When people think about heaven, many wonder if their relationships on Earth will be the same in heaven. For instance, people look forward to seeing a parent, grandparent, or sibling. Marriage is another relationship people ponder. Husbands and wives may be especially curious about their relationship in heaven. What will be the same and what will be different?
Jesus Christ taught that there is no marriage in heaven. This doesn’t imply that men and women who were husband and wife on Earth won’t know each other or have a unique relationship. Yet marriage, as it’s known on Earth, won’t exist.
What exactly did Jesus say about marriage in heaven? Will husbands and wives have a lesser or greater relationship in heaven? Will there be sex in heaven? Keep reading to learn the answers to these questions and others.
What does the Bible say about marriage in heaven?
The Bible clearly teaches that there won’t be marriage in heaven. People will neither remain married once they get to heaven nor get married once they are in heaven. Marriage, according to the Bible, is for this life, not the next one.
- Matthew 22:30, “For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven” (ESV, cf. Luke 20:34-36, Mark 12:22-25). There is no marriage in heaven according to these verses. Angels don’t form families or procreate. According to Jesus, the same will be true of the people in heaven.
- Romans 7:2, “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” (ESV). Death, which precedes entry into heaven, ends marital commitments. If marriage did exist in heaven, it would have to be redefined because there is no death there (cf. Rev. 21:4).
- 1 Corinthians 7:39, “A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord” (ESV). Again, death, which preceeds entry into heaven, ends marital commitments. The Bible doesn’t teach that marriages will be re-established after death.
Why is there no marriage in heaven?
God established marriage for Earth, not heaven. Marriage, in part, enables healthy companionship, as God said that it’s not good for people to be alone (Gen. 2:18-25). It also has practical aspects, foremost of which is child-bearing. Genesis 9:7 reads, “And you, be fruitful and multiply, teem on the earth and multiply in it” (ESV).
Marriages, and the families they created, provided other benefits as well in Bible times. Children could help fish, farm, and do other tasks to help the family. A father and mother that were committed to each other also provided a healthy environment to raise children by teaching and protecting them.
Does marriage on Earth point to a greater reality? Theologians have long taught that marriage symbolizes the Trinity. A biblical marriage involved a husband, a wife, and God — three persons in one marriage.
Marriage is also used figuratively in the Bible. “Marriage” is used in the Old Testament to describe God’s relationship with people (e.g. Isa. 62:4-5; Jer. 2:2). In the New Testament, the Church is referred to as the bride of Jesus Christ.
“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.” (Ephesians 5:25-27, ESV)
Will husbands and wives have a lesser relationship in heaven? No. Just because their relationship won’t be the same as it was on Earth, doesn’t mean it will be worse. Husbands and wives shouldn’t worry about missing one another, as if heaven will have a net-negative effect on their love for each other, or becoming jealous of other relationships they have in heaven. Nothing about a husband and wife’s relationship will be worse in heaven.
Will husbands and wives have a better relationship in heaven? Even though a husband and wife on Earth will no longer be married in heaven, their relationship will be stronger and healthier than it was on Earth.
Will there be sex in heaven?
According to the Bible, the proper context for sex is marriage. A relationship in which a man and woman vow to be committed to each other, despite trials, hardships, and challenges, is the healthiest context in which to experience the vulnerability, connection, and bonding that occurs during physical intimacy. It’s also the best context for one of the potential results of sex, having children.
Does heaven not have sex because it’s sinful? There will be no sin in heaven. Is this why there is no sex there? Neither marriage nor sex is the result of humanity’s fall into sin. Sex isn’t an expression of rebellion against God. On the contrary, God designed it to be a part of his plan for Adam and Eve before the serpent tempted them to disobey.
“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked, and they were not ashamed.” (Genesis 2:24-25, ESV, emphases added)
Sex is part of God’s righteous plan for marriage. According to God’s plan, a husband and wife are only to “be united” and “become one flesh” with each other. Adultery is strictly forbidden in the Bible (e.g. Ex. 20:14; Prov. 6:32). Furthermore, it’s in the context of marriage that a man and woman can be unclothed, and therefore unguarded, without shame.
C.S. Lewis on the pleasures of heaven
In his book Miracles, C.S. Lewis writes about the lack of sex in heaven. He uses an analogy of a boy who loves to eat chocolate to explain heaven, even without marriage and sex, will be joyful. Lewis begins his explanation by stating that the Bible teaches that there will be no sex in heaven:
‘The letter and spirit of scripture, and of all Christianity, forbid us to suppose that life in the New Creation will be a sexual life; and this reduces our imagination to the withering alternatives either of bodies which are hardly recognizable as human bodies at all or else of a perpetual fast.
By “perpetual fast” — and by “fast” Lewis means abstaining from something — he means that people anticipate being in a constant state of want and unfulfillment because there will be no sex in heaven. But this is the wrong expectation:
As regards the fast, I think our present outlook might be like that of a small boy who, on being told that the sexual act was the highest bodily pleasure, should immediately ask whether you ate chocolates at the same time. On receiving the answer “No,” he might regard the absence of chocolates as the chief characteristic of sexuality.
Like the small boy who can’t imagine great pleasure without chocolate, people in this world can’t imagine the great pleasures of heaven without sex being involved.
In vain would you tell him that the reason why lovers in their carnal raptures don’t bother about chocolates is that they have something better to think of. The boy knows chocolate: he does not know the positive thing which excludes it. We are in the same position. We know the sexual life; we do not know, except in glimpses, the other thing which, in Heaven, will leave no room for it.
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