On Heavenly Sex

The Question: I believe that whether a soul ends up in Heaven or Hell, that is where it will remain through all eternity. Since Hell is a place of punishment, I doubt that any affection-based relationships will be formed there. But what about Heaven? Will families be re-united there? Will those who were husband and wife on earth enjoy a sexual relationship?

The Response: There can be no doubt that God created Adam and Eve and commanded them to "Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth" (Genesis 1:28). Whether that command applies in Heaven is something I will examine farther down the page. First, however, I think that it would be interesting to look at the way one secular apologist understands the issue.

Peter Kreeft is a Catholic apologist, professor of philosophy (at Boston College) and author of several books. He is a philosopher, so it is not unexpected that he would philosophize over matters of his faith. I do wonder, however, how well philosophy, which I consider to be of secular origin, melds with religion, which is supposed to be spiritual in origin. On his web site, I ran across an article entitled Is There Sex in Heaven?. In this article, Kreeft uses four philosophical principles to explain what sex is.

Kreeft says that sex is something you are, not what you do. In other words, he relates sex to gender identification; not to an act. In speaking of a hypothetical book called The Sexual Life of a Nun, Kreeft writes:

, , , it is a perfectly proper title: all nuns have a sexual life. They are women, not men. When a nun prays or acts charitably, she prays or acts, not he. Her celibacy forbids intercourse, but it cannot forbid her to be a woman.

The counterfeit phrase "having sex" (meaning "inter-course") was minted only recently. Of course a nun "has sex" she is female.

Kreeft makes the point that by turning “having sex” into a physical act we have trivialized the meaning of the phrase. He speaks of how in centuries past the modern view of such a phrase would be unknown. However, I rather doubt that in centuries past folks walked around referring to their gender as “having sex”, or that nuns believed they were “having sex” while praying by virtue of the fact that they were female. While the physical act of intercourse may have been known by different terms in different eras (and in different languages), there no doubt have always been colloquial and slang terms for referring to the act of sexual intercourse.

Kreeft’s second principle deals with the way sex is viewed from the perspectives of chauvinism and egalitarianism.

Both philosophies see sameness or superiority as the only options. It is from this assumption (that differences are differences in value) that the chauvinist argues that the sexes are different in nature, therefore they are different in value. And it is from the same assumption that the egalitarian argues that the sexes are not different in value, therefore they are not different in nature.

It denies neither the obvious rational truth that the sexes are equal in value (as the chauvinist does) nor the equally obvious instinctive truth that they are innately different (as the egalitarian does). It revels in both, and in their difference: vive la difference!

Saint Paul's frequently quoted statement that "in Christ. there is neither male nor female" does not mean there is no sex in Heaven. For it refers not just to Heaven but also to earth: we are "in Christ" now.

Obviously men and women are different. We are different by nature. There are standardized differences between the genders in a multitude of ways, including how we see the other gender physically. I do not doubt that philosophers could come up with a hundred different philosophies to hash these matters out, but Kreeft wisely chooses to turn to Scripture with this principle. Too bad he didn’t search all the writings of Paul, for if he had he would have found Paul teaching that women are to be subject to men (1 Timothy 2:9-15). Paul also speaks of widows being cared for (financially) by the church, an instruction not intended for men. Paul also speaks of how women should adorn themselves modestly, of the behavior of young widows (how they gossip and idle themselves, etc.) and how motherhood is a spiritual blessing to women. These are teachings specifically directed toward women, which shows a biblical truth that there is a difference between the genders. Kreeft, along with those of the feminist agenda, would be pretty much forced to render Paul’s instructions as chauvinism. In point of fact, they would be accusing God of chauvinism, since Paul’s words were God-breathed. We humans may philosophize over the intricacies of varying philosophies, but God has spoken—the matter is closed.

Kreeft’s third principle is that sex is spiritual.

That does not mean "vaguely pious, ethereal, and idealistic". "Spiritual" means "a matter of the spirit", or soul, or psyche, not just the body. Sex is between the ears before it's between the legs. We have sexual souls.

The inevitable conclusion from these two premises is that sexuality is innate, natural, and pervasive to the whole person, soul as well as body. The only way to avoid the conclusion is to deny one of the two premises that logically necessitate it-to deny psychosomatic unity or to deny innate somatic sexuality.

