Theology

Mom and Dad visiting graves of our ancestors

My dad died almost two years ago. Mom misses Dad and was discouraged about Mark 12:25 which her paraphrased Living Bible improperly rendered “will no be married” in heaven.

I wrote the following to comfort my Mom.

Mom, I know it is important to you since Dad’s death as you look forward to eternity and speculate about relationships in heaven. It is important to me too, knowing I want to be with my wife Janet in heaven.

You quoted Mark 12:25 from the Living Bible where it says husbands and wives “won’t be married in heaven.” It is the Living Bible translation – which is not a translation but a paraphrase – that renders the words “they won’t be married.” The paraphrased Living Bible takes great liberties and is quite inaccurate.

Here is how other Protestant translations translate the verse (since I know you like the Protestant translations even though the Catholic Bibles word it the same):

The King James Version renders it:
“For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels which are in heaven.”

New American Standard Bible says:
“For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.”

New International Version (NIV) says:
“When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.”

No reputable translation translates this in a way to deny there are people continuing in love with earthly spouses. The original Greek language says there is no giving or taking in marriage. In other words, there will be no weddings in heaven.

Interestingly it says that before the flood the people were “marrying and giving in marriage” until the flood came. But after the flood Noah and his wife in the ark were still married :-)  

There will be male and female distinctions in heaven. Jesus appeared as male after his resurrection. Mary is seen in heaven as a woman (Revelation 12:1). Marriage will be known in heaven since the Church is the Bride and there will be the great marriage in heaven with Jesus the Bridegroom and the marriage supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:9).

The Pharisees set up a trap for Jesus in Mark 12:18-27. They propose a situation with seven brothers. The first marries a wife and dies with no children. The second brother “takes” the woman to procreate children for his brother. This was the law of the Jews — a brother must take the wife of his dead brother to preserve his brother’s name in the land by propagating offspring for him with his widow.) This happens seven times. Who’s wife will she be in heaven.

The woman who was the wife of the seven brothers did not marry the seven brothers.  She married the first and was given to the six in order to procreate children in the name of the first.  All their children would be credited to her first husband who was her true love and spouse.

Jesus is not intending to teach on relationships in heaven but he is refuting the Sadducees’ denial of the existence of angels and the resurrection. He is cleverly eluding their question and in no way denies husbands and wives will know and love each other in heaven. This is not a treatise on relationships in heaven but a clever response to his opponents about the existence of the supernatural world.

Mom and Dad with my older sister Patty c. 1940

The purpose for marriage was companionship and procreation. The propagation of children and the population of the earth was God’s plan for marriage on earth. The meeting of sperm and egg will not be needed in heaven.”Marital love” to produce children will not happen in heaven so marriage in that sense will not exist. But that does not eliminate the continuance of earthly relationship.

We will recognize each other in heaven just as the three disciples recognized Moses and Elijah on the mount of Transfiguration and John recognized Mary in heaven (Rev 12:1). 

Family and matrimony are very important in Scripture and the way God fashioned the universe and created man and woman to be one flesh. There must be spiritual discernment here. The reason why the Jews buried family members together is because they will rest together in heaven. There is a spiritual permanence to family. And an extraordinarily strong spiritual permanence to matrimony. This is why it is described as “one flesh”.

We will not know and love less in heaven – we will know and love more. And can we comprehend that God would command us to love each other down here and would expect us to forget or deny that love in heaven?

Nothing in Scripture leads us to believe that relationships between spouses will be eliminated. There is every reason to believe relations will be maintained in heaven though for different reasons – enhanced reasons which we will understand when we get there.

We cannot understand our new spiritual bodies and heavenly existence any more than a caterpillar can comprehend what it will be like to be a butterfly. We cannot anticipate how personal relationships will flower in glory any more than acorn can anticipate standing 50 feet tall.

I’m convinced you and dad will have a wonderful and much better relationship. It will be different. We cannot even comprehend how much better or more in love we’ll be with our spouses, any more than an unborn baby can speculate about the taste of a delicious steak dinner.

Mom and Dad's Wedding in 1939 (middle couple)

Referring to Jesus’ words J. Vernon McGee 9 (one of your favorite Baptist preachers) writes, “This doesn’t mean that a man and a woman who were together down here can’t be together in heaven. They won’t be together as man and wife. They are not establishing a home up there, nor are they raising children. That’s the thing that He’s saying to them here.”

