Catholic Issues

Why I Love Religion and Jesus Does Too

by Steve Ray on April 21, 2017

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Mom and Dad visiting graves of our ancestors

Happy St. Valentine’s Day. This is for my mom.

My dad died almost six years ago. Mom misses Dad and was discouraged about Mark 12:25 which her paraphrased Living Bible improperly rendered “will not be married” in heaven.

I wrote the following to comfort my Mom…

Mom, I know it is important to you since Dad’s death as you look forward to eternity and speculate about relationships in heaven. It is important to me too, knowing I want to be with my wife Janet in heaven.

You quoted Mark 12:25 from the Living Bible where it says husbands and wives “won’t be married in heaven.” It is the Living Bible translation – which is not a translation but a paraphrase – that renders the words “they won’t be married.” The paraphrased Living Bible takes great liberties and is quite inaccurate.

Here is how other Protestant translations translate the verse (since I know you like the Protestant translations even though the Catholic Bibles word it the same):

The King James Version renders it:
“For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels which are in heaven.”

New American Standard Bible says:
“For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.”

New International Version (NIV) says:
“When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.”

No reputable translation translates this in a way to deny there are people continuing in love with earthly spouses. The original Greek language says there is no giving or taking in marriage. In other words, there will be no weddings in heaven.

Interestingly it says that before the flood the people were “marrying and giving in marriage” until the flood came. But after the flood Noah and his wife in the ark were still married :-) And their kids continued to marry and give in marriage.

There will be male and female distinctions in heaven. Jesus appeared as male after his resurrection. Mary is seen in heaven as a woman (Revelation 12:1). Marriage will be known in heaven since the Church is the Bride and there will be the great marriage in heaven with Jesus the Bridegroom and the marriage supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:9).

The Pharisees set up a trap for Jesus in Mark 12:18-27. They propose a situation with seven brothers. The first marries a wife and dies with no children. The second brother “takes” the woman to procreate children for his brother. This was the law of the Jews — a brother must take the wife of his dead brother to preserve his brother’s name in the land by propagating offspring for him with his widow.) This happens seven times. Who’s wife will she be in heaven.

The woman who was the wife of the seven brothers did not marry the seven brothers.  She married the first and was given to the six in order to procreate children in the name of the first.  All their children would be credited to her first husband who was her true love and spouse.

The Old Testament law was very careful to preserve the land and the family heritage. If a man died without a son his brother was to take his widow and have relations with her to continue his brother’s family line. The brother was called a kinsman-redeemer. Here is a good biblical dictionary explanation,

“The role of kinsman-redeemer is found in Leviticus 25, in the case of an Israelite man’s death in which he fails to leave behind a son, the brother of the deceased man is commanded to take his widow as wife and both redeem the land and provide a son to carry on the deceased father’s name. This is Boaz’s alleged position as indicated by Naomi in Ruth 2:20 and it is this responsibility that Ruth pleads with Boaz to fulfill. Being the godly man that he is, Boaz graciously receives Ruth’s offer, but communicates that he is not the nearest kinsman-redeemer (Ruth 3:12). However, he promises that as soon as morning breaks, he will look into the situation. Additionally, he supplies Ruth with six measures of barley. Through a series of events, the door opens for Boaz to fulfill his position as kinsman-redeemer. With the greatest hesed (compassionate loving-kindness), Boaz rises to the task of becoming kinsman-redeemer.” (http://www.ligonier.org/blog/ultimate-kinsman-redeemer/)

The first husband is the real husband of the woman. The others were simply “kinsman redeemers” who would procure offspring with the widow so her husband would continue to have heirs to continue his line in Israel.

Jesus is not intending to teach on relationships in heaven but he is refuting the Sadducees’ denial of the existence of angels and the resurrection. He is cleverly eluding their question and in no way denies husbands and wives will know and love each other in heaven. This is not a treatise on relationships in heaven but a clever response to his opponents about the existence of the supernatural world.

Mom and Dad with my older sister Patty c. 1940

The purpose for marriage was companionship and procreation. The propagation of children and the population of the earth was God’s plan for marriage on earth. The meeting of sperm and egg will not be needed in heaven.”Marital love” to produce children will not happen in heaven so marriage in that sense will not exist. But that does not eliminate the continuance of earthly relationship.

We will recognize each other in heaven just as the three disciples recognized Moses and Elijah on the mount of Transfiguration and John recognized Mary in heaven (Rev 12:1).

