Is There Eternal Marriage
in the Resurrection?
Q. Why do you teach eternal marriage like the Mormons
when the Bible teaches that there is no marriage in the resurrection? (Matt. 22:30, Rev. 18:7-9)
This is, unfortunately, another doctrine (like pre-existence) which is badly misunderstood by evangelical Christians who confuse the biblical teaching of eternal marriage with that of the Mormons. We are sympathetic with their fears but not always with their Bible exegesis. It is, admittedly, a difficult problem and it is one that we have wrestled hard over in order to “let the Bible speak for itself” and not impose our own pre-conceived ideas on the text.
Before we look specifically at your Bible texts it is perhaps worth reminding ourselves what marriage is not: (1) It is not, as Mormons teach, necessary for salvation -- salvation is predicated solely upon faith in Christ; (2) It is not, as Mormons teach, an ordinance which can only be performed by priesthood intermediaries such as LDS “high priests” holding the “keys of authority” in LDS temples in order to be valid in the eternities -- marriage is a covenant between a couple and Christ, it is sanctified by Christ, and is eternal because of Christ, and Christ alone. Any external ordinances are merely a means of bearing testimony to witnesses that the marriage has been entered into, that the married parties are accountable, and that it is the duty of the Christian community to sustain that marriage.
For Mormons eternal marriage is contingent upon them becoming gods in the eternities, to raise up an eternal seed of spirit-children. The Bible says nothing of such a doctrine so neither do we.
All Christians acknowledge that true Christians will one day be summonsed to an allegorical marriage with Christ, and that the relationship between Israel and God, and the Church and Christ, is a “marriage”. This is not, of course, a physical marriage -- there are no sexual implications. It is purely of the spirit.
However, it is quite another thing to make a (non-biblical) leap of faith to then say that in order to give Christ our full marital allegiance we must somehow cease our marriage relations with our spouses, as though somehow such relations would compete with our felicity to Him. This is a stunning break with sound logic. To take this thought to its logical conclusion would be to say that we should not love anyone but Christ as this would rob Christ of the love that is due Him. It is also to confuse the allegorical with the literal.
To begin with we must remember that the allegorical “marriage” of the Church or Christ is based on human marriage, and not the other way round. In other words, human marriage, instituted by God from the beginning and pronounced “good” by Him in the beginning, is part of an integrated wholeness of which our marriage to Christ is a mutual reflection. We are able to comprehend our relationship to Christ in one (spiritual) dimension only because we are ourselves married. Without that experience of human marriage we would never be ever to understand what an allegorical marriage is.
Jesus’ parting wish in His famous High Priestly prayer was that His disciples would be one (united) even as He was one (united) with His (and our) Father in Heaven. His wish was not that humans should cease being one with one another in order to be one with Him but that there should be a double oneness in all eternity -- oneness with each other and oneness with the Godhead.
When the Father made Christ equal to Him in authority and dominion He did not, in the process, subtract from His own authority and dominion. ‘Authority’ and ‘dominion’ were not physical quantities like water which, when you transfer to a glass, reduces the quanity in the bottle.
Similarly, when Christians give their loyalty and love to Christ this does not result in a parallel diminution in the loyalty and love of husbands and wives one for another -- to the contrary, each marriage in Christ is enriched and deepened. Why, then, would there be a need after death for such a Christ-’enriched’ and ‘deepened’ marriage to suddenly end? In heaven will the demands placed on us be such that what we enjoyed here on earth -- that which gave us such great joy in Christ -- be suddenly taken away? Was it all a great trick? Was God offering a carrot -- sanctifying and enriching Christian marriages -- only to then say, “Oh, that was only for then -- now you must give it to Me”?
We do not believe so, not because of the demands of any ‘logic’ or ‘human reasoning’ but because such a scenario does violence to the love and purposes of God. The Bible teaches, and New Covenant Christians believe, that all relationships which are sanctioned in Christ will become only deeper and richer in the eternities. It must be so, otherwise God contradicts His own Word.
One could give many illustrations from the Bible which is marriage-based from cover-to-cover. Every relationship between man and God, and man and man, has some connection with the idea of marriage. I think another fear (not to mention a perplexity) of evangelical Christians is that to think in terms of marriage beyond the earth is to somehow acknowledge that the Godhead is not all-male. Mormonism, not to mention occultism, teaches that the Godhead also consists of at least one female Personage, a Heavenly Mother, to be precise, and evangelical Christians are afraid that to admit any kind of literal marriage beyond the grave is to admit that there must be female Deities also. It is true, of course, that the Bible nowhere makes mention of a Heavenly Mother, though there are plenty of hints of female characteristics of the Godhead in the Scriptures. To admit a unisexual God, however, would, for most Christians, be tantamount to accepting New Age teachings about androgenous gods. There is a real theological catharsis that Christians have never really adequately excised themselves from that has forced them into a “wait and see” or “we must await the answers in the next life” policy. Some of the biggest unresolved theological connundrums exist in this area which have played into the hands of Mormons and New Agers who have at least some propositions even if these are not necessarily correct.
