Will There Be Sexual Activity in Heaven?
by Jack Cottrell (Notes) on Saturday, April 10, 2010 at 8:00pm
QUERY: I have a question about whether or not there will be sex in Heaven. I really DO honestly wonder about it. One friend cited C.S. Lewis. What is your opinion on the subject?
ANSWER: I have dealt with this subject briefly in my book, “The Faith Once for All,” in chapter 32, “Heaven” (on pp. 567-68). I understand our final heaven, our eternal abode, to be the new heavens and the new earth of 2 Peter 3:13 and Revelation 21:1, where we will live in our new and eternal bodies (Romans 8:23). Thus there will definitely be a physical or material aspect to our eternal life, which I summarize briefly thus:
Some of the most striking aspects of the physical life and environment of the new earth have to do with what will not be there. One, there will be no darkness, “no night there” (Rev. 21:25; 22:5), “for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb” (Rev 21:23). Thus there is no need for the sun or moon or for lamps (Rev. 21:25; 22:5). That there is no darkness means we will have nothing to fear and nothing to hide.
Two, there will be no danger there, nothing to threaten our peace and safety. This is symbolized in God’s promise that on the new earth, “the wolf and the lamb will graze together, and the lion will eat straw like an ox; and dust will be the serpent’s food. They will do no evil or harm in all My holy mountain” (Isa. 65:25). This is also the reason why “there is no longer any sea” on the new earth (Rev. 21:1); to the ancients the sea was a source of jeopardy and peril.
Third, there will be no physical discomfort in heaven: no hunger, thirst, or excessive heat (Rev. 7:16) and no pain (Rev. 21:4). These are representative of discomforts of all kinds.
Fourth and most significantly, “there will no longer be any death” (Rev. 21:4). In earlier prophecy God suggested that in the new universe death will simply be irrelevant (Isa. 65:20, 22), but in his more complete and final revelation he indicates that it will be removed altogether. The curse of death as Adam’s legacy upon the race (Gen. 2:17; 3:19) will be gone. Those in resurrection bodies “cannot even die anymore” (Luke 20:36).
Stated positively, the greatest physical glory of heaven is the everlasting, never-ending life that will be bestowed upon us. Even now we have the spiritual aspect of that life, but then it will empower our bodies as well (Rom. 6:23; 8:10-11). An environment where life reigns instead of death is marked by the presence of “springs of water of life” (Rev. 7:17; 21:6), “a river of the water of life” (Rev. 22:1, 17), and the tree of life in a variety of forms (Rev. 2:7; 22:2, 14). We will live forever in imperishable, immortal bodies (1 Cor. 15:42, 53-54) that are not subject to pain or discomfort.
What about activities that give us physical pleasure in our present lives, i.e., eating, drinking, and sex? This question is neither irrelevant nor irreverent, for these are normal and good activities in this life. Concerning eating and drinking, in Rev. 19:7-9 heaven is represented as a wedding feast; and Isa. 65:21 says, “They will also plant vineyards and eat their fruit.” The water of life and the tree of life suggest that eating and drinking will still be natural. Revelation 7:16 says there will be no hunger or thirst there. Is this because we will always have all we want to eat and drink, or simply because eating and drinking will no longer be necessary? If the latter is the case, then the tree of life and the water of life are just symbols of “never-ending and totally satisfying refreshment by the Spirit” (John Gilmore “Probing Heaven,” Baker 1989, p. 116). There really is no Biblical basis for ruling out literal eating and drinking, however. (The fact that Jesus ate after his resurrection [Luke 24:43] tells us nothing about our new-earth bodies, since Jesus did not have his glorified resurrection body until his ascension.)
We do have a Biblical reason for thinking there will be no sexual relations in heaven, though. Jesus’ answer to the Sadducees’ question in Matt. 22:23-33 implies that husband-wife relationships of all kinds will be transcended in heaven: “For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven” (v. 30). Since sexual relations are intended for marriage only, this seems to exclude them from our new-earth relationships. This does not mean, however, that our new bodies will necessarily be genderless (see C. S. Lewis, Miracles, Macmillan 1960, pp. 165-166; Gilmore, ch. 13, “Sex in Heaven?”).
Millard Erickson raises the question, “If there is to be no eating nor sex, will there be any pleasure in heaven?” He rightly answers “that the experiences of heaven will far surpass anything experienced here,” as indicated by 1 Cor. 2:9 (NIV), “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” (Christian Theology, Baker 1998, pp. 1239-1240). Gilmore (p. 84) says it well: “Glorified bodies will, doubtless, involve glorious action and enormous enjoyment. It would seem that some form of the pleasures of sight, sound, touch, and (less so) taste will be part of the new earth.”