Summary Against Modern Thought: On Eating & Procreation After Resurrection

Summary Against Modern Thought: On Eating & Procreation After Resurrection

Previous post.

Our good saint believes no eating and no procreating after the resurrection. This is a very long one.


1 From what has been set down it follows that among those who rise there will be no use of sexual activity or of food.

2 For, when the corruptible life is taken away, those things must be taken away which serve the corruptible life. But clearly, the use of food serves the corruptible life, for we take food to avoid the corruption which can follow on the consumption of natural moisture. At present, moreover, the use of food is necessary for growth; after the resurrection there will be no growth in men, since all will rise in their due quantity, as has been made clear. In the same way, the intimate union of man and woman serves the corruptible life, for it is ordered to that generation by which what cannot be perpetually preserved in the individual is preserved in the species. Now, it was shown that the life of those who rise will be incorruptible. Therefore, among those who rise there will be use neither for food nor for sexual activity.

3 Again, the life of those who rise will not be less ordered than the present life, but better ordered. For man will reach that life only through God’s action, but he leads this life with nature co-operating. In this life the use of food is ordered to an end, for one takes food to convert it into the body by digestion. If, then, there is to be food at that time, it will be for the purpose of converting it into the body. Therefore, since nothing will be resolved from the body, because it will be an incorruptible body, we will have to say that everything converted into the body from nourishment must be devoted to its growth. However, man will rise in his due quantify, as was said above. Therefore, he will achieve a size beyond moderation, for an immoderate size is that which exceeds the quantity due.

4 The man who rises, furthermore, will live forever. Therefore, either he will use food always, or not always but during a fixed time. But let him use food always: since the food will be converted into a body in which no dissolution takes place, it necessarily will cause an increase in some dimension and we will have to say that the body of the man who rises will be increased to infinity. And this cannot be, because increase is a natural motion and the intention of a natural moving power is never infinity, but is always something fixed. For, as the De anima [II, 4] says, “in everything established by nature there is a term of size and increase.” If the man who rises will not always use food, but will always live, one must grant a time in which he does not use food. Accordingly, this must be done from the beginning. Therefore, the man who rises will not use food.

Notes An instance where calories in does not equal calories out.

5 But if he will not use food, it follows that neither will he have sexual union for which the separation of the seed is required. Of course, the seed will not be separable from the body of the one who rises, nor from his substance. There is this reason: It is contrary to the seed in its essentials, for it would be seed as corrupted and as withdrawing from nature, and so it could not be the principle of a natural action, which the Philosopher makes clear in his De generatione animalium [I, 18]. And there is this reason as well: Out of the substance of those existing incorruptible bodies nothing will be able to be resolved. Finally, the seed cannot be the superfluity of nutriment if those who rise do not use food, as was shown. Therefore, among those who rise there will be no sexual union.

Notes This argument, of course, forms the basis of Mark Twain’s objection to Christian theology. And perhaps our good saint does not go far enough to answer the objection from desire and pleasure. Mormons answer it by saying generation will certainly and still take place.

6 Again, sexual union is ordered to generation. If, then, after the resurrection there is to be sexual union, it follows—unless it is to be in vain—that there will be human generation then just as there is now. Therefore, there will be many men after the resurrection who were not before the resurrection. In vain, then, does the resurrection effect this great difference: that all who have the same nature receive life at the same time.

7 And again, if after the resurrection there is to be human generation, those who are generated will either be once again corrupted or they will be incorruptible and immortal. But, if they are to be incorruptible and immortal, the awkward consequences are many. First, indeed, one will have to hold that those men are born without original sin, since the necessity of dying is a punishment that follows on original sin.

This is contrary to the Apostle’s word: “By one man came sin to all and by sin death” (Rom. 5:12). Next, it follows that not all would require the redemption which is from Christ, and so Christ will not be the bead of all men. And this is contrary to the Apostle’s teaching: “As in Adam all die so also in Christ all will live again” (1 Cor. 15:22).

There would also be this awkward result: Men whose generation is the same would not have the same term of generation, for by generation from seed they achieve a corruptible life now, but then they would achieve an immortal one. Allow, on the other hand, that the men who will then be born will be corruptible and will die: if they do not rise again, it will follow that their souls will remain forever separated from their bodies.

