Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Is there sex in Heaven? Some, like Billy Graham, say “Yes, maybe.”[1] Others simply play it safe and say, “We’ll see when we get there.” Most, however, say “Emphatically not!” C.S. Lewis said that we are forbidden to even “suppose that life in the New Creation will be a sexual life...".[2] In other words, don’t even think about thinking about it!

Yet contrary to the popular opinion of C.S. Lewis and others, I respectfully disagree with the contention that we should not think about the prospect of having sex in Heaven. After all, sex is an integral part of what it means to be human. Sex is an intensely powerful drive for most people. Oftentimes, it’s immensely pleasurable, profoundly mystical, and deliriously delightful; though sometimes─you’d rather just have a cheeseburger.

The long-range ramifications of adhering to a belief in a sexless eternity can be, and often is, spiritually crippling. I personally know of several people who completely lost their appetite for heavenly things immediately after some well-meaning Christian enlightened them to the cold reality that Heaven was reserved exclusively for celestial monks and nuns. For this reason alone, Christians should prudently reconsider this critically crucial subject carefully and prayerfully. Beyond that, we need to discuss it, and vigorously debate it in a spirit of Christian love and humility.

Since this is not an essential doctrine of the Christian faith, we need to be respectful of the opinions held by the other side. We also need to remain open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, just in case we are wrong. The purpose of debate should not be to simply get into a war of words and see who the best debater is. Rather, our objective in debating should be to clarify our thinking so that ultimately, we’ll be able to discover what the truth really is.

Truth is determined by combining an accurate interpretation of Scripture with a proper use of common sense and reason. Truth is always reasonable. So regardless of what your current position is, I urge you, dear reader, to reserve final judgment until you have carefully and prayerfully considered the arguments on both sides. We all need to form our opinions based upon as much pertinent information as possible.


To avoid confusion, let me clarify exactly what I mean when I use the word "Heaven." The Bible talks about an "Intermediate Heaven," the place where Christians are now living, and "The New Heaven and the New Earth" (Revelation 21:1), a.k.a. “The Eternal Heaven,” which will be instituted on earth at some point after Christ returns. God’s ultimate purpose is to bring Heaven to earth and restore the cosmos. At that time, the entire earth will be like the Garden of Eden. Both the "Intermediate Heaven" and "The New Heaven and the New Earth" can rightly be referred to as Heaven. Depending on one's view of eschatology, some say The New Heaven and the New Earth will be inaugurated immediately when Christ returns, while others, currently the majority, say The New Heaven and the New Earth will be ushered in after a millennial Golden age of one thousand years. Both camps believe that Christians will receive glorified, resurrected bodies at Christ's second coming. Some people believe that Christians now residing in Heaven are disembodied, ghost-like spirits, awaiting their resurrected body at the return of Jesus. Others believe that the present inhabitants of Heaven now living in the intermediate state have some kind of intermediate body. So when I ask the question─ “Is there sex in Heaven?”─I’m mainly referring to The Eternal Heaven. Though I agree with Randy Alcorn that God may grant us physical bodies in The Intermediate Heaven, I’m confident that the Bible teaches we will ultimately have glorified physical bodies after the second coming in the Eternal Heaven. Here is what Alcorn says about the possibility of physical bodies in The Intermediate Heaven:

Given the consistent physical descriptions of the intermediate Heaven and those who dwell there, it seems possible─though this is certainly debatable─that between our earthly life and our bodily resurrection, God may grant us some physical form that will allow us to function as human beings while in that unnatural state "between bodies" awaiting our resurrection.

I agree with Alcorn, who states that resurrected believers will still be male and female endowed with new bodies that will be perfect, yet still physical. This definitely applies to the Eternal Heaven, and it may also apply to the Intermediate Heaven, though, as Alcorn acknowledges, the latter is debatable. I also agree with Alcorn, who states that our new bodies will still have sex organs.
[4] Alcorn and I part company, however, when he states that those sex organs will not be used to engage in sexual intercourse. Alcorn arrives at his conclusion by first stating that, “…Christ made it clear that people in Heaven wouldn’t be married to each other.”[5] In Alcorn’s mind, as is true with the mind-set of most Christians, “no marriage in Heaven” is the equivalent of “no sex in Heaven.” Therefore, though Alcorn and I both agree that we will have sex organs in Heaven, unlike me, Alcorn does not believe they will be used to engage in intercourse. Alcorn reaches his conclusion by stating:

Is that inconsistent, since they [our sex organs after the resurrection] wouldn’t be fulfilling a function for which they were designed? Not necessarily. Jesus was a perfect man, yet he was single and abstained from sex. Unmarried people on Earth have been called to celibacy, but they are still fully human.[6]

Since our sex organs will not be fulfilling a function for which they were designed, i.e. intercourse, Alcorn extrapolates:

If we won’t have sex in Heaven and if in Heaven there’s no frustration of desire, then it appears we won’t desire sex.[7]

If we begin─as Alcorn does─with the premise that the only form of marriage God approves of is monogamous marriage between one husband and one wife, and if we define sexual sin as “any form of sexual expression outside of marriage,” then it is totally logical to conclude that since Jesus did say there was no marriage in the afterlife, there cannot be sexual intercourse in Heaven. And if there is no sexual intercourse, then it is also logical that God would take away our sexual desires. Though I agree with Alcorn’s logic, I disagree with some of his premises. I’ll elaborate on this throughout the book.

Of course, God could annihilate our sexual desires once we die; but why? What’s the point? I fully acknowledge that God could invent some other method of experiencing a similar type of ecstasy. But what would be the purpose in that? If sex is a good gift from God, what would be the purpose of discontinuing sex in Heaven?

One of my objectives in writing this book is to make the strongest case possible for the position that there is sex in Heaven. Hopefully, others will pick up the baton and use my arguments as a springboard for further discussion and debate. I want to make it clear that my opinion is simply that—my opinion. Nevertheless, I’m offering an educated opinion, one based upon a considerable amount of thought and research. Since I am neither infallible nor omniscient, I acknowledge that I might be wrong.

Regardless of what your current stance is, I want you to know that I respect your opinion. If I challenge your thinking, I will have done my job. I hope to present both sides of this issue as accurately and fairly as possible. However, if I didn’t sincerely believe that there are fatal flaws in the arguments made by the other camp, I would not find it necessary to write this critique.

I am not the only Christian on planet earth who believes there will be sex in Heaven. There are many others, though a small minority to be sure, who either believe there might be or there will be sex in the Celestial City. Some of these Christians are pastors whom I have spoken with personally. The most prominent person believing that sex in Heaven is a distinct possibility is Billy Graham. Here’s what he told Larry King:

"People say that the Bible teaches there's no sex in Heaven. If sex is necessary for our happiness and fulfillment, it'll be there." [8]



[1] In a Larry King Live Interview, CNN, December 25, 1998, Billy Graham said, “…everything that you ever wanted for happiness will be there [in Heaven]. People say that the Bible teaches there’s no sex in Heaven. If sex is necessary for our happiness and fulfillment, it’ll be there.”

[2] From chapter 16 of C. S. Lewis's "Miracles: A Preliminary Study."

[3] Alcorn, Randy. Heaven, Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2004, page 57.

[4] Alcorn, Heaven, page 339.

[5] Alcorn, Heaven, page 338a.

[6] Alcorn, Heaven, page 339.

[7] Alcorn, Heaven, page 338.

[8] Larry King Live Interview, CNN, December 25, 1998.