Every couple who walks down the aisle wants to be together forever and that probably includes being together in eternity, too. But why do wedding vows say, “I take you for my lawfully wedded wife/husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part. I will love and honor you all the days of my life”?
Does this mean marriage with our other half ends on earth and does not exist in heaven? Before we answer this, let us try to understand what marriage really means.
God Made Humans for Close Relationships
First of all, let us remind ourselves of God’s nature and character in order for us to understand marriage fully. God has always existed in a perfect, loving relationship between the three persons of the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, since before creation.
It was not out of boredom or need for a hobby that He created the universe. It was an expression of His goodness and generosity. Consequently, as His image-bearers, humans are made for connecting, for loving, and for belonging.
God has endowed humanity with a relational nature, and the institution of marriage is the deepest expression of it. “Be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth, subdue it, and have dominion over it” are the blessings associated with the creation of mankind as male and female in Genesis 1:27–28.
Essentially, the first way marriage contributes to the service of God is by conceiving and then nurturing children in a godly way.
It is a blessing to have children. Unfortunately, not every married couple is blessed with children. That is a sad fact. Having no children does not mean that a marriage is not a marriage, and God can still be deeply honored through it.
Procreation, however, should be regarded as a costly, sacrificial blessing (Ephesians 6:4), so that they may become fellow gardeners under God to care for his creation.
In all cultures, the universality of marriage has been demonstrated throughout history. As a matter of fact, we live in a fallen world that is different from God’s perfect design that has always existed, including in our time.
Although this is true, most societies recognize the central importance of lifelong marriage between one man and one woman. Our arts and entertainment reflect this to a large extent. Many stories, songs, poems, novels, plays, and films have been centered on love.
Their triumphs are celebrated, their tragedies are mourned, and most of the time they succeed. Shakespeare’s tragedies always end with death, while his comedies always end with marriage.
The central themes of our stories are love and death because they are central to our lives. Whether consciously or unconsciously, all of these stories describe God’s grand narrative of creation, fall, redemption, and restoration.
Therefore, the capacity for love between two people cannot simply be regarded as horizontal. Ultimately, it aims to establish a vertical relationship between an individual and God. Our Creator intended for us to have a loving relationship with him or her.
Marriage Symbolizes Christ’s Relationship with His People
Symbolic of Christ’s relationship with His Church, God created marriage as the most intimate of human unions. In marriage, the union between man and woman conceals a truth about God and the Church.
Marriage symbolizes the permanent union God ordained between His Son and the church. This divine plan is symbolized by marriage on earth. In the same way that God intended for Christ and the church to become one body (Galatians 3:28; 1 Corinthians 12:13), He intended that husband and wife become one flesh (Genesis 2:24).
It applies to all marriages, whether they are Christian or not, regardless of whether the parties recognize them as such. The marriage that God instituted at creation represents the final, eternal relationship that He will have with His redeemed people in the New Heaven and New Earth.
Yes, there is marriage in heaven — one grand, final consummation between the Lamb and His Bride, as described in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 19:6–9).
Yet, Christian traditions cite Matthew 22:30, in which Jesus says, “At the resurrection people will not marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.” This is also true because what Revelation tries to emphasize is marriage in heaven is with Christ and not pertaining to worldly marriage.
There Is a Big Difference Between Heaven and the World
According to John’s vision, there is no temple in the eternal city since God and Christ the Lamb are its temple, being intimately present with their people. Likewise, the Father and the Son will serve as the city’s sources of illumination, eliminating the need for the sun, moon, or light itself.
Similar to how a lamp is useless under the light of the sun, so will God’s light be brighter than the light of the sun.
When Jesus died on the cross, He desired that the church be holy and without blemish. As a husband desires the best for his wife, Jesus wanted the best for us as well. This is the picture of marriage in heaven, we are literally married to Christ because we are His bride.
Worldly marriages are fleeting, and when we die, they are inevitably severed. Our perfect, everlasting union with God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ will take their place as something far more intimate and beautiful.
Therefore, why is it sometimes difficult for us to accept this truth? Could it be a fear of losing physical intimacy or intimacy with others?
Our only way to know what God has given us in this life is first-hand. In faith, we look forward to what He has promised, but we can’t begin to imagine what it will look like in reality.
The institution of marriage was first instituted by God in the order of creation. Marriage is the unchangeable foundation of human life. The purpose of marriage is to enable humans to serve God through faithful intimacy and children.
Christ and the church are likened to the marriage of God and his bride, his bride, the church. A husband should act as a self-sacrificing leader in marriage, and a wife should submit to her husband in a godly manner.
As a visual representation of the gospel, the institution of marriage points to our hope in Christ returning to claim his bride.
With the One Who Matters for Eternity
What God has in store for us on this side of heaven is only a glimpse. No one can imagine what it will be like to no longer be married or given in marriage, or how that could be any better than our current relationships.
But when we are in heaven, we will not be able to think of that anymore because when we are there, we have the assurance that we will have an eternal and intimate union with our Lord, which is far more valuable than our current state, like the sun’s light is to a lightbulb.
This is very comforting to know that we have joy forever and ever and no death can conquer that everlasting union with Christ. Now we can only hope and wait.