And this is awkward, since they are of the same species as the souls of the men who do rise. But if they, too, are to rise, their resurrection has to be waited for, by the others, that all who share the same nature may simultaneously receive that benefit of resurrection which is proper to the restoration of that nature (as is clear from what has been said). And, what is more, there does not seem to be a reason for waiting for the simultaneous resurrection of some, if one does not wait for the resurrection of all.

8 Again, if the men who rise will use sexual union and generate, this will always take place or it will not always take place. If it always takes place, the multiplication of men will go on to infinity. The intention of the generating nature after the resurrection cannot be for any other end than the multiplication of men; it will not be for the conservation of the species by generation, since men are going to live incorruptibly. It will follow, therefore, that the intention of the generating nature is infinity; and this is impossible. But, if they do not generate always, but only for a fixed time, they will not generate after that time. For this reason one should attribute to them right from the start no use of sexual union and no generation.

Notes The infinity is not an objection, however: it goes on forever. And with an infinite God and infinite universe, there is plenty of room.

9 Now, let one say that in those who rise there will be eating and sexual union, not for the preservation and growth of the body, nor for the preservation of the species and multiplication of men, but simply for the pleasure which there is in these acts, so that no pleasure will be lacking in man’s final reward: in many ways, indeed, is it clear that such is an awkward position.

10 The first reason is this: The life of those who rise will be better ordered than our life, as was said above. But in the present life it is a disordered and vicious thing to use food and sexual union for mere pleasure and not for the necessity of sustaining life and begetting offspring. And this is reasonable, for the pleasures which are in the activities mentioned are not the ends of those activities. It is, rather, the converse, for nature ordered the pleasure of those acts for this reason: lest the animals, in view of the labor, desist from those acts necessary to nature, which is what would happen if they were not stimulated by pleasure. Therefore, the order is reversed and inharmonious if those operations are carried out merely for pleasure. By no means, therefore, will such a thing be found among those who rise; their life is held to be one of perfect order.

11 The life of the risen, moreover, is ordered to the preservation of perfect beatitude. But the beatitude and felicity of man do not consist in bodily pleasures, and such are the pleasures of eating and of sexual union as was shown. in Book III. One should not, therefore, hold that there are pleasures of this kind in the life of those who rise.

12 Furthermore, the acts of the virtues are ordered to beatitude as to an end. If, then, in the state of beatitude to come there be the pleasures of eating and sexual love, as constituents, so to say, of this beatitude, it would follow that in the intention of those who perform virtuous acts the pleasures mentioned are somehow or other present. And this excludes temperance by essence, for it is contrary to the essence of temperance that one abstain now from pleasures to become able to enjoy them the more later on. This would, therefore render all chastity wanton, and all abstinence gluttonous.

But allow that the pleasures mentioned are to be, and are, nonetheless, not to be as constituents, so to say, of beatitude, so that they are in the intentions of those who act virtuously: even this cannot be. For whatever is, is for another or for itself. But the pleasures mentioned are not for another; they are not for the actions ordered to the end of nature, as was already shown. It follows, then, that they are for themselves. But everything like this is either beatitude or a part of beatitude. Therefore, if the pleasures mentioned are to be in the life of those who rise, it must be that they belong to its beatitude.

And this cannot be, as was shown.” There is, then, no way for pleasures of this kind to be in the future life.

13 There is more. It seems ridiculous to search for bodily pleasures which the brute animals share with us there where the loftiest pleasures which we share with the angels are expected—the pleasures in the vision of God which will be common to us and the angels, as was shown in Book III. Unless, perhaps, someone wants to say that the beatitude of the angels is imperfect because the angels lack the pleasures of the brutes—which is completely absurd. Pertinent to this is our Lord’s saying in Matthew (22:30), that “in the resurrection they shall neither marry nor be married, but shall be as the angels of God.”

Notes This should be emphasized more. It’s like after you’ve eaten a feast, you are no longer hungry, but ready for something else.

14 By this, of course, one avoids the error of the Jews and of the Saracens, who hold that in the resurrection men will have use for food and sexual pleasure as they do now. And even certain Christian heretics have followed them; they hold that there will be on earth for a thousand years an earthly kingdom of Christ, and in that space of time “they assert that those who rise again shall enjoy the leisure of immoderate carnal banquets, furnished with an amount of meat and drink such as not only to shock the feeling of the temperate, but even to surpass the measure of credulity itself, such assertions can be believed only by the carnal. Those who do believe them are called by the spiritual Chiliasts, a Greek word, which we may literally reproduce by the name Millenarians”; so Augustine says in the City of God [XX, 7, 1].

