Marriage - Not in the New System
The topic of marriage in paradise earth is a touchy subject that caused distress for many of the sisters in my congregation. Whilst this teaching has changed back and forth, it has mostly been that:
- resurrected ones will not be allowed to marry in the earthly New System.
- married survivors of Armageddon will remain married
- single survivors of Armageddon may or may not be allowed to marry
This teaching upsets older people whose loved partner dies, as they will not be allowed to re-marry them in the New System. It has also been a cause of distress for single Witnesses that have been unable to find partners and face eternity single, though this aspect has changed and at times the Watchtower has said the Great Crowd may be allowed to marry in the New System.
Watchtower reasoning is based on a misapplication of Luke 20:34-36, which is discussing a resurrection to heaven, where it says:
"The children of this system of things marry and are given in marriage, but those who have been counted worthy of gaining that system of things and the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. In fact, neither can they die any more, for they are like the angels, and they are Gods children by being children of the resurrection."
The reason for the confusion is that the Watchtower teaches an earthly resurrection, which is never discussed in the Bible. The New Testament consistently discusses a heavenly resurrection, and hence this Scripture is simple to understand except for Jehovah's Witnesses, who feel a necessity to force an earthly application.
In 2014 it was stated that Luke 20:34-36 possibly does not refer to those on earth, but leaves the answer up in the air.
Watchtower 2014 8/15 pp.29-30
"Is there sound reason for hoping that resurrected ones will be able to marry? Put simply, the answer is that we cannot say.
For years, our publications have said that Jesus’ words about the resurrection and getting married likely refer to the earthly resurrection and that those resurrected to life in the new world will evidently not marry.
... It is possible that Jesus’ words about marrying and the resurrection apply to the heavenly resurrection."
Awake! 1999 10/8 p.11 Crossword Puzzle
8. Jesus said that resurrected ones will not do this (Luke 20:35)
Watchtower 1987 6/1 p.31
Some have felt that Jesus was here referring to the heavenly resurrection, yet there are reasons to believe that his reply was about the earthly resurrection in the coming system of things. What reasons underlie this view? Those questioning Jesus did not believe in him or know about a heavenly resurrection. They asked about a Jewish family under the Law. In reply Jesus referred to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, men who hoped for life again on earth. (Genesis 42:38; Job 14:13-15; compare Hebrews 11:19.) Those patriarchs, and millions of others, who are raised on earth and who prove faithful will be like the angels. Though mortal, they will not die once God has declared them righteous for endless life.
Human emotions today might make this a difficult conclusion to accept. But it is to be noted that nowhere does the Bible say that Gods resurrecting the faithful means restoring their marital status. Hence, no one believes that if Aquila and Priscilla have gained life in heaven, they have resumed their marriage. (Acts 18:2) And Joseph and Mary will evidently live in different realmshe on earth and she in heaven. (John 19:26; Acts 1:13, 14) Since none of us have lived in heaven, we cannot say what feelings Aquila, Priscilla, and Mary might have there, yet we can be sure of their finding full contentment in their heavenly service.
Similarly, we have never lived as perfect humans. Thus we cannot be sure how we will feel about past relationships if and when we gain perfect human life in a paradise. It is good for us to remember that when Jesus made that statement he was a perfect human and therefore in a better position than we to appreciate the feelings of those who are counted worthy of gaining that system of things. We can also trust that Jesus is able to sympathize with our present weaknesses. (Hebrews 4:15) So if a Christian finds it hard to accept the conclusion that resurrected ones will not marry, he can be sure that God and Christ are understanding. And he can simply wait to see what occurs.
There is no reason now to overemphasize this matter. The psalmist wrote: Know that Jehovah is God. It is he that has made us, and not we ourselves. We are his people and the sheep of his pasturage . . . Give thanks to him, bless his name. For Jehovah is good. (Psalm 100:3-5) Our good God will certainly provide amply for our true needs if we are counted worthy of gaining that system of things.Job 34:10-12; Psalm 104:28; 107:9.
