A co-worker raised a thorny issue today. Assume that there is actually a heaven and that if you are good, you get to go there after you die. Assume, further, that your spouse dies first, and you thus get to be re-united with your spouse in heaven. Now that would be one hell of a joyous reunion, right? You both actually died and now you find each other up there! But not so fast . . .
What happens to widows and widowers who have remarried? If all of the relevant parties were good, we’re going to have this uncomfortable situation: Joe goes to heaven and he sees his first wife Edna asking him to join her on the cloud on the left, while Betty, his second wife, is asking him to join her on the cloud on the right. What should he do? I thought that the whole reason that you could re-married is because your first spouse was dead. But that tidy earthly situation would unravel in heaven.
It could get really complicated in heaven if there were sex in heaven, but there apparently isn’t. I once heard a Christian radio-show preacher having an extended conversation with an earnest caller about this exact topic (I wrote about this conversation in 2006–it was one of the first posts at DI). The radio-preacher assured that man that there was no such thing as sex in heaven, but don’t worry, because the joys of heaven would be “better than sex.” The caller was upset. He insisted that he wanted to have sex in heaven–even if there was also something “better than sex.”
If body-less people still have emotions and passions, I would expect considerable turmoil in heaven. Even couples who had been happily married for 50 years might have their patience tested after sitting together on the same cloud for several million years. What if she decides that she wants to go visit some other guy on some other cloud, legitimately claiming: “I know that it’s utterly perfect up here in heaven, but we’ve already discussed everything that we could possibly discuss. I know everything about you; you know everything about me. I’m tired of having that thing that’s better than sex, even though we have it 3 times per week, which is more than most couples in heaven.”
Is there marriage counseling in heaven? A heavenly divorce court? What about popcorn? Just because you don’t have a traditional human body up there, wouldn’t you still crave popcorn? Consider this case of dead Mary, who now lives in heaven:
Mary [speaking to her dead doctor, who works as a physician in heaven): “I crave popcorn”
Mary’s doctor: “You have phantom taste buds syndrome. You just think you crave popcorn. You don’t really crave it, and that’s a good thing, because popcorn would fall right through your ethereal hands. But don’t worry. We have things that are better than popcorn up here.
Assume, too, that the guy who wanted sex in heaven finally dies and makes it to heaven. After a few restless nights, though, he complains to the heaven doctor: “I’m horny.”
Heaven doctor: “No, you only think you are horny. You have phantom penis syndrome.
I’ll end with a quote by George Bernard Shaw:
Heaven: a place so inane, so dull, so useless, so miserable, that nobody has ever ventured to describe a whole day in heaven, though plenty of people have described a day at the seaside.