Notes Now come the strong counter-arguments.

15 Some points, however, seem to favor this opinion. First, indeed, there is this: Before his sin Adam had an immortal life; nevertheless, eating and sexual love were in his power while in that state, for before his sin he was told: “Increase and multiply” and “Of every tree of paradise you shall eat” (Gen. 1:28; 2:16).

16 Again, one reads of Christ Himself that He ate and drank after His resurrection. For Luke (24:43) says that “when He had eaten before them, taking the remains, He gave to them.” And in Acts (10:40-41) Peter says: “Him,” namely Jesus, “God raised up the third day, and gave Him to be made manifest, not to all the people but to witnesses preordained by God, even to us, who did eat and drink with Him after He arose again from the dead.”

17 There are also some authorities which seem to promise men the use of food in the state of which we speak. For Isaiah (25:6, 8) says: “The Lord of hosts shall make unto all people in this mountain a feast of fat things full of marrow, of wine purified from the lees.” And we are to understand this of the state of those who rise, as is clear from the addition: “He shall cast death down for ever: And the Lord God shall wipe away tears from every face.” Isaiah (65:13, 17) also says: “Behold my servants shall eat, and you shall be hungry; behold, my servants shall drink, and you shall be thirsty.”

And that this refers to the future life is clear from the addition: “Behold, I create new heavens and a new earth,” and so forth. Our Lord also says: “I will not drink from henceforth of this fruit of the vine until that day when I shall drink it with you new in the kingdom of My Father” (Matt. 26:29); and He says in Luke (22:29-30): “I dispose to you as My Father hath disposed to Me, a kingdom; that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom.”

And we read in the Apocalypse (22:4) that “on both sides of the river” which will be in the City of the Blessed, there will be “the tree of life bearing twelve fruits.” It also says: “I saw… the souls of them that were beheaded for the testimony of Jesus… and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years” (Apoc. 20:4-5). From all of which the opinion of the heretics mentioned seems to be confirmed.

18 But the solution of these points is not difficult. The first objection, about Adam, is not effective. For Adam did have a certain personal perfection, but human nature was not yet perfected when the human race was not yet multiplied. Adam, therefore, was established in the kind of perfection which suited the first source of the entire human race.

Accordingly, he had to generate for the multiplication of the human race, and consequently had to take food. But the perfection of those who rise will be at a time when human nature is arriving at the fullness of its perfection and the number of the elect is already complete. Accordingly, generation will have no place, and neither will the use of food. For this reason the immortality and incorruption of those who rise will be of one kind; those which were in Adam were of another. For those who rise will be immortal and incorruptible in such wise that they cannot die; nor can any dissolution take place within their bodies.

Adam, however, was immortal thus: he could not die if he did not sin; and he could die if he did sin. And the preservation of his immortality could take place not by the exclusion of dissolution within the body; rather, it could be helped by preventing loss of the natural moisture through the assumption of food, lest his body arrive at corruption.

19 With regard to Christ, however, we ought to say that He ate after the resurrection not out of necessity, but to establish the truth of His resurrection. Hence, that food of His was not changed into flesh, but returned to the prior material state. But there will be no such reason for eating in the general resurrection.

Notes So why not eat and have the food not turn to flesh in resurrected bodies?

20 Now, as for the authorities which appear to promise the use of food after the resurrection: one must understand them spiritually. For divine Scripture proposes intelligible things to us in the likeness of sensible things, “so that the soul from what it knows may learn to love the things it knows not.” And in this fashion the pleasure of contemplation of wisdom and the assumption of the intelligible truth into our intellect is customarily indicated in sacred Scripture as the use of food; the saying of Proverbs (9:2, 4-5), for example, about wisdom: “She has mingled her wine and set forth her table… And to the unwise she said: Come, eat my bread and drink the wine I have mingled for you”; and Sirach (15:3): “With the bread of life and understanding, she shall feed him, and give him the water of wholesome wisdom to drink.” And of the same wisdom we read in Proverbs (3:18): “She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her: and he who retains her is blessed.” Therefore, the authorities mentioned above do not require us to say that those who rise will make use of food.