Gods goodness is reflected also in his informing us that the death of a mate concludes the marriage. (Romans 7:2) Thus anyone who has lost a mate can know that he or she is free to remarry now if that seems needed or best. Some have remarried, thereby helping to fill their own present needs and those of their family. (1 Corinthians 7:36-38; Ephesians 6:1-4) Consequently, a Christian whose mate has died should not feel obliged to remain mateless now out of an expectation that former marriage mates will be reunited in the resurrection to life here on earth in the coming system.
ts pp.178-180 For Whom Will Resurrection Bring Benefits? - 1974
WHY RESURRECTION HOLDS FORTH NO PROMISE OF MARRIAGE
On the basis of Jesus answer to the Sadducees, some may be disturbed about his saying that there will be no marrying among those raised from the dead. They may even think that without marriage the resurrection is something undesirable, that it would not benefit them.
However, when reasoning on Jesus reply, we do well to remember that we are imperfect. Our likes and dislikes are largely conditioned by the things to which we have become accustomed. So no one really has any basis for being sure that he would not like the future provisions that God will make for the resurrected ones. Then, too, not all the details have been provided. This has really been a kindness on Gods part. Why, as imperfect humans, we might at first react unfavorably to things that would actually fill our life with joy in a perfect state. Such details therefore might be beyond our present ability to receive. Christ Jesus showed awareness and consideration of the limitations of imperfect humans, as evident from what he said to his disciples on one occasion: I have many things yet to say to you, but you are not able to bear them at present.John 16:12.
Those who will attain a resurrection to immortal spirit life in the heavens have no concept of what it will be like. They cannot compare it with anything they know on earth. Their bodies will be completely different. All sex distinctions belonging to humans will be things of the past for them. So there can be no marrying among those raised to spirit life in the heavens because they all together as a body become the bride of Christ.
But what about those who are brought back from the dead to live on earth? Will they be reunited with former marriage mates? No statement in the Bible indicates that this will be the case. The Scriptures definitely show that death dissolves the marriage. Romans 7:2, 3 reads: A married woman is bound by law to her husband while he is alive; but if her husband dies, she is discharged from the law of her husband . . . so that she is not an adulteress if she becomes another mans.
Hence, if a person chooses to remarry now, he does not have to worry about the effect this might have on a resurrected mate in the future. If singleness is not for him, he does not have to struggle to maintain it in the hope of being reunited in marriage with his former mate in the resurrection. Surely, then, it was a kindness on Gods part not to require former marriage relationships to be in force at the time of a persons resurrection, as the Sadducees erroneously thought.
Watchtower 1967 10/15 p. 638 Questions From Readers
Do Jesus words at Luke 20:34-36 apply to the earthly resurrection or to the heavenly resurrection of the 144,000?W. D., Australia.
We frequently receive inquiries on these verses, which read: The children of this system of things marry and are given in marriage, but those who have been counted worthy of gaining that system of things and the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. In fact, neither can they die any more, for they are like the angels, and they are Gods children by being children of the resurrection.
It is understandable that Christians might be concerned about marriage prospects in the resurrection, since the strongest human emotional ties are often with regard to ones mate. Many faithful servants of God who look forward to living forever on earth and whose mates have died would like to have support for their hope that they could be reunited as husband and wife in the resurrection. While not being callous to their sincere feelings, we must admit that apparently Jesus words apply to the earthly resurrection, and they indicate that those resurrected will not marry or be reunited in a marriage relationship with former mates .
Watchtower 1963 10/15 p.627 When God Is King over All the Earth
Married couples survived that Flood, and their offspring married, when of age, among themselves. Likewise, the battle of HarMagedon will not dissolve the marriage ties of those surviving it, and we may reasonably believe and expect that marriages by single persons surviving HarMagedon will be authorized by the King Jesus Christ, and their marriages will be fruitful with children. Although children then born from still-imperfect HarMagedon survivors will not be born perfect, there will be no stillbirths or miscarriages or deformed children. They will be born in righteousness, by righteous parents, in Gods righteous new order, and there will then be no need for artificial birth control.
