Summary: Marriage is about the union of two hearts, and in Heaven it is the marriage of Christ and His Church. If we do not see ourselves connected/united to Christ in a covenantal relationship, we will fail to grasp the nature of life after death.
In Revelation 21, John the Apostle sees Heaven as “a bride dressed for her husband.” The Apostle Paul in Ephesians 5 compares the union of husband and wife to that of Christ and the church. We are the Bride of Christ.
It’s been said, regarding Heaven, the Bible provides the symbols, and faith makes the imagery come alive. One symbol of Heaven is that of a marriage. John sees Heaven and its inhabitants descending to Earth, adorned “as a bride.”
In the early days of Israel, marriages were arranged by parents, and there was no ceremony. Gradually the idea of having a formal service came about…but not everywhere. The first actual ceremony we read about in Scripture is in the Gospels, where Jesus performed His first miracle at Cana. In many countries, the only ceremony is a brief signing of documents at Town Hall--about as glamorous as registering to vote. Yet, with or without ritual, the idea of a marriage is a picture of Heaven.
In Bible times, Jewish custom required the groom to go to the bride’s father to establish a price for marrying his daughter. The price Jesus paid for us was with His own blood. In fantasy books we read of heroes battling dragons to win the hand of a maiden. Jesus battled with sin and defeated death to win us to Himself.
It’s been said, “The purpose of marriage is not to replace Heaven, but to prepare us for it” (Drake Whitechurch). The more we understand about God’s idea of marriage, the more we understand of Heaven.
Marriage is about the union of two hearts, and in Heaven it is the marriage of Christ and His Church. If we do not see ourselves connected/united to Christ, we will fail to grasp the nature of life after death. As husband and wife become “one flesh” so we are united to Christ. We are His Bride, and He is the Bridegroom. He is the Lover and we are the Beloved.
We understand that things will be different in Heaven, and that includes relationships. So how will husbands and wives relate? We’ll be closer in Heaven than the happiest day of our marriage here. Our relationship will be far more meaningful because there will be no misunderstandings, no hurt feelings, no impatience…just perfect love (Lawson). Death is not the end of love, because death is not the end.
Poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote: “I love thee with the breath, smiles, tears, of all my life! And if God choose, I shall but love thee better after death.”
C.S. Lewis described death as “a severe mercy.” One of his students, Sheldon Vanauken, used this as the title of his memoir of the illness and death of his beloved wife Davy. He writes that her passing was “A mercy that was as severe as death, a death that was as merciful as love. Those we love die, but our love does not die; it continues on. The way of grief is one of laughter and tears, joy and sorrow…but grief is a form of love.” When Sheldon faced his wife’s death, he recognized that in his now empty room “…she still was. She had not ceased with her last breath. She and I would meet again, and with God be the rest! She is gone where we can feel no more anxiety about her.”
A few years after Davy’s passing, C.S. Lewis himself experienced the death of his wife Joy. In his book A Grief Observed he poured out his devastating sorrow. But Lewis did not grieve without hope. He wrote, “Christians never say goodbye! In eternity there will be time enough. There are better things ahead than any we leave behind.”
Heaven is a marriage, yet sadly some marriages resemble that “other place”. Maybe we don’t see Heaven as a marriage because so many marriages fail, and we begin to wonder if marriage is an endangered institution. It is interesting that C.S. Lewis describes the separation of Heaven and Hell as a divorce. Heaven is all that a blessed, healthy marriage should be. And in this time of marital insecurity (with a 50% divorce rate), we can rest assured that Jesus will remain faithful to His bride—even though He often has ample grounds for divorce—yet He will never leave or forsake us.
Marriage is a covenantal relationship. Covenants are binding agreements, commitments and promises made between two parties that specify the conditions of their relationship. A social contract can be impersonal; covenants cannot; they are centered on relationship. The covenants God made with Israel describe His steadfast and exclusive love for His people; they serve as a model for the loving union of a married couple. God’s covenant is an invitation to enter into a relationship in which He promises: “I will be your God and you will be My people” (see Exodus 19:5ff). A covenant is a commitment which God initiates and upholds.