Family and matrimony are very important in Scripture and the way God fashioned the universe and created man and woman to be one flesh. There must be spiritual discernment here. The reason why the Jews buried family members together is because they will rest together in heaven. There is a spiritual permanence to family. And an extraordinarily strong spiritual permanence to matrimony. This is why it is described as “one flesh”.

We will not know and love less in heaven – we will know and love more. And can we comprehend that God would command us to love each other down here and would expect us to forget or deny that love in heaven?

Interestingly, Doctor of the Church St. John Chrysostom, in writing on fidelity in marriage said that young husbands should tell their wives, “I have taken you in my arms, and I love you, and I prefer you to my life itself. For the present life is nothing, and my most ardent dream is to spend it with you in such a way that we may be assured of not being separated in the life reserved for us.… I place your love above all things, and nothing would be more bitter or painful to me than to be of a different mind than you. (CCC 2365, St. John Chrysostom, Hom. in Eph. 20, 8: PG 62, 146–147.)

Would God work to perfect something here on earth, even a sacrament, and not consider it important in heaven?

Nothing in Scripture leads us to believe that relationships between spouses will be eliminated. There is every reason to believe relations will be maintained in heaven though for different reasons – enhanced reasons which we will understand when we get there.

We cannot understand our new spiritual bodies and heavenly existence any more than a caterpillar can comprehend what it will be like to be a butterfly. We cannot anticipate how personal relationships will flower in glory any more than acorn can anticipate standing 50 feet tall.

I’m convinced you and dad will have a wonderful and much better relationship. It will be different. We cannot even comprehend how much better or more in love we’ll be with our spouses, any more than an unborn baby can speculate about the taste of a delicious steak dinner.

Mom and Dad’s Wedding in 1939 (middle couple)

Referring to Jesus’ words J. Vernon McGee 9 (one of your favorite Baptist preachers) writes, “This doesn’t mean that a man and a woman who were together down here can’t be together in heaven. They won’t be together as man and wife. They are not establishing a home up there, nor are they raising children. That’s the thing that He’s saying to them here.”

Marriage is an earthly word to serve an earthly purpose. Marital relationships, on the other hand, will transcend time because love is forever. Faith and hope will pass away but love will never pass away (1 Cor 13:13).

Dad is sitting in his favorite chair having coffee with Our Lord Jesus waiting for you to arrive to love you better than ever before. In the meantime he is praying for you and very intent on your we’ll being.

I also asked Mom to read Hebrews 12:1. ”

Hebrews 12:1 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us.”  This is the language of sports. We on earth are running a race. Heaven in the goal. And who is cheering us on? A whole stadium full of cheering crowds. “Run, run!” and who are these crowds? The saints in heaven. 

I told my mom, “Dad is in heaven watching and cheering you on! Of course he knows what is going on down here and it anxious for you to run and win the race and join him in the stands to cheer on the rest of your family and loved ones.”

(Thanks to De Maria for suggestions and insights which I have included)

Further thoughts from Whalter:

The divine declaration was that it was “not good for the man to be alone” (Gen 2:18) The text reveals that God and the man enjoyed a genuine, interactive relationship in the pristine environment of the garden (Gen 2:15-19, 17; 3:8­-9), but God had created man as a relational being a being with capacity for a relationship with God, as well as a capacity, indeed, need for relationship with others like himself.

This divinely created need for companionship and relationship was part of the original creation to which the new creation returns. Granted, after man’s lapse into sin in the garden, the need for relationship in humanity was seriously marred and deformed.

Mom and Dad in 2006

But, did God declare a law of marriage in a perfect world?  There are no such law. There were no laws of marriage imposed on Adam and Eve either. The only laws were “Don’t eat from that tree” and ” Be fruitful, start multiplying”.

They were made man and wife. In a perfect world, no laws of marriage were needed…But, they were commanded to have sex and multiply. This is what made Adam and Eve to be man and wife. She came out of his rib.

This made them related. Was this a law or an act of God? What law of marriage was imposed upon Adam and Eve? In the portion of Scripture above, God was silent. Adam did all the talking. Adam was prophesying about FUTURE relationships (Adam didn’t have a Mom and Dad).

God didn’t need a law to make Adam and Eve to be man and wife. In a perfect world, no laws of marriage were needed. Why would you even need laws of marriage in a perfect world?