21 Of course, the words of our Lord in Matthew (26:29) can be understood in another sense. Thus, they can refer to the fact that He ate with His disciples after His resurrection and actually drank new wine, that is, “newly” namely not out of necessity, but as proof of His resurrection. He then says “in the kingdom of My Father” because in the resurrection of Christ there is a demonstrable beginning of the kingdom of immortality.

22 Now, the saying of the Apocalypse (22:2) about “the thousand years” and the “first resurrection of the martyrs” must be understood of that first resurrection of souls from their sins, of which the Apostle says: “Arise from the dead and Christ shall enlighten you” (Eph. 5:14). And by the thousand years one understands the whole time of the Church in which the martyrs as well as the other saints reign with Christ, both in the present Church which is called the kingdom of God, and also—as far as souls are concerned—in the heavenly country: for “the thousand” means perfection, since it is the cube whose root is ten, which also usually signifies perfection.”

23 Thus, then, it becomes clear that those who rise will not spend their time eating and drinking and in acts of sexual union.

24 From this one can see, finally, that all the business of the active life—it seems ordered to the use of food, to sexual activity, to the other necessities of the corruptible life—will come to a halt. Therefore, only the occupation of the contemplative life will persist in the resurrection. This is the reason one reads in Luke (10:42) of Mary’s contemplation that she “has chosen the best part which shall not be taken away from her.” Hence, too, we read in Job (7:9-10): “He that shall go down to hell shall not come up. Nor shall be return any more into his house, neither shall his place know him any more.” In these words Job is denying the kind of resurrection some have asserted who said that after the resurrection a man will return to the kind of business he has now: to building houses, for example, and carrying on other duties of this kind.

Notes Our good saint is probably right, but, especially in our age, it is difficult to become convinced he is.


  1. Oldavid

    I reckon that Ole Tom is getting a bit Platonic here.

    A Man is a body animated by a soul. Either one without the other is not a whole Man restored to the original perfection that “God saw what He had made and it was good”.

    I would contend that “a new Heaven and a new Earth” are the restoration of the original intention without the curse of Original Sin and the tendency toward corruption and disorder that seems to be implied in the “Law of Entropy” and the tendency to moral disorder in human nature that is ascribed to the effect of that Sin.

    It is clearly in the nature of Man to live in society and, as such, to engage in communal activities like eating and drinking and music etc. and to pursue the “search for knowledge and understanding of reality” which is an infinite quest into infinity. Communal activities are not an end in themselves, or necessary for survival, but simply because that’s what we do as social beings. Carnal concupiscence is a real impediment to anything but procreation so it wouldn’t figure in a “New Earth”.

    Who the Hell would want to go to Heaven and not be able to personally know Our Lord and Lady in a very human way. They, and all the saints, are very human.

    I don’t want to go to Heaven to do/be nothing. As one bod said: “I envision Heaven as a great laboratory, a great symphony, where we all engage in discovering that infinite perfection according to our unique proclivities forever”.

    There are a few things that I’d like to disagree/discuss with Ole Tom and they are mostly to do with the kind of mental gymnastics where he goes into contortions trying to assimilate commonly accepted neo-Platonic, Augustinian ideas. I’m only saying that neither Tom nor ‘Gus is infallible and that we may reasonably challenge some of their rather wooly conclusions.

  2. Uncle Mike

    No bacon? No banana bread? What’s the point?

  3. Vermont Crank

    In “Companion Frames” Fr Walter Farrell, O.P. notes:

    Beginnings of life. Essential happiness of heaven: Its nature

    For some men, then, death begins the life of heaven. Much has already been said about the essential, constitutive happiness of heaven, particularly in the beginning of the second volume of this work where the question was treated at considerable length. It will be enough here to recall that the fundamental happiness of heaven consists in the possession of God, the faint shadows of Whose perfection, beauty, and goodness accounted for all that was real, all that was beautiful, all that was good in the space of our mortal days. Another way of saying the same thing, but from the side of man, would be to point out that heaven is the highest perfection of man’s highest faculties constituting his complete fulfillment. The two are seen as one when we remember that we possess God through the beatific vision, that face to face, intuitive knowledge which comes from the immediate union of the essence of God with the intellect of man; from that grasp of God flows the unceasing joy of heaven into the will of man, marking the full satisfaction of all his deepest desires and leaving him at complete peace.

