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"Jesus said, 'Marriage is a major preoccupation here, but not there. Those who are included in the resurrection of the dead will no longer be concerned with marriage or, of course, with death. They will have better things to think about, if you can believe it. All ecstasies and intimacies then will be with God.'" Luke 20:34-36 (The Message).
Wrong perspective again! Would they never learn?
The Sadducees' preoccupation was political rather than religious and they had no axe to grind with Jesus. However, they were prompted to get in on the act with their religious counterparts, the Pharisees, not realising that no-one could outsmart Jesus, least of all them with their superficial knowledge of the Scriptures.
So they came at Him with a question prompted by their ignorance, and received a profound response that gives us a chink of light into the life of the believer in the hereafter. It amazes me how much of Jesus' teaching on the deepest truths about God and the relationship He has called us into, came out of conflict with His opponents.
The current concept and experience of marriage, both in the world and in the church, is a mess because we have failed to grasp God's original intention, hence the soaring divorce rate, dysfunctional families and all the unhappiness that causes, and all the other deviations from this holy institution; sexual promiscuity, 'shacking up' and so-called 'sexual orientation'. Although our way does not work, we have not yet learned that God's way is the truth.
What is God's way?
On one occasion the Pharisees were questioning Jesus about the legality of divorce. He swept aside their rationalising in one single statement, "'Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard, but it was not this way from the beginning.'" Matthew 19:8 (NIV).
God expressly stated that His intention was to create man in His own image. Israel's statement of faith in Deuteronomy 6:4 gives us the essence of what that means: "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one." God's oneness implies unity in diversity, unity of essence and nature but diversity in function.
The entire universe reflects God's image in its interdependence and interaction. Nothing in the universe functions independently. The universe is one, unity in diversity. The pinnacle of the expression of that oneness is in man. God made man to be like Him in the unity of our being - body, soul and spirit functioning as one, and in our capacity to be spiritually one with Him.
After creating man and woman, His first action was to bring them together for one purpose: "The man said, 'This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called 'woman', for she was taken out of man.' For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh." Genesis 2:23-24 (NIV).
Jesus made it clear that marriage was only for this life because, when a husband and wife learn to live together in unity, they will have a foretaste of the ecstasies and intimacies of unity with God in the life to come. Marriage is a picture of the real thing and will fall away when the real thing happens.
Selfishness and the power struggle that often happens between husband and wife ruin that picture. It can only become reality if they both understand what marriage is about and learn to live with each other in mutual submission (Ephesians 5:21), and self-sacrificing love. Jesus is our perfect role model. He gave His life for His bride, the church. The purpose of marriage is to be a mirror to the world of what Jesus did for His bride, so that the world may see what God is like and return to Him.
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