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. (Exodus 3:6)

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
75 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:

    Greetings,

    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?)
    Thanks,

    • 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.

        • Rami says:

          Hi Lee,

          The latter part of your response- that there are consequences to be had whether one acts in accordance with or violation of their conscience- is kind of what I wanted to touch upon here, because a poisonous mushroom will still compromise your health regardless of whether you thought it was safe to eat. You emphasize the question of whether someone is following their conscience when tackling the issue of whether our decisions may damn us (a term I know is understood differently according to Swedenborg), but is that to draw a distinction between, say, damnable offenses and negative consequences? You might say that damnation is the ultimate ‘negative consequence,’ but it sounds as though you see a state where one is not damned, yet suffers from unhealthy, undesirable consequences of their decisions?

          Broadening the question up to some real world examples (and I think you and I may have touched upon this in the past), ask your average (happily) married man about their past, and there’s a good possibility that may discuss experiences whereby they ‘sewed their oats.’ Similarly, with women, you might hear them refer to what is colloquially referred to as their ‘slut days.’ It seems men and women alike- at least here in the west- accept and even embrace a certain type of youthful promiscuity that they see at the very least to be a rite of passage, or a period of low responsibility that is to be enjoyed and embraced. And yet, you can find many of them, now, raising families happily married to someone with whom they share a strong spiritual bond.

          So where are the unhealthy consequences for these people? We rebuke promiscuity because it can ultimately- perhaps permanently- stunt one’s ability to develop a deep, marital bond with another person, and nevertheless, despite their years of sexual recklessness, here they are, deeply bonded with that other person. Granted, not ever consequence is a visible one, and not every visibly happy marriage is a healthy one. They may be experiencing interpersonal and intimacy issues that, while not undermining the marriage, prevent it from actualizing into all it could be, and that may be where we find the imprint of their past decision making.

        • Lee says:

          Hi Rami,

          The missing link is repentance.

          People who were promiscuous in their youth, but then recognize that it was a mistake, and that it is wrong to sleep around, and thereafter commit themselves to being faithful to their partner because unfaithfulness and adultery are wrong, and faithfulness is right, have repented from their earlier promiscuous ways. If they stick with that commitment, they can go on to good, loving, faithful, monogamous, spiritual marriages.

          The reality is that promiscuity, sooner or later, becomes both unsatisfying and problematic. This happens in different ways for different people. But the idea from a spiritual perspective is that sooner or later people recognize that this is not a good way to live, and that in fact, promiscuity and adultery are wrong.

          Unfortunately, many people don’t listen to what their parents, or their church, or their teachers tell them about this. They have to try it out for themselves, and learn the hard way instead of learning the easy way. That’s how we humans generally are. So the rampant youthful promiscuity is a divine permission so that we can learn that promiscuity does not lead to happiness, but to heartbreak, or at least to emptiness.

          God allows us to be promiscuous so that we can learn that promiscuity is a dead end, and more than that, is wrong. If we do learn that, and commit ourselves to faithful monogamy, then yes, we can go on to a good and even a spiritual marriage.

          If we do not learn that, but only get married because it’s the next thing to do, then we cannot have a spiritual marriage. Our heart is still promiscuous, we are not committed to faithful monogamy, and if we get restless down the line, we’ll have an affair here or there or everywhere, because we never repented from our promiscuity and our adulterous nature. We only set it aside for expediency.

          Where do all the affairs that married people engage in come from? They come from a still unregenerate heart, which means the person is still basically earthly, physical-minded, materialistic, and, not to put too fine a point on it, evil and sinful. Until people repent, they remain in this state, even if outwardly they have the semblance of a “good marriage.”

        • Rami says:

          Hi Lee,

          But the average, now happily married ‘dude’ (as it were) with a sexually reckless past doesn’t strike me as all that repentant for it. While they recognize, now- as perhaps they always did- that this isn’t an ideal or at least sustainably long term way to live, they nevertheless embrace it as a phase that one goes through, and really, one ought to enjoy going through, until its finally time to ‘settle down.’

          If you were to ask them as promiscuous twenty-somethings about their future plans, they would probably describe a future involving a wife and kids they love, indicating that real, true marriage and commitment is something they ultimately want, even as their current relationships are sexually casual ones. But for now (as youths), they’re going to enjoy the materialistic luxury of sex without commitment. Indeed, as adults, many of them speak nostalgically or at least neutrally about their past sexual exploits. But rarely, at least in my experience, do any of them sound repentant toward them.

          Now, as far as their consciences are concerned, there’s nothing destructive about their behavior, and there never was. Is coming to terms with their promiscuity as something that they have outgrown and no longer have use for their own version of ‘repenting’? Or are these guys just silently suffering the consequences of their misguided consciences?

        • Lee says:

          Hi Rami,

          If they’re still thinking nostalgically of their past sexual exploits, then they certainly haven’t repented. And it’s likely that their marriage is a superficial one as well. People put on an outward show of happy marriage even when it doesn’t exist. And even if such people do have a relatively stable marriage for a longer or shorter time, there is no spiritual connection with their spouse, because they themselves are still motivated by sexual desire, not by marriage love. At some point their marriage will likely be ripe for infidelity, either by themselves or by their spouse, and after infidelity, divorce. If they manage to live the rest of their lives with the same partner, it is only because of the influence of external and social forces, not because they have a genuine marriage with their spouse. The current state of a marriage is not what tells the story, because the end of the story has not yet been written.

        • Lee says:

          Hi Rami,

          To put some more abstract structure behind what I just said:

          There is sexual love, and there is marriage love, and the two are not the same thing.

          By “sexual love” here I mean basically our sex drive and our desire to have sexual intercourse. This we have in common with other animals, and its primary purpose and drive is biological: to ensure the reproduction and continuation of the species. This type of love primarily values the physical characteristics of any mate: youth, health, strength, physical attractiveness, and to some extent social desirability as well. It puts no particular value on monogamy, except as that is seen as contributing to successful reproduction. And in humans more than in other species, it looks to physical enjoyment and pleasure. (Mating in most other animals is a rather quick and perfunctory affair.)