    That vision of God is an act that begins but never ends. Divinity is not enclosed in the finite limits of a human concept enabling man to say “I know it all.” Rather the act of knowledge begun by the union of the divine essence and the human intellect is an eternally enduring moment of penetration into the depths of divine riches; man will never be finished seeing what he will never fully comprehend, though the simplicity of the divine essence assures him of seeing it all. In the essence of God, each man also sees all that pertains to him, all to which he has any link; and along with this knowledge, there is, of course, the knowledge he has gathered in this life and that which comes by the infusion of species directly by God.

    There are several points to be noted here, though they have been brought out before. There is, for instance, the fact that heaven demands the most intense and unceasing activity of mind and will from every man; it is not an eternal vacation in the sense of there being absolutely nothing to do. The deep and lasting peace of heaven is not a statement of eternal stagnation but of complete coordination of all man’s faculties operating at their fullest; it is a statement of absence of conflict, not of the absence of any signs of life. The complete satisfaction of man’s desires in heaven is not to be confused with the satiety that strikes a man down into heavy slumber after a full dinner, or disgusts him with the thing that has satisfied his appetite; these things are true only of the sense appetites in this life. The spiritual appetites of man, whose echoes will be so completely satisfying to man’s senses, are not dulled by satisfaction but made more alert, their quiet is not that of a dozing incapacity for further activity but the quiet of a love that has found all its energies engaged in adequate expression of that love.


    If you are on Santorini and you have walked from Fira to Oia, hand in hand with your bride, and you have settled in a choice spot, and uncorked a great wine (made from grapes only grown on Santorini) and you are settling in for an hour or so to watch a sunset that glows with a glory more brilliant than an Welder’s Arc, you make think you will never be so happy – but then you die – and if you die saved and sanctified you will see the God who made all that you have ever seen who is infinitely more beautiful than anything He created or anything you have ever imagined.

  4. To move you must do work, expend energy, so without food you cannot move around. The workings of your nervous system require energy to transmit information around, so without food you cannot sense anything to monitor your external environment.

    I think you need to rethink this while you still can.

  5. Stephen J.

    It may be that there is a mode of direct intimate physical communion in Heaven of which earthly lovemaking is a mere shadow or imitation, which serves not to generate more immortal men but to deepen the knowledge and relationship between those who exist (which is also considered a significant function of earthly sex, merely not one sufficient in itself to justify desire in the absence of marriage and openness to generation).

    Similarly, if the immortality of Heaven involves perfect efficiency of energy transfer without any entropy loss, immortal men may still expend energy on physical actions within a physical universe, and may need to replenish that energy. They will need to consume far less mass far less often, but they will enjoy the process as much or more than any earthly feast was ever enjoyed.

  6. Joshua

    Augustine, City of God, book 13, chapter 22:

    The bodies of the righteous, then, such as they shall be in the resurrection, shall need neither any fruit to preserve them from dying of disease or the wasting decay of old age, nor any other physical nourishment to allay the cravings of hunger or of thirst; for they shall be invested with so sure and every[Pg 547] way inviolable an immortality, that they shall not eat save when they choose, nor be under the necessity of eating, while they enjoy the power of doing so. For so also was it with the angels who presented themselves to the eye and touch of men, not because they could do no otherwise, but because they were able and desirous to suit themselves to men by a kind of manhood ministry. For neither are we to suppose, when men receive them as guests, that the angels eat only in appearance, though to any who did not know them to be angels they might seem to eat from the same necessity as ourselves. So these words spoken in the Book of Tobit, “You saw me eat, but you saw it but in vision;”[607] that is, you thought I took food as you do for the sake of refreshing my body. But if in the case of the angels another opinion seems more capable of defence, certainly our faith leaves no room to doubt regarding our Lord Himself, that even after His resurrection, and when now in spiritual but yet real flesh, He ate and drank with His disciples; for not the power, but the need, of eating and drinking is taken from these bodies. And so they will be spiritual, not because they shall cease to be bodies, but because they shall subsist by the quickening spirit.

    Whether he or Aquinas is right I know not, but even Aquinas admits that after the resurrection the Lord ate and drank.

  7. Vermont Crank

    Yes, Jesus ate and drank before He ascended into Heaven.

    He also was able to pass through walls …

  8. Vermont Crank

    I think some of the responses illustrate the problem of thinking about the afterlife.

    Not a few men think Heaven will be somewhat like life on earth but only with no illness – a Christianised version of how the materialistic Mahometans conceive of the afterlife

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