Will there be sex in Heaven? We can only speculate — we don’t know anything about Heaven other than what the Bible reveals to us, but perhaps we can make some reasonable inferences. Be sure to note that I’m extrapolating from the Bible in this post and not asserting that any of these ideas are guaranteed to be true. (In fact, I’m sure that plenty of wise people disagree with at least some of this.) There are a lot of excerpts from the Bible in this post, but don’t be intimidated! I believe you’ll find them interesting and enlightening.
As a first data point, consider Matthew 22:23-33. Some Jewish leaders who don’t believe in an afterlife (the Sadducees) attempt to trip Jesus up by asking him about a hypothetical woman who was married to seven men: whose wife would she be in Heaven? Jesus responds:
You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.
So there are no weddings in Heaven, and marriages made on earth do not persist. (“Till death do us part.”) So… case closed? No sex in Heaven?
Not so fast! What are the purposes of sex? Without going into depth here, from the Bible we know that sex is intended for pleasure, intimacy, and procreation. Do these purposes have meaning in Heaven?
Pleasure: Of course there will be pleasure in Heaven! Ephesians 2:4-7:
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
The endless ages of eternity will be filled to overflowing with God’s grace and kindness thanks to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
Intimacy: The intimacy of our relationships in Heaven will far surpass anything we know on earth. 1 Corinthians 13 says a lot about love that must hold true in Heaven, and verse 12 speaks directly to intimacy.
For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
The unveiled intimacy we experience in Heaven, with God and other believers, will make every relationship on earth seem like a dim reflection in a dark mirror.
Procreation: Did God stop creating after Genesis? Will God continue creating after the ages of this world have passed away? God’s creation reflects his glory, Psalms 19:1-6:
The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words,
whose voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.
In them he has set a tent for the sun,
which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber,
and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.
Its rising is from the end of the heavens,
and its circuit to the end of them,
and there is nothing hidden from its heat.
In Revelation 21:1-5 we see that God is planning a New Heaven and a New Earth.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”
Note it’s “making”, not “have made”. Creation and creativity are defining attributes of God, and I find it hard to believe that’s he’s going to stop. But even if he continues creating, will he keep making people? Well, why was procreation invented in the first place? Let’s go back to Genesis 1:26-28:
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
The New Heaven and the New Earth (and the New Universe?) won’t need to be subdued, but they will need to be filled! God loves creating stuff, mankind is his ultimate creation, and there will be a new, perfect world to fill up — is it much of a stretch to imagine that God will continue making people forever?
Ok, so I think I’ve made a decent case for the three purposes of sex persisting in Heaven: pleasure, intimacy, and procreation. Let me make one more observation: the Bible is abundantly clear that in Heaven we will not be merely spirits, but that we’ll have new bodies. The bodily resurrection of Christ is an essential tenet of Christianity. 1 Corinthians 15 has a lot to say about this teaching, but verses 35-49 touch on this question most directly.
But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” You foolish person! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. For not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.
So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam [Jesus] became a life-giving spirit. But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.
So our heavenly bodies will be like Christ’s resurrected body. In Luke 24:36-43 we can see Jesus in action after his resurrection, and we immediately notice three relevant attributes of his body: it is recognizable to his followers (including his maleness), it can be touched, and it can partake in earthly bodily functions (eating). Jesus intentionally revealed these attributes to comfort his followers — they knew he was dead and thought they were seeing a ghost!
As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate before them.
So now I’ve made a case for the purposes of sex persisting in Heaven, and a case that our heavenly bodies will be physically capable of sex. Does this mean there will be sex in Heaven? No — the evidence is only circumstantial, but nothing in the Bible rules out sex in Heaven. That said, I’ll speculate a little bit more: there won’t be sex in Heaven, but whatever we do have will be even better!
Better how? Well, whatever we call IT, IT will more perfectly fulfill the purposes of sex:
Better pleasure. We’ll have awesome new heavenly bodies that never get sick, never get old, never feel pain, never feel sadness; instead of weakness, we will have power; instead of dishonor, we will be glorious! Our perfect minds and bodies will be capable of experiencing pleasure far beyond anything on this earth, and we’ll enjoy it in fellowship with God and other people.
Better intimacy. As we discussed above, the intimacy in Heaven will exceed anything on earth, and we’ll have eternity to build relationships. Your relationship with your earthly spouse will be deeper and grander than you ever experienced on earth, and there will be uncountable others in Heaven to meet and love as well.
Better procreation. If God continues to create people, why would he stop using people in the process? Imagine all the joys of parenthood and family with none of the worries, frustrations, and sacrifice!
This is all pretty speculative, but I think the speculation is well-founded. I can’t imagine exactly how IT will work, but I’m pretty confident that Heaven isn’t a bait-and-switch: all the delights God has created us to enjoy on earth won’t be taken away in Heaven, they’ll be perfected and glorified beyond our wildest dreams.
(For more thoughts: Jenny also ponders sex in Heaven.)
Update: Also see Will There Be Sex in Heaven? Part 2