The idea of families being united forever in heaven has a great deal of appeal. But is it logical? And what does the Bible say?
What family will I be with?
When people think about “forever families” they think about their own nuclear family – the people who come to Thanksgiving dinner. That seems very cozy. But think about the logical implications of eternal families. If family members are sealed to each other for eternity, how large is that circle? How intimate could it really be? Could it really be what people envision and desire?
For example, if my children were sealed to me for eternity, and I was sealed to my siblings and my parents, and they were sealed to their parents, and so on, exactly what family will be together forever? How big will that family be? Then add the idea that I would be sealed to my wife, and she would be sealed to all of her siblings and her parents, who would be sealed to their parents and their siblings, and so forth. Not to mention that my siblings would all sealed to their spouses, who would all sealed to their siblings and their siblings’ spouses, who would all be sealed to their parents, grand-parents, great-grandparents, along with their children and their children’s spouses and their grand-children, great-grand-children and great-great-grandchildren, and beyond. It makes for a difficult situation to envision – not at all like having an intimate Thanksgiving dinner together with your loved ones.
The fact is, most families I know can’t even figure out who to spend the holidays with. They go back and forth between both parents until eventually they start doing holidays on their own. So how can we expect to have intimate family relationships in eternity if we are sealed to thousands upon thousands of people? The experience would be a lot less like that close family holiday time and more like a massive family reunion where you don’t know half of the people there.
What does the Bible teach?
The Bible does not envision eternity as a massive family reunion or even a close family holiday.
First of all, Jesus taught that, as important as marriage is, marriages are for this life only. In Matthew 22, some religious leaders tried to trap Jesus with a trick question about marriage in the resurrection. Jesus replied (verse 30), “When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage. In this respect they will be like the angels in heaven.” One error the questioners made is to assume that eternity is just an extrapolation of the best of life in this world. Jesus told them (verse 29), “Your mistake is that you don’t know the power of God.” I understand that to mean that what God has in store for his people in eternity is far greater than what we imagine from the analogy of life in this present world.
In eternity, we become the bride of Christ (Revelation 19:7-9; Ephesians 5:25-26). Collectively, as his people, we will be united to him in a way suggested by marriage. This doesn’t mean we won’t know and love our family members. But we won’t be united as a family. We will be united as members of God’s family – along with people to whom we are not related by kinship.
Revelation 21-22 provides a striking picture of our eternal home. It is the most detailed picture of eternity provided in the Bible. Nowhere in that picture do we see people relating as family members. The appeal of heaven in Revelation is not being together with our parents and children, but being in the presence of God the Father and God the Son. As 21:3 says, “Look! God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them.”
For those who desire families to be eternal, we can only say that, as wonderful as you think that will be, what God actually has in store for his children is more amazing yet!
- Watch the video together or invite someone to summarize the topic.
- What is your initial reaction to this video? Do you disagree with any of it? What jumped out at you?
- Write a personal action step based on this conversation.