RETURN OF THE DEAD
51 However, marriage will not be the only procedure contributing toward the filling of the earth with righteous subjects of Gods kingdom. The bringing forth of children by honorable marriage of HarMagedon survivors and, in turn, by such post-HarMagedon children will be approved by the King for evidently a limited timefor how many generations we do not know.
Watchtower 1962 6/1 p. 328 Will the Dead Live Again?
Couples like Aquila and Prisca who gain the heavenly resurrection with its eternal joy as Christs bride will feel no regret that they are no longer man and wife. (Rom. 16:3) The joy at the raising up of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob, Leah and Rachel will not be diminished because, like the angels, they neither marry nor are given in marriage. Their supreme delight will be to live in Gods family circle by being children of the resurrection. (Luke 20:34-36) So anyone of us who sees a former child, wife, husband, father or mother come back from the dead will be beside himself with great ecstasy. That happiness will not be diminished because the heavenly Father does not reunite in marriage resurrected persons who were once man and wife. Their joy will overflow to be able to enjoy each others fellowship as heirs of life.
Watchtower 1961 11/15 p.704 Question from Readers
... for dead ones with spiritual, heavenly hopes and for dead ones with earthly Paradisaic hopes the rule enunciated by Jesus Christ stands unaltered: “In the resurrection neither do men marry nor are women given in marriage
Watchtower 1960 11/1 p.657 Marriage in Paradise
After that universal war will have destroyed all those who are today ruining the earth, Gods kingdom by means of Christ the Seed of His woman will restore Paradise to this earth and extend it all around the planet. Faithful surviving couples will continue their married life after Armageddon directly into the restored Paradise. Single survivors will enjoy the privilege of entering into married life with theocratic partners and will have the happiness of raising children under Paradise conditions, with Satan the Devil bound. All these will have the privilege of vindicating Jehovah God by proving that married life in Paradise can be a blessed success.
Watchtower 1956 10/1 pp.603-605
19 As far back as 1885 The Watchtower has assured its readers that human marriage will continue after the battle of Armageddon has destroyed this old alien world and will continue as long as God sees fit according to his original purpose for this earth to be inhabited with his righteous earthly sons and daughters. Death cancels the marriage bond. Armageddon will not cancel the marriage bond of those married witnesses of Jehovah who survive it together , any more than the global flood canceled the marriage bond of Noah to his wife and that of their three sons to their wives. But after they had come out of the ark of survival and had renewed Jehovahs worship in the earth, he blessed them and said to them: Be fruitful and become many and fill the earth. Noah had already borne the fruitage of three sons, and now those sons were commanded to become fruitful, each son by the one wife that he had. In that prophetic drama Noah pictured the Everlasting Father Jesus Christ and Noahs wife pictured the spiritual bride of Christ.
20 After Armageddon the couples surviving will continue in their marital union. Others surviving in a different state, widowers, widows, virgin men and virgin women, will be privileged to marry . Whether there will be an imbalance between the available men and the available women surviving need not worry us now. Marriage then will be regulated by the Everlasting Father whom Jehovah God uses to fight the battle of Armageddon and to bruise the great Serpent, the wicked marriage disturber, in the head. So the Everlasting Father Jesus Christ will have redeemed his earthly children through Armageddon just as much as Jehovah redeemed Noah and his family through the Flood and as Jehovah redeemed the Israelites out of Egypt and through the Red Sea. As all those redeemed ones belonged to Jehovah God, so all the Armageddon survivors will belong to their Redeemer Jesus Christ. As Everlasting Father to his earthly daughters he will give in marriage whomsoever of them he pleases and to whomsoever he chooses. That way there will be no poor selection of mates, and no one will experience a disappointment after marriage.
21 No one receiving a bride will pay a bride price to the Everlasting Fatherhood. All being his children, all being of one Fatherhood, they may be intermarried regardless of previous race or of color, as he may choose. Marriage, then, will be fruitful with children born of righteous parents, God not increasing the pain of pregnancy of their mothers, thus treating these differently from Eve, who took the lead in eating the forbidden fruit and then used pressure upon her husband to induce him to eat and sin.Gen. 3:16.