Umm, yeah. Sure. The gist of what Kreeft is saying, I think, is that the spirit cannot be limited to the restrictions man would place upon it. Kreeft sums up this portion of the article with:

And whatever positive reality is in the creation must have its model in the Creator. We shall ultimately have to predicate sexuality of God Himself, as we shall see next.

What we see next is Kreeft’s fourth principle -- that sex is cosmic:

Did it ever occur to you that it just might be the other way round, that human sexuality is derived from cosmic sexuality rather than vice versa, that we are a local application of a universal principle? If not, please seriously consider the idea now, for it is one of the oldest and most widely held ideas in our history, and one of the happiest.

It is a happy idea because it puts humanity into a more human universe…We are more like little fish inside bigger fish than like sardines in a can. It is the machine-universe that is our projection, not the human universe.

What exactly is “cosmic sexuality” anyway? The act of procreation is God-given, and perhaps this is what Kreeft means. Bear in mind that mankind possesses a fallen nature and stands in need of a Savior. Therefore, we should not seek to live in a more human universe at all, but should instead seek to walk in the precepts of the living God. Kreeft’s musing of a machine-universe versus a human one is fine for a Philosophy 205 course at Boston College, but remember that this article addresses whether or not there will be sex in heaven. Trying to equate human philosophy with spiritual matters is like mixing oil and water; a wasted effort. I will grant you that Peter Kreeft may be far more intelligent than I am, but where faith in Christ is concerned, God makes those whom He has called equally brilliant in their salvation, insomuch as He imprints upon us that faith in Christ by which we are saved.

Perhaps it is because Kreeft speaks in the lofty verbiage of academia that his position seem so bizarre, but Kreeft goes on to show that his four principles lead to the following conclusions:

Sexuality is "the image of God" according to Scripture (see Genesis 1:27), and for B to be an image of A, A must in some way have all the qualities imaged by B. God therefore is a sexual being. There is therefore sex in Heaven because in Heaven we are close to the source of all sex. As we climb Jacob's ladder the angels look less like neutered, greeting-card cherubs and more like Mars and Venus.

Kreeft must have read John Gray’s book. I disagree with Kreeft that there is sex in heaven. Kreeft can philosophize and opine about what sex used to mean in ages past, the metaphysical aspects of it and so on, but in the end sex is either a gender indicator or a physical action. Kreeft philosophizes that our souls are sexual and gives his argument in favor of such a position. But what of other base aspects of our being, such as love, hate, joy, fear and sin? Yes, God created us in His image, but we possess certain characteristics that are ungodly, and those characteristics are part of our being. By that I could say they are part of our soul, which would make our souls sexual, hateful, prideful, joyful, fearful, sinful and so on. How can we single out one aspect of our human fiber and attach it to our souls and, by virtue of that, go on to say that God is therefore the source of that very thing? That is what Kreeft is doing with sex. Thus we have his argument that God is sexual and there is sex in heaven. Kreeft also says:

Another reason we are more, not less, sexual in Heaven is that all earthly perversions of true sexuality are overcome, especially the master perversion, selfishness.

It is conjecture to say that, because the glorified conditions God will one day give believers will overcome the “master perversion,” we will engage in sex without selfishness. The Bible teaches us that husband and wife are one flesh, and that God ordered mankind to be fruitful and multiply. God gave us sex as a means of procreation. God also allows sex in marriage as a means of mutual love, though the Roman Church has placed restrictions upon what God has ordained so as to limit how that mutual love may be shared. Kreeft’s position might hold a little bit of water were it that we will remain spouses in heaven as we are on earth, but God nowhere teaches such a concept. Kreeft admits to as much:

Even if sex were not spiritual, there would be sex in Heaven because of the resurrection of the body. The body is not a mistake to be unmade or a prison cell to be freed from, but a divine work of art designed to show forth the soul as the soul is to show forth God, in splendor and glory and overflow of generous superfluity.

But is there sexual intercourse in Heaven? If we have bodily sex organs, what do we use them for there?

Not baby-making. Earth is the breeding colony; Heaven is the homeland.

Not marriage. Christ's words to the Sadducees are quite clear about that. It is in regard to marriage that we are "like the angels". (Note that it is not said that we are like the angels in any other ways, such as lacking physical bodies.)

