Jesus said to them, “Those who belong to this age marry and are given in marriage; but those who are considered worthy of a place in that age and in the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. Indeed they cannot die anymore, because they are like angels and are children of God, being children of the resurrection. And the fact that the dead are raised Moses himself showed, in the story about the bush, where he speaks of the Lord as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Now he is God not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all of them are alive.” Luke 20:34-38 (NRSV)
The suggestion by Jesus that there will be no marriages in heaven will no doubt bring mix responses. There are couples who have been happily married for years and can’t imagine spend eternity not being married to the spouse they love. But for those who have lived in a marriage where abuse has been a common the thought of living without the abusive spouse would sound like good news. Jesus statement is in response to the Sadducees argument against the resurrection (see 20:27-33). They give a hypothetical situation from the practice of a levirate marriage where a brother had to marry his deceased brother’s wife if they had no children. I believe Jesus statement about marriage in the resurrection is not so much about marriage as it is about the view of women common at the time of Jesus. The idea behind levirate marriage was that a woman’s purpose was to produce a male offspring. Her purpose was no different from that of cow or oxen. She was little more than property. If she failed to produce a son with one man then his brother would have to try. How different this view was from God’s original intent when he created Eve. Reading from Genesis 2:18 “Then the LORD God said, ‘it is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.’” (NRSV) God original intent was that a man and woman were to be partners. Unfortunately, over the centuries that had changed and husbands began to treat their wives as property rather than as an equal partner. Jesus is reminding us that in the age of the resurrection the relationship between men and women will be as God originally intended. Unfortunately in our world today there is still a need to catch this vision that God had for marriage. All one needs to do is type in “honor killing” in your computer search program to read of numerous stories of women who were killed because they brought dishonor to their family and clan. The practice of honor killing treats women like property. It is difficult to know what heaven will be like but in this passage Jesus reminds us that heaven will be a place where all human beings will be valued and treated with respect. This should be good news for all of us.