          Marriage love is quite different. Marriage love is a oneness of minds and hearts brought about by common loves, values, beliefs, goals, and outlooks in life. Its purpose is not reproduction, but partnership and companionship. And while it does normally lead to sexual intimacy, and in the usual course of events, reproduction as well, that is not its goal. It can exist only with one partner, and only when the two have an underlying oneness in spirit. That oneness grows closer and closer as the marriage progresses. For someone who has genuine marriage love, the idea of physical and sexual intimacy with someone other than their partner in marriage is not at all appealing, and for many is even a disgusting and horrifying thought. If such a person has had past sexual encounters, they pale in comparison to the relationship they now have with their wife or husband, and the memory of them is largely pushed to the side and forgotten as much as possible. What they have now goes far beyond any of those earlier “sexual exploits.”

          One man who, I believe, had a true spiritual marriage with his wife said to me, “Sure, the idea of sex with another woman has crossed my mind. But when I think about what I have with my wife, and what I would be losing, there’s no way I would ever do it.”

          All of this is why I say that those “happily married men” who get nostalgic about past sexual exploits do not have real marriages. If they did, those “exploits” would pale in comparison to what they now have with their wives. They would be matters of embarrassment at how immature they once were. Anyone with a real marriage would be thankful to longer be so superficial and foolish as to live that kind of casual, promiscuous, purely physical sexual life.

          Most likely what they’ve done is, after they’ve used up their initial sexual appeal with as many women as they can get to sleep with them, they’ve settled for one passably good-looking woman who can supply them with regular sex without all of the complications of having multiple partners. And of course, there are various social and financial benefits of being married, which are not lost on them.

          But a real marriage? No. They have a mating with a physically and socially desirable partner. And as long as that is their state of mind and attitude about sex and marriage, they will never know what a real marriage is like, because they will never experience it.

        • Rami says:

          Hi Lee,

          This issue strikes me as a tad tricky, because people’s feelings aren’t quite black and white on most issues, and this is no exception. I think when people go on to experience the joy of a committed relationship, the idea of returning to a life of sleeping around seems wholly unsatisfying and hollow. In that sense, some people just need to experience the fullness of a commitment with someone else to realize the errors of their promiscuous ways. But, again, while they would never dream of going back to a life of promiscuity, they still don’t look back on it with repentance. Or at least have mixed feelings about it. Because they still see it as a phase, and a fun one.

          Take someone who has had a summer fling. It wasn’t serious, it wasn’t meant to last, and it was primarily built on sex. Two people who become intimate and have every expectation of going their separate ways. That was a long time ago, and that person is now happily married, but they aren’t repentant of that fling. Because they just see it was one of life’s many adventures

          Or take ex rock stars. They’ll often describe- often wistfully- the crazy, reckless, and downright stupid things they did. Drinking and drugs, day in, day out, all hours of the day, all throughout the night. Wake up at 3, play a show, party, repeat. The vice, the women, the excess, the downright insanity of their lives. They’ll tell you now, as men in their 50’s and 60’s, that those day are over, done with, and behind them. They were lucky to escape with their lives and (most of) their sanity intact. But as they look back, a smile usually grips across their face. Because for as stupid as their behavior was, they had fun, and it just came time to move on.

          I think this type of mixed emotion describes the average person’s reflection on the hookups they’ve had, and most people will have a few in their lifetime. It was fun, for a time. It was good, for where they were. But now they’ve moved on to something much better, and they’re much happier for it. You have someone who has certainly *moved on*, but hardly someone who is *repentant*.

          Is accepting something as a thing of your past sufficient to let go of destructive tendencies and move toward marriage? Or do you have to inwardly acknowledge it as wrong? Because to be honest, I have a hard time looking at a lot of these people- some of whom were my classmates who in all likelihood have had their share of hookups- and conclude that their marriage is a superficial one. At the same time, I’m with you, in that the consequences of this behavior *do* follow you, and you *do* need repentance before you can truly move on from them. But for those unrepentant people- like the ones I described- where are those consequences?

        • Lee says:

          Hi Rami,

          Of course, I can’t peer into people’s souls. But I’d be willing to bet that most of those rock stars who look back on those crazy drug- and sex-filled years have a smile come across their face because now their life is empty. They’ve already shot their wad, so to speak, and now their life is effectively over. They’re has-beens.

          If they had really moved on, and were doing greater things with their lives, yes, they’d be grateful to have survived those crazy years. But they would think of them as a chaotically and colossally stupid waste of several decades of their lives. Even the music they created at that time will appeal mostly to young people whose lives are similarly chaotic—or to people their own age who are now nostalgic for those times because they’ve moved on to a life empty of any great meaning. They’ve moved into the years when they should be growing beyond the chaos of youth to a stage of wisdom, and of greater productivity and usefulness to society, but it’s too late, because they’re all burnt out.

          Honestly, it’s sad to see aging rockers still stuck playing the same songs they wrote forty or fifty years ago, who clearly haven’t moved on with their lives.

          Many of the songs I thought were great when I was young I now think of as fine for young people, but just a bit . . . superficial. And yes, there are some that have enduring value. But most of that music won’t survive beyond the generation that made it, or if it does, it will be among young, confused kids who are still trying to figure out how to be an adult.

        • Lee says:

          Hi Rami,

          Yes, some people do just sort of move out of their promiscuous years into a more mature and more monogamous period of life. There is an ordinary life cycle that we humans tend to go through whether or not we are growing spiritually.

          However, a real, spiritual marriage is not something that just sort of happens. You don’t just roll out of bed and find yourself in a deep, meaningful, and growing relationship with a partner in marriage. That takes a clear and intentional commitment, and lots of hard work.

          It’s not so much that marriage itself is hard work. It’s that for any marriage to work, each partner must be committed to a continual process of self-examination and self-improvement, of leaving behind old destructive habit patterns, addictive behaviors, and thoughtless and uncaring attitudes and actions, and becoming a better person. And that must continue for the life of the marriage.

          Anyone who is not willing and able to engage in this sort of continual process of self-examination, overcoming of wrong desires, attitudes, and actions, and ongoing growth as a good, thoughtful, and loving person will simply not have a real, good, and growing marriage.

