Complementarity of Men and Women in This Life and the Next

I’ve been on this site on and off for several years and really value the insight and catechetical efforts of many forum members (and thank God for Catholic Answers). In light of this, I’m interested on your take on the question of the complementarity of men and women in this life and the next…

We know that:

  1. We (men and women) each reflect certain, somewhat gender typical, aspects of God’s nature.
  2. The inherent nature of man and woman is complementary. In my opinion this complementarity goes well beyond our anatomical characteristics and extends into the other areas of our beings (your thoughts here would be great)
  3. God revealed that it was not good for Adam to be “alone” that is without Eve, his helper. This is true even though in his “aloneness” Adam was not unaware of, or outside of, an active relationship with God.
  4. Men and women are in most instances called to be “one flesh”, (married) bring fourth children and multiply.

I know very well that spouses cannot replace the place in our hearts that only God can fill. But the question here is what will relationships between man and woman look like in heaven? We know that there will be no marriage in heaven but we will be in community, the communion of Saint’s still men and women. So what about:

A. Our natural desire for complementary (Adam and Eve like) companionship?
B. The purpose of our reproductive anatomical components (again, in the afterlife)?
C. Fidelity in all/any relations (thoughts especially here too please)?

I’m sorry if this strikes any of you as unseemly. That wasn’t my intent at all.

Maybe I should have started with the other big question I want to pose - What about work in heaven? I really want to do work pleasing to the Lord for ever. But, how could be possible for the maker of all things to be pleased by my weak efforts?

Thank you! :slight_smile:

It’ best not to ask too many questions at once. :slight_smile:

I like your question, though.

In heaven we will love everyone equally, but there will certainly be nothing sexual in heaven. Our sexual desire will no longer exist. We shall be like the angels. If we had desire for that it would be unfulfilled desire which cannot be in Heaven.

Pretty sure we keep are ummm gender anatomy however.

God is the fulfillment of all our desire, and there we shall posses him fully.

This desire on earth for a person to form a union with and have children is a mirror of the Trinity. It’s a great thing, but in Heaven God will satisfy everything our heart desires and more.

I think it best not to speculate too much about what Heaven will be like. We simply cannot comprehend it with our limited human knowledge.

PaulfromIowa beat me to it. There is no way I would speculate concerning the afterlife. It will undoubtedly remain a mystery until we get there!

Mother Angelica gave a truly excellent presentation of what Heaven will be like in a video series on Heaven that is available on DVD.

There are a number of verses in Sacred Scripture that touch upon Heaven but it is true to a large degree…

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him”—

Once we have our pneumatikon soma, we will be embodied for ever. Human bodies.

And human bodyhood is inseparable from gender.

So we will be male and female. That’s established.

Marriage and the sexual dynamic will be absent simply because procreation is for natural life only. So behavior associated with this, such as sexual attraction, flirting, etc, will also go away. But the softness of the female voice, the bluff power of the male bodybuild, and the various nuances of both minds, will remain.

As to work: we will have hands, so we will get to use them; but beyond that, I cannot even guess what work in the next life would entail.


[quote=God is the fulfillment of all our desire, and there we shall posses him fully.

Thank you,

I often consider the beauty of our hope which abides in these truths. The “possess Him fully” part is awesome enough for me to meditate upon for the rest of my life, without being able to grasp it.

On speculation about heaven, I think the questions originally raised speak, not only about the ultimate end of the saints, but also about our nature… We are both physical and spiritual beings, and our bodies are in union with our souls, were created (as scripture tells us), “very good”. We will be unlike the angels in that we will have our physical bodies in heaven (and glorified bodies at that - thanks be to God!)

What aspects of our nature do not transcend from one life to the next - if any do not (and why)? Is it just our fallen/weak state that leads to all desire for marital union? i.e. Did God use the fall and accompanying sexual desire to bring about a great good (the creation of billions of souls).

If there is no eros beyond this life does that mean that all men (save Christ of course) are brought into the world through an act of sin - or at least by a desire which is the direct inherent effect of the fall? Does the Church teach that Eros is intrinsically evil/disordered? That doesn’t seem to agree with what Benedict XVI, JPII or Paul VI said, to my understanding. It may be that eros is not intrinsically wrong in this life (in the context of sacramental marriage) but is impossible/disordered in the resurrection. But that seems to reflect a paradoxical changing truth to an unchanging creator. What do you think? I have been wrong before… :slight_smile:

Jamal - TY. I’m going to look for the series. Many people are interested in the “final things” for various reasons. Many saints have spoken about revealed truths. Even eschatological ones.