22 Then husbands and wives will cooperate faithfully to stay within the paradise that will be restored to earth by their work and their children's work and by Jehovahs blessing through the Everlasting Father Jesus Christ. The proper places of husband and wife in the marriage union will therefore be observed and mutual obligations will be fulfilled. Besides Gods spirit, their approaching closer and closer to human perfection will make this easier and more enjoyable to do.Luke 23:43.
23 The populating of the earth with their children and their childrens children will proceed with full regard for the coming resurrection. Jesus said that all those who are in the memorial tombs will in due time hear the voice of the Everlasting Father and come forth to a resurrection with precious opportunities for everlasting life in human perfection on earth. (John 5:28, 29, NW) Aside from marriage privileges, the other sheep surviving the battle of Armageddon will have untold privileges of service opened up to them by the resurrection of the dead, and these privileges will continue even after the purpose of marriage has been fulfilled and childbearing on earth ceases and husbands are relieved of the obligation to give their wives children.Acts 24:15.
Watchtower 1954 9/15 p. 575 Questions From Readers
When this system of things is brought to an end at Armageddon, then persons can no longer be children of it. Consequently, those who were once children of this system of things but who died cannot be children of it if they come up in a resurrection. Only by a resurrection can any of the dead enter into the new world, that system of things. Having been counted worthy of a resurrection from the dead they will neither marry nor be given in marriage, as Jesus said. In this respect they will be like the angels, who do not marry and procreate their kind.Matt. 22:30; Mark 12:25.
But after their resurrection during the thousand-year reign of Christ under that new system of things, the question is, Will they prove worthy to become children of that system of things forever? Gaining that system of things means more than just rising from the grave and entering and making a start in the endless new world. Will these ones brought back in a resurrection of the unjust take up the way of integrity to Jehovah and maintain it? We know that some will fail to do so in the final test that comes at the end of the millennium, that they will fail to gain it, going down in death, and hence will not be among those to whom it is said, Neither can they die any more. However, many others will maintain integrity right on through this final test and will be counted worthy of gaining that system of things, and for that reason they can never die at the hands of any other creature.Rev. 20:7-9.
After that final test there will definitely be no marrying or being given in marriage then by those counted worthy of the new world and having the right to eternal life, just as angels have that right. But even before the gaining of the everlasting new system of things these ones brought back in the resurrection of mankind do not marry, because even prior to the final test they are children of the resurrection. Their being debarred from marrying and being given in marriage does not wait until their names are written in the book of life and they are counted worthy of the everlasting system of things. (Rev. 20:12, 15) By the time they return from the dead through a resurrection paradise will have overspread the earth and the token fulfillment of the procreation mandate will have been effected by the Armageddon survivors and their offspring. (Gen. 9:1; Matt. 24:37; Luke 23:43) That work will have been accomplished by those of the other sheep class now living and who survive Armageddon. They are not precluded from marriage and childbirth by the words of Jesus at Luke 20:34-36, since they never die and hence are not children of the resurrection.
It is even reasonable and allowable to entertain the comforting thought that those of the other sheep who now die faithful will have an early resurrection and live during the time when the procreation mandate is being fulfilled and when paradise conditions are being spread earth-wide and that they will share in this divinely given service. Jehovah holds that hope of service out to them now, and it seems reasonable that he will not let them lose out on it because of untimely death now, perhaps a death brought on because of faithfulness to him
Watchtower 1952 8/1 p.478 Questions From Readers
When the mandate to fill the earth is fulfilled, when childbearing ceases, the marriage partners may continue their association together as life companions, or they may not, depending upon the divine will at that future, distant time. We cannot say at this time what divine providence will arrange in the distant future in the new world.
Watchtower 1950 10/15 p.381 “Be Fruitful, Multiply, Fill the Earth” Nor will the resurrected multitudes be privileged to do so, for Jesus plainly stated that such will not marry nor be given in marriage