Matthew 22:30 says that there aren’t any marital bonds in heaven. However, we will be known. Will there be romantic affection for our loved ones?
In answering this question, the principle of Deuteronomy 29:29 must once again be kept in mind. “The secret things belong to God.” In spite of the several biblical indicators described below, there is still much which possibly is not revealed to us in Scripture concerning these matters. Let us remember that as we study the Bible for the answer to this question.
Jesus spoke of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob being in heaven in a way that implied that they would be recognized (Matt. 8:11). In like manner, Abraham, the rich man, and the beggar Lazarus were all able to recognize each other in the afterlife (Luke 16:19-31). Thus, it is a reasonable conclusion that we will recognize each other, including our former spouses and other family members, in heaven.
The New Testament was originally written in Greek. In the Greek language, there are several words which are translated “love” in English. One of them, eros, refers to sexual, passionate love and isn’t used in the New Testament per se, although the concept of romantic, sexual passion is referred to as one of the reasons to get married (1 Cor. 7:1-2, 8-9). One should also consider that sexual, romantic passion is rooted in physical biology. Since “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the imperishable inherit the perishable” (1 Cor. 15:50), one can conclude that the physical urges we have in our mortal bodies will not carry over into heaven. This may be one reason why marriage doesn’t exist in heaven (Matt. 22:30).
On the other hand, there are other types of “love” in the Greek language. Storge refers to affection, specifically the kind shared among families. While the word itself is technically not found in the New Testament, its opposite form – astorgos, “heartless” (Rom. 1:31; 2 Tim. 3:3) – is used in a condemnatory way. Thus, one can conclude that familial affection is prized by God in our relationships here on earth. Since we will recognize each other in heaven, there is no reason to conclude that God would not wish that same familial affection to continue for eternity, even if the marital bonds which on earth formed the basis of families no longer exist.
Additionally, a compound form of storge – philostorgos — is used in Romans 12:10 (“brotherly affection”). Philostorgos is the combining of storge and another Greek term commonly translated “love” in English, philia. Philia deals primarily with affection for friends, a platonic kind of love. It is this kind of love which Jesus commanded all his disciples to have in John 13:35. Paul likewise commended it (1 Thess. 4:9), as did the Hebrew author (Heb. 13:1), Peter (1 Pet. 1:22; 3:8; 2 Pet. 1:7), and James (James 4:4). As indicated in Romans 12:10, philia can be a type of love one has for family. Being commended by God here on earth, there is no indication that this affectionate, brotherly kind of love would not exist in heaven also.
The final Greek word for “love” in the New Testament is the one most well known: agape, an active kind of love demonstrated through the unselfish, self-sacrificial love Jesus has for us and which we are to have for each other (1 John 3:16). It is the kind of love God has for us all (John 3:16). That kind of love will surely continue to exist in heaven and will be undoubtedly be seen among us all for each other, including our earthly loved ones in our family.