Heresy: That Marital Union Continues In Heaven

Marriage, whether merely natural or the supernatural Sacrament of holy Matrimony, ends with the death of either or both spouses. That is why a widow or widower may validly and licitly remarry in the Church. Marriage in this life, whether merely natural or the supernatural Sacrament of holy Matrimony, ends with the death of either spouse. The marital bond ends; it is dissolved. Therefore, if both spouses go to Heaven, they are in no sense of the word married in Heaven, nor after the general Resurrection.

The idea of an eternal marriage is a Mormon teaching which is heretical in Catholicism. Mormons believe that spouses (particularly those who are “sealed”, they claim) are married forever. Catholics do not believe this idea; it is contrary to the teaching of the ordinary universal Magisterium. So the idea that any spouses in this life are still married in Heaven, or will have some type of marital union after death at any time, or will have a type of marital bond after death is HERESY. It is also directly contrary to the clear teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus taught that there is no marriage in the Resurrection. So even after the general Resurrection, when human souls are resurrected and given new bodies, there is no marriage of any kind. There is no marital union of any kind. Jesus did not merely deny the idea of marital intercourse in Heaven. He taught directly and plainly that all those in Heaven “will neither be married, nor take wives.” Thus, the marriages of this life do not continue in Heaven (when human persons only have souls), nor continue after the Resurrection (when human persons have body and soul united). In addition, after death the elect cannot become married anew.

Read the Gospel passage carefully:

{20:27} Now some of the Sadducees, who deny that there is a resurrection, approached him. And they questioned him,
{20:28} saying: “Teacher, Moses wrote for us: If any man’s brother will have died, having a wife, and if he does not have any children, then his brother should take her as his wife, and he should raise up offspring for his brother.
{20:29} And so there were seven brothers. And the first took a wife, and he died without sons.
{20:30} And the next one married her, and he also died without a son.
{20:31} And the third married her, and similarly all seven, and none of them left behind any offspring, and they each died.
{20:32} Last of all, the woman also died.
{20:33} In the resurrection, then, whose wife will she be? For certainly all seven had her as a wife.”
{20:34} And so, Jesus said to them: “The children of this age marry and are given in marriage.
{20:35} Yet truly, those who shall be held worthy of that age, and of the resurrection from the dead, will neither be married, nor take wives.
{20:36} For they can no longer die. For they are equal to the Angels, and they are children of God, since they are children of the resurrection.

{22:29} But Jesus responded to them by saying: “You have gone astray by knowing neither the Scriptures, nor the power of God.
{22:30} For in the resurrection, they shall neither marry, nor be given in marriage. Instead, they shall be like the Angels of God in heaven.

The question of the Sadducees was designed to refute the Resurrection. If a woman had seven husbands, one after another, whose wife will she be in the Resurrection? It’s a good question, really. And Jesus answers it. The resurrected just will not be married, meaning marriage does not continue in the Afterlife, and neither will they become married anew. They are like holy Angels. They are like children. The woman in question will not be anyone’s wife, as there is no marriage after death.

This teaching of the Gospel is very clear. And never has the Magisterium interpreted the above passage such that some type of marital union continues in Heaven in some way.

The only marriage, for the souls in Heaven and, after the general Resurrection, for human persons in body and soul, is the figurative marriage of Christ and His Bride, the Church. Every single marriage in this life, natural or supernatural, even of Joseph and Mary, or married Apostles, or married Saints, or the most loving and devout spouses today, ENDS unequivocally with the death of either or both spouses. The contrary claim is heresy. The contrary claim directly contradicts the teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Gospels. The contrary claim is an exercise in extreme pride and self-exaltation, putting one’s own thinking above the material and formal dogma of the Church. (The teachings of Sacred Tradition and/or Sacred Scripture are material dogma; then material dogma becomes formal dogma when such teachings are infallibly taught by the Magisterium.)

What Does E. Christian Brugger Claim?

