We were out at breakfast yesterday morning when two forty-something men sat down at the table next to ours. One of them, a rather big-faced fellow, began talking about the TV show The Walking Dead, which MB and I are hooked on, so I began to eavesdrop in earnest. He told his friend how he “didn’t normally watch shows like that” and how it’s about “moral dilemmas and redemption” and, bam, I just knew: Christians. Christians are the only people I know who need to do a CYA for watching certain TV shows and they’re also the only ones I know who use the word redemption in casual conversation. I don’t say this as a judgment at all. I simply say this because I can recognize the language of my people anywhere any time like a Texan could recognize a fellow Texan in the middle of Zimbabwe. The big-faced one talked a lot — about youth concerts at his church, about singing worship songs in a circle, about using real bread for communion. He was very earnest about the things he thought were very radical. The friend nodded in very earnest agreement about these very radical things.
And it was then I knew: I had to ask the question. I had to do it. I don’t know what compels me, something malevolent I’m sure. I waited for MB to leave to pay the bill so I wouldn’t embarrass him too much. The success of our relationship is dependent upon MB evacuating the immediate area — a lot. The waitress brought their order and as she left, there was a natural lull in conversation. My heart was pounding. I’m such a jerk. That thought never seems to stop me, though, so I turned to them and spoke.
“Hi. I’m sorry to interrupt but I couldn’t help overhearing that you’re both Christians?”
They looked a bit startled but recovered quickly. I could have been a non-Christian who needed answers, you know, so they smiled and nodded, a polite veneer.
“Oh, yes. Yes, we are.”
“Okay. Well, I am too –”
“Oh, great, great,” they interrupted, relieved, I guess, there wouldn’t be any hard questions to answer. They had no idea.
“– and I was wondering if I could ask you a spiritual question that’s kind of ……. strange?”
“Uhh … sure …..”
“Okay. Well ….. ” I took a big breath. “Do you think there will be sex in heaven?”
They both fell back into their chairs, walloped at the very thought. Their eyes were saucers.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the little old lady at the table next to them lift her head from her book, eyes blazing with glee, a huge incredulous smile on her face. From that moment on, she blatantly eavesdropped on the rest of our conversation.
I was nervous, so I kept talking — very fast — as is my wont.
“Well, um, I think about this a lot.” Shut up, Tracey. You sound like a pervert. “I mean, it’s something that really interests me. ” OMG, it’s getting worse. “Well, most Christians don’t seem to really think about that, you know? I mean ….. Jesus never actually mentions this so ……..”
Thank God, the big-faced one spoke and put me out of my misery.
“Well ….. hm …… wow. Well, I guess I think there won’t be a need for it because of the presence of God.”
“Okay. That’s interesting. So do you think, then, that heaven is more of a utilitarian place that consists of only things we need?”
“I’ve never thought of it like that.”
“I mean, does God just pare down life to the bare essentials then, like a Motel 6, or does he keep and redeem (there’s that word) the things he originally created or declared good — like sex?”
“Well, I think he redeems things.”
“I agree. Do you think we’ll eat?”
“Do you think we’ll need to eat?”
“So food but no sex? Then is sex so corrupted that God can’t redeem it?”
“I wouldn’t think so … I guess …..”
The other man spoke.
“I don’t think I’ve spent time contemplating this — ever.”
What a surprise.
“I think I’ll just be so full of joy, I won’t even care or think about it.”
I had to laugh.
“Come on. You’re a man.”
He laughed too.
“So do you think you’ll still be a man with …… man parts?”
“Actually, I do.”
“With a physical body?”
“Yes,” they both said.
“So …. gender is intact and physicality is intact, but no one will be allowed to …. uhh …. do anything with it?”
They both laughed this time — a laugh fueled by the unwanted gift of social discomfort I’d brought to their breakfast table, now laden with cold coffee and uneaten pancakes.
“I mean, won’t that be a source of eternal frustration?”
“I don’t …… knnnow,” the other one said.
“Back to your comment about the presence of God, look at the garden of Eden,” I said. “There’s Adam, he’s in perfection, in the very presence of God all the time, and God himself scratches his chin and says it’s not good for Adam to be alone, so he makes Eve. He tweaks his own creation. God decided that even his very presence was not enough for Adam so he made Eve and let them ….. be a man and a women together, to put it delicately. But he made the human one of his own kind. Doesn’t that kind of show that God understands that even in perfection, he is not enough? That humans need other humans and men and women need each other and how does that all play out in heaven?”
This verbal barrage spewed out across their breakfast table at approximately 473 wpm.
Wow. I really am a jerk.
They stared at me. The little old lady was smiling to break her face. MB had been standing by, quietly observing the conversational fray the light of his life had created.
“This is my embarrassed husband,” I said to the men to break all the sacrilegious tension.
“Hello, embarrassed husband,” they laughed. Looks of pity flickered across their faces.
MB just smiled. And I just kept going, a relentless grand inquisitor.
“Tell me honestly. From a male perspective, is a sexless eternity a bummer?”
“Well ……. I suppose ……. I mean, kind of ……. well ….. hm ….. I don’t know what to say …..” they said variously.
The atmosphere around MB had subtly shifted. His body language deemed it was time to go — before I said the word penis and/or vagina to these two hapless hungry strangers.
“Well, thanks for being so nice and answering my questions. I’ll let you get back to your breakfast and your original conversation — which probably wasn’t this, right?”
“No, but this was interesting. Something to think about,” the big-faced fellow said.
“Have a good day.”
Once we were outside, MB finally spoke with a laugh and a shake of his head. “My wife, always the wild card.”
He grabbed my hand with a quiet chuckle and we dissected the entire encounter all the way home.
I can’t help it. I don’t know what compels me.
Something malevolent, I’m sure.