Eschatological Intimacy (Sex in Heaven)

Greet one another with a holy kiss.
- Romans 16:16

Greet one another with a holy kiss.
- 1 Corinthians 16:20

Greet one another with a holy kiss.
- 2 Corinthians 13:12

Greet one another with a holy kiss.
- 1 Thessalonians 5:26

Greet one another with a kiss of love.
- 1 Peter 5:14

The holy kiss is one of the most common commands in the New Testament, and it is completely ignored today. It comes up 5 times. It’s an imperative, as in, “Do this!” Apparently the leaders of the early church thought it was pretty important for them to keep harping on it. So what in the world does it mean?

Jesus reframed marriage and children - the standard form of family in his day - as being secondary to the primary family of being God’s children. So when we start to think about heaven, what does it look like for all of us siblings in Christ to connect - especially since there’s no sex in heaven? Well, the apostles give us a clue. There is to be real intimacy there, and one of the ways they taught to start participating in that intimacy was through the holy kiss.

One theologian puts it this way: “The ‘holy kiss’ is not a high five. It’s a sign of eschatological intimacy, it’s a breaking down of the idolatry of marriage that we now have, and a rebuke of the idol of sexuality as well “(Brian Lugioyo). Put in simpler terms, it’s a foretaste of what is to come.

It may not do us no good to imagine what the full intimacy of heaven will look like because ““No eye has seen, no ear has heard and no one’s heart has imagined all the things that God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). But I think we can do a couple of things on our way there.

First, we can anticipate, hope for, and desire true intimacy and human flourishing in the area of sexuality. Perhaps the very longing for it will help create in us a greater willingness to participate in God’s creating of it.

Second, we can start revaluing sexuality hierarchies, treating all human beings as equal regardless of marital status, gender identity, sexual orientation, sexual history, etc. Just as Paul calling slaves and masters equal (Ephesians 6:9) started the long journey of dismantling slavery in ancient Rome, perhaps we can become part of God’s goodness and justice breaking down discrimination in the area of sexuality.

Third, we can stop hiding so much and start moving towards each other in greater intimacy, recognizing that as embodied persons that will mean having to face limitations and some trickiness in our relationships. But by learning to be authentic, vulnerable and courageous, we can step towards the kind of heavenly intimacy that God is calling us all towards.