But so many Catholic teachers today are teaching their own opinions, while ignoring the teaching of Jesus and His Church. Consider this article: Is There Marriage in the Heavenly Kingdom? by E. Christian Brugger, June 15, 2022, National Catholic Register. Brugger contradicts the teaching of the Roman Catholic Magisterium in that article, when he answers a question from a reader:

“Q. My priest friend told me that marriages won’t end in heaven, but will be perfected; but that since the Lord said ‘they neither marry nor are given in marriage’ (Matthew 22:30), we know they are not married in the same way. So there is some way that spousal relationships will continue in heaven. Heaven doesn’t end or destroy earthly relationships; it perfects them. Hence, those married in this life will experience an even deeper union in heaven. Is this correct? — Luke

“A. What you say is essentially correct.” [E. Christian Brugger]

No, it is not correct. Jesus said that the resurrected just are not married. He did not say that they are married in a different way. He did not say that some spousal relationships continue in heaven. And the claim that “Heaven” doesn’t destroy early relationships is just a nicely-worded way of saying that death does not dissolve the marital bond, contrary to the dogmatic teaching of the Magisterium.

So what the questioner “Luke” says that a priest told him is heresy. Maybe the “priest friend” was misunderstood by “Luke”. But Brugger’s position is clearly contrary to definitive magisterial teaching on marriage. The marital bond is broken by death:

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: “It is Catholic teaching that a ‘marriage that is ratum et consummatum can be dissolved by no human power and by no cause, except by death’ (can. 1141), while a marriage that is not ratum even if consummatum, given determined presuppositions, can be dissolved by the power given by Christ to the Church.” [CDF]

Marriage, even the Sacrament of Marriage, is dissolved by death. A widow or a widower is no longer married; they are single and free to marry again. And concerning the question of how many times a widow or widower may remarry, after the death of a previous spouse, an early Ecumenical Council in the Church decided that there is no theological limit. Once your spouse dies, you are like any single person, unmarried and able to marry (under the usual conditions).

Saint Thomas Aquinas: “I answer that, The marriage tie lasts only until death (Romans 7:2), wherefore at the death of either spouse the marriage tie ceases: and consequently when one dies the other is not hindered from marrying a second time on account of the previous marriage. Therefore not only second marriages are lawful, but even third and so on.” [Summa Theologica, Supplement, Q. 63.]

And the passage cited by St. Thomas in Romans is this:
{7:2} For example, a woman who is subject to a husband is obligated by the law while her husband lives. But when her husband has died, she is released from the law of her husband.

So the marital bond does not continue in Heaven in any way; it ceases. And the greatest proof of this is the ability to remarry after the death of a spouse.

Now let’s consider each false assertion in the article by Brugger.

1. “marriages won’t end in heaven, but will be perfected”.

False. Magisterial teaching is that the marital bond ends with death; when one or both spouses are deceased, the marriage has ended. Since there is no marriage or marital bond, marriage does not exist in heaven, and so neither can it be perfected.

2. After quoting the words of Jesus, this claim is made: “we know they are not married in the same way. So there is some way that spousal relationships will continue in heaven.”

False. Jesus did not say that the spouses are married in a different way, but rather that they are not married at all. The comparisons Jesus uses to make this point clear are the holy Angels, who are not married in any way, and children, who also have no type of “spousal relationship”. Then the claim that marriage “will continue in heaven” directly contradicts the magisterial teaching that death dissolves the marital bond. It cannot continue, since it no longer exists.

3. “Heaven doesn’t end or destroy earthly relationships; it perfects them.”

Not heaven, but death, is what dissolves the marital bond. The two former-spouses no longer have a marital relationship. What is dissolved and no longer exists, cannot be perfected. It sounds nice to say that heaven perfects earthly relationships. But the meaning here is not general about friendships or family relationships, but is directed at the marital bond and the spousal relationship. Such a claim greatly distorts and misrepresents the teaching of Jesus.

4. “Hence, those married in this life will experience an even deeper union in heaven.”

The union in question is the marital union. Such a claim, that the married union not only continues to exist, but exists as a deeper union, is a clear direct contradiction of the teaching of Jesus and of His Church. And taken altogether, the meaning of these four interrelated grave errors is heresy. Brugger should have corrected the above grave errors, but instead, he affirms them.

