Q:Billy Graham recently said that he expects to be with his wife in heaven, but I have seen where other so-called Bible experts say that we will not really know each other in heaven. I have always felt that my husband and I will be together forever, and it upsets me greatly when I hear something like this. Would you please consider doing a column on what Christianity says about this subject? Carol, Oklahoma City A:There is tremendous disagreement among New Testament-based faiths on the question of whether couples will remain married and know each other in heaven. Differences are pronounced even among members of the same church or denomination. Very few Christian traditions officially answer the question whether believers will know their earthly spouses in heaven. The issue usually is not considered an essential teaching, such as the nature of Christ or the effect of Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection. Many Christians rely on Matthew 22:30, in which Jesus tells a group of questioners, "At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.” For some literal readers of the Bible, this Scripture provides a negative answer to the question whether people will know their spouses after death. Other literalists, however, point out that ancient tradition provided for arranged marriage. When Jesus speaks of marrying and being given in marriage, he says involuntary marriage will cease. These believers, insisting this Scripture must be read in the context of its time and culture, say modern marriage in which both partners volunteer will continue in heaven following the resurrection. Other New Testament scholars point to Matthew 16:19 in which Jesus proclaims Peter will hold the keys to the kingdom of heaven. "[W]hatever you bind on Earth shall have been bound in heaven,” Jesus says. This quotation is understood as providing that marriages performed in church are eternal and, therefore, will continue in heaven. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints employs this Scripture as part of its reason for performing special marriages as part of its temple ordinances. These marriages are thought to be eternal and survive into the afterlife. Others look to the Old Testament story of Adam and Eve. In Genesis 2:18, God says, "It is not good for the man to be alone.” After making this statement, the story says, God created woman as the perfect companion for man and instigated the marriage bond. "[A] man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). Many believers view this story as proclaiming the importance of marriage. The Scripture teaches that although parent and child will separate, husband and wife will not. The joining of a couple through marriage becomes the second most important relationship in a person's life — the first being an person's relationship with God. With such importance attached to the marriage bond, various believers argue it is inconceivable that God would break the union in heaven. Other Christians, while agreeing that God provides companionship for the good of humanity and accepting at face value Jesus' statement that no marriage exists in heaven, see the matter a little differently. They teach that for each person God selects the perfect companion from all souls throughout time. That soul mate may be a person's earthly spouse or someone the believer would have chosen in life if he or she had had the opportunity to know the individual. This relationship is not marriage, they say, because marriage contemplates procreation, which is unnecessary in a heavenly existence. Your question has many answers, but answers that are incomplete because of humanity's incomplete knowledge. Whatever the final answer, be assured God has our best interest and happiness in mind. Andrew Tevington, a graduate of Tulsa's Phillips Theological Seminary, is an assistant pastor at the United Methodist Church of the Servant in Oklahoma City. His column is published twice a month in the Religion section. Send e-mail to him at email@example.com or write him at 3102 Classen Blvd., P.M.B. 125, Oklahoma City, OK 73118. Please include your name and town.