Marriage at the Resurrection
18Then the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question. 19“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 have children for his brother. 20Now there were seven brothers. The first one married and died without leaving any children. 21The second one married the widow, but he also died, leaving no child. It was the same with the third. 22In fact, none of the seven left any children. Last of all, the woman died too. 23At the resurrection whose wife will she be, since the seven were married to her?”
24Jesus replied, “Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God? 25When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. 26Now about the dead rising—have you not read in the book of Moses, in the account of the bush, how God said to him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? 27He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. You are badly mistaken!”
Our True Marriage
This devotional will be a little different in that it is not as instructional as it is my thoughts on a specific idea. It’s actually a topic that has been on my heart for a little while too. What I am about to say is a little controversial, but is important to think about, and I believe it is backed up by Scripture itself:
It is not God’s will for everyone to get married.
I know that nearly every other influence exerted on our life says otherwise. We live in an incredibly romanticized and sexualized society that elevates romantic relationships to the point where it feels absolutely mandatory. For many of us, we live in ethnic cultures where marriage is again highly valued, and it is nearly assumed you will get married. And then there is the biological influence, this so-called “clock” that all animals have.
This is what our media and cultures and science tell us…and true as these are in their way, we must balance these with what Scripture reveals to us, because as Christians, we live according to the Word and not the world.
It is true that in Genesis, we read how it is not good for Adam to be alone, and so Eve is created as a helpmate. But it’s not clear if this is just a mandate for all of humanity in general, or for every single person, i.e. humanity should get married and have kids, or else every single person must get married. But in any regard, you cannot derive an entire theology of marriage based on Genesis alone. For instance…
In 1 Corinthians 7, Paul specifically that it is good for people NOT to be married…although they certainly can and should, even for very…um…practical reasons. But his ultimate reason is given in verse 32, where he says that a married person is concerned with many things, while an unmarried person is concerned with only one: pleasing God. And as a married man who loves his beautiful wife and daughters so much…this is true. There are times where it is hard to be a son of God and a husband and father, all at the same time. Sometimes, I don’t do any of them particularly well.
In terms of examples, we see the life and ministry of John the Baptist, devoted so wholeheartedly to God and his Kingdom and the Son. And we see the life and ministry of Jesus himself, who showed us how to live a perfect life…but never had a wife! (despite what Dan Brown of the Davinci Code thinks – don’t listen to that guy, he talks absolute nonsense). So it is incredible to think that you can lead the two best lives of ALL TIME…and not be married.
And we also see this passage, where Jesus tells us that marriage between man and wife is not a heavenly idea, that we will not be married to our spouse in heaven! I know that seems jarring, but this is exactly what Jesus says in this passage, and it is very difficult to understand it in any other way. But before this discourages or saddens you, we have to realize that this is actually incredible news! The reason why we don’t need spouses in heaven is because we will have perfect relationships there, with each other, and ultimately with the perfect spouse…Jesus himself! So if a person does not get married, they don’t miss out at all because they will enjoy the perfect intimacy of that relationship in heaven!
And that is the final reason that marriage is not a mandatory status…because it is a shadow, a representation of something greater: our relationship with God himself. As hard as it is to believe or remember, the most fulfilling, intimate, passionate, and long-lasting relationship that we have in our lives is not the one to our current or future spouse – it is with God himself. If we don’t believe this is true in our heart of hearts, then we are only a heartbeat away from idolatry of marriage and romance.
And unfortunately, I think this means many, many of us are living in idolatry right now.
But it is important to understand and wrestle with this concept. Marriage is the centerpiece of the culture wars in America, and it is vital that we as Christians have a truly Godly and biblical understanding of that institution, not one that is informed mostly by popular music and movie and news networks.
For a more authoritative look at the matter, check out John Piper’s wisdom here.
Some questions for you to ponder:
1. How does this conception of marriage compare with the one that you currently have?
2. In what ways do you agree with this idea of marriage? In what ways do you disagree?
3. What effects does this idea of marriage have on the current debate on gay marriage? How about divorce?