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    FAQ 94

    Does the Bible Say
    That Marriage Extends
    Beyond the Grave?

    Q. Does the Bible say that marriage extends beyond the grave? I have always got the very clear impression from what Jesus said to the Sadducees that it wouldn't. Since eternal marriage is such a corner stone in your (HEM's) philosophy, perhaps you could explain how you make these scriptures say what you believe they do.

    It is not at all uncommon in evangelical Christian circles to hear Matthew 22:23-30, Mark 12:18-25 and Luke 20:27-36 cited as proof that that won't be any marriage in heaven. The Sadducees, who didn't even believe in an afterlife, deliberately tried to trip up Yah'shua (Jesus) by asking which of seven husbands a woman, who outlived them all, would belong to in the hereafter. The wording is almost identical in all three versions. Yah'shua (Jesus) answers, saying:

      "You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of Elohim (God). At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven" (v.29-30, NIV).

    There are two things that need to be remembered when considering this passage:

    • 1. The Sadducees were trying to set Yah'shua (Jesus) a hypothetical self-contradictory question;
    • 2. The Greek text does not support the claim that there will be no marriage in heaven.

    There are a number of interpretations possible for Matthew 22:23-30. But Yah'shua (Jesus) sidesteps the doctrinal issue by responding with a reproach of the Sadducees for not understanding the scriptures.

    Translation is difficult and a translated passage does not always convey the nuances in the original. It helps our argument that all three versions of this account consistently use the same words in the earliest Greek. And in each version it says that "giving in marriage" will not occur after the time of the resurrection. It does not say that marriage, as an institution, will not occur.

    Not everybody in this life will have the opportunity of hear the Good News of Yah'shua (Jesus) here on earth, let alone enter into marriage contracts. That is why Yahweh, in His wisdom, allotted the period between death and the resurrection, in a place called in the Bible, "Paradise" or the spirit world, as the time during which all of this can be completed. This is where Yahweh will resolve the kinds of issues raised by the Sadducees, as insincere as they might have been.

    This conclusion was reached by evangelical scholars W.F.Albright and C.S.Mann who wrote:

      "[Matthew 22:]29. 'You are wrong...' Jesus' reply is based on two premises: (a) the Sadducees are wrong because they are transferring to the resurrection-life considerations which properly belong only to life before death, a mistake which Scripture, for all its imagery, poetic or homespun, never makes. (b) God, who gave the Law, a Law which contains provisions for the regulation of marriage and the raising of children, cannot be unaware of considerations posed by the test case. On the main question of resurrection, the same two premises apply. The power of God is not confined by the mundane considerations adduced by the Sadducees, and in the resurrection-life marriage and birth are irrelevent to the discussion." (W.F.Albright & C.S.Mann, The Anchor Bible, Vol.26, Matthew. {Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1971}, pp.273-4).

    A quick look at the Greek of this passage emphasises that there is a difference between the state of marriage and "marry[ing]" or "giving in marriage", or wedding ceremonies, as referred to in Matthew 22:30. The word translated as "marry" is gamousin, the third person form of gameó, which means 'to enter the marriage state, to wed, to get married', and thus clearly refers to an action at a point in time, not a state of being - 'he/she/it marries', as we'd say in English. The second term in use, "giving in marriage" is gamizontai, an alternative way of saying the same thing (with the nuance that one is doing it for one's own benefit - called the Middle Voice in Greek).

    Some people may say that if you have been married, you have been "given in marriage", and this is true. So what is the difference between the "given in marriage" in this sense, and in the sense of "being married"? In 1 Corinthians 7:33 (KJV) we see exactly the phrase that describes a married person: "But he that is married (gaméas = "the married one") careth for the things that are of this world, how he may please his wife". If Yah'shua (Jesus) had wanted to deny the existence of eternal marriage, this is the word that would have been used in chronicling His confontation with the Sadducees.

    There are two basic theories as to how 'eternal marriage' works:

    • 1. The Mormon claim that in order to be eternally married you must be married in one of their secret temples under the exclusive authority that they claim has been given to them to seal coupels together. Only those who have thus been 'sealed' continue married in the afterlife. They call this 'celestial marriage' though over the years the meaning of this word has changed in meaning in Mormon theology. Originally 'celestial' marriage meant 'polygamous' marriage to them but after they abandoned polygamy it came to mean eternal monogamous marriage (though some still believe in polygamy);

    • 2. The HEM belief is that all marriage (monogamous and polygamous), like salvation, is pre-ordained and that our eternal spouses were selected before this earth life in a pre-existence. Birth into earth life has, of necessity, entailed separation, and that if we are properly attuned to the Spirit we will be drawn to our spouses again, allowing also for the fact that we may 'miss' them in this life and be reunited with them in the next. It is our belief that our wife or wives are symbolically our 'missing ribs' and that the powerful drive to find our husbands and wives is that unconscious urge of Adam to be reunited with Eve. We believe that, like the physical Adam (who contained Eve), we were also derived spiritually from our own individual Adams - thus my wives were originally combined together with me as one Being, as Adam was before Eve was taken out of him. This serparation, and the attendant disruption of harmony that this brought, has as its purpose to create longings within us not just to reunite with our spouses but also with our Creator, thus moving us to search for and choose our Messiah Yah'shua (Jesus Christ). Indeed, we believe that our literal marriages and the allegorical marriage to Christ are so intimately connected as to appear almost indistinguishable. It is not so much the marriages we contract in this life that are so important as the original marriage in heaven that we had, which we are trying to reconnect and recreate in this mortal sphere and to then spiritually consummate in the next world.

    Not all earth marriages are therefore necessarily the original spiritual ones we had, though if we are in Christ and are being led by the Holy Spirit, both finding our right companions and living marriage in a spiritual manner will be all the easier. I am sure that in heaven we will look back and recount the extraordinary adventure this life was, with all its perils and risks, in both finding our Messiah and in reuniting with our spouses.

    The three passages in the New Testament that talk about marriage in heaven, each relating the same event, is all that is obviously there. They do not deny the marriage estate in heaven but repudiate the idea that new marriages will be entered into in the manner they are contracted in this world (Mormon or otherwise). But if one searches more carefully and deeper into the more esoteric Johannine writings it at length becomes evident that in considering the end of our salvation at the conclusion of mortality that we are supposed to retain a vivid matrimonial image in our minds when we consider the allegorical marriage of the Messiah to us, His uniplural Bride, and in so doing simultaneously think back on the real spiritual meaning of our own literal marriage relationships. I believe that Yahweh is trying to tell us something very, very sacred indeed, and it is this: marriage is not just an earthly estate but the principal mode of existence of all divine and human life in the eternities.

    Further Reading

  • [1] Marry and are Given in Marriage: Eternal or Until-Death-Do-We-Part? (and list of other articles)

    Author: SBSK

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    First created on 24 April 2002
    Updated on 17 May 2016

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