I always giggle a little when a couple misunderstands the question on immorality in the online marriage prep course. It’s an understandable misinterpretation: the difference between immorality and immortality is a “t”. While we are asking about things are not-moral in marriage, some couples give us an explanation of how they think they are soul mates for eternity and their love is immortal.
While it’s a sweet sentiment, these are usually the same couples whose expectation in marriage is to feel completed and never feel lonely again, which tells me they have watched too many romantic comedies and don’t quite understand the theological nature of the Sacrament of marriage.
In these cases, we have to explain that while our souls are immortal, there is no marriage in heaven! Marriage is an earthly reality; it is an image of the love God has for us in heaven, so when we experience the fullness of God’s love in heaven there is no need for marriage. I do believe, though, we will be reunited with our loved ones in heaven. I think those we loved on earth we will still have a special connection to in heaven, especially our spouses because of the love and union we had. But for those who say “my husband was my everything” or “I can’t imagine eternity without my wife” have missed the most important part of heaven: God. He is our fulfillment, and while we will be reunited in one great party in heaven, heaven is above all the marriage feast of the Bridegroom with his Bride: Christ with us the Church.
Granted, it’s beautiful these days to see an elderly woman who still misses her husband who passed away years ago, because long-term faithful relationships are starting to become more scarce in our day and age. But what if your own spouse died and you were remarried? What if your spouse wasn’t a believer? What if you had an unhappy marriage and don’t like the idea of being married to your spouse for eternity! What if you never married on this earth and feel like you will miss out on an eternity of marital bliss? Well, the good news is that the goal of the marriage (and any vocation, religious or consecrated): union with God, and the perfection of our love.
Jesus explains this in the Gospel of Matthew when the Sadducees try to trick him: They ask about a woman whose husband died and she married his brother, who then died, and she married the next brother, etc. After 7 husbands and the wife finally died, who will be married to her in heaven? Jesus replies: “You are misled because you do not know the scriptures of the power of God. At the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage but are like the angels in heaven. “
What does it mean to be like the angels in heaven? It means that our love goes beyond the sexual expression of married love to the fulfillment of love in union with the Trinity, participating in the creative power of God. It means that our resurrected bodies will be in some ways different than our earthly bodies, although we don’t know exactly how.
While I don’t know all the details of our relationships in heaven, I do know one thing: union with the Trinity is the ultimate goal. And when we keep that in mind, our love for our spouses can be ordered towards the true goal: not that you complete me, but you help me to get to heaven.
Let’s end with Mary Healy’s words from her book Men and Women are From Eden:“Our bodies will become the expression of a nuptial union with God himself that will infinitely transcend the earthly one-flesh union of husband and wife. In this heavenly marriage, the deepest meaning of the body will be fulfilled, as each person becomes a total gift of self in perfect communion with God and one another. Each person will be made immeasurably happy by union with the divine Bridegroom, yet this joy will increase as it is shared in the communion of saints.” (pg. 57-58)