          A short way of saying this is that real, spiritual marriage is impossible without repentance, reformation, and regeneration, to use the traditional terms.

        • Lee says:

          Hi Rami,

          I’m not sure I explicitly answered a couple of your questions. First:

          Is accepting something as a thing of your past sufficient to let go of destructive tendencies and move toward marriage? Or do you have to inwardly acknowledge it as wrong

          You do have to inwardly acknowledge it as wrong if you wish to fully put it behind you.

          Thinking “it was just a phase” is not bad. But it’s also not sufficient to ensure a stable and committed marriage. It leaves open the possibility of a new “phase” of philandering when the current “phase” of being faithful to your partner is over. After all, it’s just a phase. Middle-aged men and women commonly go through a midlife crisis that ushers in a new phase, in which it is common to have affairs and get divorced.

          Without coming to a belief that promiscuity and adultery are wrong, and making a strong personal commitment to never do such things now or in the future, not only is there no real marriage from a spiritual perspective, but the relatively external marriage that does exist will always be at risk. That brings us to:

          But for those unrepentant people- like the ones I described- where are those consequences?

          The consequences are in the divorce statistics. I don’t know where the divorce rate is right now, but a common figure thrown out is that half of all marriages will end in divorce. Those are not very good odds.

          Some of these divorces happen because the two people recognize that they’re simply not right for each other. However, it’s likely that many more of them are because the two people were too emotionally and spiritually immature to be in a marriage in the first place, and they lack the character and commitment that make it possible for them to be in a long term, loving, and monogamous marriage relationship.

          In marriages that do stay together, the quality of the marriage will suffer if one or both of the partners think it’s not wrong to sow your wild oats, and especially if they look back with nostalgia on their young and “free” days.

          It is very common for marriages to be great at first. It’s new, it’s fresh, and there’s lots of love, affection, sex, and new refrigerators. But before long the two get used to each other and settle into a routine. And the marriage gets just a little bit . . . boring. She isn’t as young and fresh as she used to be, and she starts putting on a few pounds. He grows love handles. The sex isn’t as good as it used to be, or as frequent. If there are children, she’s more interested in taking care of them than in being with him. And both of them are too busy working and paying bills to put much energy into their marriage or their love life. When the children finally leave the nest, and they should have time to devote to each other, they find that there’s not much left of their relationship. It is very common for marriages to break up about the time the kids are heading out and entering into their adult lives. It turns out that the kids were a distraction from the fact that the marriage was dead.

          If the now aging couple doesn’t get divorced or start having affairs, they’ll likely settle into a fairly empty “marriage” in which she does her thing and he does his, and they might occasionally have sex or go out for breakfast together out of habit. But is it a marriage? Not really. It’s two people who are in the habit of living together in the same house or apartment.

          As I said in a previous reply, real marriage takes commitment and work. It takes a willingness to admit mistakes, repent from them (in religious language), and do the work of leaving them behind and becoming a better person.

          This especially includes recognizing that a former life of superficial, uncommitted sex was a mistake, and was wrong. I’m not saying we have to beat ourselves up about our past life and our past mistakes. But we do have to admit that our past promiscuous behavior was wrong. Otherwise we haven’t left it behind, and we’re likely to repeat it when the going gets rough in our marriage—as it most certainly will.

          The basic idea is summed up in this post:
          How to Attract the Opposite Sex—and Keep ’Em

        • Lee says:

          Incidentally, though all of this is put in terms of straight relationships and marriages, the same principles apply to gay and lesbian relationships and marriages.

        • Rami says:

          I would also add that the view of hooking up being morally neutral and merely a rite of passage is what enables one to look back upon their history with a certain wistfulness. It’s not who they are today, it’s certainly not what they want for themselves anymore, but it was among the perks of being young and unattached.

          For instance, in my late teens, I would regularly go street racing. The way were driving, and things we were doing was incredibly childish and outright dangerous. When I look back on these times, I recognize how wrongheaded it all was, and frankly, the fact that we were endangering our own lives and the lives of others was downright reprehensible. We were all lucky to move past this phase of exuberance and showing off without having caused any serious damage to anything or anyone.

          At the same time, I *did* make a lot of fun memories and meet a lot of great people. We were all very young and close, and we would all bond over sharing the same experiences together, as a group. When those memories come to the forefront of my mind, I at once kind of shake my head in a kind of light hearted regret, but also have admittedly warm feelings for those times, places, and faces.

          For people who have moved on- but not necessarily repented- for their past sexual exploits, I feel like the experience is largely the same. It all depends on how serious what you did was or, at the very least, how serious you take it, and most people don’t take hooking up too seriously.

        • Lee says:

          Hi Rami,

          Sure. And those same people won’t take marriage too seriously either. That’s just the problem.

          As far as the street racing, if even one time one of you had had an accident and ended out a paraplegic or dead, and possibly maimed or killed innocent bystanders as well, those memories would be very different. The fact that you got away with it unscathed is just by the grace of God, who kept you from destroying your own life, and the lives of others.

          I’ve sat down with people who ended out on the wrong side of that roll of the dice. Was it worth it for them? Can they look back with “warm feelings for those times, places, and faces”?

          Some stuff we do when we we’re young is just plain #$%@#$^ stupid.

          Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
          according to your steadfast love remember me,
          for your goodness’ sake, O Lord! (Psalm 25:7)

          Many years ago I borrowed my dad’s car to go to my fifth high school reunion. I was visiting my parents at the time. On the way home late at night, I pulled aside into a corner gas station that was closed at the time to get out of the way of a drunk driver that I knew was behind me—a kid from my high school class who was well-known as a total #@$%-up, and who obviously hadn’t grown up at all in five years. The idiot decided to run the red light at the corner by speeding through the gas station, ran into me, and crunched the rear of my father’s car. I had to go home, wake up my parents, and tell them that I’d been in an accident, and their car was damaged.

          That’s what the idiot-ness of youth does. Needless to say, that was the one and only high school reunion I ever attended. My memories of that time aren’t so warm and fuzzy.

          Personally, I’m glad I’m no longer an idiot teenager or twenty-something. And I didn’t do nearly as many idiotic things as a lot of people do when they’re young and stupid. Yes, I had some great adventures, too. But I would never want to go back to those years.

