Will We be Married in the Life to Come?

Photography © by Andy Coan

Given their history, it seems rather strange.  After all, for hundreds of years the Jews lived alongside a race that was totally preoccupied with life after death.  The Egyptians built pyramids that were wonders of the ancient world.  But their sole purpose was to launch their leaders into the next world.

Yet the Jews really had no concept of life after death.  True, they believed in Sheol (aka Hades) but the shadowy, underworld existence of departed souls could not properly be called “life.”  For the Jews, unlike the Greeks and Egyptians, the soul really could not have true existence apart from the body.  A human being, in their understanding, did not just have a body.  It was not just a vehicle that the soul drove around town.  No, the body is an essential part of the person.  The body is the person.

So finally, when about 150 years before Christ a group of pious Jews called Pharisees came to believe in life after death, they instinctively knew that the body had to be involved.  Salvation was not about being liberated from the body to enjoy bliss as angelic souls, but rather had to mean the resurrection of the body.

The religious establishment of Judaism never bought into this.  To this day, most Jews don’t have a definite belief in life after death.  In Jesus’ time, the conservatives, which included the priests, were called the Sadducees.  In Luke 20: 27-38, a group of them present to Jesus a scenario designed to discredit this silly belief in the resurrection.  In this world, death of a spouse frees a woman to marry another.  What if she is made a widow six times and marries a seventh.  In the resurrection, all will be alive at the same time — whose wife will she be?

As they snicker, the Lord Jesus exposes the problem.  They assume the resurrection will be a mere resuscitation, a return to bodily life as we currently experience it.  But Jesus points out our risen bodies will be different that they are now.  Our bodies now are mortal, vulnerable, actually rather fragile.  A lifetime of great nutrition and disciplined exercise can be instantaneously ruined by a sudden rendezvous with an 18-wheeler.

In the resurrection, we’ll become like the angels in this way — our bodies will no longer be mortal or vulnerable.  I don’t know about you, but for me, that will make quite a difference in my lifestyle and daily routine.  Marriage is a love relationship for sure.  But it is also an institution that is bound up with realities of mortal life.  Reproduction is necessary because we someday will die and so need to raise up replacements to carry on.  In heaven, we won’t need to worry about the survival of the species or the family name.  Paying the bills and balancing the budget is a big part of the institution of marriage and family as we know them.  But the bills we work so hard to pay each month just won’t be an issue in the hereafter.   Medical insurance is no use when you are immortal.

But there are some things about marriage that will last forever.  Marriage points beyond itself to eternal realities.  God is an intimate and loving communion of persons.  We are made in the image of this triune God which means that we are made for self-giving love.  Marriage is a realization of this vocation as well as a symbol of an even greater love relationship — the marriage between God and His people, Christ and His Church.

So there are things about this life, and about marriage, that will last forever. But there are also things that will pass away.  The resurrection will be not just more of the same, but a transformation of life, a launching into a new realm of life, a life of eternal love of God and one another that will be more exciting than we can possibly imagine.


Editors Note: Reflection on the Mass readings for the Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) – Second Maccabees 7:1-2, 9-14; Psalms 17:1, 5-6, 8, 15; Second Thessalonians 2:16–3:5; Luke 20:27-38 or 20:27, 34-38

Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio writes from Texas. For his resources on parenting and family life or information on his pilgrimages to Rome and the Holy Land, visit www.crossroadsinitiative.com or call 1.800.803.0118.


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About the Author

Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio writes from Texas. For his resources on parenting and family life or information on his pilgrimages to Rome and the Holy Land, visit www.crossroadsinitiative.com or call 1.800.803.0118.

Raised in Italian/Irish neighborhood in Providence, RI, Marcellino D’Ambrosio never thought about being anything else but Catholic. But like other Catholic teens, his faith was the last place he looked for fulfillment. Following in the footsteps of his parents, both professional performers in their single years, Marcellino set his sights on stardom, playing bass guitar in several popular rock bands by the time he was 16. At that time he encountered a group of Catholics whose Christian life was an exciting adventure, an adventure worth living for. So he laid his bass guitar aside and embarked on a road that led to a Ph.D. in historical theology from the Catholic University of America. His doctoral dissertation, written under the direction of the renowned Jesuit theologian, Avery Cardinal Dulles, focused on one of the theological lights of the Second Vatican Council, Henri Cardinal de Lubac, and his recovery of biblical interpretation of the early Church fathers.

His writing has been published in the international journal Communio, Abingdon’s Dictionary of Biblical Interpretation, the Tablet, Catholic Digest, Our Sunday Visitor, and Catholic News Service’s syndicated column "Faith Alive." His popular book, Exploring the Catholic Church and video course by the same name (known as Touching Jesus through the Church in the USA) have been used in hundreds of parishes all throughout the English speaking world. The Guide to the Passion: 100 Questions about the Passion of the Christ, of which he is co-author and co-editor, may prove to be the fastest-selling Catholic book of all time with over a million copies sold in less than three months.

Dr. D’Ambrosio, the father of five and a business owner, brings to his teaching a practical, down-to-earth perspective that makes his words easy to understand and put into practice. Audio and video recordings of his popular teaching are internationally distributed. He often appears on the international Eternal Word Television Network is regularly heard on the nationally syndicated radio show "Catholic Answers Live." Dr. D'Ambrosio has been a guest on Geraldo Rivera, At Large on FoxNews Channel, the Bill O'Reilly radio show and Radio America's news program Dateline: Washington.

In 2001 Dr. D’Ambrosio left his position at the University of Dallas to develop the work of Crossroads Productions, the apostolate of Catholic renewal and evangelization that he co-founded twenty years ago, and to more directly oversee the growth of Wellness Opportunities Group a company dedicated to helping people improve the quality of their lives physically, mentally, and financially. He, his wife Susan, and their five children, reside just outside of San Antonio, TX.

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4 Comments

  1. Can’t say myself what heaven would be like, as I’m just some guy, but I know that if I went first I’d rather wait longer in purgatory than enter heaven without my wife.

  2. Hi-
    I have dreamt that one set of my grandparents are still together in Heaven. Their marriage was such a good union here on earth.

    Also, for some reason, this article made me remember the movie, Cloud Atlas. (?)

  3. Really! Does anyone think heaven is going to be anything like our earthly life???
    Our bodies will take on the abilities of all our brain is not capable at this time. We will live in a different atmosphere with love and beauty that we have never had before. We will know each other in a different way and be surprised maybe who will be there with us! and never miss those that won’t.
    PLEASE GOD ENLIGHTEN YOUR “SHEEP”!

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