Why We Can Rejoice that Marriage Will End

How can heaven be better than earth if we are married on earth but unmarried in heaven?

The key to the matter is understanding what marriage is all about. We know from the book of Ephesians that there is a mystery at the heart of marriage. There is a meaning to it. Marriage exists to point beyond itself, to give us words and concepts that allow us to begin to grasp something much bigger.

 

Perhaps the most difficult thing to accept about marriage is that marriage will end–that it is, in the words of John Piper, merely momentary. I get 20 or 30 or maybe 60 years with Aileen as my wife, then the rest of eternity without. Honestly, I struggle to see how this can be a good thing. Aileen and I experience such joy together, such pleasure, such friendship and unity. How can heaven be better than earth if we are married on earth but unmarried in heaven?

Though on human and emotional levels I am prone to rebel, I can find a satisfying answer when I consider the matter biblically and intellectually. Then I’m able to rejoice—or at least to accept.

The key to the matter is understanding what marriage is all about. We know from the book of Ephesians that there is a mystery at the heart of marriage. There is a meaning to it. Marriage exists to point beyond itself, to give us words and concepts that allow us to begin to grasp something much bigger. Someone who has never scaled a mountain can picture a really big hill; someone who has never sailed the ocean can picture a vast lake. And someone who has never—what?—can imagine a much bigger and sweeter and richer relationship than marriage.

The “what” is full, pure, sinless, face-to-face fellowship with God. It turns out that the steadfast love, the lovingkindness, the hesed at the heart of marriage is an illustration, a demonstration, of the far greater fellowship at the heart of the gospel. The marriage union of a husband and wife is a picture of the spiritual union of God and his people. Just as a miniature architectural model demonstrates the building as it will someday be, marriage is a miniature model of the much greater union that will someday be.

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