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.

Oral Sex in History, Including Paradise Lost 3

We haven’t posted about oral sex in a while, and it’s one of our readers’ favorite topics! This post is motivated by another sexual verse in Paradise Lost (more posts) that clearly refers to Eve’s enjoyment of Adam’s oral proficiency. In Book VIII we read about Adam’s discourse with the angel Raphael about astronomy, and Eve decides to leave the conversation in order to tend her garden. It’s not that she’s uninterested in astronomy, but she prefers to talk about it later with Adam rather than with the angel. We read:

So spake our sire [Adam], and by his countenance seemed
Entering on studious thoughts abstruse; which Eve
Perceiving, where she sat retired in sight,
With lowliness majestic from her seat,
And grace that won who saw to wish her stay,
Rose, and went forth among her fruits and flowers,
To visit how they prospered, bud and bloom,
Her nursery; they at her coming sprung,
And, touched by her fair tendance, gladlier grew.
Yet went she not, as not with such discourse
Delighted, or not capable her ear
Of what was high: such pleasure she reserved,
Adam relating, she sole auditress;
Her husband the relater she preferred
Before the Angel, and of him to ask
Chose rather; he, she knew, would intermix
Grateful digressions, and solve high dispute
With conjugal caresses: from his lip
Not words alone pleased her.
O! when meet now
Such pairs, in love and mutual honour joined?

Why did Eve prefer to talk alone with Adam? Because he, she knew, would intermix their conversation with conjugal caresses! From his lip not words alone pleased her! Eve wanted Adam to use his mouth to please her with more than mere words.

I found this passage exciting not least because it’s a 17th century Western reference to a male performing oral sex on a female, which appears to be rather rare. If you’re interested in reading about oral sex across space and time you should check out these links (not safe for work; includes ancient artistic representations of oral sex).

Was oral sex an invention of modern western Europe? For instance, did Native American/First Nations people practice oral sex that we know of? And what about East Asians, and other non Europeans? [NSFW] with multiple in-depth, sourced responses pertaining to multiple cultures and time periods.
Latin response by /u/sunagainstgold
South American response by /u/CommodoreCoCo
China by /u/lordtiandao
More China by /u/bigbluepanda

/u/machiavalium

History is full of humans just like us, so we shouldn’t be surprised that they enjoyed sex and did everything we do. John Milton intentionally portrays Adam and Eve’s pre-Fall sexual relationship in a positive, blessed light, and modern Christians should take the same view: God’s will is for you to have an awesome sex life with your spouse!

The Peak of Eve's Sexuality in Paradise Lost 4

According to John Milton, the peak of innocent feminine sexuality is to serve food naked. From Paradise Lost 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.

Milton says that if anything could have tempted the sons of God (angels) into lust it would have been the sight of Eve preparing and serving food naked. Fortunately Raphael’s love was unlibidinous (non-sexual) and Adam had no understanding of jealousy.

This passage amused me and Sexy Corte because this is exactly what she does every year for my birthday! After the kids are asleep upstairs, my wonderful wife cooks me dinner wearing nothing by an apron while I watch and enjoy her beauty. I might help with the preparations a little, but my help is mostly an excuse to touch Sexy Corte’s naked body. In between courses of food she serves me dessert several times. It’s one of my favorite nights of the year!

(Read more about Adam and Eve’s sexuality in Paradise Lost.)

Adam and Eve's Sex in "Paradise Lost" 5

Paradise Lost is an epic poem written by John Milton and published in 1667 that chronicles the temptation and fall of Adam and Eve, largely written from Satan’s point of view. It’s a challenging read, but Sexy Corte and I are enjoying it together in the evenings. Obviously Paradise Lost isn’t scripture and has no authority in your life, but we have found some passages to be beautiful and inspiring.

Book IV describes Adam and Eve saying their evening prayers and then having sex before falling asleep. I will break up the quote with my thoughts, while attempting to disrupt the flow as little as possible.

Their prayer to God begins:

“Thou also madest the Night,
Maker Omnipotent; and thou the Day,
Which we, in our appointed work employed,
Have finished, happy in our mutual help
And mutual love, the crown of all our bliss
Ordained by thee; and this delicious place,
For us too large, where thy abundance wants
Partakers, and unpicked falls to the ground.

Adam and Even have finished tending the Garden of Eden for the day and praise God for this delicious place and the mutual love that is the crown of all our bliss. But Eden is too large and abundant for them alone.

But thou hast promised from us two a race
To fill the Earth, who shall with us extol
Thy goodness infinite, both when we wake,
And when we seek, as now, thy gift of sleep.”

