Heaven and Sex: Future Invading the Present

Followers of the Messiah should live already in the present in the light of what they will turn out to be in the future.    N. T. Wright

How does a view of eternity and heaven shape the particular way we think about and live out our lives as it relates to sex?

Heaven Teaches Us to Take Sex Seriously Now

The Christian view of this present life and the life to come are both substantial and physical. As Christians, we are not Gnostics. Gnosticism is a view of life that says what is most important is the spiritual. Physical existence is bad. The biblical answer to Gnosticism is that the physical world is good, therefore, sex is good. Sex, though, is to be taken seriously. Sex is not a casual game of pick-up basketball. There is playfulness but it is between 2 people who have taken one another seriously to begin with! Heaven and eternity do not diminish sex; it increases its importance and calls us to take it very seriously.

Heaven Teaches Us Not to Take Sex Too Seriously Now

This is the irony of the Good News of the Kingdom of God. While heaven calls us to take sex seriously now, it also calls us to place it in its proper context. Since marriage and sex are signposts, pointing to something greater, we are called to not make either more important than they are. It is a really good thing but that’s all. It is not on a level with God. It is a second thing not a first thing. Romans 1:25 speaks of taking something good in creation and allowing that to replace the Creator. When we do that, we actually diminish the created thing and possibly destroy it and others with it.

Heaven Teaches Us That Our Desires Must be Stronger Than the Strongest Sexual Desire

Jesus and the rest of the Bible teach that heaven will be a place that utterly confounds our imagination. Heaven will make our most vivid fantasies, now, seem like a bad dream. We are to stir up our imaginations by contemplating heaven so that we live in such a way that we are beneficial to others, now. Heavenly mindedness, for the Christian, moves you deeper into reality because now you live for something bigger than yourself. Seeing this present life through the grand vista of heaven enables you to not put so much pressure on the good things in this world so that they can actually be rightfully enjoyed; food, relationships, work, marriage, children and sex. They are gifts but not the Giver of the gifts.

Heaven Teaches Us to Serve Others Now

According to Scripture, the most powerful aphrodisiac in sex and marriage is the selfless love for another person. Sadly, it is the very opposite of how sin has corrupted us. The grace and glory of heaven is beckoning us to live very different lives. How can heaven shape your desires to be centered on another person’s good? How can heaven shape your sexual desires to be trumped by your desire to serve your spouse more than yourself?

Heaven Teaches Us Our Present and Eternal Need for the Lamb

All of this can sound overwhelming; and it is. You nor I can rise to this standard. In fact, we fail to in so many areas of our lives on a daily basis. That is why this last point is so important.

As you read Revelation, Jesus always remains a Lamb. You see images of  a Lion but they are often super-imposed onto a lamb. How is sex dethroned and redeemed in our present lives? Only by the grace of the Gospel that becomes ours through the sacrifice of the Lamb of God who was slain for our sins and self-centeredness. Only God’s grace can create a revolution so great in us that we want to love God and others more than ourselves. Without the pardoning and cleansing grace of Christ, I am on my own, looking to create a “heaven like” existence for myself that has no room for anyone else unless they are serving me.

The gospel gives me the power and freedom to let go of the center; to not grasp for equality with or superiority over God. I am welcomed in based upon no merit of my own but by the sheer gift of the Lamb of God. I can be welcomed into his embrace now and begin to prepare myself for his ultimate embrace in heaven.

 

Copyright © 2014 Timothy S. Lane. All rights reserved.

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Tim Lane

Dr. Timothy S. Lane is the President of the Institute for Pastoral Care and has a counseling practice in Fayetteville, GA. He is a minister in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), having been ordained in 1991 and a member of Metro-Atlanta Presbytery. Tim has authored Living Without Worry: How to Replace Anxiety with Peace, and co-authored How People Change and Relationships: A Mess Worth Making. He has written several mini-books including PTSD, Forgiving Others, Sex Before Marriage, Family Feuds, Conflict, and Freedom From Guilt.

He has experience in both campus ministry (University of Georgia, 1984-1987) and pastoral ministry where he served as a pastor in Clemson, SC from 1991 until 2001. Beginning in 2001 until 2013, he served as a counselor and faculty at CCEF in Philadelphia, PA (Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation). Beginning in 2007, he served as its Executive Director until 2013.

In 2014, Tim and his family re-located to his home state, Georgia, where he formed the non profit ministry the Institute for Pastoral Care. His primary desire and commitment is to help pastors and leaders create or improve their ability to care for the people who attend their churches.  For more information about this aspect of Tim's work, please visit the section of this site for the Institute for Pastoral Care. He continues to write, speak and travel both nationally and internationally. Tim is adjunct professor of practical theology at several seminaries where he teaches about pastoral care in the local church.