Brugger’s own assertions are just as bad. And please notice that Brugger does not merely affirm that formerly-married persons have the same type of union and closeness that anyone in Heaven will have with the other elect, whether angel or human soul. Instead, he asserts a special type of union in Heaven of persons married in his life, as if their marriage continues in some way after death. For although he says that, in Heaven, “we objectively share a close mysterious intimacy not only with Christ but with all members of his body,” he goes on to assert a type of marital union in Heaven.

5. Brugger: “If marriage had no other purpose than procreation, then we might conclude that married persons would share nothing unique in the Kingdom. But marriage is also for the communion of persons. We speak about the “unitive” good of marriage. So there is reason to conclude that some kind of unique community of married persons will persist in the Kingdom.”

Yes, married persons share nothing unique in the kingdom of heaven. They are like holy Angels. They are like holy children. All the goods of the community of holiness in Heaven apply to each and every person, angel or human, in the kingdom of Heaven.

The claim that married couples continue to have the unitive good of marriage in Heaven and that they have some kind of “unique community of married persons” in Heaven is a denial that the marital bond ends with death. It is a denial of the Gospel teaching that the souls in Heaven and the resurrected just “will neither be married, nor take wives.”

Notice the expression used by Brugger, a “unique community of married persons will persist” in Heaven. Persist means that the marriage in some sense continues. This is a direct denial of the dissolution of the marital bond by death, which is a dogma of the ordinary universal Magisterium.

6. Brugger: “Isn’t this confirmed by common sense? If all human goods will be perfected, won’t goods flowing from the marital relationship also be perfected? Won’t we still be parents of these children, daughters and sons-in-law to these fathers and mothers-in-law, and, yes, husbands/wives to these women/men?”

My answer is that the common sense of fallen sinners often fails, while the Gospel of Jesus Christ stands firm forever. Will “goods flowing from the marital relationship also be perfected” in Heaven? No. The marital relationship ends with death. There is no marital bond, no marital union, no marital relationship, and consequently the widow or widower are free to marry a second time, as no marital relationship at all continues to exist with the deceased spouse.

Will we not still be: parents of children, son-in-law or daughter-in-law to mother-in-law and father-in-law? No, we will not be. The relationship of the elect in Heaven and of the elect after the general Resurrection is like that of holy angels. And then we will all be children of God. We will no longer have the parent-child or son-in-law mother-in-law or husband-wife relationships. Our loved ones will, we hope, be in Heaven with us. But our relationship is transfigured by Christ and by the Beatific Vision of God.

In particular, the claim that we will “still be … husbands/wives to these women/men” is yet another direct denial of the dogma that the marital bond is dissolved by death. It is yet another rejection of the Gospel teaching of Christ himself.

7. Brugger: “Don’t we refer to St. Joseph in the Kingdom as Our Lady’s ‘most chaste spouse’?”

That expression references the role of Saint Joseph in this life, when he was the chaste spouse of Mary ever-virgin. Joseph does not retain his role as foster father of Jesus the Lord in Heaven, nor does he have a spousal relationship with the Blessed Virgin Mary. And the expression “most chaste spouse” directed at Saint Joseph does not refer to a continuing marriage of Joseph and Mary in Heaven. The Magisterium have never taught that they remain married in Heaven.

8. Brugger next goes off the deep end with his next set of claims:

“And yet the spousal relationship in the Kingdom will not be exclusive in the way it is here. Exclusivity will not be needed for child-raising. But this lack of exclusivity does not imply a lessening of closeness and uniqueness. The perfecting of marital communion means marriage will entail a kind of unity deeper than what is possible through this worldly exclusivity.

“This means that exclusivity is not necessary to unity. If it was, then those here whose spouses have died and who have legitimately remarried would have an exclusive relationship with more than one person in the Kingdom, which is a contradiction.”

He errs by reasserting a “spousal relationship” in the kingdom of Heaven. Then he claims the reason for exclusivity in this life is “child-raising”. So then, when elderly persons marry, who are unable to conceive and bear children, is exclusivity optional? Of course not. Then exclusivity is not dissolved by the lack of a need for child-raising. Brugger then seems to be arguing for multiple spouses. I’m sure he doesn’t support multiple wives or husbands in marriage in this life. But the argument he presents tends to support that grave error as well.

