Marriage in Heaven

It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.

Genesis 2:18,24

Image by Cookie's Graphics


Marriage in Heaven is the bonding of two individuals into one mind. 

The essential element of marriage is the union of personalities or minds. Further, we can know from this that the intrinsic quality of the personalities or minds determines the quality of the union, and also the quality of the love between the two.

Now it is possible to see from where true marriage love comes from - namely, that its first formation occurs in the minds of people who are in a married state. From there, it descends and branches out into the body, where it is perceived and felt as love. Actually, anything that is perceived and felt in the body has its original in the body's spiritual level, because it originates from discernment and intention. Discernment and intention make up the spiritual person. 

Emanuel Swedenborg, Heaven and Hell
first published in 1758

Marriage in Heaven?

Could it be possible? Most people long for it - those who are in a good marriage often times are saddened when they think of Jesus' words as recorded in Matthew 22:23-32 (also Mark 12:18-27 and Luke 20:27-38).  Even many of those who have suffered through the torments of a bad marriage or who have never married  still long for the ideal of true marriage love. 

Jesus replied, "You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. But about the resurrection of the dead - have you not read what God said to you, 'I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? He is not the God of the dead but of the living."       Matthew 22:29-32

And if there is no marriage in Heaven, does this indicate that we are without gender when we cross over into the next life? An honest person is going to feel sick about these teachings - way deep inside, it sounds hideous. Others have managed to remove themselves from thinking on these questions and in blind obedience to what church leaders have taught for centuries, have simply told themselves that it won't matter on the other side - we must accept what God has planned for us. But what has God planned for us? Can it be so radically different from this life? Can God take us, snap His fingers and change us in an instant? And if that is true, then why did God institute marriage in the first place? All through the Bible, there are all kinds of stories and imagery referring to marriage - if marriage was so unimportant in the life to come, then why did God place special emphasis on it in this life?

Well, I have good news for all of you - we have simply been taught incorrectly how to view this passage. Yes, that's right - we are interpreting that passage through our literal eyes (understanding) and not our spiritual eyes. Remember, Heaven is in the Spiritual World - and in order to understand correctly how Heaven works, we better get used to viewing things in a spiritual light.

Emanuel Swedenborg, in the 18th century wrote about Marriage in Heaven. Yes, it does exist! For those who are in a happy marriage in this life, they will simply and delightedly continue the marriage on the other side. For those who have failed in marriage and still cling to the ideal of marriage love, they will meet their "soulmate". Swedenborg never used the term soulmate, for it is basically a modern term. But the meaning is very clear in his writings. For those in a marriage that is less than ideal, both parties will meet their respective soulmates and they will be indescribably happy. 

Okay, still haven't explained how to look at that passage, have I? In this world, people enter into the marriage for other reasons besides spiritual - there may be spiritual reasons for that marriage, or no spiritual reasons. But there are other elements besides spiritual for marriage - many people marry for financial reasons - for social status, for physical attraction; the reasons are too numerous to try to cite here. The heavenly marriage is based solely on the spiritual bonding of two individuals - and that is why legal marriage on this side is not enough to bond two individuals together here on the other side - there must be spiritual bonding. And that is why when engaged people lose their loved ones in death that they very often say that they were already married in their minds - this is a true statement regardless of the legal or sexual bondings that did or did not take place - the fact that it was a spiritual bonding is what cements them together.

From Rev. Lee Woofenden's Answering the Lord's Invitation

Now let's talk about marriage and heaven.

Swedenborg departed from traditional Christians by saying that angels are married, and that marriage is, indeed, eternal. This is one of the beautiful jewels of our church.

Even today, most traditional Christians--especially the more conservative and literalistic ones--will tell you that there is no marriage in heaven. This is based on a misunderstanding of a single statement of Jesus recorded in the Gospels of Matthew (22:30), Mark (12:25), and Luke (20:35): "In the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven." This isn't the place to give a full exposition of the Lord's words here. However, it is important to realize that the Greek words used this passage are not talking about the state of being married, but about the act of getting married. And spiritually speaking (and Jesus does speak spiritually in his teachings and parables) getting married is something we must do here on earth if we are going to be married in heaven. We'll return to that in a minute.

Those who think this saying of Jesus applies to the state of being married aren't paying attention to what he said a little earlier in Matthew, in his teaching about divorce:

Haven't you read that at the beginning the Creator made them male and female, and said, "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh"? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let humans not separate. (Matthew 19:4-6)

Now, the things that God does are not temporary, but eternal (see Ecclesiastes 3:14). So if God created male and female, and joined them together into one, then marriage is not merely a temporary joining that lasts for our lifetime here on earth only, but an eternal union that lasts forever in heaven. This is assuming, of course, that a particular marriage is a relationship that was truly made by God, and not a mismatch made by human beings.