They remind themselves of God’s promise that they won’t be alone forever, that God intends to fill the earth with people who will worship Him day and night.

This said unanimous, and other rites
Observing none, but adoration pure,
Which God likes best, into their inmost bower
Handed they went, and, eased the putting-off
These troublesome disguises which we wear,
Straight side by side were laid; nor turned, I ween,
Adam from his fair spouse, nor Eve the rites
Mysterious of connubial love refused:
Whatever hypocrites austerely talk
Of purity, and place, and innocence,
Defaming as impure what God declares
Pure, and commands to some, leaves free to all.

Adam and Eve were unified in their prayer and performed no bedtime rituals other than to give God their adoration pure, which God likes best.

Then things get a little more interesting!

Getting into bed, Adam and Even put off these troublesome disguises which we wear — not clothes, but perhaps simply the demeanor and mindset required to perform their daily work — a focus on productivity and responsibility. With their prayers complete, perhaps they even set aside their conscious worship of God and turned their attention to each other — continuing to worship God nonetheless.

Adam and Eve lay down straight side by side facing each other. Adam did not turn away from his fair spouse, and Eve did not refuse the rites of mysterious connubial love. This rite certainly stands alongside the rite of adoration pure they just proclaimed for God together: both rites pure and simple, requiring nothing else to magnify them or prop them up.

And then Milton addresses the austere hypocrites who create rules and rituals around connubial love that that are unnecessary and even harmful, just like the rules and rituals the Pharisees created around their relationship with God. Rules about purity, as if marital sex could ever be impure. Rules about place, as if marital sex must be confined to a time, location, or circumstance. Rules about innocence, as if marital sex could ever be shameful, slutty, or dirty. No! God declares pure sex in marriage, and leaves this blessing free to all who desire it.

Our Maker bids increase; who bids abstain
But our destroyer, foe to God and Man?

What’s more, for marital sex Our Maker bids increase — God bids you to have more sex in your marriage, and thereby more bliss. In contrast, abstention from sex in marriage comes from our destroyer and foe.

Hail, wedded Love, mysterious law, true source
Of human offspring, sole propriety
In Paradise of all things common else!

Sole propriety here means that wedded Love is the only “property” (thing you can own) in Paradise, where everything else is held in common. In Paradise everything belongs to everyone, except your marital love. Your marital sex life belongs only to you and your spouse; it is your property.

Continuing on the topic of wedded Love:

By thee adulterous lust was driven from men
Among the bestial herds to range; by thee,
Founded in reason, loyal, just, and pure,
Relations dear, and all the charities
Of father, son, and brother, first were known.

Wedded Love is founded on reason: loyal, just, and pure. (See also: Applying the Fruit of the Spirit to Your Sex Life.) In fact, all relationships and loves that we hold dear were first known through marital love.

Now Milton breaks into the first-person:

Far be it that I should write thee sin or blame,
Or think thee unbefitting holiest place,
Perpetual fountain of domestic sweets,
Whose bed is undefiled and chaste pronounced,
Present, or past, as saints and patriarchs used.

Wedded Love is above and beyond any sin or blame and is fit for the holiest place. Milton wants to make sure that his readers don’t miss an important point: Adam and Eve’s sin in Eden was not about sex or nakedness. Marital love is a perpetual fountain of domestic sweets: never bitter, and never dry.

Here Love his golden shafts employs, here lights
His constant lamp, and waves his purple wings,
Reigns here and revels; not in the bought smile
Of harlots—loveless, joyless, unendeared,
Casual fruition; nor in court amours,
Mixed dance, or wanton mask, or midnight ball,
Or serenade, which the starved lover sings
To his proud fair, best quitted with disdain.

Wedded Love is a golden angel who reigns and revels — a boisterous party! In contrast, the love of harlots and casual fruition (casual dalliances), are loveless and joyless. Wedded Love is no wanton midnight ball, and no starved lover pining for an unrequited love. Wedded Love is above and beyond all these shameful, bestial lusts and should not ever be lumped together with them.

This section of the poem closes with an exhortation for Adam and Eve:

These, lulled by nightingales, embracing slept,
And on their naked limbs the flowery roof
Showered roses, which the morn repaired. Sleep on,
Blest pair! and, O! yet happiest, if ye seek
No happier state, and know to know no more!

Adam and Eve will be happiest if they seek no happiness beyond the bliss of their wedded Love, sleeping naked in each others arms.

(The engraving above is by William Blake.)