      • Rami says:

        Sorry Lee, responded before your latest post. I’ll read it over and see where that takes me in my line of questions.

      • Rami says:

        Hi Lee,

        Thank you for the additional replies. My only, real concern here is that very few of the people who have had a history of casual sex- from a seldom indulgence of ‘hooking up’ to outright promiscuity- are actually repentant of their past behavior. Most people look back upon it as, again, a phase, and a mostly morally neutral one. For most people, the only real moral considerations are keeping it safe, and keeping it consensual. But as far as the destructiveness that’s associated with it? It is, according to their consciences, non-existent. Even outside of outright promiscuous people, most people who have the occasional hookup will go on to be married, and most married people have had the occasional hookup. And neither will repent, or have repented. Are their marriages doomed?

        So I agree that repentance is the key element, but for most people, it’s an element that will continue to go missing for them, because they simply don’t see anything morally *wrong* with promiscuity, and in all odds they never will.

        I think what happens, instead, is that rather than repenting over past wrongness, they go on to have a much greater openness and sensitivity to goodness- a receptiveness to the spiritual depth that’s associated with a profound, genuine bond with another person. That openness and the fruits thereof go on to replace their interest in casual, unattached sex, such that their past exploits, as you said, pale in comparison to what they have now or are striving for.

        That’s all well and good, but again, repentance is still and will always go missing for a vast number of people, and if I am to understand what you’re saying correctly, this is going to result in ultimately superficial, malnourishing marriages that merely function as one, but lack the depth of one.

        • Lee says:

          Hi Rami,

          The reality is that most people in today’s society (or any society, for that matter), don’t get very far in the process of regeneration, if they even start in on it at all. Yes, there is a certain amount of behavioral reformation that tends to happen due to the ongoing experiences and exigencies of life. But that is not the same as being spiritually reborn.

          These people won’t necessarily go to hell. If they’re generally good people with generally good intentions who behave in generally good ways, they’ll end out in heaven. But they won’t get very far beyond the doorway of heaven, so to speak. They’re not doomed. They just aren’t going to go very deep in their marriages or in their spiritual life.

          And as I said, they are very likely to fall onto the wrong side of the divorce statistics. If you don’t think divorce involves any destructiveness, then you haven’t been through a divorce.

          Yes, a monogamous relationship, which at least looks like marriage love, tends to replace wandering sexual love as people get older. But if it’s not an intentional choice to decisively leave behind mere sexual love for marriage love, but just something that sort of happens once a certain “phase of life” is over, then the development of that marriage is going to be limited, and nowhere near as “profound” and “genuine” as it could be.

          If such couples are satisfied with what they have, that’s their business. It’s like in the workplace, where many people never move upward past menial jobs, and they can be happy enough. But there’s a good chance such low-level marriages won’t last. Marriage tests the soul. People who aren’t ready to admit past mistakes and commit to changed attitudes and a changed life tend not to last very long in it. Real marriage requires real growth.

          As far as the youthful promiscuity itself, it tends to ingrain a superficial, pleasure-oriented, self-absorbed attitude toward relationships in the minds of those who indulge in it. That is not a good mindset with which to enter marriage. Many marriages that start with this attitude don’t even last a year.

          Of course consensual is far better than non-consensual. At least that’s getting through the thick skulls of most young men these days. But consensual promiscuity is still promiscuity. It’s still superficial, and it’s still a bad preparation for marriage.

          It may sound old-fashioned, but the best preparation for marriage is still to wait until marriage to engage in sexual relations. I realize many, if not most people won’t do this, especially in these more sexually relaxed and permissive days. But people who take a commitment to marriage seriously right from the beginning, and actually live according to that commitment, still have a leg up on those who figure they can sleep around now and get to marriage later.

          In general, sexual promiscuity in one’s youth and young adulthood is a setback for entering into a real and deep marriage. It gets sexual relations started off on the wrong foot, and wires the brain wrongly in a way that must be unwired later on in order for a person to engage in real marriage love. It puts sexual love in the driver’s seat, and attempts to build relationships from the outside in rather than from the inside out.

          Sexual intimacy in human beings is meant to be an expression of an inner union of two souls into one. No such union takes place in free-roaming sex, and such a life gets the human mind and heart running backwards and upside-down in a way that is not as easy to undo as you might think when you’re in the middle of that life and enjoying its superficial pleasures. It is common for people who have lived such a life to grind through a couple of marriages before they finally manage to get it right—if they ever do.

          Sure, for some of them it works out. But it’s a roll of the dice. A few get lucky. Most not so much.

          Not that they’re a shining example of human perfection, but for some further idea of what I’m talking about here, please see:
          Beyonce and Jay-Z Reveal the Secret: How to Start a Lasting Marriage

        • Rami says:

          Hi Lee,

          I’m with you, on all of this. Even for once-promiscuous people who eventually move on to the commitment of marriage, the past is very much with them, and very much an influence- often a detriment- on their ability to develop that marriage into something more superficial than the relationships they’re otherwise used to.

          But I’m still hung up on whether a lack of repentance will inevitably, invariably doom the marriages of people who have still manage to let go of their promiscuous past, since most people don’t ‘repent of’ their past (the first, most critical step), but instead just ‘move on’ from that past (a later, equally critical step). You often describe repentance and forgiveness of not the *elimination* of ones sinfulness, but rather the pushing off of those sins to the peripheries of ones life, so they can go on to focus on the loftier pursuits before them. But what happens when we merely ‘let go’, without repenting, of our sinful ways and move on to an elevated way of thinking and being? Our sinful impulses at least *feel* pushed out of our field of view when they’re no longer a part of our lives, don’t they?

          If I had to hazard a guess, it seems to detrimental effects of non-repentance depends on how deeply involved you were in the sins you were committing. For the average, commitment minded person who has had the occasional hookup, and moved on to a faithful marriage without repenting of those hookups, it seems to me that their marriage can still bloom into a spiritually nourishing one, but is somewhat more limited to the extent that it can. For the much more promiscuous person who will sleep with anything that says yes and now decides its time so settle down, it’s the other way around: the marriage is destined to remain a superficial one, and its level of degeneration is tempered by the extent of this persons unrepentant sinfulness.

