Will there be marriage in heaven? Yes, but only one. When the Sadducees confronted Jesus about the resurrection of the dead, they tried to disprove the reality of resurrection by creating an absurd situation involving a woman with seven different husbands (Mark 12:18–27). If a woman has been married seven times during the course of her life, then whose husband will she be in the resurrection (Mark 12:23)? Jesus answered with this statement:
Mark 12:24–25 (ESV): 24 Jesus said to them, “Is this not the reason you are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God? 25 For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.
The answer is clear: there is no marriage in heaven. If you are married during your earthly journey, you will not be married to your spouse in the eternal state. This is hard for some people to accept. In fact, some religions like Mormonism teach that marriage is an eternal covenant and, therefore, marriage will continue beyond the grave. During a tour of a Mormon temple, I watched a video of the one of the leading LDS authorities say something to the effect of, “I just cannot imagine anything better than being married to my wife for all eternity.” I can understand why this man feels this way, even though his statement is contrary to the teachings of Jesus. Some of us cannot imagine anything better than family. We love our families and we love our spouses. We want our families to be forever. Even many Bible-believing Christians get distressed thinking that they could see their spouse in heaven and not enjoy the marriage bond that they shared during their earthly journey.
But that distress is misguided. Our capacity to love will not be diminished in heaven, it will be enhanced. Nothing about the eternal state will be disappointing. To be in the presence of Christ is to experience the fullness of joy (Ps 16:11). Even though I will not be married in heaven, I will enjoy a special relationship with my wife Brittany in eternity. To use Randy Alcorn’s words, we will look back at our shared experiences together like we were “soldiers in the trenches together” as we remember the great times and the hard times that we shared during our earthly experience (http://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/sex-in-heaven). We will delight in each other’s fellowship as we supremely delight in Jesus Christ.
So why did I say that there will be marriage in heaven? The one marriage that will exist in heaven will be the marriage between Christ and his church. Our earthly marriages are momentary living parables pointing us to the greater reality of the gospel message. Jesus Christ has won his bride through his sacrificial death on the cross and will be covenantally faithful to her forever (Eph 5:22ff). Everyone who repents and sin and believes in Jesus Christ alone for the forgiveness of sins will experience the reality of resurrection life in the new heavens and new earth. In this resurrected state, the living parable of our temporary marriages will have reached the fullness of what they pointed to all along: the gospel of Jesus Christ and the love that he has for his bride. When we are in his presence, seeing him face to face, we will know and experience the fullness of love in a way that our earthly marriages can only provide as a foretaste.