Marriage is an earthly word to serve an earthly purpose. Marital relationships, on the other hand, will transcend time because love is forever. Faith and hope will pass away but love will never pass away (1 Cor 13:13).

Dad is sitting in his favorite chair having coffee with Our Lord Jesus waiting for you to arrive to love you better than ever before. In the meantime he is praying for you and very intent on your we’ll being.

(Thanks to De Maria for suggestions and insights which I have included)

Further thoughts from Whalter:

The divine declaration was that it was “not good for the man to be alone” (Gen 2:18) The text reveals that God and the man enjoyed a genuine, interactive relationship in the pristine environment of the garden (Gen 2:15-19, 17; 3:8­-9), but God had created man as a relational being a being with capacity for a relationship with God, as well as a capacity, indeed, need for relationship with others like himself.  

 This divinely created need for companionship and relationship was part of the original creation to which the new creation returns. Granted, after man’s lapse into sin in the garden, the need for relationship in humanity was seriously marred and deformed. 

Mom and Dad in 2006

 But, did God declare a law of marriage in a perfect world?  There are no such law. There were no laws of marriage imposed on Adam and Eve either. The only laws were “Don’t eat from that tree” and ” Be fruitful, start multiplying”.

They were made man and wife. In a perfect world, no laws of marriage were needed…But, they were commanded to have sex and multiply. This is what made Adam and Eve to be man and wife. She came out of his rib. 

 This made them related. Was this a law or an act of God? What law of marriage was imposed upon Adam and Eve? In the portion of Scripture above, God was silent. Adam did all the talking. Adam was prophesying about FUTURE relationships (Adam didn’t have a Mom and Dad).

God didn’t need a law to make Adam and Eve to be man and wife. In a perfect world, no laws of marriage were needed. Why would you even need laws of marriage in a perfect world? 

 In a perfect world, when God did the pairing, no law was needed. Adam and Eve were made to be man and wife while they were in an immortal state intended to be forever without death. 

 So, did God intend for them to be man and wife forever? In Heaven, will God undo what He originally did in a perfect world? Think about that. In a manner of speaking, will He return Eve back to the rib and stop their relationship which he made and said was good? God will not undo any laws of marriage over Adam and Eve because there never were any to begin with. They will have their bodies and a wonderfully fulfilled loving relationship, though they will no longer be procreating children.

 Heaven will be a perfect world, and no laws of marriage will be needed there either. Jesus made it very clear that in the age to come there will be no laws of marriage, no earthly ceremonies, no contracts being made where the father gets paid to sell his daughter (given in marriage).

 Yet, as in the perfect state of union that Adam and Eve had — a relationship God made them to need and to have — in heaven he will not undo what he did in the Garden. A man will know and love his counterpart that God gave him. They will love each other in that relationship for all eternity. Mom and Dad will still be “married.”

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I was organizing the 5,000 books in my Logos Bible Software program on my laptop and noticed this quote about the so-called “Rapture” as taught by many Evangelical Protestants. The Rapture is a new Protestant doctrine that was invented in the mid-1800′s in Scotland. The new novelty is mainly based on 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. The following is a note taken from the popular Evangelical Protestant commentary – New International Biblical Commentary:

“When our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones: One scenario of the end time embraced by many Christians today sees a twofold return of Jesus: the first in secret to gather up the church, the second openly, following the tribulation (which, on this theory, only the world will endure) to judge the world.

The first return is called the Rapture, the second the Revelation. The Greek word from whose Latin equivalent (rapere) our word “rapture” is derived, is actually used by Paul in 4:17, “we … will be caught up” (but not, we believe in the sense of the modern theory; see discussion on 4:17 and 2 Thess. 2:1). The theory rests largely on a conclusion drawn from the verse before us. If Jesus is to come with his saints, it is argued, as this verse says he will, he must first have come for them. A number of other passages are enlisted to corroborate this scenario (e.g., Mark 13:27; Rev. 11:11f.), but none of them, and least of all 1 Thessalonians 3:13, can bear the weight of this interpretation.

