I have heard much on marriage being forever recently. It ranges from people saying, “I swore to be with you forever,” to pastors saying, “we’ll be standing hand in hand in front of the judgement seat.
What does the Bible say?
I do not think people are going to like this, but the Bible seems to propose that death ends marriage. In Matthew 22:25-30, Jesus states that people will not be married or be given in marriage. Much conversation can take place about women’s rights here, but the sure fact is that marriage ends at death.
In Romans 7:1-3 , Paul states that a woman is freed from the marriage once the husband dies. Although the point Paul is making is much broader, the fact remains that Paul is assuming that marriage is dependent on the currently unresurrected life still going on. This repeats what Jesus said in the Gospels that no one is married or given in marriage in the Kingdom of heaven.
This is an important point, but is missed by today’s reader. Marriage today is about romance and love. Marriage in the time of Jesus seemed to be more about ownership and property acquisition. When Jesus and Paul say this they are denying that women should be defined by this reality. Women in those days were the caretakers of the home and were to bear children. The new testament says that that is not the only thing women are good for (Acts goes further and so does Romans 16).
The Bible, with this evidence, seems to point to some level of women having status. It might not support complementarian. It seems to be challenging to the Patriarchical. Egalitarian might be a candidate (but falls short in that it does not take full advantage of submission to everyone by everyone. But this is beside the point).
We need more biblical marriages. This means letting the Scriptures pour into us it’s message. It sounds sensational to say we will stand hand in hand before the judgement throne with our spouses, but it simply is not the case. God judges the individual for his/her individual decisions. Despite our saying they become one (we really should say they become AS one), and despite God’s final purpose of saving all of Creation, we are still individually responsible, even when married.
Grace and peace to you all.