Further, as I've already mentioned, in the Bible heaven is often compared to a marriage. And of course, this refers to the marriage of the Lord with the church. But we humans, created in the image and likeness of God, also have in our own individual relationships a likeness of that eternal union of Christ and his bride, the church: we have the marriage relationship of a man and a woman. And like the marriage of Christ and the church, the marriage of man and woman is also eternal.

This teaching can be gained from a broader-based and more careful reading of the Bible than traditional Christians usually engage in. It is also the testimony of Emanuel Swedenborg, who tells us from his personal experience in heaven that angels are married. We gain the insight from Swedenborg that being "like the angels in heaven" means being married, since in heaven, a married couple is not called two angels, but one angel. As taught throughout the Scriptures, the whole atmosphere of heaven is an atmosphere of marriage! And this teaching that we will spend eternity with the person we love most in a heavenly, God-given marriage is indeed one of the precious gems of genuine Christianity.

If you'd like to learn more about this, Swedenborg devotes a whole chapter in his book Heaven and Hell to marriage in heaven--not to mention an entire volume, Marriage Love, (traditionally titled Conjugial Love) to marriage as an eternal, spiritual union.

Answering the Lord's Invitation
Rev. Lee Woofenden

Oh yes, what about the angels? Swedenborg again has something amazing to say about that - angels are NOT a separate race of created beings - they are simply people who have lived in this life previously and have chosen to love God and to love their neighbor. That's right - each and every time we do a kindness for another individual, without selfish regard to our own self, we are being an "angel-in-training!"

Okay - so now we know that it is the spiritual bonding that is the true connection. Does this mean that there is no physical bonding of bodies in Heaven - in other words, there is no gender and therefore no sexual union? According to Emanuel Swedenborg, our spiritual bodies look very similar to our physical world bodies - so much so, that people in Heaven could not tell the difference, with the exception that they were blemish free - perfected bodies. We retain our image of male and female. Swedenborg wrote that married people in Heaven do have sexual relations - and he explained that actually sexual union in its highest form is part of the spiritual bonding between marriage partners.

What about gays? Swedenborg never addressed the issue of homosexuality; however, as I read through his writings (22 volumes to date of 35), I am convinced that gays too will unite with the one of their heart's desire and enjoy marriage. Remember, it is the joining of inner, spiritual bonds that make a  true marriage.  One branch of the Swedenborgian Church (Convention) has ordained a gay minister. For more in-depth reading: Marriage as the Conjugial Metaphysic of the Divine 

I know from the experience of having my fiancÚ, Jim, returning to talk to me 23 years after his death that he is my soulmate. That bond never died and can never die for we were spiritually married and continue that relationship into eternity. Here is a quotation from Swedenborg that I treasure - may it also give you comfort and peace as well:

Couples united like this in marriage think and breathe permanence, and their eternal happiness is based on this idea. For all these reasons they are no longer two but one person - that is, one flesh. To spiritual eyes it is plainly clear that they cannot be torn apart by either one's death.

This new thing should be added to these observations: that these two are not even separated by the death of one, since the spirit of the deceased husband or wife continues to live with the husband or wife who is not yet deceased. And this continues until the other one's death, when they meet again and reunite themselves and love each other more tenderly than before because they are in the spiritual world.   Love in Marriage, no. 321

Swedenborg wrote that people of all religions were in Heaven.
His writings are ecumenical and cut across all religious lines.

Check out these links for wonderful, uplifting articles on
Marriage in Heaven, based on Swedenborg's writings

Answering the Lord's Invitation by the Rev. Lee Woofenden
True Love by the Rev. Lee Woofenden

An excerpt from Swedenborg's work Love in Marriage
Marriage as the Conjugial Metaphysic of the Divine by the Rev. James Lawrence
Love, Marriage and Creation by the Rev. Leslie Marshall
What the Bible says about Angels
Swedenborg Information Page - with links to more than 200 articles based on his writings.
Rev. Lee Woofenden - A wonderful library of uplifting sermons and articles!  
Rev. Dave Sonmor - Daily passage from the Bible and Swedenborg's writings plus a library of wonderful sermons and articles.  
OnLine Swedenborgian Library - A vast collection of websites and articles - tremendous!
Our Daily Bread - A vast collection of online Sermons/Articles - Great Reading! New Search Engine!  

Don't miss the Meditation Section - Gorgeous Graphics!


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