        • Lee says:

          Hi Rami,

          There are as many variations as there are people. There are also many variations on repentance. Not everyone repents in the same way. Some people get on their knees, admit their wrongs, pray to God, and commit themselves to not doing it anymore, then do the work. Others just decide one day, “I’m never going back to that kind of life,” and move forward.

          As to whether the repentance is real, time will tell. If they stick with it, and move forward, developing something deeper with one partner, then a good and even spiritual marriage is certainly possible. But if they look with nostalgia and longing on their old life, and eventually go back to it, then their state is even worse than it was before.

          God is continually working within and around people, seeking to move them out of old, destructive or just low-life ways of living, and into new and better ways of living. Many people don’t have any real teaching about how to become a better person, but they do the best they can with what they’ve got, and they do move forward.

          My main point is that one way or another, if people want to be in a good and lasting marriage, they need to put promiscuity and physical-mindedness about sex and marriage behind them. It’s not, of course, that they can’t enjoy the pleasures of sex. But that simply isn’t what marriage is all about. Anyone who’s focused primarily on enjoying good sex is never going to have a good or lasting marriage. And if they’ve lived a promiscuous life, forming that habit pattern and attitude in their mind, it’s going to take some real work to leave it behind.

        • Rami says:

          Hi Lee,

          When you say:

          “Others just decide one day, “I’m never going back to that kind of life,” and move forward.”

          That was what I was referring to a few posts back, when I asked if it was possible for some people to repent in a way that doesn’t involve explicitly, consciously acknowledging the moral wrongness of their past behavior, but rather decide that this behavior is behind them, apart for them, and a permanent thing of the past (but as you say, time will tell as to their conviction).

          I realize I seem somewhat hung up on this, but the reason I’m putting such a fine point on the distinction between ‘repentance’ and merely ‘moving on’ is because you did say, in very clear terms:

          “You do have to inwardly acknowledge it as wrong if you wish to fully put it behind you.”

          The problem, as I see it, is that most people simply *will not* do this because their consciences have been formed and influenced in such a way that they see nothing wrong with at least some degree of promiscuity, particularly when they were young. They may decide they’ve grown up and thus outgrown this type of behavior, but their decision to ‘move on’ will most of the time stand apart from their recognition of that behavior as ‘wrong.’

          And the reason this is concerning is because if being open to a lifestyle that involves to some extent casual sex, and casual sex stunts ones ability to enter into true loving marriage, and it’s necessary to repent (acknowledge the wrongness of ones casual affairs) in order to undo the damage that was done…then a lot of people are in *serious* trouble when it comes to their upcoming marital lives. Modern cultural attitudes toward sexuality have gone a long way toward shaping the mindsets of young people who grow up thinking it’s okay to have the occasional fling provided it’s done safely and consensually, and for that reason and for the way our consciences work, they’re unlikely to ever repent from this behavior despite eventually moving on from it.

          This is why I also made a point to emphasize that, maybe, the extent. by which our non-repentance affects us is determined by the types of sins we were committing, and how deeply we were involved in them. For instance, not everybody understands ‘casual’ to necessarily mean sex. Some people might be comfortable only going so far as to, say, make out with a person they’re momentarily attracted to. That seems considerably less destructive than outright sex with that person, and the damage considerably less, even if it goes unrepented. I think we can apply the same understanding to all the millions of little variations that exist on the scale of sexual immorality.

          But getting back to the first point, can merely ‘moving on’ be ones own act of repentance? I can see a basis for believing that, for the same reasons I can accept atheists as entering Heaven. Atheists often recognize the same moral realities that believers do, and while they don’t use the same terminology or even describe reality in the same way, the purely secular decision to ‘move on’ from past immorality because it ‘no longer serves’ them is ultimately, in some inward way, a recognition of its harmfulness, and a decision to shun it out of their lives. Maybe this is repentance a la the materialist? What do you think?

        • Lee says:

          Hi Rami,

          Certainly the deeper people go into promiscuity and casual sex, the harder it will be to climb out of it. We form habit patterns of thought, feeling, and action that grow stronger the more we engage in them. Making the transition from a life in which we slept with dozens or even hundreds of different people to one in which we sleep with only one person is not going to be easy. On the other hand, people who have had only occasional casual sexual encounters, or who have been “monogamous” with a succession of several boyfriends or girlfriends one after another, will have an easier time making the transition to a monogamous and faithful long-term marriage.

          About repenting from promiscuity, the best, of course, would be to recognize that it was always wrong to sleep around. This will bring a clarity to the person’s thoughts and feelings about sex, and the results of promiscuity, that is not possible for people who never come to the conclusion that it was a mistake, and wrong, to sleep around when young. For those who don’t come to the conclusion that it was wrong to do it when young, there is a much greater possibility that they will at some point in their married life come to the conclusion that it still isn’t wrong to have a side affair. Unfortunately, such “side affairs” regularly destroy marriages. And if it’s an “open marriage,” then from a spiritual perspective, it isn’t a marriage at all. It’s just a mating.

          Having said that, it’s true that many people today simply aren’t brought up with the idea that casual, uncommitted sex is wrong, still less sinful. They are brought up to think of sex as a good thing. And they aren’t taught any clear distinction between sex and marriage. In their minds, marriage is just a socially sanctioned continuation of premarital sexual relationships.

          For such people, the minimum necessary would be for them to decide and believe that even if it wasn’t wrong for them to engage in casual and even promiscuous sex before they were married, now that they are married, it would be wrong to do so. In other words, they must come to the conclusion and decision that whatever they may have done in their past, now, and as long as their marriage lasts, it would be wrong to engage in intimate and sexual relations with anyone but their spouse.

          Without that minimum current and ongoing functional repentance from promiscuity and adultery, they simply can’t have a real, committed, monogamous marriage, and certainly not a spiritual marriage, with their spouse.

