How Could Heaven Not Have Sex?

In the resurrection, God’s people will be like the angels in heaven—without spouse or sex.

To sigh at heaven because we lose something of earth, to cling to earth’s most brilliant shadows with trembling grip as they give way to the substance, is to forget what is coming. Even now, we can remind ourselves: heaven’s pleasures threaten to overwhelm earth’s best delights.

 

“So what does your heaven offer me?” the man asked with a grin. Recently having heard about the promises of Allah’s heaven, and being an avid admirer of women’s company, he thought a heaven containing virgins a pretty appealing incentive. Knowing I was a Christian, he continued, “Will there be physical intimacy every several thousand years when you pause from the eternal church service?”

He seemed to know few pleasures, if any, higher than perpetual fornication. So, my response must have been unintelligible: “There won’t be any sex in heaven.”

“How could heaven not have sex?” he blurted out louder than even he anticipated. He wracked his brain for the logic. Should the ocean not have raindrops? The banquet, no food? The body, its chief delight? Next, I was to tell him that no one smiled or laughed in heaven either. He could not imagine a heaven with less pleasure than earth.

“How can you believe in such a heaven?”

Secret Sigh

I admit that I too have scratched my head at Jesus’s teaching, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage” (Luke 20:34–35). In the resurrection, God’s people will be like the angels in heaven — without spouse or sex (Matthew 22:30).

With this man, I too have wondered at this omission. Not because I could not imagine something more satisfying to live for than sex, but because lifelong commitment to a spouse in marriage is also one of the greatest joys to be had in this world. Why would it not endure into the next?

Then I married, and the nagging question increased. The thought of going from oneness with her to a more general relationship with all the saints felt like a move from tailor-made to assembly line; unique to generic. To take my spouse from me and place her in the crowd felt like unweaving a rainbow, separating me from my choicest companion, indeed, from a part of myself. Removing the rib of man a second time.

Sex and Chocolate

I stumbled upon a quote in Lewis that has helped the tension. I was troubled, as Lewis memorably puts it, not because the future reality is wanting, but because my imagination and faith are weak. He writes,

I think our present outlook might be like that of a small boy who, on being told that the sexual act was the highest bodily pleasure, should immediately ask whether you ate chocolates at the same time. On receiving the answer “No,” he might regard [the] absence of chocolates as the chief characteristic of sexuality. In vain would you tell him that the reason why lovers in their raptures don’t bother about chocolates is that they have something better to think of. The boy knows chocolate: he does not know the positive thing that excludes it. We are in the same position. We know the sexual life; we do not know, except in glimpses, the other thing which, in heaven, will leave no room for it.

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