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.
Dr. Timothy S. Lane is the President of the Institute for Pastoral Care which was started in 2014. He is also a minister in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), having been ordained in 1991. He is a member of Metro-Atlanta Presbytery. Tim is the author of Living Without Worry: How to Replace Anxiety with Peace, co-author of 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. Visit: http://timlane.org