        • Rami says:

          Hi Lee,

          I think ‘functional repentance’ may be the key concept here. We had once discussed the process of repentance, and I recall you described the initial and most important step in that process as a rather obvious one: stop sinning. I think there was some disagreement between us as to whether or not making yourself cognizant of *why* it’s wrong, and *why* you want to stop as actually the first step, as, to me, anything done without that foundation is merely gesturing toward repentance without truly investing yourself in it. In any case, what this kind of ‘functional repentance’ does at the most basic level is at least put distance between you and something like, so it no longer exerts any functional *influence* on you, despite inwardly not having any moral qualms with it.

          What I’m wondering though is how merely abstaining from harmful behaviors maps the landscape of our moral decision making. In the case of merely ceasing promiscuity because one is now married- and as such would be a profound affront to that marriage- this doesn’t sound like shunning what is evil insomuch as it’s embracing what is good. Someone is not shunning the evil of promiscuity, they’re embracing the goodness of true spiritual marriage, of which promiscuity is obviously, destructively incompatible. And so they don’t do it.

          But does our failure to shun what is evil prevent us to embrace what is good? Is that why we have to first inwardly recognize something as wrong before we can truly repent? Or, ultimately, does all morality flow from the embracing of goodness?

          This alludes to a larger question of what impels us to do what is good. For instance, we behave charitably not because we shun selfishness, but because we love each other. In the case of sexual ethics, it would seem- ideally- that we wouldn’t begin with the shunning of promiscuity, but rather with the love of marriage, and so we shun promiscuity as a result.

          (btw, not to be presumptuous as to the demands of your time, but are emails still working? you mentioned that your last emails didn’t send out and I’m wondering if that’s what’s happened since I last emailed you later last week).

        • Lee says:

          Hi Rami,

          About the emails, what I need from you is a range of dates when you think you should have received emails from me, but didn’t. Then I can quickly look for any emails in that date range and re-send them.

        • Rami says:

          (just to clarify, I think I’m pretty much with you that the first thing we need to do is just put an end to our sinfulness as we repent).

        • Lee says:

          Hi Rami,

          It is good to distinguish between our motive for shunning evil and the actual shunning of evil.

          In the best case, we will shun evil because we love the Lord and want to follow the Lord, and because we love our neighbor and want to love and serve our neighbor. So yes, love of the Lord and love of the neighbor is meant to be our motive for shunning evil.

          But we still have to actually shun the evil before we can do good.

          Plenty of marriages demonstrate that doing the good of getting married is not actually good unless the partners shun the evil of promiscuity and adultery. By this I mean, just because people get married, that doesn’t necessarily mean they stop sleeping around. Adultery is a fact of life in many marriages. Simply “doing the good” of getting married means very little for those who do not shun the evil of adultery.

          This is just one illustration of the reality that none of the good we do is actually good unless we first shun the evil that is opposed to it. If we do the good of providing someone with a product or service, but we don’t shun the evil of cheating them and providing shoddy goods and poor services, then in the end the “good” we do is not good, but evil, because we have stuck our customer with shoddy goods and poor services that will cause problems for them. The examples could go on and on.

          This is why most of the commandments in the Ten Commandments are stated in the negative: “Thou shalt not.” Until we stop doing what is wrong and evil, we cannot do what is good, even if our actions may superficially appear to be good.

          In the case of someone getting married without shunning the sin of fornication and adultery, the marriage may look good at first. Finally s/he is “settling down.” But as soon as the honeymoon is over and the initial buzz of newness wears off, if one or both of the partners who used to be promiscuous hasn’t made a conscious decision not to sleep with anyone else because that would be wrong, the temptations will start coming in, and it won’t be long before the result is adultery and the destruction of the marriage.

          In short, what appears to be “doing good” without shunning the evil opposed to it is not really good, because it is only a matter of time until the old evils return and destroy the marriage.

          Back to motive, the shunning of evil can’t just be for expediency. If a man says, in reference to his new wife, “I won’t sleep with anyone else because if I do, she’ll find out and divorce me,” that is not shunning evil as sin. It is simply avoiding evil in order to avoid the consequences. And while it’s still good to avoid the evil, because as you say, it sets up a habit pattern, this is a weak form of avoiding evil. What if he decides the consequences of sleeping with someone else wouldn’t be so bad after all? What if he convinces himself that she’ll never find out about it? Then, if he doesn’t believe it’s wrong to sleep with someone else, he’ll go ahead and do so.

          That’s why it is necessary to shun evils as sins, meaning because they are wrong and contrary to God’s commandments.

          About examining oneself, this is the best and most solid way of coming to repentance. However, there is also an “easier kind of repentance” (see True Christianity #535, which I recommend your reading in this context), which Swedenborg describes in this way: “When we are considering doing something evil and are forming an intention to do it, we say to ourselves, ‘I am thinking about this and I am intending to do it, but because it is a sin, I am not going to do it.'” This “easier kind of repentance” doesn’t involve any self-examination beyond recognizing our thought and impulse in the current moment to do something that we know is wrong and sinful.

          Whether we do the easier, non-self-reflective form of repentance or the more thorough and difficult form of repentance that involves self-examination, it is still necessary to repent from our evil and sinful actions and habits in order to do good that is actually good, and not just a temporary show that will inevitably yield to the same old wrong and destructive behavior.

  16. Sarah says:

    What if a person was born deformed and for that reason never married or experienced a loving Intimate relationship with someone else?

    They wouldn’t have experience of marriage love to build on while alive, and maybe because of that physical deformity they never developed social skills to interact with others? You say we don’t change the type of person we are in the next life, If that’s the case how can such a person form close loving bonds with others if they were unable in this life due to being ostracized and ignored because of your looks and the long term damage that does to a person emotionally and psychologically?

    • Lee says:

      Hi Sarah,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your good questions. As you’re well aware, these are difficult issues, and there are no really easy answers. But here are a few thoughts and article references that might help:

      First, not being married on earth for one reason or another does not necessarily prevent our being married in heaven. If we’re not married on earth because we’re an evil and black-hearted person, yes, that would prevent us from being married in the afterlife, and indeed, from going to heaven at all. But if we’re not married due to physical or social circumstances beyond our control, or even because we made serious mistakes that rendered us unable to marry here on earth, that will not prevent us from marrying in heaven if we long for a good and loving marriage. For more on this please see:

      Can you Fall in Love in Heaven if you Haven’t Found Someone on Earth?

