships, which are rather shallow and almost entirely physical relationships, you will never know what an actual marriage relationship is, and what it is like to have a true partner in life. And that, to me, is sad. People who live a casual sexual life may think they’re avoiding the “hassles” of marriage, and the “bonds” of commitment. But they are also ensuring that all of their relationships will be nothing more than temporary, shallow encounters. And in a sense, that is punishment enough—especially for someone who knows that there is so much more in a true, deep, spiritual marriage relationship.

          It is also quite possible that if you continually avoid anything more than a casual sexual relationship, you may never develop the ability to be in a real marriage. And that could very well mean that although you will be in heaven, you will be on its fringes, because you may not have the capability of being in a marriage relationship in heaven—so that you would live to eternity single rather than married. In heaven, “friends with benefits” relationships are impossible. In heaven, it is not possible to have sexual intercourse with someone who is not your spiritual marital partner. That’s because in heaven, it is impossible to say or do anything that doesn’t express your true inner state. And if you are incapable of being married to someone in your soul, you will be incapable of engaging in intimate relationships with anyone. The lack of inner connection will correspond to a lack of intimate bodily connection.

          So although you may feel you can be laissez-faire about sexual relationships, and leave marriage for the afterlife, this might set you up for a rude awakening once you actually do reach the afterlife. Given that you’re aware that your current practices are not ideal, and are even rather a let-down in the end, I would urge you to think about what sort of life you want to have, and consider moving on from this phase to one in which you are ready to form a real, deep, and long-term relationship.

          We carry with us into the spiritual world whatever character we have built here on earth. And if we build a character that includes an ongoing practice of casual and superficial sexual relationships, we’ll carry that same character into the spiritual world. While that won’t necessarily keep us out of heaven, it will prevent us from having any real, deep marital relationship in heaven. Perhaps God will be merciful and allow you to remain long-term in a relatively shallow relationship with a partner. Personally, I wouldn’t want to roll the dice on that one.

        • Rami says:

          Hi Lee,

          Thanks for getting back to me, and for your insights. There are a few disparate points I’d like to hit on, and hopefully you’ll have time to hit back, but one issue I wanted to quickly address right now is the way you described marriage- true marriage- as ultimately a spiritual state in your reply to Myava, as separate from being legally recognized as such. Does essentially spiritual nature of marriage further nuance questions of adultery?

          For instance, if someone is unhappily married- in the sense that there no longer exists any spiritual bond between two people- would it be adultery for them to see someone else, despite them being married in the eyes of the law? It would strike me as, at the very least, especially unwise, and certainly a betrayal of trust, but would this amount to the same spiritual transgression of adultery if their marriage?

        • Lee says:

          Hi Rami,

          Although legal marriage is not the same as spiritual marriage, many people think of legal marriage as “marriage.” For such people, sleeping with someone else while you’re still legally married constitutes adultery because it is a violation of “marriage” as they understand it. Spiritually speaking, adultery is a willingness to be unfaithful to one’s partner in marriage, which may or may not be acted upon. Of course, it’s worse if it’s acted on, but even the desire to be unfaithful to one’s partner is a form of adultery, as Jesus says in the Gospels.

          Having said that, life is complicated. There are situations in which someone is still legally married but considers that marriage dead, and not a real marriage, and is engaged in an active romantic and sexual relationship with someone else. While that is still adultery legally and socially, it is probably not spiritual adultery. Still, in general, if you’re not going to be in a relationship with your current legal spouse, it’s best to get a divorce if that is possible.

          The basic question from a spiritual perspective is whether the person is violating his or her conscience, and doing something he or she knows is a violation of marriage. There will be consequences even if it doesn’t violate the person’s conscience, and it is therefore generally “unwise,” as you say, to engage in sex outside of a legal marriage. For one thing, spouses who are being cheated on get upset. And there are other ramifications, both short term and long term.

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Lee & Annette Woofenden

Lee & Annette Woofenden

Featured Book

Talking with God

The Healing Power of Prayer

(Click the cover image or title link to review or purchase on Amazon)

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