Heaven: Better Than Sex?

An imaginary conversation:

Jesus, you have to help me out. Are you really telling me that there is something better than sex?

Jesus: Is your imagination really that limited? Your fantasy life is dull and boring. Let me tell you about something far greater than sex.

Luke 20:27-40 are sobering and life-giving verses. They are a breath of fresh air that rescues sex from the hype and melodrama of our culture. So what exactly does this passage teach us about sex and heaven?

The passage teaches us that we, like the Sadducees, misunderstand the nature of heaven.

Jesus challenges both the Sadducees and our understanding of the afterlife by saying something utterly shocking. In fact, this is one passage that ought to convince you of the Divine authorship of Scripture. No human author or mere human being would say something like this. Yet Jesus is not a kill-joy. He wants to introduce you to something that is far more joyful and ecstatic than any marriage or sexual experience. Something to which sex points. In so doing, he redeems sex and marriage by putting them in their proper place. Marriage and sex are temporary blessings that pass away with the old order of things when the new heavens and earth are ushered in.

No other world religion that affirms an afterlife talks like this as far as I know. Islam and Mormonism speak of sex in the afterlife. Modern Judaism is vague at best. Eastern religions like Hinduism and Buddhism speak of heaven as a bodiless impersonal state. The goal in this life is to gain control over one’s desires. Christianity, alone, speaks of a bodily resurrection and yet says that there will be no marriage or sex in heaven. This is not because Christianity has a negative view of the physical world. The Bible affirms the goodness of marriage, sexual union and pleasure within the context of marriage!

Like us, the Sadducees viewed heaven as a bland, indefinite continuation of this life. Jesus, in taking marriage and sex out of the equation, is actually saying that life in heaven is so much more than a bland continuation of this life. However great or horrible marriage or sex may have been for you, heaven takes us into a dimension where one is called to imagine the unimaginable. Only C. S. Lewis could capture this amazing comparison in such a simple way as he does in the following quote,

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 that 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.                                                            C.S. Lewis, Miracles, 166-167

This quote from Lewis points us clearly in the direction of Revelation 21 and 22. Here we are given a glimpse into the nature of heaven and the world we were truly created for.

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.