GEddie - My feelings are in 100% agreement with yours. Just trying to test my feelings with reason.

a) according to the Church Fathers sexuality came after the Fall so not really.
b) the parts exist, the purpose does not
c) friendship persists, marriage does not

Hi Joie de Vivre, and thanks for your reply. It wasn’t my understanding that God’s first command “be fruitful and multiply” came after the fall. The article I referenced noted:

“In the Genesis account, on the other hand, eros is part of the original blessing of creation. Finding no suitable partner among the beasts, Adam’s yearning for union is completed only with the creation of Eve: “At last this is flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone” (Gen. 2:23). The fulfillment of erotic desire and the blessing “be fruitful and multiply” occur before the fall (Gen. 1:28). It is part of the divine plan from the beginning that Adam and Eve love one another erotically. After the fall, this erotic relationship is tarnished. Adam blames Eve and implicitly also blames God, “The woman you [God] put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree” (Gen. 3:12).”

b) I assume this is true and we will have parts of our bodies which will for eternity exist to remain functional, “good” and nevertheless, completely unused. Jesus did eat after the resurrection. An even more poignent statement to me was that He said that he would not drink of the fruit of the vine again - until after the resurrection (it suggests to me that He would after the resurrection, and that the gospel writer saw no need for qualification or limitation of this bodily act of drinking - that it was “normal” and to be expected). I assume as a general rule, in the resurrection, we will remain in the habit of using our physical bodies for normal functions if Christ did after His resurrection. The body was made before the fall to operate in a particular manner and I wouldn’t expect that to change all too much. Once again, I could be wrong :slight_smile:

c) Scripture is clear that we wont be given in marriage as on earth. Love will abide.

You are most welcome!

Here is the series if you are interested. I thought it was very well done.±+DVD.axd

Very kind of you to look for the series and post the link! More thanks to you!

There are so many good people on here… It’s no wonder that I’m drawn back. :slight_smile:


[quote=An Exposition of the Orthodox Faith (Book IV) by St. John of Damascus]Chapter 24. Concerning Virginity.

Carnal men abuse virginity , and the pleasure-loving bring forward the following verse in proof, Cursed be every one that raises not up seed in Israel. But we, made confident by God the Word that was made flesh of the Virgin, answer that virginity was implanted in man’s nature from above and in the beginning. For man was formed of virgin soil. From Adam alone was Eve created. In Paradise virginity held sway. Indeed, Divine Scripture tells that both Adam and Eve were naked and were not ashamed. Genesis 2:23 But after their transgression they knew that they were naked, and in their shame they sewed aprons for themselves. And when, after the transgression, Adam heard, dust you are and unto dust shall you return , when death entered into the world by reason of the transgression, then Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bare seed. Genesis 4:1 So that to prevent the wearing out and destruction of the race by death, marriage was devised that the race of men may be preserved through the procreation of children.

St. John Chrysostom, says similar stuff in On Virginity: Against Remarriage via an academic library. There is also writing by St. Maximus the Confessor and St. Gregory of Nyssa about the postlapsarian origin of sexuality, however I’m just not in the mood to dig for it.

It should be noted that I am a fairly medieval person theologically and thus do not partake in the heretical belief that marriage is preferable to celibacy which was anathematized during the Council of Trent.

If marriage is so good why does Paul advocate Celibacy? Why did Thomas Aquinas?

Thank you for your reply and the good food for thought!

I think that St Paul is speaking to those called to religious life. St Paul says in 1 Cor. that everyone should live as the Lord assigns, he does not say everyone should be celibate. Our Lord also says that anyone who can accept celibacy for the sake of the kingdom should (I think there is an implication at least that many cannot). We need to remember that God’s first command was “be fruitful and multiply”. I think God has a different vocation for each of us.

Do you think that Blessed Louis and Zelie Martin missed their respective vocations as celibates and somehow turned away from a higher calling? I think they lived their common vocation in love of our Lord (marriage is often not an east road) - and I further believe that we should strive to imitate the virtues they displayed - as the Church does.

If procreation (in sacramental marriage) is so bad, why would God advocate it?

This point form your quote of St John is very thought provoking on the original subject.
“in paradise virginity held sway”

Of course, my mandate is to challenge people to think.

He says that not everyone is strong enough to celibate and for those who cannot, there is marriage.

Being married can be sanctifying. Think about the percent of people who get married, now think about the percent of saints that were married, now about Doctors of the Church, notice some numbers?

I never said procreation was bad, nor did I ever insinuate that sex was inherently sinful.

Indeed it is.

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