What Will Heaven Be Like?

Thirty-five frequently asked questions about eternity.
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4. How can I be happy in Heaven if someone I loved deeply on Earth doesn't make it to Heaven?

This brings up all sorts of other questions about emotions, relationships, and suffering in Heaven. These will be dealt with shortly, but the simplest and most important answer to this question for now is this: If there is someone you love and identify with so deeply that you cannot imagine being happy in eternity without him or her, and that someone seems now to be in peril of being unsaved, then use the relationship that God's providence has ordained for you.

Tell God that he has to arrange for this person's salvation as he has arranged for yours, because this person is a real part of you, and for you as a whole to be saved, this person has to come along, just as your own body and emotions have to come along. It need not be a "wheedling" or "blackmail" prayer; it can be a simple presentation of the facts, like Mary's "They have no more wine." Let God do his thing: it is always more loving, more gracious, and more effective than our thing, more than we can ever imagine or desire.

Trust him to use your earthly love as a channel, supernatural and/or natural, of grace and salvation for your friend. Your very question, your very problem, is the clue to its answer. God put that burden on your heart for a reason: for you to fulfill.

5. Can suicides be saved?

Simply, yes. Most people who commit suicide are not in full control of their reason and thus are not fully responsible. Suicide is a dreadful mistake, of course, and a terrible sin. But only unrepented sin locks Heaven's door, and sometimes sins are repented of at the same time they are committed, or immediately afterward. The deeper part of a suicide's soul and will may believe and hope in and love God even while the surface part drives him to despair. Or repentance may come in an instant between the act and its result, death, or even at the moment of death. We do not know. Only God sees and judges hearts, not just acts, and God will use every possible means to save us. Perhaps many of those means are unknown and unsuspected by us. No one dare limit the mercy, the cleverness, or the power of God.

But our very uncertainty should send us running from this horribly dangerous sin in holy terror. Those who commit suicide do not automatically ensure their damnation, but they certainly risk their salvation.

6. Will we have emotions in Heaven?

This question prompts a series of questions of the form: Will we have the following earthly thing in Heaven? I believe the answer to all such questions is this: Yes, but not in the present form. Nothing is simply continued, and nothing is simply lost forever; everything is transformed, as it is at birth.

We can know very little about this transformation, of course, and our answers must be largely disciplined guesswork. But I strongly suspect that we will have emotions in Heaven, for they are part of God's design for our humanity, and not only a result of the Fall. But our emotions will not drive us or control us. They will be no less passionate, but they will be less passive. Thomas Aquinas opines that sexual enjoyment was greater, not less, before the Fall (since sin always harms, never helps, every good thing), and Augustine opines that in Heaven the joy that we receive from God in our souls will "overflow" into our resurrection bodies in a "voluptuous torrent" of pleasure.

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