(First published January 17, 2002)
It started innocently enough when someone at a drop-in filled a lull with a comment about how stupid it was for some Islamic males to believe if they destroyed themselves in a Holy Jihad they would spend eternity in the arms of numerous Vestal virgins. There was a babble of agreement until somebody asked if they were actual Vestal virgins or just run-of-the-mill virgins. A tall fellow, somewhat wobbly from strong beverage, said he thought pining for virgins was ridiculous. He, himself, would prefer women who knew what it was "all about."
When the conversational lull reappeared I muttered something to the effect that the virgins those young males pined for were not the Vestal variety because the Vestals were a half-dozen flesh-and-blood Italian beauties whose job it was to remain unsullied and beautiful and keep a fire burning in a temple. The tipsy tall fellow said he didn't think sex would be permitted in heaven anyway, so the whole business of blowing oneself to smithereens in the hope of gamboling with virgins was pointless.
There were a couple of jokes about whether or not Viagra was readily available in heaven and a dispute erupted about whether the paradise of jihad enthusiasts was the same thing as the Christian heaven, but since no one had any reliable knowledge of the subject I drifted to another group which was trying to decide what should be done with Saddam Hussein. The consensus was his life should be brought to a violent end.
For some reason the comment by the wobbly tall fellow came back to me later that evening. How does one go about determining if sex is permitted in heaven? I could not remember ever having heard a sermon that touched on the subject. There were plenty of assurances that heaven was an extremely pleasant place and one would spend a blissful eternity in it, but no cleric said earthly pleasures of the flesh would continue in an after-life. Come to think of it, what would be the point?
I consulted several of the host of the experts on the Internet. Without attribution to his source of information, one expert said "Of course you won't have to eat, but you can if you want to! You won't have to lie down and rest, but you can if you want to! You won't have to have sex anymore, but you can if you want to! You won't have to walk around any more, but you can if you want to! And you'll even be able to do a lot of other things that you can't do now. You'll be able to fly, appear, disappear, walk through walls, all kinds of things! Wonderful!" I chalked the report up to excessive wishful thinking.
Several experts have scoured the Bible for clues but there appears to be no clear-cut promise of sexual activity being permitted in heaven. This may account for people generally clinging so fiercely to life in the flesh. They know what kind of a deal they're getting on earth but they harbor strong suspicions about what they're in for up yonder when their name is added to the heavenly roll. Except, of course, those young conscripts to the jihad who apparently believe the myth of the heavenly virgins.
Whoever sells them that bill of goods could get a good job on Madison Avenue. They could sell anything!
January 17th, 2002
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