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If Creation as it was made was good in God's eyes before the Fall, and in the New Heaven and New Earth in Revelation restores Creation to what God intended it to be, but marriage is not part of the new Creation, why did God institute it in the first place?

I understand that we will have intimacy with God in Heaven, but God Himself was in the Garden of Eden where Adam and Eve were, and yet He still instituted marriage. However Jesus answers the Sadducees about the several-times-married woman stating there is no marriage. Am I misunderstanding something here? Or is Jesus' answer for a different context?

I have checked for similar questions, and seen answers relating to Catholicism and Swedborgianism, but not in general to Protestantism.

7 Answers 7

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God, foreknowing that Adam would sin and ruin humanity and foreknowing that Christ would redeem those who believe, established marriage in the garden of Eden prior to the fall of man, the entrance of sin into the world, and the resultant curse and is a typological picture of the union of Christ and the Church:

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,  That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. - Ephesians 5:25-32

There will be no need for the special covenant of marriage between a man and woman (and the procreation which results) in an environment where 1) There is no death and no need to replenish or replace a generation, and 2) The only persons present for all eternity are Christ and his Bride (the Church).

When the anti-type comes the type is no longer necessary. Human marriage, being only a type of Christ and the Church, will not be necessary when the anti-type, the true marriage of Christ and the Church, is fully and permanently realized.

For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. - 1 Corinthians 13:9-10

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    So it was essentially because God knew we would be separated due to sin, but when we are fully united with Him, then we would have no need for it anymore. That leaves me to wonder why He wasn't always in the Garden with Adam and Eve, but that's another topic in itself.
    – keg504
    Jan 26 at 12:32
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The New Creation is not merely a return to this Creation. No, it goes above and beyond it! No more will we be able to sin. God won't merely visit the earth as he sometimes visited and walked in the Garden of Eden, but he will live amongst us, specifically in the person of the Son, Jesus Christ.

In Ephesians Paul explains the ultimate purpose of marriage:

Ephesians 5:21-:33 (NIV): Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

Paul explains that marriage is a metaphor that we live out. Of all human relationships, marriage is the one that most closely pictures the relationship between Christ and the church. (Note that this is picking up a common metaphor from the Old Testament, where God spoke of Israel as his wayward spouse.)

Through the marriages of those around us, or our own if we get married (it is not essential to be personally married to learn from marriage! Christians should definitely not think that marriage is essential.) we see a relationship that mirrors the kind of ultimate relationship between Christ and the church: the loving sacrificial self-giving of Christ, and the loving submission of the church to Christ. Christians may disagree now on whether our human marriages should be so fundamentally asymmetrical, but we should be able to agree that at least that the Church's marriage to Christ is asymmetrical. We do not sacrifice our lives for him, and he does not submit to us.

In the New Creation this marriage between Christ and church becomes ultimate. We will all know Christ in person and the joyful intimacy that human marriages taught us about will be finally realised in full. And at that time human marriages will have accomplished their purpose. No longer will we need to marry each other in order to learn what our relationship with Christ is like.

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  • But if Creation was complete to begin with (I don't deny that it can be improved with Jesus in union), why didn't He include Jesus there to begin with? I understand this is in God's character to glorify Himself, so that we cannot boast. This is basically suggesting that He set us up to fail (I know He exists in all of time at once), but this seems almost like He wanted us to sin so that He could send Jesus and improve Creation, when He could have made it perfect to begin with. It seems illogical, though I know I may never get the answer
    – keg504
    Jan 26 at 21:51
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    It's not profitable to speculate about false hypotheticals, but nothing required sin for the Son to become incarnate. If Adam and Eve hadn't fallen we don't know what God would've done.
    – curiousdannii
    Jan 27 at 0:20
  • I understand, it's not central to the faith, nor profitable for salvation, more of a curiosity. I wanted to know though, why He instituted it in the first place in His good Creation, if it's not part of His plan for redemption.
    – keg504
    Jan 27 at 14:07
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Matthew 22:30

For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.

Note that the text does not say "in the New Heaven" or "in the new Creation," but "in the resurrection." There are several ways to interpret this. One is that during the process of resurrection (however that is understood) people do not marry, but in the New Heaven, and certainly in the New Earth, they do marry and fulfill the blessings God gave to "be fruitful and multiply." (Gen. 1:28) Alternatively, they marry in the New Earth but not in the New Heaven. Finally, some do believe what the OP asks about: that people in the New Heaven and New Earth do not marry or engage in sexual relations.

