It is not uncommon for pastors to talk about how marriage foreshadows heaven. After all, the holistic union of husband and wife as “one-flesh” is meant to anticipate the kind of fulfillment all believers will experience with God and others for eternity.
Although in a different fashion, singleness also helps beautifully foreshadow heaven. Let me explain.
In Luke 20, some Sadducees question Jesus about the marital status of a woman who had married seven brothers, one at a time, after each had died: “In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had her as wife” (vs. 33). They are trying to show the absurdity of belief in a final resurrection.
But Jesus points out that there is no marriage in heaven. Thus, the man won’t be married to any of his former wives, and certainly not all of them. Sex and marriage are for this life alone.
Singleness and the Church Today
This is one reason singleness is so important for the church today. Given that we will not be married in heaven, single people in the present help us look forward to the future resurrection when we are directly related to Christ and others. Single people right now anticipate our future eternal state.
In her book The Significance of Singleness, Christina Hitchcock explains, “Relationships in the resurrection (God’s future for his people) will not be characterized by marriage. Each person will be directly related to Christ, and all other relations will go through that first relationship in a way that we cannot fully understand now...Marriage will become unnecessary and outmoded because all relationships will be fulfilled in and through Jesus. Singleness is a sign not of loneliness but of perfected community” (p. 33).
The ultimate destiny for believers is a heavenly state of perfect community. Given that there will be no sin, fear, or shame, we will be able to love God and other people–which is what we were made for–without any limitations. We will no longer be tempted to believe that sexual experiences, or human relationships alone, can bring ultimate contentment.
Our Ultimate Satisfaction
My point is not that singleness is easy. It’s not. As I write in Chasing Love, we as the church must do a better job of helping single people live out their calling.
Rather, my point is to highlight the vital role single people play in reminding the church that ultimate satisfaction comes in the resurrection when we know God fully. Single people remind us that our ultimate satisfaction is found in marriage–although not marriage to a fellow human being of the opposite sex–but in our heavenly marriage to Christ.
If you’re looking for a biblically-based and timely resource on sex, love, and relationships, check out my latest book for students: Chasing Love: Sex, Love, and Relationships in A Confused Culture.