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Clean Restrooms in Heaven

By Tim Sledge ~

I’ll bet the restrooms in heaven will be exceptionally clean.

“Restrooms in heaven?” you ask. I can see the look on your face.

You’ve never thought about this, have you?

But it doesn’t take an exegetical expert to figure it out. The resurrected Jesus ate some fish, and the New Testament is big on a bodily resurrection when Jesus comes back.

Besides, how could there not be eating in heaven? Based on the consumption of food I’ve witnessed at more pot luck dinners than I can count, Christians will be mighty disappointed if there’s no food up there. And who would disagree? What fun would heaven be with no hot pancakes, no hamburgers, and no ice cream. Can you imagine spending eternity wishing you could have one more hot chocolate chip cookie? Not only is it logical to expect to eat in heaven, it makes perfect sense to assume the food will be out of this world.

I’m a little embarrassed to bring the next item up, and my wife would say I’m being crude, but it is a natural follow-up to the subject of heavenly dining: If there’s eating in heaven, there will be digestion, and if there’s digestion, there will be pooping. And if there will be pooping in heaven, there will certainly be restrooms, and if there are restrooms in heaven, we can assume the only acceptable standard will be: Exceptionally Clean.

But heaven-bound believers should be concerned with an important question: “Who will clean the restrooms?” It’s not something I can imagine anyone wanting to do in heaven, even on a rotation basis. And it would be extremely disappointing to get to heaven and learn you had restroom detail on your first week.

Since anything is possible in heaven, maybe its inhabitants will eat but not poop. It would make perfect sense if there were no ass holes in heaven.

These are things we never talked about in seminary.

Since anything is possible in heaven, maybe its inhabitants will eat but not poop. It would make perfect sense if there were no ass holes in heaven.I don’t believe in heaven—or God—anymore. But I didn’t stop thinking theologically after I left. Theology is more of a hobby now. It’s fun when you can raise any question you like and not worry about the boundaries of orthodoxy. I have a seminary doctorate, but as a minister I always felt someone—maybe one of my seminary professors—was looking over my shoulder if I ventured too far into uncharted theological realms.

The “someone looking over my shoulder” feeling is gone, and now, one small contribution I try to make as an advocate for unbelief is looking for and pointing out things that ought to make Christians squirm—not to be mean, but to encourage them to think. I look for Christian views that go unquestioned in the day-to-day lives of believers but don’t add up if you spend even a few minutes thinking about them without the magic spell of faith.

My squirm point in these paragraphs is the fact that biblical writers gave no significant thought as to how bodies evolved for life on earth would function in a perfect heavenly realm. The one-answer-covers-all Christian response to my assertion is that resurrected bodies will be glorified bodies, and when resurrected Jesus mingled and ate with his disciples, he had not yet entered into his glory. Translation: “Don’t worry about how things like eating or digestion will work in heaven. God will take care of it.”

But when you start looking at a simple issue like eating food in the promised next life, the nature of heavenly bodies gets complicated quickly. Example: If resurrected bodies are going to be so different from earthly bodies that there’s no eating or pooping in heaven, and if other bodily functions will no longer be required, then why the need for a magical exhuming and rebooting of earthly flesh? Why not just pop the soul into a whole new unit? But Christian resurrection is not supposed to involve a loss of personal identity, and so much of who we are is related to the sound of our voice, the way we move, and how we laugh. These are things that require mouths and muscles.

Thinking about restrooms in heaven points to a larger issue: Like the biblical writers, modern Christians don’t know think or know much at all about what things will be like in heaven. They know they plan to go to heaven. They know it will be wonderful. But beyond that, they don’t know much at all.

As a preacher, I found it hard to come up with more than five or ten minutes of biblical content about what heaven will be like. The no-brainer central idea for a sermon about heaven is: God will be there, and God is love. Dress it up with 1 Corinthians 13: Love is patient and kind, so that means there will be patience and kindness everywhere you look in heaven. Next, you add no sadness, no sickness, no crying, and no death. You sell the inviting promise of no more nine to five toil. You talk about personalized heavenly mansions. You share the wonder of opulent jasper walls in a heavenly city made of gold. You skip any mention of loved ones in hell and head straight into an inspiring finish with the happy picture of singing praises to God all day long. There’s not really a lot more to say.

From my new vantage point—outside of faith but looking back in—it’s amazing that some two billion people alive today are looking forward to doing something for an infinity of lifetimes without having any way of knowing exactly what they will be doing.

The next time you’re talking with a devout Christian who’s looking forward to eternity, try this query. “What do you expect to be doing in heaven after you’ve been there for three months?” You’re likely to be met with silence and maybe a squirm. Or you might hear something like:
“God is there, and I trust that he will provide me with a perfect home and just the right things to do.”

And in that likely response is the basis for a simple summary of what Christians expect from heaven—what makes them willing to know so few details and go on faith: Christians expect to be pampered in heaven.

Heaven will be the ultimate pampering place—a one-thousand-star facility.

Here’s the irony I missed in three decades as a preacher: Christians are called to live sacrificial, selfless lives on earth, so they can be pampered for eternity.

Not sure I can blame them for wanting to be pampered.

But who will clean the restrooms?

Ex-Christian Tim Sledge is a former Southern Baptist minister and the author of Goodbye Jesus: An Evangelical Preacher’s Journey Beyond Faith.

His newest book is Four Disturbing Questions with One Simple Answer: Breaking the Spell of Christian Belief.

You can follow Tim Sledge on Twitter: @Goodbye_Jesus.