There are also varying interpretations about the status of married couples in Heaven. Some believe they are no longer married, but others believe that while they "do not marry" the do remain married if they were already married on earth. There are also some who believe that since marriage is the way in which men and women form the "image of God" referred to in Genesis, unmarried people will indeed marry in Heaven, but not during the resurrection.

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  • Is the underlying language different for the New Creation and for the Resurrection? The temporal aspect does make a sort of sense in that case, if they are indeed different in their scope, because as I understand it (based on my theological views), there is an intermediate place for souls between now and the new Creation where we get new bodies.
    – keg504
    Jan 25 at 19:44
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The best answer is sometimes the simplest. God established marriage so that people would not be alone.

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” (Genesis 2:18)

Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. (Genesis 2:24)

You could argue that this is just speaking of friendship and collaboration in work, but verse 23 says otherwise:

Then the man said,

“This at last is bone of my bones
    and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
    because she was taken out of Man.”

The overflow of Adam's sinless heart demonstrates his knowledge that Eve was to be more than a friend.

There is another reason for marriage, besides loneliness. God wanted children, for brothers and sisters for His son:

10 For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, 
in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation 
perfect through suffering. 
11 For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified 
all have one source. 
That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers, 12 saying,

“I will tell of your name to my brothers;
    in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.”

13 And again,

“I will put my trust in him.”

And again,

“Behold, I and the children God has given me.” (Hebrews 2:10-13)

If the Father gave children to Jesus, surely it is something He wanted to do, something He willed. No marriage equals no children. To accomplish His goal, the Father provided the means to accomplish it. Marriage is a salve for loneliness (filling what is empty) and a way to produce children (an overflow of love). And as we are told elsewhere, it is a type of the church's relationship to the savior. Every major spiritual doctrine and truth must have a concrete, material reality to use as a communication metaphor, otherwise how can God speak to us? We should have no way to understand our heavenly state if not for the analogy of marriage.

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  • Thank you, this is a concise explanation of what I marked as the answer :).
    – keg504
    Jan 31 at 10:40
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I'm surprised none of the answers touch on what is obvious, staring us in the face in the creation account itself about God's plan for the whole humanity, Gen 1:26-28 (CSB):

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness. They will rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the livestock, the whole earth, and the creatures that crawl on the earth.

So God created man
in his own image;
he created him in the image of God;
he created them male and female.

God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it. Rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and every creature that crawls on the earth.

as well as when the earth needs to be repopulated after the Flood to "cure" the immense disorder (i.e. humans acting not in His image), by God restating the purpose of being human in Gen 9:1-7 (CSB):

God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. The fear and terror of you will be in every living creature on the earth, every bird of the sky, every creature that crawls on the ground, and all the fish of the sea. They are placed under your authority. Every creature that lives and moves will be food for you; as I gave the green plants, I have given you everything. However, you must not eat meat with its lifeblood in it. And I will require a penalty for your lifeblood; I will require it from any animal and from any human; if someone murders a fellow human, I will require that person’s life.

Whoever sheds human blood,
by humans his blood will be shed,
for God made humans in his image.

But you, be fruitful and multiply; spread out over the earth and multiply on it.

and then when people refuse to disperse to rule over the whole earth by staying in one place, Gen 11:1-9 (CSB):

The whole earth had the same language and vocabulary. As people migrated from the east, they found a valley in the land of Shinar and settled there. 3 They said to each other, “Come, let’s make oven-fired bricks.” (They used brick for stone and asphalt for mortar.) And they said, “Come, let’s build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the sky. Let’s make a name for ourselves; otherwise, we will be scattered throughout the earth.

Then the Lord came down to look over the city and the tower that the humans were building. ... So from there the Lord scattered them throughout the earth, and they stopped building the city. Therefore it is called Babylon,for there the Lord confused the language of the whole earth, and from there the Lord scattered them throughout the earth.

It is then extremely obvious that regardless whether there is a Fall, God's plan was filling up the earth with billions of people. I personally don't think God is done yet, the earth can accommodate billions more.

