By Swedenborg Project | August 22, 2011
The relationship between male and female, the Bible tells us, is a “very good” (Genesis 1:31) component of creation, and God even created them in His “image” and “likeness” (Genesis 1: 26, 27). Positive marriage-related teachings or images are also cited repeatedly throughout the Bible (e.g. Genesis 2:18, 24, 29:22 Mark 10:9, Matthew 19:5-6, Psalm 19:5, Isaiah 61:10, 62:5, Jeremiah 25:10, 33:11, Joel 2:16, Matthew 9:15, 25:6, 11, 2 Samuel 17:3, Psalm 19:5, Revelation 21:9). Why then would Jesus apparently turn around and say to the Sadducees that there is no marriage in heaven (Luke 20: 34-37, Matthew 22:29-30; Mark 12: 24, 25)? The picture clarifies when the audience Jesus was talking to is made clear. In the culture of that time, women and marriage both had a very low status. Women could be “given” in marriage (Luke 20:34) like a piece of property (Genesis 24). They could be bought and sold (Genesis 29, Ruth 4:10, Hosea 3:2) and they were subject to polygamy (Genesis 26:34; 28:9, 36:2; 36:3). So marriage as the people of that time understood it does not exist in heaven.
Direct evidence that true marriage does occur in heaven is provided by Swedenborg’s experience there, where he saw weddings (e.g. Marriage Love 1,19-21, True Christian Religion 746-748) and spoke with married couples (e.g. Marriage Love 42, 137, 208, 355), wives (e.g. Marriage Love 293, 55) and husbands (e.g. Marriage Love 156c, 355).
Paul taught an apparent limitation on marriage in heaven. He said that that the laws of marriage no longer applied to a woman whose husband had died so she could then marry again (1 Corinthians 7:39, Romans 7:2). The problem with this teaching is that it appears to have been extrapolated into the teaching of “til death us do part” from the 1789 edition of the wedding service of the Book of Common Prayer. (The current edition of the Book offers that version or the alternative “until we are parted by death”.) According to these teachings, death ends the marriage relationship. The teachings revealed through Swedenborg, however, tell us that, on the contrary, a variety of outcomes are possible. Couples who have true spiritual marriage love in this life will find each other after death and live happily ever after. If, however, only one of the partners has such a love, or if a person never met the right person here, then in heaven they find new partners with whom they will live happily to eternity. But the main point is that there is no imposed separation of partners at death because there is marriage in heaven.
Paul also recommended celibacy as an ideal (1 Corinthians 7:1; 1 Corinthians 7:8; see also 1 Corinthians 7: 27) and said that, in a broader context, it was bad for a man to touch a woman (1 Corinthians 1). Such celibacy is by definition opposed to all marriage, including marriage after death. So which teaching is correct, Paul’s celibacy or Swedenborg’s marriage love? As noted at the outset, above, the whole Bible repeatedly celebrates marriage, not celibacy. The teachings of Swedenborg’s revelation say that what makes a book of Scripture part of the Word and Divine is that it contains a continuous internal, spiritual sense (Doctrine of the Sacred Scripture 1) In the New Testament only the four gospels and the book of Revelation have this continuous spiritual sense (Arcana Coelestia 10,325, White Horse 16). Thus, Paul’s Epistles are not Divinely authoritative.
In sum, the great body of authoritative evidence in both the Bible and the teachings of the Second Coming support the idea of marriage on earth and in heaven.