In our own time, Mickey Rooney had eight wives; Elizabeth Taylor had eight husbands; Zsa Zsa Gabor had nine husbands. Even the situation itself in the bible story is not that unreal. Back in Jesus’ time there was a statute called the “levirate law.” This legal code (spelled out in Deuteronomy 25) permitted a widow to marry her brother-in-law for the sole purpose of continuing the name and the ancestry line of the dead husband. In fact, it is more than permission; it is obligatory for the brother of the deceased husband to marry the new widow. Of course, there is a legal escape loophole if either one of the two principals do not wish to accept the relationship.
The Sadducees, however, did not believe in life after death. Furthermore, they accepted only the first five books of the bible as the sacred words of God through Moses; therefore they were not really honest in appearing to seek truth through dialogue with Jesus. Their intention was to ridicule Jesus, by positing what they thought was an unsolvable riddle. In essence, they thought they had Jesus boxed in to a “Check Mate!” situation.
Jesus points out to them that they don’t even know well enough the scriptures of the five books that they do accept. The real issue at stake is not marriage relationships, but whether there is indeed a resurrection after death. He pointed out that God identifies himself to Moses (Exodus 3) as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. In fact, he said “I am their God,” not “I was their God” – thereby indicating that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were still living, not dead.
In heaven we will not need traditional marriage relationships because now, as son and daughters of God through baptism, we will live forever. Is your faith strengthened by hope in the resurrection of the body? Do you really believe what you proclaim in the Creed every Sunday, a belief in the “resurrection of the body and life everlasting”? Because this is an essential element of true Christian faith?