Why marriage is connected with this biological and ecological plan? I think the Bible can make its own case that humans are God's partners on earth. Because God is love (1 John 4:7), it makes sense that procreation and the raising of children has to be done in love:

  • What better way to populate the earth with God fearing descendants where we parents "image" God the Father to produce billions of people united with Jesus and aspiring to form our own souls and bodies after Jesus's image in love.
  • "In love" here involves our human rational mind, so God gave us a free choice to choose our partners,
  • God also gave us a responsibility (which is immense fun) to see our descendants develop into God-fearing adults.

The marriage institution is to protect this biological mission, but also to help us be joyful by being known and being loved not only by the spiritual God but by the Holy Spirit incarnates in our spouses who know and love us intimately. Marriage is also an institution to help us become more like Christ, God's school of love. No wonder NT preserves many instructions regarding marriage so the institution can deliver its purpose.

Conclusion: The reason why after resurrection there is no marriage is because all humans that need to be created in partnership with humans have already been created. Love also is more perfect and immediate. There is also no more sin. Therefore the three purposes for marriage have been fulfilled.

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Jesus spoke in parables and routinely and deliberately concealed information about higher kingdoms:

Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you. (Matthew 7:6)

The Lord followed His own counsel on this subject:

That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand (Mark 4:12)

If one's premise is that there isn't even a resurrection, then what goes on in such a putative resurrection (especially for some other hypothetical person) is of no import whatsoever. So He frustrated them on their own terms, (in a similar manner as He answered the chief priests and elders about authority, stonewalling them with their own unbelief) as if to say, "Yes, if there were no resurrection, then there would be no marriage to worry about in the resurrection either. For your purposes therefore, who do not so much as believe in the resurrection, there is no marriage in the resurrection."

And this is true. When the Sadducees are resurrected, none of them need be preoccupied in the slightest about the matter of post-resurrection marriage, since no adherent to the doctrine of the Sadducees exercised the faith necessary to qualify for that part of God's plan; let them be content with the mansions they had envisioned as the pinnacle of happiness, and a free upgrade (since they get a body), but nothing to disturb their mindset beyond that. If the idea of marriage is such a pestilence to someone in this life that he contrives an example to entrap the Savior of the world on the subject as if to prove their point, and is unwilling to exercise faith beyond his present realm of contentment, then in God's justice he may at best receive only what he is ultimately willing to receive.

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    Jesus did not say, "For your purposes". What he said was, "You do greatly err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God for in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage". If they had not erred and if they had known the scriptures they would have known this. Jan 26 at 16:33
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    @MikeBorden I do not believe that general denial of marriage in eternity necessarily follows. He does not even appear to cite a Scripture in answering them about marriage, therefore, of what use are the Scriptures on the subject, if they say nothing about it? What does follow is that they erred in denying the Resurrection. The Lord even specifies their error a few verses later, after having made reference to the Scriptures on the subject: "He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living: ye therefore do greatly err."
    – pygosceles
    Jan 26 at 19:51
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Why did God institute marriage at Creation if Jesus states that there is none at the resurrection?

This question presupposes that God instituted marriage at Creation. This is a possibly incorrect assumption.

There is nothing in scripture indicating that Adam & Eve were married under the direction of God. In fact, Jewish Madrasah has Adam in multiple regular intimate interactions (one with Eve, one with Lilith), due to God's direction.

In Genesis, the first instance and implication of marriage is with Adam & Eve's children, Seth, Cain, and Abel having wives; indicating it's probably a human-created institution that later God chose to regulate, and possibly retroactively applied to Adam & Eve to ease explaining their relationship.

In this regard, Jesus stating that there is no marriage at the resurrection is a parallel to the state at creation; this means the new heaven and new earth parallel, in this regard, the starting states of the old heaven and old earth - a similar blank slate.

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    This answer is false. Adam & Eve are described as one another's wife and husband respectively in Gen. 18:24, 25; Gen. 3:6, 8, 16, 17, 20, 21; Gen. 4:1.
    – g s
    Jan 29 at 8:20
  • @gs They may have had titles later associated with marriage, but in none of those verses did god actually sanctify or even suggest marriage. It's just acknowledgement that the relationship is there. We don't know where the relationship between them came from (their own ideas & naming, or god). The first we know are their children where it says they took wives.
    – lilHar
    Jan 29 at 9:32

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