IT’S THE BIBLE QUESTION OF THE WEEK.
It comes from a group of teenage girls in a church confirmation class. And it’s reported by Christina Smith Wise who gets a free book for passing the question along to me. (Note to readers: The deal’s still open. Send me a question. If I use it in my blog, you get a book, too. Did I mention that it’s free? I even pay the postage.)
Here’s the question:
When we die do we become angels?
Yes, we do.
At lease in a sense.
Like angels, we’ll no longer make whoopee at the end of life as we know it.
And yet, we call it heaven.
By whoopee, I mean sex.
None of that in the Great Beyond.
Actually, I’m not 100 percent sure. But I’d be tempted to bet on it, based on something Jesus said:
When God raises people to life, they won’t marry. They will be like the angels in heaven.
Jesus was answering a trick question from a group of Jews who said they didn’t believe in life after death. These Jews were the Sadducees. And the fact that they didn’t believe in a resurrection is why they were “sad you see.”
They asked Jesus a hypothetical. It went something like this:
Let’s say a serial widow works her way through seven husbands. Who’s she married to in heaven?
The Message paraphrases Jesus’ answer this way:
“You don’t know how God works. At the resurrection we’re beyond marriage. As with the angels, all our ecstasies and intimacies then will be with God.”
In the context of marriage and sex, I find that paraphrase a little, I don’t know: awkward, squirmish, or pardon-me-while-I-leave-the-room-to-make-an-important-phone-call (and never come back).
Ecstasies and intimacies with God?
Jeepers, dude, you’re creeping me out. How about we say that another way?
Any other way.
What about saying we live in a physical world and the afterlife is a different dimension, new and improved? We don’t know much about what it’ll be like, but for now we call that dimension “spiritual,” a word we invented so we can talk about something we don’t know what we’re talking about.
One thing the Bible does seem to teach pretty clearly is that in a sense we’re already living in that spiritual dimension, at least partly. That’s because God’s Spirit is with us, in this body that houses our spirit, too. Someday, we’ll be free of this body. We’ll get an upgrade. That’s what the Bible seems to teach.
With that upgrade, perhaps relationships and intimacies will look and feel a lot different than they do here. Better, I would expect. I’d be disappointed otherwise. And I’d say so. As in, “God, can we talk?”
Back to the question about us becoming angels.
I doubt we’ll actually become angels. They seem to be created beings, as the Bible tells it. The Bible also seems to report different kinds of angels. Yet most of those reports show up in extreme visions reported as poetry. So I’m not sure we should take them literally enough to build a corporate infrastructure for heavenly beings that shows which angels go where and where we humans fit in.
What does it matter if we get to heaven and find out we’ve got that angelic glow about us, or that we’re a different class of creature altogether?
Here’s what matters to me:
- “Jesus said…’There are many rooms in my Father’s house….I am going there to prepare a place for you. After I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me so that you may be where I am,'” (John 14:1-3).
- “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them,” (Revelation 21:3).
I just had a funny thought. Well, it’s funny to me.
We’ve got a lot of political leaders stonewalling the immigration problems that most Americans seem to agree we need to tackle. I think it would be a wonderful thing if, when they get to heaven, God greets them by saying:
“Mi casa es su casa.”