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
I forgot that we’ll have new bodies. Good point that we could touch Jesus’ new body, it even had scars on it. I’d never thought to compare his new body with what ours might be.
It’s fascinating to ponder all the implications of Jesus’ resurrected body. Before he came to earth he didn’t have a body at all, but he never returned to that previous state. He’s in Heaven now, with a body.
I really enjoyed this post. There is a quote by C.S. Lewis in Miracles on the subject, sorry it’s pretty long, but I think supports your theory:
‘The letter and spirit of scripture, and of all Christianity, forbid us to suppose that life in the New Creation will be a sexual life; and this reduces our imagination to the withering alternatives either of bodies which are hardly recognisable as human bodies at all or else of a perpetual fast. As regards the fast, 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 absence of chocolates as the chief characteristic of sexuality. In vain would you tell him that the reason why lovers in their carnal 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 which 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. Hence where fullness awaits us we anticipate fasting. In denying that sexual life, as we now understand it, makes any part of the final beatitude, it is not of course necessary to suppose that the distinction of sexes will disappear. What is no longer needed for biological purposes may be expected to survive for splendour. Sexuality is the instrument both of virginity and of conjugal virtue; neither men nor women will be asked to throw away the weapon they have used victoriously. It is the beaten and the fugitives who throw away their swords. The conquerors sheathe theirs and retain them.”
Wow, great quote! As always, CSL pairs incredible insight with elegant prose.
I believe that our life in eternity will be the fulfillment and perfection of every aspect of our life on earth. God created us with all the hopes, dreams, and desires that he intends us to have. They are tainted by sin at the present moment, but in Heaven they will be fulfilled and perfected, not eliminated.
I agree with you 100%. Otherwise, what’s our purpose here on earth?
“Til death do us part” is not found in the bible, therefore, we shouldn’t assume that a man-made phrase is wholly accepted by God. Scriptures also state that “what is bound on earth is bound in heaven”.
Our life on earth, as I believe, is a preparation for our afterlife. We’re not here for no reason. The lessons we learn here will carry over to the next life. I have to believe that includes all the love I have for my wife, kids, grands, parents, relatives, friends, and all humanity.
There are three forms of love as written in the ancient languages. All three were used in the Bible. Eros, or the love between a man and woman, is spoken at length in the Song of Solomon. Paul wrote in length about how to love our wives and husbands. Why would God include a “Kama Sutra” of sorts in the Bible if it’s not an important part of our very existence? If it’s such a huge part of our earthly existence, why wouldn’t it be a huge part in the life to come?
Well, Jesus is pretty clear in Matthew 22 that there won’t be marriage in Heaven, which is why the vows we take on earth often include “till death do us part”. Also, of course, once one spouse dies the couple is parted, and the living spouse is free to marry again, etc.
Luke also addresses the lesson from Matthew but gives a different perspective. Jesus was talking to Gentiles and non-believers. Or those in Civil marriages. The account in Luke 20: 27-38 sheds a little more light, specifically in verse 34 where He talks about marriage in context to “children of the world” or NON CHURCH marriages. Going back into the Old Testament, the Jews marriages never included any kind of “Death Divorce” (as I like to call them). In fact, the first mention I can find of a “death divorce” came about in the 1500s.
There are all kinds of references in the New Testament about marriage and Christ. Jesus himself refers to the Church as his “bride”. Revelation 19:9 is probably the best scripture: “Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb”. KJV.
Jews, and remember, Jesus is Jewish, have no death sentence built into their marriages. They marry for eternity, as do Mormons.
For me, it’s common sense that our time here on earth is a learning period and we’ll simply add to our knowledge and wisdom throughout eternity. I’m looking forward to eternity with my Heather, my kids, grandkids, and all those who have come before me. :)
Just my flea bitten opinion but I think it’s based on some sound common sense that you also espouse (see what I did there) in your final paragraph above. In fact, your last paragraph makes you sound Mormonish. :) That’s exactly how the Mormons believe he afterlife to be.
It just so happens that SC and I are reading through Luke in our family Bible study right now, and our current section is Luke 17-20! Thanks for your comment, though I disagree with some of it.
In NIV the transliteration in verse 34 is “the people of this age”, implying people alive at the time, not any particular worldliness. ESV says “the sons of this age”. Amplified says “the people of this world and present age”. I’m not an expert on the language, but I trust the translators/interpreters of NIV and AMP to have brought over the meaning of the idiom accurately: Jesus isn’t drawing a distinction between believers and non-believers. I also think this makes the most sense considering that there was no “church” at the time he was speaking.