“Some would even doubt that the holy ones refers to his saints; but allowing that it does (see the discussion), what more is Paul saying here than he says, for example, in 4:14? Paul wants to assure the Thessalonians that their dead will not be disadvantaged. They will be raised, the living will be transformed, and together, the living and the dead will “meet the Lord” and be “with the Lord forever” (4:16f.). The “all” of 3:13 is important. In anticipation of his fuller treatment in chapter 4, Paul casually indicates that all will be involved in the Parousia, but he says nothing more than that.

Besides reading too much into a passage dealing with other matters, the whole idea of the Rapture founders (1) on the fact that the church’s hope—based, we may believe, on Jesus’ own teaching—has from the outset been fixed upon his visible return (cf. 1 Cor. 1:7; Titus 2:13); and (2) on the language of 2 Thessalonians 2:1, where Paul speaks of “the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him.” Paul used two nouns governed by the one definite article, which shows beyond question that he thought of the “coming” and the “gathering” as two facets of the one event.

In short, Christ’s Revelation [the 2nd Coming as taught by Scripture and the Catholic Church] is at one and the same time our Rapture.

(Williams, D. J. (1992). New International Biblical Commentary: 1 and 2 Thessalonians (68). Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers.)

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Tears welled up in my eyes — again — at Mass last Sunday. It was not always so. As a former Baptist I used to think the Catholic Mass was a sacrilege and an abomination. How could anyone worship a piece of bread? Really!

However, last Sunday I was overcome with emotion while sitting in an older Catholic church in a relatively poor area of town during a “normal” Sunday Mass. Why? Let me explain.
Dad reading
(Picture: Me on the right with the best dad in the world and brother David after going to Joy Road Baptist Church)

But first I have to take a step back in time to my delightful childhood.

The door of our Baptist church opened and the early arrivers stepped in with well-worn Bibles under their arms and colorful ties snugged up tight around the neck. Children with cute bow ties and frilly dresses were herded in and dropped off at Sunday School. Women adjusted their hats and smiled at all their friends.

It was always the same — enter the church with chattering friendliness accompanied by the organ or piano to set the mood. Everyone takes their place in the padded pews. The pastor steps up to the front and welcomes everyone, especially any visitors. They are asked to fill out the “Visitor Card” in the pews in front of them.

Then we all stand as he opens in a solemn and often wordy prayer.  A number is called out and we all grabbed our hymnal and proved we were real Christians by belting out the song, not just the first verse, but verses 1, 2 and 5.

For the rest of the story, click here.

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Can You Spot the Errors?

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Interesting Explanation of Baptism from Protestant Dictionary – “baptism…in itself is unimportant”

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I was looking up Greek definitions of the word baptism and found this interesting “definition.” This dictionary is usually very good but I found this summary of biblical passages on baptism very intriguing and disingenuous. Take a look at this definition and think about it for yourself. Analyze it and the verses used. Notice how they [...]

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A New Creed for the Modern World

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Everyone knows the ancient Christian creeds are outdated and passé. It is time we have a new creed that fits everyone.  We believe that God is in all of us; He has been created in our image We believe that each one must find the truth that is right for him. Reality will adapt accordingly. [...]

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Last month I gave a talk in Ann Arbor entitled “The Foundations of our Faith: Scripture, Tradition & Magisterium.” (Watch the video below.) As I love to do, I tied the Old and New Testaments together and showed the continuity that lays the foundation for who and what we are as Catholics today.  But my [...]

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2nd Joyful Mystery, More Joyful than Most People Realize, Feast of Visitation

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Today is the Feast of the Visitation. At the Visitation Mary traveled about 100 mile to visit her relative Elizabeth – pregnant! Very few Catholics (and almost no Protestants) understand the Mary is the Ark of the New Covenant with the Word of God inscribed in flesh in her womb. (see Chart below.) Here is [...]

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Is DOGMA an Oppressive Catholic Word?

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Purgatory? Doesn’t that Deny the Work of Christ?

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The Bible out of Context

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When reading the Bible devoid of its historical and textual context, there is no context except the context which any person might supply for it. or put otherwise, A text without a context is a pretext. I always get frustrated when self-proclaimed Bible students or teachers start pontificating about the meaning of the Bible and [...]

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Are You Born Again?

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 It seems that God is kind of predictable in a way :-) since He always starts new things in the same way – with “water and the Spirit“. Consider the following: 1) The first creation came from the the earth which was covered with WATER and the SPIRIT hovered over the waters and from the water emerged [...]

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