Brugger claims that the “perfecting of marital communion” occurs in Heaven, again denying that the marital union is dissolved by death. And next he claims that the marital communion in Heaven is “deeper than what is possible” with the exclusivity of marital communion in this life. Really?!?! This implies the error that the exclusivity of Christian marriage limits the depth of that union. Marital exclusivity in this life does not keep the marital union from being more perfect or deeper than without that exclusivity.

And what does this mean for the alleged marital communion Brugger claims for (former) spouses in Heaven? Brugger actually claims that persons who have remarried after the death of a spouse will have this non-exclusive marital communion with more than one person in Heaven! He is literally arguing for a type of bigamy or polygamy in Heaven. What then happens after the general Resurrection, when we all have bodies? Does the woman who successively legitimately married seven husbands, one after another (as each spouse died), have a marital communion with all seven men in Heaven? Whose wife shall she be, ask the Sadducees. She will be wives to all of them, suggests Brugger. Well, that was not the answer of Jesus.

9. And then it gets even worse.

Brugger: “You might wonder: Will there will be bodily intimacy in the Kingdom? We do not know. Scripture doesn’t tell us. We only know, as Matthew 22 teaches, that there will be no marrying or giving in marriage — i.e., no more marrying, not necessarily no persons who are married — and to that extent, we will be like the angels. But we will also be unlike the angels, in that we will have resurrected bodies. “

Brugger’s question, Will there be “bodily intimacy” is asking whether there be sexual intercourse” after the general Resurrection? Shockingly, he answers “We do not know.” What!!!??? You don’t know if there is marital sexual acts after the Resurrection?! Brugger explains this by claiming that Jesus only meant that on one would newly contract marriage after the resurrection. But, Brugger further claims, this does not rule out that there will still be “persons who are married” — implying a continuation of marriage from this life to the next, and again denying the dissolution of marriage by death. And combining this claim with the previous claim of non-exclusivity, such that a person who remarries then has two spouses in the resurrection, we end up with a suggestion that marital relations might occur and be moral for a person who would then have multiple spouses.

To be clear, dear readers, what Brugger claims is heretical nonsense. The marital union and the marital relationship ends with death. As there is no marital relationship nor any new marriages after death, the children of the resurrection are like the holy Angels. The spouses of this life do not remain married, cannot marry anew, and do not have marital relations after death, not even after the resurrection, when we will have bodies. Brugger’s suggestion that since we will have resurrected bodies, those of us who were married in this life, even married multiple times, will have sexual relations (while the never-married must remain chaste, apparently) with one another is contrary to the teaching of Jesus and His Church, and contrary to right reason.

10. Brugger then concludes his wicked heretical article with the direct and plain claim that there will be marital sex after the general Resurrection:

Brugger: “Although intimacy for the sake of procreation will pass away in the Kingdom, bodily communion here is not only for procreation. It is also for actualizing the good of interpersonal communion between spouses. And since that communion in the Kingdom will be immeasurably deeper than here, it is not unreasonable to conclude that that there will be a kind of bodily intimacy in the Kingdom.”

The claim that “the good of interpersonal communion between spouses” is “immeasurably deeper” in the Kingdom of God after the Resurrection is false because there are no spouses after death. The only spousal relationship is the figurative marriage between Christ and His Bride, the Church. The conclusion of E. Christian Brugger that “there will be a kind of bodily intimacy”, clearly meaning sexual relations, after the Resurrection, is heresy. Add to this grave error the claim that there is no marital exclusivity in this “spousal relationship” after the Resurrection, and the result is sexual relations with multiple persons — due to multiple successive marriages in this life — for eternity, only for those who were married at some time.

Catholic publications, in any age, have a responsibility to ensure that the material they publish does not harm souls, especially by promoting grave errors on faith or morals. Few Catholic media outlets seem to have a policy of checking to see that their articles and other material are free from moral and doctrinal errors. A Catholic publication need not agree with every opinion asserted by a contributor, but the assertion of heresy and other grave errors is not merely an opinion.

