Will There Be Sex in Heaven? Part 2 1

We first wrote about the possibility of sex in Heaven in 2015 and built an argument primarily from the Bible, and today we’re revisiting the topic by looking at the works of a few brilliant thinkers and artists.

As we noted previously, one of the key verses relating to sex in Heaven is Matthew 22:23-33. Here, some Jewish leaders who don’t believe in an afterlife (the Sadducees) attempted to trip up Jesus 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.

Go to our previous post to learn more about what the Bible reveals on the topic of sex in Heaven (spoiler: some interesting clues, but not much definitive).

For today, let’s begin with this passage from the 20th-century’s preeminent literary critic Northrop Frye, who writes about these Matthew verses in his book “Words with Power”:

[w]hile many would feel that the inference was obvious that angels are asexual — “barren angels,” as Donne would call them — the inference is not inevitable.

Northrop Frye, “Words with Power”, Chapter 6

Just because angels are not “given in marriage” does not mean they are asexual.

In “Paradise Lost” John Milton gives us two striking perspectives on angelic sexuality. First, in Book V we read about Eve preparing a meal and serving it to Adam and the visiting angel Raphael.

… Mean while at table
Eve Ministered naked, and their flowing cups
With pleasant liquours crowned: O innocence
Deserving Paradise! if ever, then,
Then had the sons of God excuse to have been
Enamoured at that sight; but in those hearts
Love unlibidinous reigned, nor jealousy
Was understood, the injured lover’s hell.

John Milton, “Paradise Lost”, Book V

Milton writes that the angel Raphael, and indeed all sons of God, were attracted to Eve’s (pre-fall) innocent, naked beauty and service — though without lust or jealousy. (See “The Peak of Eve’s Sexuality in Paradise Lost” for more discussion of this passage.)

Second, in Book VIII Adam and Raphael hold a long discourse on love and sexuality; near the end, Adam asks Raphael directly how angels express their love for one another. This quote begins with Adam, and then Raphael responds.

To love, thou blamest me not; for Love, thou sayest,
Leads up to Heaven, is both the way and guide;
Bear with me then, if lawful what I ask:
Love not the heavenly Spirits, and how their love
Express they? by looks only? or do they mix
Irradiance, virtual or immediate touch?

To whom the Angel, with a smile that glowed
Celestial rosy red, Love’s proper hue,
Answered. Let it suffice thee that thou knowest
Us happy, and without love no happiness.
Whatever pure thou in the body enjoyest,
(And pure thou wert created) we enjoy
In eminence; and obstacle find none
Of membrane, joint, or limb, exclusive bars;
Easier than air with air, if Spirits embrace,
Total they mix, union of pure with pure
Desiring, nor restrained conveyance need,
As flesh to mix with flesh, or soul with soul.

Raphael blushes and says whatever pure thou in the body enjoyest, we enjoy in eminence — and goes on to explain that, even better, angelic embrace is unhindered by the obstacles of flesh and bone.

Influenced perhaps by Milton’s vision, William Blake writes about Heavenly sex in “Jerusalem. The Emanation of the Giant Albion/Plate 69”.

Will There Be Sex in Heaven? Part 2 2
Click to enlarge. William Blake, “Jerusalem. The Emanation of the Giant Albion/Plate 69.”

Embraces are comminglings from the Head even to the Feet,
And not a pompous High Priest entering by a Secret Place.

William Blake, “Jerusalem. The Emanation of the Giant Albion/Plate 69.”

Like Milton’s Raphael, Blake writes that Heavenly embraces are total meldings of separate individuals into a single blended whole — taking one flesh to the next level, because in Heaven even souls and spirits can be united without bodies getting in the way.

That second line of Blake contains some brilliant imagery, comparing the annual entrance of the Hebrew high priest into the Temple’s veiled Holy of Holies with the limited nature of earthly sexual union. God’s glorious presence was in the Holy of Holies, and the high priest alone was commanded/permitted to enter it once per year to commune with God and make atonement for the sins of the people. Jesus Christ, as our great high priest, has eliminated the veil and invited us all into direct communion with God.

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. […] Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Hebrews 4:14, 16

Blake’s metaphor is this: in the same way that our communion with God will be perfected in Heaven, our sexual unions will be perfected in Heaven; Heavenly embraces will be far superior to a penis (“pompous high priest”) entering a vagina (“secret place”).