Might there be another function in which baby-making and marriage are swallowed up and transformed, aufgehoben? Everything on earth is analogous to something in Heaven. Heaven neither simply removes nor simply continues earthly things. If we apply this principle to sexual intercourse, we get the conclusion that intercourse on earth is a shadow or symbol of intercourse in Heaven. Could we speculate about what that could be?

Sigh. This whole article is nothing more than speculation, to be frank. Like I said, Peter Kreeft is a man far smarter than I, but he is mingling together man’s wisdom with God’s wisdom; man’s ways with God’s ways. Through human reasoning (i.e. philosophy), he is trying to further an argument that God never hints at in His word. What I have quoted in this post is a small portion of Kreeft’s article. Go to his site and read it for yourself if you wish. I will, however, leave you with one final quote from the article:

It would be special communion with the sexually complementary; something a man can have only with a woman and a woman only with a man. We are made complete by such union: "It is not good that the man should be alone." And God does not simply rip up His design for human fulfillment. The relationship need not be confined to one in Heaven. Monogamy is for earth. On earth, our bodies are private. In Heaven, we share each other's secrets without shame, and voluntarily. In the Communion of Saints, promiscuity of spirit is a virtue.

I don't think that Kreeft is arguing that the redeemed in heaven will run around having random sexual intercourse with one another, like it was Woodstock with streets of gold. However, Kreeft does use the notion of promiscuity to help explain his point of view, voiding a heavenly monogamy. In short, Kreeft is presenting an argument that says there will be some type of sex in heaven that is totally spiritual, not dirty or selfish, and that we will enjoy it with multiple members of the opposite gender. Of course, Kreeft cannot prove such a concept from the Bible. Furthermore, if sex were a fact of heavenly life, why would it not be monogamous? Why is monogamy only for the earthly life? God demands fidelity from us toward Him while we are pilgrims upon this earth, so why would heavenly dwelling reflect something different?

What did our Lord have to say on this subject?

For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels which are in heaven. -- Mark 12:25, KJV

On the fifth and sixth days of Creation God created creatures of the sea, the air and the land, including man and woman, and commanded them to "be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth" (Genesis 1:29). We see in Genesis 2:20 that God created woman because of all the creatures, only man had no companion, no helper. When the seventh day of Creation dawned, there were fish and birds and beasts and bugs, and one man and one woman. The process of being fruitful and multiplying began with the union of Adam and Eve -- the first marital relationship if you will. That this union was to be understood as enduring is made clear in Genesis 2:24, where we are told that man will leave his parents and be joined to his wife and they shall become one flesh.

And so Adam and Eve began being fruitful and multiplying. Today, the earth is populated by some six-and-a-half billion of their progeny. No person or no thing alive today was alive at Creation. This is because all living things eventually die and must be replaced. Angels are eternal and there is no need for a continuing supply of new angels to replace those who die. When man dies, he goes to his eternal home either in Heaven or in Hell. I believe that God creates the soul of man at the moment of conception. The soul has a beginning, but will have no end; neither those suffering in Hell nor those whose glorified bodies are present with God in Heaven.

There will be no need ever for procreation in eternity, so there will be no need for marriage or intimate relations. I see in Kreeft's image of a sexual Heaven the influence of living in a world where casual sex is viewed as recreational and instant gratification of any urge is accepted as normal. I do not believe that either condition will prevail in eternity.

Using Kreeft’s basic premise, I could argue for other things as being found in heaven. A little wine is fine, but drunkenness is selfish and leads to sin (as fornication does). So will there be a perfect intoxication in heaven? Maybe. Perhaps heaven will also have spiritually ideal rock and roll music, though I would prefer vallenatos myself. Maybe heaven will have a comedy club that includes Redd Foxx, cracking wise about heavenly sex and other things that were vulgar upon the earth. Or perhaps this is all nonsense.

The Bible gives us indications of what heaven is like. Read the book of Revelation to see, but the picture presented is one of pure worship of God, and the giving of pure praise and honor to the One Who alone is holy. I thank God for the gift of physical union in marriage, but given the choice between Kreeft’s philosophical heaven and the one spoken of in the Bible I’ll choose the biblical one.

Salvation comes to man only through Jesus Christ.

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