Question 56:

Do married couples remain married for eternity or does their marriage end with death? Can they still be together in the afterlife? Further, is it true that we will receive new bodies in the afterlife?


Answer: What will become of me after I die? Humanity is infused by the more or less obvious longing for a life after death. Philosophers have come to the conclusion that the human soul, because it is spiritual, cannot really die. It is also logical to think that our longing for fulfillment and justice would be in vain if everything ended at death.

The Bible allows us to experience how the answer to this basic question of our existence has crystallized in the course of the centuries. But it does not base its views on us and our longing, but rather on God. The original idea that a hopeless, shadowy existence awaits us in the underworld was not something a person of faith could imagine. God is, after all, the source of life, He is faithful, He will never let us go completely! And so the believers convictions became stronger and stronger: even death cannot separate us from His love, we are always accepted and loved by Him. The New Testament further clarifies this thinking: Christ is our life. We are immortal because our life comes from Him and is aimed towards Him.

Our death means: we stand before God, the eternal truth: then all our masks fall away, all our self-delusions come to an end and we suddenly realize whether our lives have lead us towards God or towards the darkness far away from God. Thus, death is a judgment on our lives. To summarize: our bodies decay in death. Our souls, our being, the core of our personhood, remain. The Church teaches that the saints go straight to Heaven. However, those who still carry any remainders of sin can only come to God after having been cleansed of them (purgatory). Since our bodies are not "secondary components", but rather are part of our human person, we also expect a bodily resurrection. Christ has saved us body and soul. For this reason, we can also expect the transfiguration of our bodies and souls – just as the Church already teaches about Mary, God's mother.

It is not very meaningful to dwell on the nature of this resurrection, for example on the question of whether our bodies will be made of the same matter as in this life. The debate concerns things that are beyond our comprehension and all that matters is that God desires to lead us to perfection. He desires to bring every opportunity in us to perfection - a wonderful call to oneness with God and with one another is what we have been promised! Thus, the hope for eternal life is no empty consolation. Rather, it allows us to comprehend our status and our dignity. He who holds humankind in such high esteem is called to fight for the human person’s dignity, freedom and rights already in this world! Together with us, all of creation shall become part of God’s glory. This is a fascinating thought. It stops us in our tracks: all of creation – even the evil which has spread in it? Does not the dualism of good and evil in the world have to be removed first, so that all that exists is the Kingdom of God, without any shadows of evil and sin? That, precisely, is what the Church understands when it teaches about the coming judgment. (see Winfried Henze, „Glauben ist schön. Ein katholischer Familien-Katechismus“. Harsum. 2001, p. 173f. ISBN 3-7698-0887-8)

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