By Martin Duffield, St John’s Annerley Presbyterian Church
Many find comfort in the thought of holding the one they love romantically forever, but is it true?
Jesus was once asked a tricky question about marriage in heaven by a group of religious intellectuals called "Sadducees".
In a vain attempt to make a fool out of Jesus, they asked, "Teacher, a married man died having no children. Under our ancient (Jewish) custom the widow married his brother so that through him the dead brother's name might be preserved. However, after they married, the brother also died leaving no children. Eventually she married all seven brothers who left no heir. In the life-after-death, whose wife will she be since she was married to all seven brothers?"
Jesus replied: "You don't know the answer to this question because of your ignorance of what God has said, nor do you understand God's power. In the afterlife there is no continuing marriage nor are there any new marriages. Every one there will be like the angels" (i.e. single).
The plain teaching of Jesus Christ is that marriages end at death. It's a part of our traditional vows in the words "till death do us part."
So will former spouses know each other in heaven?
Firstly, when people enter Heaven (or Hell) they don't cease to be who they are. Jesus affirmed that after death people are alive and conscious. Jesus answered a question these "sceptics" had not asked, namely, "Are people alive and conscious somewhere after death?" He said, "Haven't you read in the incident of the burning bush out of which God spoke to Moses saying, 'I am the God of your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.' God is the God of the living, not the dead."
In this Jesus affirmed that these three men were still alive and obviously conscious for God to still be their God. Secondly, they retained their identity, name and appearance. So, married couples will know each other as individuals in Heaven, but they do not share the same special relationship as they did on earth during their married life together.
Although earthly marriages end, there is a spiritual "marriage" that does not – the one between Jesus Christ and His Church. You can enter that everlasting relationship with Jesus Christ, if you are brought back into a right relationship with God.
You need to be reconciled because, like all humans, you are estranged from God by not carrying out His will for your life. His will for you was to love Him and all humanity. That love is defined in the Ten Commandments (laws). This is the problem.
Reconciliation (right relationship with God) is now made possible because Jesus Christ suffered the full penalty for those violations of His Commandments. If you sincerely accept that He did this for you personally, you can receive forgiveness. You can be reconciled to God and made part of His Church - "The Bride of Christ." Then you will able to say, "Nothing can separate me from the love of God in Jesus Christ."