‘Till death us do part’ – we are well aware of those words in the marriage covenant… and wonderful when they are fulfilled (way beyond the bounds of this post, but I believe in (shorthand about to follow) ‘difficult’ marriage and ‘easy’ divorce – the opposite to the practice of much of what seems to be advocated… My point is for the sake of this post, big grace on anyone who has found themselves at the point where the above clause of ’till death us do part’ was not fulfilled).
For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven (Matt. 22:30).
No more marriage! There are two elements where God is certainly not like us – no death and no sex. And in the age to come those two elements cease to be part of human expression – both giving way to something far greater. The age to come is not about loss, but about everything good finding a deeper and eternal (and I suggest growing) level. Marriage – intimacy, covenant faithfulness will be our experience with everyone who is in Christ. There might be specific people with whom that is deeper than with others, for there is continuity with this age, but covenant faithfulness will be there with everyone.
The breaking of bread is a sign that in Christ we are in covenant with all – we do good to all, especially those of the household of faith… but as far as expressing covenant and seeking to live that out faithfully it is between two – married – people. I think to express it beyond that is to enter into territory that is at best challenging and at worst inviting significant issues. David and Jonathan are quoted as a ‘non-marital’ relationship. And the outcome / fruit?
David seemed to have issues at being committed to one person. He had 8 wives and into the mix we have adultery (and in modern parlance it would be deemed abuse due to the power differential); his son, Absalom, slept with David’s concubines (so we have 8 wives plus concubines); Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines… Did the love expressed between the two that was greater than the love of a man for a woman cause him commitment issues?
I have to act in a way that is faithful to one and all so that what I reflect is that ‘I see no one according to the flesh’, in that sense I act in a way that points to the covenant, but to ‘make a covenant’ with someone is to enter into solemn territory (something that at one stage and in some New Church expressions was semi-encouraged) and is to go where angels fear to tread! Till death us do part… Hence I think, in this age, there is a covenant between two people (marriage) that points forward to the covenant that we will all enter into and benefit from, one that death will not end. A level of intimacy, honesty, being known and where fully reciprocated pure love flows. Marriage ends. Covenant beyond any experience of marriage continues.
The challenge of the covenant meal is to pull us back to a place of forgiveness, a place of adjusting any attitude to one another. It is not an eternal state, but a regular check up. We need that. If we don’t all kinds of problems are released – and not simply for us, but for others. We proclaim the Lord’s death till he comes.