      About physical deformities, these, being physical, will be taken away in the spiritual world. In the spiritual world, the only thing that causes deformity is having a selfish, greedy, and evil character. See:

      About the psychological effects of having physical handicaps or deformities, that could carry over into the spiritual world, depending upon the person’s own response to the handicap or deformity. If it causes someone to be socially awkward and to have difficulty engaging in normal social interactions and friendships, that can be overcome in the spiritual world when the person begins a new life in a spiritually whole, healthy, and normal body. Just as with people here on earth who have corrective surgery and are able to begin engaging in a normal social life, the same can happen in the spiritual world. Here on earth there are, of course, still memories of the person’s old life, but they are gradually eclipsed by the new life. And in the spiritual world, those memories will fade out altogether before long.

      However, for people who respond to physical handicaps or deformities by becoming bitter, jealous, and full of self-pity, the situation will likely be quite different. A handicapped or physically deformed person is still a human being, with the freedom to choose how to respond to his or her situation, whether positively or negatively. This is demonstrated by the many handicapped and physically deformed people who make a good life for themselves, compared to others who descend into anger and negativity. Whatever our circumstances in life, we need to take responsibility for our own life and our own thoughts and emotions, and do the best we can with what we have. This is true whether the challenges we are facing are physical, social, financial, emotional, or spiritual.

      About not changing the type of person we are after we die, to be more specific, what doesn’t change is our basic “ruling love” or dominant love. If our life is focused on gaining wealth, benefits, status, or pleasure for ourselves, or on the flip side bemoaning our terrible fate and wallowing in self-pity, then that won’t change after we die.

      But if, in spite of the inevitable struggles with depression and hopelessness that come with severe physical handicaps and deformities, we do our best to think of others as well as ourselves, and contribute what we can to the well-being of the people around us, then that, too, won’t change after we die. What will change is that we will no longer have to struggle with our physical handicap or deformity. And then, whatever “ruling love” we had built up underneath it all will be able to truly shine in a fully functional and very beautiful spiritual body corresponding to the beauty of character we had developed in the midst of our physical and social struggles here on earth.

      For people with mental handicaps so severe that they cannot reach mental and emotional adulthood here on earth, the mental handicaps will be taken away in the afterlife, and they will grow to full adulthood mentally and emotionally, and find their eternal home in heaven, just as all children and teens do who die before reaching self-responsible adulthood.

      For people whose handicaps simply made them unable to engage in normal social life here on earth, but who were mental and emotional adults, the handicaps will also be taken away, and then whatever choices they had made about how to live their lives within the constraints placed by their handicaps, that will come forward and will be their new self, without having to struggle against those handicaps anymore.

      And don’t forget that the spiritual world is the gathering place of all people here on earth, including all people who struggled with physical and mental handicaps. Even if a particular person’s handicaps or deformities were so severe that it not only wasn’t possible to form a marriage relationship here on earth, but also affected that person’s character in lasting ways, there will be other people there who have faced and struggled with similar circumstances, and formed a similar character. Then, when their true inner self comes out and is expressed in a healthy, normal body, they may meet each other and find that precisely because they had similar struggles on earth, they are now perfectly suited to one another.

      In short, no matter who we are, if we have at least made basic choices to be a positive rather than a negative person in our inner loves and intentions, and if we long for a good and loving marriage, there will be someone who is a match for us. And in the afterlife, the Lord will see to it that the two meet each other so that they can achieve together what they have always longed for, but have never been able to experience, here on earth.

  17. Sarah says:

    will it be safe to open up to people their, and be able to trust they wont be cruel?
    what if you don’t know how to communicate effectively?

    • Lee says:

      Hi Sarah,

      My sense is that you yourself may struggle with a physical handicap or deformity. If so, then you know much more than I do about how this affects a person’s character and interactions with other people.

      If your questions do come from concerns and fears based on personal experience, what I can say to you is that when it comes your time to pass on to the spiritual world, the very first people you meet there will be the kindest and most loving angels, who don’t have the slightest concerns about the physical issues that you struggled with here on earth, but who look only for, and at, the best in you, and who know you and love you as a person more deeply and tenderly than anything you have experienced here on earth. These angels will stay with you as long as you want them to.

      When you are ready to move on from these angels, the next ones who will be with you are very thoughtful and understanding angels, whose main goal is to answer all of your questions and give you every bit of light and understanding that you could wish for as you enter into the spiritual world. They, too, are unconcerned with any physical handicaps or deformities you may have had in the world. Like the angels of love that first greet you, these angels of light are there to serve you because they care about your wellbeing.

      Once you move on from these angels, your experience will depend entirely on your own thoughts and desires, and where they carry you. If you are a good person at heart, there is no need for you to encounter evil and malicious spirits who would attack you and be cruel to you for any reason whatsoever. The only reason you would encounter such spirits is if your own heart were cruel, or perhaps if you clung stubbornly to a concept of yourself as a “handicapped person,” and were unwilling to accept that your physical handicaps and deformities are now a thing of the past. People who have these kind of fixed ideas about themselves and their relationships with others sometimes have to go through hard experiences in the spiritual world in order to accept that this is no longer the person they are.

      But that, I think, is probably quite rare, especially these days when there is a growing acceptance of handicapped people as valid and valuable human beings just like any other human being. My sense of most physically handicapped people whom I have met is that they would gladly and quickly leave their wheelchairs and their handicaps behind in a heartbeat if they were able to do so. And that is exactly what they will experience in the spiritual world. By the time they would even have any chance of encountering cruel spirits (which they wouldn’t normally anyway), they would no longer be handicapped or have physical deformities, but would be living in their new, fully healthy, fully functional spiritual body. So there would be nothing to taunt them or be cruel to them about.

      If, because of a physical handicap or deformity, a person has been unable to experience and learn about normal human relations and effective communication, this can be overcome fairly quickly in the spiritual world, assuming that the person’s heart is good. When we arrive in the spiritual world, most of us do not go directly to heaven, but rather spend a longer or shorter time in an area between heaven and hell called “the world of spirits.” Here, we leave behind anything in our outer self that isn’t in full harmony with our inner self and our ruling love. This includes the lingering effects of any physical handicaps that we might have had in the physical world.