New Covenant Christians maintain, of course, that Jesus Christ was, and is, a male personage. We also maintain that God the Father is a male personage not only because He is called “Father” (and Jesus is called “Son”) but because Jesus said that He was the image of God. New Covenant Christians are, however, neutral about the gender of the Holy Spirit, since the Scriptures are ambigious, it being referred to in masculine, feminine and neutral terms.
I somehow doubt that the whole issue of marriage beyond the grave will be resolved -- or even can be resolved -- until the matter of the Godhead is fully explained to us. Unfortunately, most (if not all) contemporary doctrines of the Godhead which admit to female Deity somewhere tend to be connected to anti-biblical pantheistic theologies. That in itself does not, however, mean that there isn’t a biblically sound theology that accommodates female Deity somewhere. Our point is that it cannot be arbitrarily excluded simply because of supposed silence on the issue. As everyone knows, silence does not prove anything -- there is no mention of anyone going to the toilet in the Bible but that doesn’t mean that people two thousand years ago had a completely differenmt digestive and excretion system to us.
If there is one thing that the Bible is clear about it is that marriage in the next life is not automatic for everyone. We can at least read that much in Matthew 22:30 and the parallel accounts in Mark and Luke. This is the only passage in the whole Bible that addresses the question of marriage (or not) in the next life and is, unfortunately, given not as a general discourse to believers but is used in a secondary sense to expose the hypocrisy and false teachings of the Saducees. However, it would be dishonest to say that this passage cannot be read to mean that there is no marriage beyond the grave -- there is no doubt that it can, and indeed has been, by virtually all Christendom. It is at ‘worst’ ambiguous and at ’best’ (from the point of view of those who do not believe in eternal marriage) suuportative of earthly marriage only. Were it not for the ambiguity the matter would probably be resolved in favour of the traditionalists.
However, there are many concepts in the Scriptures which lead New Covenant Christians to believe that not only can this passage be read another way completely but that no marriage beyond the grave would frustrate the plan of God for the eternities. To resolve the problem means seeing it in the context of the whole, itself no mean task, a task motivated out of love for our evangelical friends who are validily concerned about this doctrine, which task is currently in the process.
Accordingly divine guidance was sought out as no direct revelation had ever been obtained in the past addressing the particular passage in Matthew which you (and others, including ourselves) have raised. Considerable agony of soul was experienced in the days leading up to this revelation as the Church wrestled with the Biblical witness and sought a solution to the apparent dilemma. The decision had been made to abandon the doctrine as an official Church teaching were no resolution of the Saducee incident forthcoming.
The revelator spent considerable time studying all the available English translations at his disposal, checking back on the original Greek, and re-reading the texts many dozens of times. He retired to bed on the evening of 28 December 1996 having saturated himself with the passages concerned and left the matter in the hands of Yahweh. The revelation that follows is what he received the next morning upon arising:
SECTION 440 of the Olive Branch
PWNC 961229 (676)
This is not, of course, a revelation for the whole Body of Christ but only for this New Covenant Church of God. However, I hope that it will go some way in answering your question and give you food for thought. Request further literature that discusses the topics raised in this essay. A more detailed essay on this subject will be following in due course.
1. Q. Is there marriage beyond the grave?
2. A. Behold, it is written, that the sons of this age marry and are given in marriage;
3. But those who are accounted worthy to attain that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage, for they cannot die any more, because they are as the angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection (Lk.20:34-36).
4. Verily, verily, I say unto you: that which hath a beginning must also have an ending, and all marriages that begin in the word of matter must also end in the world of matter;
5. In the eternal world there are no endings, neither beginnings, for all is one eternal round.
6. The Law of Zadok, which is after a temporal order and after the Priesthood of Aaron, specifieth beginnings and endings in marriage, freeing widows to remarry and commanding redeemers to take care of the childless and the homeless, even as Boaz took care of Ruth and Naomi.
7. The Law of Enoch, which is the Law of Christ, which is a heavenly order and after the Priesthood of Melchizedek, hath neither beginning nor ending;
8. And behold, all marriages which are after that order have no beginning nor ending, but were before the fallen world of matter, and shall be after it.