In a perfect world, when God did the pairing, no law was needed. Adam and Eve were made to be man and wife while they were in an immortal state intended to be forever without death.

So, did God intend for them to be man and wife forever? In Heaven, will God undo what He originally did in a perfect world? Think about that. In a manner of speaking, will He return Eve back to the rib and stop their relationship which he made and said was good? God will not undo any laws of marriage over Adam and Eve because there never were any to begin with. They will have their bodies and a wonderfully fulfilled loving relationship, though they will no longer be procreating children.

Heaven will be a perfect world, and no laws of marriage will be needed there either. Jesus made it very clear that in the age to come there will be no laws of marriage, no earthly ceremonies, no contracts being made where the father gets paid to sell his daughter (given in marriage).

Yet, as in the perfect state of union that Adam and Eve had — a relationship God made them to need and to have — in heaven he will not undo what he did in the Garden. A man will know and love his counterpart that God gave him. They will love each other in that relationship for all eternity. Mom and Dad will still be “married.”

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Dr. Ed Peters, Canon Lawyer wrote two days ago about the Maltese Disaster. The excellent article on The Catholic Thing

Here is his latest entitled “The Maltese Directive (allowing divorced and remarried easy access to Communion) Makes Answering the “Dubia” Urgent

When highly placed Italian prelates declare that “only a blind man cannot see” that confusion is the ecclesiastical order of the day, and that such confusion has as its fundamental source Pope Francis’Amoris laetitia, matters have reached crisis level. Catholics who have not followed the intense three-year debate over (among other things) admitting to holy Communion divorced-and-remarried Catholics who are living as married persons should stop reading this post and go get caught up on current events. But for those sufficiently aware of the doctrinal and disciplinary issues at stake I offer some observations in the wake of this weekend’s developments.

fileThe bishops of Malta, by declaring that divorced-and-remarried Catholics who are living as if they were married “cannot be precluded from participating in … the Eucharist” have done grave violence to the unbroken and unanimous ecclesiastical tradition barring such Catholics from reception of holy Communion without—and let me stress this, without—doing violence to the actual text of Francis’Amoris laetitia. That, folks, is the central problem.

Amoris does not—again, let me repeat, does not—declare ministers of holy Communion bound to give the sacrament to divorced-and-remarried Catholics living as if married. Francis’ phrasing in several key passages of Amoris is (I have argued) malleable enough to allow bishops such as Chaput and Sample to reiterate the traditional Eucharistic discipline or, as the Buenos Aires bishops did, simply to pass ambiguous criteria down to local pastors to sort as best they can.

muller-francis_medBut precisely because key passages of Amoris are also flexible enough to allow bishops to do as the Maltese have done and require Church ministers to distribute the Eucharist to Catholics who engage in “public and permanent adultery” (CCC 2384)—not to mention conferring absolution on penitents who express no purpose of amendment in regard to such conduct—all this, without doing violence to the actual text of Amoris, one cannot but agree with Cdl. Caffarra and others that this hitherto unimaginable sacramental disunity is rooted directly in Amoris laetitia.

This ability of Amoris simultaneously to sustain orthodox, non-committal, and heterodox interpretations in matters of the gravest ecclesiastical import is exactly why the Four Cardinal’s dubia so urgently need answering—if not by Francis himself (and no one can force Francis’ hand) then at least by Francis’ right-hand man in matters of faith and morals, Cdl Muller of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, to whom the dubia was also (few seem to have noticed) addressed.

do922 amoris laetitiaOf course, the stakes involved in the dubia jumped dramatically over the weekend, not simply by the Maltese bishops making plain what sort of sacramental abuses Amoris could tolerate within its terms, but by the decision, taken at who-knows-what level, to publish the Maltese document in L’Ossevatore Romano, that “instrument for spreading the teachings of the successor of Peter.” Obviously the pope is not the editor of L’OR and it is possible that the decision to publish the Maltese document took Francis unawares. But insofar as L’OR is unquestionably the pope’s newspaper people will be watching to see whether, directly or indirectly, there appears some ‘distancing’ between Francis and the Maltese approach to sacraments for divorced-and-remarried Catholics.

I pray there does appear such papal distancing; I pray that the Maltese bishops repent of their failure to “exercise vigilance so that abuses do not creep into ecclesiastical discipline especially regarding …the celebration of the sacraments” (Canon 392 § 2); and I pray that the teachings of Christ and his Church penetrate our minds and hearts more deeply.

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