      For those whose handicaps were severe, and whose character was affected by them, it might take a little while to get used to having a fully functional and beautiful body, and to get the hang of talking and interacting with other people without that barrier getting in the way. But just as people who have had serious accidents can often regain much of their former functioning through a course of physical therapy, so people in the spiritual world who have suffered with physical or mental handicaps can overcome the lingering effects of those handicaps through the spiritual equivalent of physical therapy, which is really spiritual therapy in the spiritual world. The Lord will assign to them skilled angels who are able to help them through this transition and learning process—perhaps angels who themselves struggled with severe handicaps or deformities during their lives in the world, and have now moved beyond them.

      If you are speaking from personal experience, please do not fear that your struggles here on earth will stay with you forever in the spiritual world, or that you will still be subject to cruelty and taunting because of your physical appearance or impairments. Assuming that you are a person of good heart, all of your physical impairments will be gone rather quickly, and probably immediately, in the spiritual world. Over time you will have no reason to even remember them anymore as you live your new, fully healthy, fully functional life in the spiritual world among people who love you and care about you, and who see you as the beautiful person that you are inside. In heaven, our body is a perfect reflection of our spirit.

      Meanwhile, for more about what we experience after we die, please see this article:
      What Happens To Us When We Die?

  18. Nikos says:

    What about Paul in Chapter 7?

    • Lee says:

      Hi Nikos,

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

      I presume you are talking about Paul’s statements about marriage in 1 Corinthians 7. There, Paul gives a number of instructions about marriage, some of which he explicitly labels as his opinion, and not commandments of the Lord. However, he doesn’t say anything about marriage in the afterlife.

      If you were wondering about something more specific, please let me know.

  19. john says:

    Hello,
    I read your article, I know you put a lot of effort into this. After reading your article I am in disagreement with your proposition for two reasons that I will explain below. I believe that you neither proved or disproved your propositions. You only explained the scriptures in detail, which don’t seem to support your thesis. So if I may, I would like to counter with this…

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

    Gameo is the verb that your say means get married, or lead in marriage, take a wife. this is aggressive, you make the action

    Gamizo is the verb that means given in marriage, or the passive. The idea is of eastern culture of parents getting a wife for the son.

    your using gameo to prove your point but gamizo disproves your point because the idea is about parents given their son a wife. See Jesus used both on purpose to show that marriage between two people will not happen in heave. The only marriage will be with God.

    Next point:

    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.

    Romans 7:2-3
    For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. 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.

    you got some mental gymnastics to do.

    • Lee says:

      Hi John,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your comment. Of course, you are free to believe whatever you want to believe about marriage after death. We’ll all find out for sure when we get there. However:

      On your first point:

      A passive verb is still a verb, and it still refers to the act of getting married, not to the state of being married. Sons got married. Daughters were given away in marriage by their parents. It is two sides of the same coin. It is talking about people getting married. So it is about the act of getting married.

      If I say to a child, “Now you are growing up, but when you are an adult, you won’t be growing up anymore,” does that mean that he or she won’t be an adult after finishing the growing up years? No. He or she has then engaged in the act of growing up in order to be in the state of being a grown-up.

      If I say to a teenager, “Once you are an adult, you will no longer be getting an education,” meaning that he or she will be finished with school, and will be working a job instead, does that mean that as an adult he or she will be uneducated? No. Adults have already engaged in the act of getting educated, and are now in the state of being educated.

      Similarly, if I say to a teenager, “You will graduate from high school, and then from college, but after that you won’t graduate anymore,” does that mean that after the act of graduating, that teenager (now an adult) won’t be a graduate? No. The acts of graduating high school and then college lead to the state of being a graduate of high school and college. There is no need to graduate anymore, because that has already happened. Now the young adult has attained to the benefits of going to school and graduating with a degree.

      It is the same with the act of getting married leading to the state of being married. The simple fact of the matter is that Jesus did not say people are not married (i.e., not in the state of marriage) in heaven. He said that people don’t get married in heaven (i.e., don’t engage in the act of getting married). And as this article and the next article explain in detail, that’s because spiritually, we get married here on earth so that we can be married in heaven.

      Every time preachers say, “Jesus said there’s no marriage in heaven,” they are misquoting Jesus. They are putting words into his mouth that he did not say. That’s not right. Please, don’t make Jesus say something he simply didn’t say.

      On your second point:

      Romans 7:2–3 must be read in context, or we’ll miss the point. If you read the whole section, Romans 7:1–6 and beyond, you will see that Paul is using legal marriage as an analogy to make his point that followers of Christ are “dead” to the (Jewish) Law.

      First, Paul isn’t really even talking about marriage here. He’s using legal marriage as an analogy to make an entirely different point.

      Second, Paul is talking explicitly about legal marriage. Legal marriage is something that we humans do. It is basically a contract between two people and the community (in Bible times, or today the state), giving the couple certain social and financial rights in relation to one another. Notice that while the Bible does refer to various customs related to marriage, nowhere in the Bible does God decree that legally married couples shall have, by divine authority, a certain list of earthly legal rights in relation to one another. That’s because legal marriage is a human institution, not a divine one. It is an entirely different thing than spiritual marriage, which is the type of marriage that God joins together. See:

      Real Marriage vs. Legal Marriage

      In fact, far from contradicting this article and its follow-up article, Romans 7:1–6 confirms one of the major points made in them: In Luke 20:27–40 and its parallel passages in Matthew and Mark, Jesus is saying that legal marriage as we practice it here on earth does not exist in heaven. There is no need for legal marriage in heaven because in heaven there is no death, no children who will be our heirs (all are God’s children there, as Jesus says), and no need to provide for ownership and inheritance of money, property, and so on.

      Once again, it is important for Christians to read the Bible carefully, pay attention to exactly what it says, and not add or subtract things from it. Those who claim Jesus said there is no marriage in heaven are adding to and subtracting from what he said. In these articles, we pay attention to exactly what Jesus said, and we take it very seriously.

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Lee & Annette Woofenden

Lee & Annette Woofenden

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