9. And though such couples may "find" one another in the fallen world of matter, and be married after a Zadokian Law, with its beginnings and endings, behold, in the eternities their marriage shall continue, even as it was in the worlds of spirit before ye entered your earthly probation.
10. That which is of the earth is of the earth and abideth the span of mortal life only;
11. But that which is of heaven is of heaven and abideth the span of eternity, which is without beginning or ending.
12. They who are mates of the spirit have always been and shall always be so for they were ordained to be together from the beginning;
13. Nevertheless many of these soul mates are separated while on the earth and are married unto others who are not their soul mates, that they might act upon, and be acted upon, for their spiritual growth and perfection.
14. Verily, verily, I say unto you, that the children of the first resurrection go from one glory unto another, having eternal increase of joy and love;
15. But the children of this age, even they who belong to the world and its death, even they who belong unto the second resurrection, if they are accounted worthy of it and have not sinned the unpardonable sin, shall be single, even as the angels, for in their spirits they belonged not unto eternity but unto the world.
16. The resurrection of the righteous is a resurrection of eternal increase, but the resurrection of the wicked is a resurrection unto no further increase, but is affixed (Ac. 24:15).
17. Verily, verily, I say unto you: be ye perfect, doing all that I have commanded you, that ye might gain a better resurrection (Heb.11:35).
18. For a man shall receive even as he chooseth; and if he chooseth a lesser resurrection, behold, he shall receive it;
19. But he who chooseth a better reusrrection, shall receive it, and rejoice with those who have received the same.
20. Now there are some who seek an eternal marriage that they might possess and control their spouses, building up their own kingdoms;
21. And wicked men, who know not the grace of Christ, have established doctrines after their own imaginations, that they might have power over men [and women], saying:
22. Come hither! For I have received the power to bind up marriages for eternity! And no others have received this. Therefore come unto my church and I will save you!
23. Behold, no man may seal the marriage of another, for it is I, the Lord, who seal, and I, the Lord, who bind, and never have I given power to men that they might bind up in the eternities.
24. I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and no man cometh unto the Father, who is in the bosom of Eternity, save it be through Me.
25. All who say: Come unto me, for I am the gate unto eternal marriage! are anti-christ, and shall be exposed.
26. Go ye not unto them, for they have neither power to bind not loose, but are false guides whose end is the pit.
27. But go unto those who are worthy of the first resurrection and hearken unto them, for they have been given authority to judge in Israel.
28. These are they who are willing to lay their lives down for the Master, who worship not the beast or his image, who partake not of their devilish system, and receive not their mark in their foreheads and in their hands (Rev.20:4).
29. These are they who are blessed and holy, who possess an eternal Priesthood after the Order of Melchizedek, and shall reign as the Patriarchs and Matriarchs upon the Millennial Earth (Rev.20:5-6).
30. And because they are priests they are married, both allegorically to their Lord -- being subject to Him in all things -- and literally to their spouses, for they are without beginning or ending, partaking of the Alpha and Omega, even Christ the Lord.
31. And in that day the Branch of the Lord will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land will be the pride of the survivors in Israel, even they who have survived the Great and Terrible Day of the Lord, which is the Tribulation (Isa.4:2).
32. And in that same day seven women will marry one man and will beg him to take away their disgrace, even as they who rejected Christ shall beg Him to forgive them and wash away their guilt (Isa.4:1).
33. But unto the Saducees and those who deny the resurrection these things shall not come, for they shall be dead, body and spirit.
34. And, behold, they will seek christs after their own imaginings, even saviours of the flesh, seven in all;
35. And each fleshy saviour shall perish until they also finally perish, having no life either in this world or in the world to come, for they are childless, and without increase.
36. Verily, verily, I say unto you: those that come unto Me, the living Saviour, shall obtain all that is sufficient for them both in this age and the age to come.
37. These are they who will judge the the world and angels, being set over them (1 Cor.6:2-3), even though in their earthly frames they were made a little lower than them (Heb.1:6-7).
38. Who, then, shall be equal to the angels in the resurrection? Verily, verily, I say unto you, they who shall not judge them, or rule over them, even the children of the second resurrection.
39. Yea, even those who are not priests and kings, they who were not counted worthy of the first resurrection, even they who shall be single like unto the angels. And this is the justice of God.
40. He who hath ears, let him hear, and the truth shall be revealed unto him, and make him glad. Let this be sufficient for now Even so. Amen.
Does Marriage End at Death? (NCCW 15:17-19)
Apostolic Interviews No.9: A Question of Eternal Marriage
This page was created on 8 April 1998
Last updated on 8 April 1998
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