Every Disney princess movie pretty much ends the same way: said princess and her prince charming ride off into the sunset. From this, we assume that all their problems were permanently solved and they stay married forever. You don’t really think about how their life progresses or how it ends.
Married Life Is Still Unpredictable
The truth is that life will end for all of us, married or not and we don’t know when. Married people are not less likely to die from freak accidents, terminal illnesses, or old age. The threat of being alone again is never removed from us in this life no matter our relationship status.
I don’t think I realized this truth until after I got married. Suddenly I was aware that I could end up, relational status wise, right back where I started in an instant. I’m not guaranteed that my husband will come home to me every night. He could die in a car crash or something and I could end up right back where I started as a single person.
I say this not to be morbid, but to recognize a truth. While marriage is supposed to continue until “death do us part”, we have no control over when that death happens. Marriage may offer the illusion of stability and permanence, but in reality, married people are just as subject to life’s sudden changes and volatility as single people are.
Death isn’t the only way a marriage can end or drastically change. Your spouse could leave you or have a mental breakdown or any large number of things that would either end or completely change your marriage and life. Marriage is just like pretty much everything else in this finite world of ours. It will come to an end one way or another.
There Is No Human Marriage in Heaven
Not only will marriage end in this life, but in Matthew 22:30, Jesus tells us something very important about marriage: it will not extend into the next life either. “At the end of time, there is only marriage between Christ and the church.” Human marriages do not continue in heaven.
This makes sense when you stop to think about it. One of the most important purposes of marriage (though not the only one) is to be a sign and a symbol of God’s faithful love for humanity. Since we can’t see “in the flesh” what God’s love for us looks like, God provides marriage as a picture of His love.
When this world ends, there will be no more use for signs and symbols because we will have access to see and fully understand the real thing. We’ll have Jesus with us and we’ll be a part of his family. Just as you no longer need your GPS once you get to your destination, so we’ll no longer need these signs when everything is fulfilled and we have unfettered access to God.
We’re All One Family in Heaven
Instead of having individual families with mother, father, etc, in heaven, we will all be a part of God’s one, big family. This gives single Christians an important task in the church: “Single Christians remind the rest of us that our truest, realest, most lasting relationship is that of sibling.”
We will not be known as mothers, fathers, husbands, or wives for eternity. Our earthly relational roles will not matter. Rather, we will simply be known as children of God and brothers and sisters to one another and to Christ. In the age to come, there is no married or unmarried. There is only our relationship with God and His extended family of faith. More on this next week.
Marriage Is Not the Best Life Has to Offer
All these evidences that marriage doesn’t last into eternity should give singles hope and keep them from seeing themselves as missing out . While marriage and even parenthood are great experiences that God gives as gifts, their temporary nature shows that they are not the best that life and God have to offer.
“The greatest joys and experiences God has for us are not found in marriage, for if they were, surely God would not do away with marriage in heaven. But since he has already told us he is doing away with it, we, too, can realize that the greatest things God has to give us are not to be found in marriage at all.”
God’s Not Holding Out on You (Even If It Feels That Way)
Since marriage is temporary, we know that the best parts of life are not the things that are only inherent in marriage (things like sexual expression, romance, or the bearing of children). God is not “holding out” the best things in life from the single person (though sometimes it can feel that way). Jesus’ words in Matthew and Jesus’ life remind us of that.
God did not withhold his best gifts from his own son. He did make his best gifts to be temporary either. Rather, his best gifts are available to all, regardless of marital status.
In this life, we will all face instability and change whether we’re married or single. There is nothing we can do to combat this. We shouldn’t fall into the trap of thinking that our relational status will provide us with some sort of permanency. The only thing we can count on in this world is the same thing that we can count on for eternity: God love.