An eternity with my darling love?
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Twenty-five years ago, I met and eventually married the girl of my dreams. A bit over a year ago, cancer took her away from me. Recently, a nice girl began showing an interest in me. We haven't dated, but it got me to thinking that if I were to re-marry, how does that work in heaven, assuming I qualify to get in? I'd really like to spend eternity with my darling love, but that doesn't seem very fair to the second gal. Is it weird to feel this way about my wife and even consider seeing someone else? -- from Donald in Phoenix
Neddy: A lady at my church asked a similar question a couple of weeks ago. We looked at the Bible, searching for answers. In Genesis 15:15, God tells Abraham that when he dies, he will join his ancestors. So it appears that our relationships on this earth will be recognized in heaven. But in terms of marriage, in the New Testament (Matthew 22:30, Luke 20:34-36) we have Jesus telling his disciples that in the time of the resurrection we will be like angels: sons (and daughters) of God. So it appears that the love we feel for each other will keep us united in the greater love of God, but when we die, we are released from the law of marriage (Romans 7:2).
Ron: Dear Donald, it seems to me that you had a grand relationship for 25 years. As is often the case after a dear one has died, it takes time for one to process the stages of grief. So, I'm just wondering, have you participated in grief workshops or classes at your church or in your community? You may find that by expressing your feelings about the loss of your dream girl, you will be able to totally fall in love with another. As you indicate, if you are still full of love for your first wife, that raises the whole question of fairness for the person you would marry in the future.
Secondly, and I don't want to get too technical here, but I want to spend just a bit of time with your comment, "assuming I qualify to get in, how does that work in heaven?" What qualifies one for heaven is not what we have done, but rather what has been done for each one of us through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. On a related note, it's curious and somewhat timely that a major section of Mark 12 is based on dealing with questions related to two current topics, "taxes and death." Since, you didn't ask a tax question (and I'm not qualified to give tax advice), let's talk about the issue of death.
When Jesus was asked about this he said, "For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the story about the bush, how God said to him, 'I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? He is God not of the dead, but of the living; you are quite wrong" (Mark 12:25-27).
So, it seems that when we die, there is a new way of being which is different from our current way of being or existing. I am not sure what that is, but I am sure that it will be grand.
Blessings to you on your journey through grief and the prospect of establishing a new relationship.
Anne: I'm sorry for your loss, Donald, and don't think it's weird at all to be considering seeing someone else and asking these kinds of questions. It's hard to imagine the most significant relationships of our lives ending with death, and it can be hard to imagine having such a significant love again. I hope that, as time goes on, you will be able to imagine that possibility of love again. That kind of love is truly a gift from God. I don't think God would give that gift if we were going to then be faced with some sort of terrible choice in heaven. That's part of the reason our marriage vows and prayers include many references to death -- specifically that death parts us. Sometimes, in the middle of such a happy occasion as a wedding, talking about death like that seems grim. But it is a reminder that we trust our eternal life to God. We don't have to worry about qualifying to get in, or how it will work. My thoughts and prayers go with you as you miss and remember your beloved, and as God continues to guide and bless your love and life.
David: Donald, first, may God grant you comfort as you continue to mourn the death of your wife. You obviously loved your wife deeply -- and that is a wonderful thing, there is nothing to apologize for there. Even if you re-marry one day you will still love your wife, and that is perfectly normal.
Jesus is repeatedly asked about life in the kingdom of God, and over and over again he answers elusively. Clarity eludes Paul too, when it comes to talking about resurrection life (1 Corinthians 15). The point seems to be that we will be the fullest expression of who God has intended us to be. In some ways that will be similar to our life in this world, and in some ways it will be wildly different and inexpressible.
So what to do? Live your life, and let God worry about eternity. If you fall in love, and find yourself called to marriage, then go for it (with appropriate prayer and discernment, of course). Trust that God will take care of God's kingdom in a way that we will all be more joyous and content than we could ever imagine.
Monica: Dear Donald, God blessed you with a wonderful wife with whom you spent many years. Men and women alike who are widowed are often curious about dating and remarriage, and if children are involved, relationships are even more complex. Luke 20:27-40 (c.f. Matthew 22:23-33) reports how the Sadducees questioned Jesus about the law of marriage. After multiple brothers married the same woman following each of their deaths, as was customary according to the law, it was wondered whose wife she would be since seven had married her. "Jesus said to them, 'Those who belong to this age marry and are given in marriage; but those who are considered worthy of a place in that age and in the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. Indeed they cannot die anymore, because they are like angels and are children of God, being children of the resurrection. ... Now he is God not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all of them are alive.'" (Luke20:34-36, 38)
So here's the thing, you are not dead. Having feelings and the desire to build another loving and faithful relationship is normal. I wouldn't let concerns or worries about the afterlife interfere with living your life with happiness and fullness here on earth. And as with all decisions and relationships, pray about it and God will guide you according to his will.
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