See my previous posts on other errors by E. Christian Brugger:
* More Grave Errors by E. Christian Brugger via NCRegister
* Reply to E. Christian Brugger’s Open Appeal
* E. Christian Brugger’s Grave Error on Papal Authority

Correct Catholic Teaching

For a correct answer to the question of marital union in Heaven, see this blog post: “Are We Married in Heaven?” by Catholic Marriage Prep, quoted in part below:

“some couples give us an explanation of how they think they are soul mates for eternity and their love is immortal. While it’s a sweet sentiment, these are usually the same couples whose expectation in marriage is to feel completed and never feel lonely again, which tells me they have watched too many romantic comedies and don’t quite understand the theological nature of the Sacrament of marriage.

“In these cases, we have to explain that while our souls are immortal, there is no marriage in heaven! Marriage is an earthly reality; it is an image of the love God has for us in heaven, so when we experience the fullness of God’s love in heaven there is no need for marriage. I do believe, though, we will be reunited with our loved ones in heaven. I think those we loved on earth we will still have a special connection to in heaven, especially our spouses because of the love and union we had. But for those who say “my husband was my everything” or “I can’t imagine eternity without my wife” have missed the most important part of heaven: God. He is our fulfillment, and while we will be reunited in one great party in heaven, heaven is above all the marriage feast of the Bridegroom with his Bride: Christ with us the Church.”

The Magisterium teaches that death dissolves the marital bond, even of a ratified and consummated Sacrament of holy Matrimony:

The Catechism of the Catholic Church quotes Canon Law: “Between the baptized, ‘a ratified and consummated marriage cannot be dissolved by any human power or for any reason other than death.’ [Can. 1141]” [CCC 2382].

The Catechism of Pope Saint Pius X: “Q. Why do we say that the bond of marriage is indissoluble?
A. We say that the bond of marriage is indissoluble or that it cannot be dissolved except by the death of either husband or wife, because God so ordained from the beginning and so Jesus Christ our Lord solemnly proclaimed.”

The Roman Catechism (called the Catechism of the Council of Trent) teaches: “Hence it is plain that the bond of marriage can be dissolved by death alone, as is confirmed by the Apostle when he says: A woman is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband die she is at liberty; let her marry whom she will, only in the Lord….”

The Baltimore Catechism:
“The Church sometimes, for very good reasons, does allow husband and wife to separate and live apart; but that is not dissolving the bond of marriage, or divorce as it is called, for though separated they are still husband and wife, and neither can marry again till the other dies.”
“Persons may receive the sacrament of Matrimony more than once, provided they are certain of the death of the former husband or wife and comply with the laws of the Church.”

Casti Connubii: “Moreover, the dignity of both man and wife is maintained and mutual aid is most satisfactorily assured, while through the indissoluble bond, always enduring, the spouses are warned continuously that not for the sake of perishable things nor that they may serve their passions, but that they may procure one for the other high and lasting good have they entered into the nuptial partnership, to be dissolved only by death.”

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

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4 Responses to Heresy: That Marital Union Continues In Heaven

  1. James Belcher says:

    I am not sure where to post this.
    I am of the opinion the start of the Tribulation will happen in the year of 2033/2034. I have come to this belief due to the following:
    1. Although the current events of the world are terrible, I have this belief that 60% (possibly greater) of the world’s population seem to think all is good with the world and lack the insight of all the wrongs currently being committed today. Our Almighty God needs more time (10 years or so) for all people to suffer more to possibly gain insight and a spiritual uplifting towards God.
    2. The Warning will happen on Good Friday, April 15, 2033.
    3. The Miracle will happen on Thursday, May 12, 2033 ( Feast of Blessed Imelda).
    4.There will be wars (no WW3) between nations, famine and civil unrest to a greater degree than what is happening now but not to the level of the Tribulation.
    5. WW3 (nuclear) will commence in the year of 2033/2034.

    I believe the dates in your eschatology remain intact thereafter.

    • Ron Conte says:

      I hope it is not that far away. The Warning/Miracle could be in 2023, since Thursday, May 11 would be the vigil of the feast of Blessed Imelda. That would place the Warning on Good Friday, April 7, which I believe is the true date of the Crucifixion, and the Consolation on Easter Sunday, April 9, the true date of the Resurrection.

  2. Fermin says:

    Will we forget whom we were married to in heaven? What exactly will we remember about our earthly life in heaven?

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