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Marriage Is Not Our Ultimate Destination

The real 'happily ever after'
By Ron L. Deal

There is an interesting dilemma presented to Jesus in Matthew 22.  His response is one you’ll never hear during a wedding.

The Sadducees present a case study to Jesus about a woman who had been married and widowed seven times. “At the resurrection,” they asked, “whose wife will she be of the seven, since all of them were married to her?” (Matthew 22:28).

Before hearing Jesus’ reply, let’s push pause for moment. Imagine how Hollywood or your favorite romance novelist would answer. “Well, the one she loved the most, of course” they might reply. Or perhaps, “Only her true soul mate could spend eternity with her in heaven; otherwise it wouldn’t be heaven!” If you were asked that question, what would your answer be?

Now look at how Jesus replied to the Sadducees: “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven” (Matthew 22:29–30).

What? There’s no marriage in heaven? But I thought that eternity with the one you love would be the ultimate ending to true romance. It is—but not in the way we assume.

The Bible begins and ends with a wedding. In the beginning, because of the aloneness of man, God gives the first bride away; on the last day when Christ comes back for his bride, the Church, we will all be joined with him in heaven in perfect oneness.

In light of that truth I guess you could say we’re all engaged to our Savior. And “when Christ comes,” implies Jesus’ response, we won’t need marriage to fill our aloneness because the power and presence of God will fulfill our every longing. We will experience ultimate oneness with the one who created us, and we will live happily ever after.

An assigned buddy

Do you remember being in kindergarten and going on a field trip? The teachers probably grouped a few students together with a chaperone so no one got lost. They may have paired you up with a friend and told you to hold hands and stick together to ensure that you didn’t wander off.  God has pretty much done the same thing for us.

We are on the field trip of life and we’ve left the safety of the classroom, but we haven’t arrived at the destination yet. When Jesus comes, we will have arrived, but until then, we’re still vulnerable. To help us not get lost, He’s created two groups to help us find our way.

First, we’ve been put into a small group of people called the church. Here, regardless of age or marital status, we look after one another and encourage each other as we see the day approaching (Hebrews 10:25). Second, many of us find a spouse—a spiritual traveling buddy if you will—with whom we walk toward Christ.

Marriage to a person is not our ultimate destination; being wed to our Lord is. No other agenda should outweigh this purpose for marriage.

Single people need that perspective so they won’t over-value getting married.

Dating people need that perspective so that they will date with the purpose of finding someone who can become their buddy during the field trip of life and ultimately usher them to the arms of their Savior.

Married people need that perspective so they won’t lose sight of their purpose in being together, and remarried people need to keep this in mind so they won’t fret needlessly over who is most adored by their spouse. We all have a first love—and it’s not our spouse. 


Adapted from Dating and the Single Parent by Ron L. Deal. Bethany House Publishers (a division of Baker Publishing Group). Copyright © 2012. Used with permission.

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Meet the Author: Ron L. Deal

Ron Deal

Ron Deal is a marriage and family author, conference speaker, and therapist. He is founder and president of Smart Stepfamilies™ and director of FamilyLife Blended™, the ministry initiative of FamilyLife® to stepfamilies (for more visit and 

Ron is author of The Smart Stepfamily: Seven Steps to a Healthy Family (and DVD series), The Smart Stepdad, Dating and the Single Parent, The Smart Stepmom (with Laura Petherbridge), and The Smart Stepfamily Marriage: Keys to Success in the Blended Family (with Dr. David Olson). A highly sought-after, recognized expert in marriage and blended families, Ron is a member of the Stepfamily Expert Council for the National Stepfamily Resource Center, and is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Licensed Professional Counselor with over 25 years experience in local church ministry and family ministry consulting. He is a featured expert on the video curriculum Single and Parenting (2011, Church Initiative) and his material is widely distributed by a variety of family education initiatives

Ron served as a member of the Couple Checkup Research Team (headed by Dr. David Olson, PREPARE-ENRICH) which conducted the two largest studies of marital strength ever accomplished. They surveyed over 100,000 marriages and remarriages (over 200,000 people) and examined the qualitative differences between highly satisfied marriages and low-quality marriages. The results of their groundbreaking research for couples are published in the books The Couple Checkup (Olson, Larson, & Olson-Sigg, 2008) and The Smart Stepfamily Marriage (Deal & Olson, 2015), and are featured in Ron’s newest seminar for dating, engaged, married, and remarried couples, the Couple Checkup Conference.

Ron is a popular conference speaker and has appeared in dozens of national radio and TV broadcasts both in the U.S. and Canada. His daily 60-second radio feature, FamilyLife Blended, is heard by thousands each week around the country and online. He has appeared on Fox News, MSNBC, ABC’s Nightline, WGN-News, The Mike Huckabee Show, FamilyLife Today, Focus on the Family, HomeWord with Jim Burns, Celebration, and The 700 Club, and his work has been referenced online (e.g.,,, in magazines (e.g., Essence), and in newspapers throughout the world (e.g., USA Today, New York Daily News, Chicago Tribune, Atlanta Journal, and Minnesota Star Tribune). The May 2012 issue of Ladies' Home Journal featured Ron's therapy work with a blended family couple in their popular feature column “Can This Marriage Be Saved?” Ron has written feature family articles addressing a variety of family matters for a variety of publications and online magazines including Focus on the Family magazine, ParentLife, The Family Room, Gospel Today, Christianity Today, and HomeLife magazine. On a regular basis Ron trains therapists, marriage educators, and ministry professionals at conferences around the country and has spoken at the National Stepfamily Conference, and the Utah and Arkansas Governors' conferences on the family.

Ron and his wife, Nan, have three boys. Their middle son, Connor, died unexpectedly in February 2009 at the age of 12. In his memory, the Deal's have partnered with Touch a Life Foundation to rescue and rehabilitate children in Ghana, West Africa, from trafficking. They would be honored if you would help them sing Connor's song. Visit Connor's Song to learn more about this ministry and to hear Connor sing.

In addition to FamilyLife sponsored events Ron is available to present his Couple Checkup Conference or Building A Successful Stepfamily conference in your church or community. Learn more here.



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