Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Previously Married In Heaven

Biblegems #185
Question: For someone who decides to marry more than once (1Cor. 7:39), wouldn’t it be a bit awkward to be in heaven with your multiple spouses. How does that work?

This question echoes the dilemma presented to Jesus by the Sadducees in Matthew 22:24-28 regarding the widow who remarries seven times: Now then, at the resurrection, whose wife will she be of the seven, since all of them were married to her?”
Paul writes, “A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord…” (1Cor. 7:39. See Biblegems #120). He is stating the biblical principle that remarriage breaks the “bond” between a husband and wife. So the answer to the Sadducees would be that the widowed woman in heaven would only be married to the seventh husband.

Of course, the problem with that is, where does that leave the other six husbands who all thought they would be married to this woman in heaven? What about their happiness? What about the ‘awkward’ moments in heaven when they see each other?

The answer has to do with the nature of heaven itself and our relationship with God in our eternal home. The Scripture tells us that there will be “no more tears” in heaven (Rev. 21:4). Our union with God will be so complete, so perfect and so satisfying that there will be no room for even the slightest twinge of disappointment, awkwardness or emotional pain. “No more tears,” describes a completely new reality of existence where the emotional pain we often suffer here on earth will be as impossible as shadows on the face of the sun.

God has designed marriage to reflect His own complex, relational nature — One God in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit — through the complex relationship and intimate union of husband and wife. That very special union, to be healthy and mutually satisfying, requires that both people love the other so much that each is willing to die to their own self interests for the sake of the other. Marriage is not about how much my spouse can bring me happiness, love and fulfillment but about dying to myself to provide that love for my spouse. Marriage is a lifetime of learning to give myself away for the blessing, joy and fulfillment of my spouse, even as “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…” (Jn. 3:16).

The reason there will be no awkwardness, no tears and no regrets in heaven, even for those who encounter a former spouse, or for those who never married at all, is that in heaven “the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them…” (Rev. 21:3). Our intimate union with God will be so complete, so saturated in His selfless love as He “dwells with us” and “lives with us” — and as we selflessly live with Him — that the earthly love of marriage carried into eternity with our spouse will be seen for what it truly is: a beautiful glimmer in the glorious intimacy of God’s measureless love.

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