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.

Sincerely,

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:

About

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
12 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?

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Lee & Annette Woofenden

Lee & Annette Woofenden

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