An article recently surfaced around social media essentially claiming that they have 10 good reasons why Christian Heaven could quite possibly be a hellish experience. I first want to address the fact that both Alternet and Salon.com are known for click-bait articles attempting to drive insane amounts of traffic via outraged readers who will then share their article to garner more support from other outraged suckers. All of that aside, there will be people who will read the article and glean information from it that is just not true. In fact, I would go so far as to say the information is biased and uneducated.
I will dissect the article by each statement I find is significant enough to warrant a response.
“Most Westerners are at least vaguely familiar with the popular Christian version of Heaven: pearly gates, streets of gold, winged angels and the Righteous, with their bodies made perfect and immortal, singing the praises of God forever. What’s surprising is how few people have actually thought about what a nightmare this kind of existence would be.”
-Instantly the author has imputed her bias into the article which gives the reader the assurance that this article is going to “prove” to you that she is right.
To many people the biblical description alone is enough to make Heaven sound unappealing, especially if you add in the company of noxious public figures like Pat Robertson, Mel Gibson, Sarah Palin, Ken Ham, or Anita Bryant. (Why does God have such a bad marketing department?) But the problem isn’t just bad company. The closer you look, the more the Bible’s version of paradise seems like another version of eternal torture. Let me spell it out.
-The authors stance has been made clear that if you go to Heaven you will be stuck with “these” people. Naming off many names of individuals most secular individuals consider toxic. “Why would you want to go to a place where these people will be?” is essentially the question. We go into this article already saying – “Well, I don’t want to be around those people.”
1. Perfection means sameness. Much of what makes life worth living is the process of learning and discovery, growth and change. We delight in novelty and laugh when we are startled by the unexpected. Curiosity is one of our greatest pleasures, and growth is one of our deepest values and satisfactions. In fact, our whole psychological makeup is designed for tuning in to change, including our senses. When a sound is continuous, we mostly stop hearing it; a static image on the eye registers as a blind spot. Even art relies on imperfection and newness to create beauty or to trigger our aesthetic sense.
By contrast, timeless perfection is static, as Christians are reminded in the traditional hymn, “Immortal, Invisible God Only Wise”: We blossom and flourish as leaves on the tree/And wither and perish but naught changeth Thee. In the book of Matthew, Jesus commands, “Be ye perfect as your Father in Heaven is perfect,” and in Heaven, supposedly, this ideal is finally attained. The problem is, perfect means finished and complete. It means there’s no room for improvement—for change and growth. Perfection is sterile, in every sense of the word.
-There is an absolute appeal in the idea of growing and maturing into perfection. For the secular mind, this is one of life’s goals: to reach a point of perfection through hard work and determination. What the author doesn’t consider is that the desire to grow and improve comes directly from God. The longing feeling that something isn’t right in our world and our pursuit to find the fulfilling “thing” comes directly from God. We groan, as does nature, for His presence. I heard it once said that “there is a God shaped hole in us, that only He can fill“, and I believe that. When we are finally in the presence of our creator, that longing will be gone. Much of the joy we find in the secular world is in our fruitless pursuits to find that thing that satisfies us.
2. Your best qualities are irrelevant. If everything is perfect, then many of the qualities we most value in ourselves and each other become irrelevant. Compassion and generosity are pointless, because nobody is hurting or in need of anything. Forgiveness? Not needed. Creativity? Courage? Resilience? Decisiveness? Vision? All useless. Sigmund Freud once said that mental health is the ability to love and to work, but in the state of perfection both lose their meaning. There is no need to create or produce, and little value in offering our affection and commitment to another person who is 100 percent perfect and complete without us.
-Our pride is what makes us place value in the works that we as humans do. It causes us to feel satisfied when we have achieved a level higher than those around us. When we do reach Heaven, the desire for striving for “better” will have left us; we won’t be left wanting anymore. There will be no need to “prove” ourselves or outdo our colleagues, we will all be on equal standing. Think of the non-existence of stress and approval that we so crave in today’s society.
3. Gone is the thrill of risk. In addition to loving and creating, some of life’s most exhilarating experiences require risk: flying down a ski slope almost out of control, jumping out of airplanes, racing cars, surfing, performing. The adrenaline rush—the high—and the euphoria afterwards surge only because, despite our skill and preparation, there was some chance we would fail.
-All completely and psychologically euphoric stimulants. We crave those thrills like some addicts crave drugs. When we meet our Lord and Savior in eternity I can only imagine that intensity of full euphoria of being in the presence of God. Have you even been in a place of worship with the Lord where you felt like you could just live in forever? Well, guess what eternity in Heaven would look like?
4. Forget physical pleasures like food, drink, sleep, and sex. Does the risen Jesus with his new and perfect body have a penis? Do angels? Eating, drinking, or fornicating—each of these physical pleasures depends on hunger of one sort or another. Ice water tastes most heavenly when you are hot and thirsty. Falling asleep is most delicious when you simply can’t stand to be vertical any longer. The reality is that our bodies and brains are made for each other and optimized for life on this planet where our pleasures are linked to survival.
To make matters more complicated, we are predators in a complex web of life. The eating that gives us so much sensory pleasure and sustenance simultaneously destroys other lives and creates waste. Christians disagree about whether there will be meals in Heaven. Some point to “feasting” in the book of Revelation and reassure foodies that eating and drinking will be part of paradise. But none dare speculate on the perfect slaughterhouse and sewer.
-Our body craves food because we are hungry, we sleep because we are tired, and we enjoy sex because God designed it to be shared between a husband and wife and that pleasure is a tool that He uses to assist in the process of us becoming one flesh. Sex is enjoyable because if it wasn’t it would be awkward and gross. It was never intended to be experienced across a plethora of partners. We crave these things because they satisfy a desire, and God has given us so many great experiences and talents to make food, drink, and sex amazing. When we no longer crave, we no longer need to be hungry, or thirsty, or tired – how much more potential will there be for enjoying an eternity without carnal needs?
Founder and writer for Geeks Under Grace.
Christian, Husband, Father, Sailor and Geek!
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