Thursday, December 03, 2015

Will there be families [in heaven]?

Chapter 20 in Scot McKnight's book 'The Heaven Promise' tackles the issue of whether or not there will be families in heaven: "Will There Be Families? Rethinking What the Bible says."

One quote I liked in this chapter that wasn't really related, was the C.S. Lewis statement, "The Holy Spirit is after you. I doubt if you'll get away!" :)

Scot lays some groundwork with these thoughts:
"Hope of reunion - nay, confidence in reunion after deaths - forms the core of how we console one another in death."

"Have so many gotten this all wrong? Will we reunite with our loved ones? Will be become family again, a whole, intimate, loving and thriving family? Or, as some would put it, will Heaven be so grand that even their love behind the Shining Barrier will be transcended in a grand communion of saints?"

"At the heart of my own argument is the belief that Christians need to form their beliefs about Heaven on the basis of the Bible... in the end Christians should believe that God has revealed what is most important in the Bible. That does not, however, mean the Bible is absolutely clear on everything we'd like to know. But it does mean we need to begin with the Bible."

It is noted that discussion about reunions and friends and families and marriages in Heaven is rooted in three Bible passages:
  1. Mark 3:31-35 ("This text is of little to no use in our question about the reuniting of families and spouses in Heaven.")
  2. John 2:1-11 ("This text puts families in their place under God but says nothing about reunion with families and spouses in Heaven.")
  3. Mark 12:18-27 ("Everything hinges on this passage.") - This text deals with the Sadducees questioning Jesus about the seven brothers, each of who married the same woman, and wondering whose wife she will be in Heaven. Jesus answers that when the dead rise, "they will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven."
 Of this 3rd text, McKnight says:
"Here is my boldest and most complex claim: what Jesus said is NOT that there won't be marital life in Heaven. He could have said that quite easily, making the statement straight out, but he didn't.... He said "They will neither marry nor be given in marriage." ...The text does not say 'no families' or 'no marriages.' It says there will be no new weddings or new marriages in Heaven."

In regard to Jesus' response about being "like the angels"...
"Being 'like the angels' does not mean being single or without gender. It means never DYING. Jesus was saying the major reason for marriage is to procreate in order to continue one's seed or heritage. But Heaven people are eternal, so one will not need to procreate in order to continue the family line."

"In the end, then, Jesus is not talking about families in Heaven but about a very common Jewish problem: if a man dies without children, how will his seed continue?"

Scot ends the chapter with these three powerful assertions:
"If these texts do not suggest there is no marriage or family life in heaven, no text in the Bible does. We are then to presume that in Heaven our families and marriages will be intact."

"If we learn to think biblically about questions like this, we must always think about it through the reality of the resurrection of Jesus. As the resurrected body was both like and more than Jesus's earthly body, so our relationships - friends, family, marriage - will be both like and more than they are now."

"This much is certain: Jesus's words do not explicitly say there will be no marriages, but instead that there will be no NEW marriages. If that is the case, then there are marriages, and if there are marriages, there are families... and that fires the imagination, which is just about what everything in the Bible is designed to do when it comes to our wondering what the kingdom of God will be like."

Whew... Well, there seems to be some speculation; and I cannot argue with any of it. Just wonder.