Also, you’re wrong about Jewish marriage law — Jewish marriages have always ended at death. If you are interested you can learn more by reading about ketubah and mi-un.
And … I didn’t want to turn this into a Bible thumper so I’ll let it go at that. I’d rather talk about the joys of sex in this life, the afterlife, and all other possible lives we may live in. :) Enjoy your day.
Haha for sure :) Thanks for your comment.
Actually if pure love flourishes in heaven actually left room for a sexual life there.
It’s interesting to note that the most prominent of this view was the chaplain to Queen Victoria, Charles Kingsley.
For him, heaven was everlasting conjugal union; “those thrilling writhings” he wrote before he married “are but dim shadows of a union which shall be perfect.” Even in his published letters, carefully edited by his wife Fanny, Kingsley did not shirk from asserting that sexual love continued. Kingsley wife, Fanny said, “…if she (Eve) shrank not, why should I? If Holy Eden was the scene of marriage and marriage love, why should I fear to leap into your arms to realize one of Eden’s blessing or taste an enjoyment which must be pure if it was tasted there?”
For Kingsley, to limit marriage to reproduction thus confining it to earthly existence was “an old Jewish error” His own marriage was so intrinsic to his being that, “if inmortality is to include in my case identity of person, I shall feel to hear (Fanny) for ever what I feel now” Kingsley rejected any notion that sexual passion should be limited to the male. The mutual sexual enjoyment of husband and wife, far from being merely an unfortunate result of original sin, would survive in heaven. “There” Kingsley insisted, “we shall be in each other’s arms forever” Faced with the scriptural denial marying in heaven, he said it is marrying that shall end but not marriage. “All I can say is if I do not love my wife, body and soul, as well there as I do here then there is neither resurrection of my body or of soul, but of some other, and I shall not be I.”
Queen Victoria was buried in her bridal veil in preparation to meet her husband.
Some people do see the fun in funeral: the funeral of sexual passion.
Jesus was referring only to levirate marriage in his answer to the sadducees, not the union of a man and woman in an intimate sexual relationship. The Greek words used for marrying and being given in marriage, gamousin and gamizontai, refer to the legal institution of marriage. This was not needed with the first couple, Adam and Eve, so says nothing about the actual married state. He created marriage and sexual passion for spouses and being alone was the one thing God said during the creation account that is not good. It makes no sense to believe God would change his mind about the ideal state for males and females if he is the same forever. If simply being more aware of God’s presence and love makes marriage unnecessary, than God would have had no reason to create gender and sex to fulfil a different kind of intimate desire to begin with, because God and Adam had exactly that kind of relationship we’ll have with him in the renewed creation, before Eve was made. At the beginning God said for us to be fruitful and multiply, giving no indication it was to ever stop. If simply being part of God’s image is all the justification needed to have gender, then sperm, egg cells, breasts and wombs will be unused, and God doesn’t make things for no use. The female figure is designed the way it is to fit babies during birth. keeping a libido is justified.
If people interpret Jesus answer to the sadducees as claiming no one will be married anymore, then we can’t be married to Jesus after the last resurrection either. The description is given of God as a husband to his people in parts of the old testament, like Hosea, Jeremiah and Ezekiel. That wasn’t meant to sever marriages of male and female couples anymore than being described as Jesus bride is in Revelation. Marriage of male and female couples and sexual passion is the most joyful and pleasurable of God’s creation, yet so many Christians have claimed that that’s the only thing he will not restore, but we get to keep food which is bland by comparison. The ideal of eternal paradise for Christians who are prudes is hell to most other people, including other Christians. Just because some people manage to not care if they can continue having a sinless sexually intimate relationship with someone for eternity, doesn’t make it fair to teach that those who do much prefer to keep feelings of sexual attraction and being in love with someone, what many people love most about our existence, should somehow not care.
https://genderlovesexuality.wordpress.com/2021/10/22/my-thoughts-about-sexuality-and-marriage-in-heaven/ is very articulate.
I believe that heaven will be romantic in a positive way. How romantic!
I believe that girls will plant cheek kisses on guys, and maybe there will be smooches and pecks on the mouth.
I doubt there will be French kissing. Some couples, including many Christian ones, don’t even bother with open-mouth tongue kissing, even if married.
I wonder why people talk about sex in heaven and not the threefold/trifold holding hands, hugging, and kissing.