Finally, consider this passage from C.S. Lewis in his book “Miracles”.

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.”

C. S. Lewis, “Miracles”

Lewis obviously rejects the notion of “sexuality” in Heaven, but then proposes the presence of a superior intimacy to displace it, presumably called by another name. But what’s in a name? Call the perfect Heavenly embrace whatever you like, “sex” or something else — either way, I see no reason to think that Heaven will be lacking for intimacy.

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Sex Q&A: Christian Wife Swapping, Swinging 3

We’ve gotten enough emails on the topic that it’s worth addressing: is it ok for Christians to engage in swinging or wife swapping? (None of the emails we’ve received are suitable for quotation.) I suppose we get these emails because it’s obvious from our blog that Sexy Corte and I are pro-sex and enjoy some kinky stuff that isn’t discussed at church. I’m not sure if the folks who email us are genuinely wondering what the Bible has to say on swinging or if they’re looking for someone to help rationalize existing behavior, but I’m going to give a sincere answer.

Swinging or wife swapping is a sin called adultery, and is never acceptable to God. It doesn’t matter if you, your spouse, and the other couple all consent — God doesn’t consent. The Seventh Commandment is short and to the point:

Exodus 20:14, “You shall not commit adultery.”

Jesus raises the bar set in the Old Testament:

Matthew 5:27-28, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

A person might claim, “It’s not adultery if my spouse knows about it and approves.” However, the definition of adultery makes no such distinction, and never has throughout human history.

voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and someone other than his or her lawful spouse.

The bottom line here is similar to an earlier Q&A on threesomes:

God’s will is that sex should be reserved exclusively for a husband and a wife. So, while there aren’t many limits on what you and your wife can do together, you can’t bring someone else into your sexual relationship. Neither spouse can give the other spouse permission to commit adultery — adultery isn’t just a sin against your spouse, it’s a sin against God. Permission from your spouse doesn’t make adultery acceptable to God. It is never acceptable to have sex outside of your marriage. See also: Proverbs 5, “be intoxicated always in her love”Hebrews 13:4, and Proverbs 7.

If your marriage is happy, swinging won’t strengthen it; if your marriage is unhappy, wife swapping won’t fix any of the underlying problems. We strongly exhort every married couple to keep their sex life exclusive to themselves. This is what God commands through the Bible, and worldly experience says the same thing.

See also: Are There Any Sexual Limits or Boundaries in a Christian Marriage?

Please use the contact pages for Sexy Corte and El Fury to send us your questions. We will only share your question if you give us permission, and we’ll never reveal your name or any other identifying information. You can ask questions anonymously, or use a free anonymous email server like Mailinator.

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When All Else Fails, Try Tears 4

Two Salvation Army officers wrote to the organization’s founder, evangelist William Booth, expressing frustration and discouragement with the ongoing failure of their ministry and requesting his permission to shut it down. General Booth replied with a two-word telegram: “Try tears.”

Sexy Corte and I receive a lot of emails from people who are frustrated and discouraged in their marriages, and especially with their sex lives. We try to offer practical, Biblical advice — some sexual, some relational, and some spiritual. In many cases, we’ll go back and forth with someone who has “already tried everything” we suggest, with no positive result, and it’s in these situations that I’m reminded of Booth’s advice: “Try tears.”

Not tears of self-pity, frustration, or anger — those are all-too-easy to come by when your marriage is hurting. Those tears are generally selfish: I’m not getting what I deserve.

We often think that God wants us to be happy, but he doesn’t — he wants us to be holy. The process of becoming holy is difficult and often painful. Consider James 4:1-10:

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

Godly tears are the result of humility before a holy God. Instead of focusing on how your marriage and spouse are failing you, humble yourself before God. Weep and mourn for your own sin. God’s will is for you to become holy, and for your marriage to become holy. That includes a marriage with humility, joy, gratitude, and yes, awesome sex. But those things are the result of holiness. Jesus says in Matthew 6:33:

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Get on your knees and beg God for your marriage. Turn your laughter into gloom. Fast, pray, and meditate on God’s Word. Let your heart be broken for God’s will. Learn to see yourself, your spouse, and your marriage the way God sees them: infinitely precious, and in the process of being perfected through fire. Let God bring you to tears like Jesus’ in the Garden of Gethsemane as he faced his crucifixion. Luke 22:39-46:

And [Jesus] came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. And when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow,  and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.”

Try tears.

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