In Matthew 22:30 Jesus said that in heaven, people are neither married, nor are they given in marriage. In order to see God’s ultimate plan for the sacrament of marriage, we need to understand what marriage is.
A sacrament is a sign Jesus established in order to give us grace. By spousal love the married couple make visible to the world the love that God has for all of us. God’s plan for humanity is that mankind be united to him in a way that is similar to the way husbands and wives are united to each other. Throughout the scriptures, it is clear that God wants to espouse us to himself. In the Old Testament, Israel is even accused of adultery when the people turned away from God. In the New Testament, the Church is called the bride of Christ, and heaven is described as a wedding banquet. In marriage, couples are living images of this deeper spiritual reality. This is God’s vision and purpose for every marriage.
But as great as weddings are, they are just shadows of the reality of the one eternal marriage. Earthly marriages were created for Earth, but as Saint Paul says, ‘‘When the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away’’ (1 Cor. 13:10). When a married couple go to heaven, the sacramental marriage (like all other sacraments) will pass away and be fulfilled by the reality that it now points to or veils. So we will have marriage in heaven: the union of us all as the bride of Christ with the heavenly Bridegroom at the eternal wedding banquet. God makes his proposal to us in this life, and if we accept it, heaven is the consummation.
Marriage is intended both for the raising of children and to promote the good of the spouses, including their growth in holiness. Since everyone is perfected in holiness in heaven and everyone will already have been born, the purposes of marriage will have been completed. So where does this leave married couples when they get to heaven? Because sin will be gone and everyone will be filled with God’s love, those who were husband and wife in this life will be able to love one another with an intensity never known to them while on earth. They will live like the angels, in continual worship of God. They are the bride of Christ, and even if their earthly marriage was not made in heaven, it will be fulfilled there.