Summary: Will there be literal eating in the eternal kingdom? Most people who give the matter any thought feel it would be a shame to waste one of God's best ideas-the sense of taste.
WILL WE EAT IN HEAVEN based on Rev. 22:1-6
By Glenn Pease
Benjamin Franklin formed a very close friendship with a Frenchwoman, who was 40 years younger than himself, when he was the American Minister in Paris. They wrote numerous letters to each other and though she refused all his proposals, she did finally agree to marry him in heaven, and live on roasted apples. If that was the best he could hope for, he wrote back and endorsed the plan. In the next world he said, they would eat the apples of paradise roasted with butter and nutmeg and they would pity those who were not dead.
People tend to get fanciful in romantic settings, but the question we want to focus on is this-will the pleasure of eating be one of the pleasures that we enjoy at God's right hand forever? Will there be literal eating in the eternal kingdom? Most people who give the matter any thought feel it would be a shame to waste one of God's best ideas-the sense of taste. This is the sense that gives us, here in time, a great deal of pleasure. The average person eats about one ton of food a year, and this means taste is a ton of pleasure a year. If the other senses will be a part or our resurrection bodies, then why not this one? We will certainly be able to see and enjoy the jewel-splendored New Jerusalem, and hear the joyous praise of the angelic choir. We will be able to touch the golden streets of gold as we walk with our Lord, and smell the perfume of heaven, referred to in Rev.8. Why should it be doubted that we will enjoy the sense of taste?
The reason for doubt is the powerful anti-body influence that began in the 4th century. The heroes of the Christian faith were, at that time, those who were ascetics. They denied the body the pleasures of life, and devoted themselves to a focus on the soul. They renounced sex and stayed celibate. They wore drab clothes, and ate only basic foods, avoiding anything fancy or too tasty. The better saints lived on bread and water. The body was the enemy, and the source of all our sins. To deny it was the highest virtue. This movement within the church got it's greatest spokesman with the conversion of St. Augustine. He was a wild liver, satisfying his lust with every woman he could. He lived with a woman who bore him a son, and he wrote in his confessions, that he had descended to the dark hell of lust.
When he was converted, he discovered that segment of the church that stressed the evil of matter, and especially the body. The flesh was carnal, and the goal of the Christian was to escape all it's carnal desires. This led to his thinking about the joy of heaven as being anti-sensual. The joys of heaven were to be pleasures of the soul, and not of the body. The mystical was the essence of heaven. It was eternal meditation and spiritual ecstasy, with the body ignored.
It makes sense why this happened, for if the physical pleasures of the body were seen as evil, how could they preach that they would all become good in heaven? Christianity had taken a radical turn toward rejecting the body and it's senses, as having an eternal place in God's plan. Christians were to focus on spiritual beauty. The goal was to set the soul free from the body and it's senses. St. Augustine said the mental and the spiritual is all that matters for eternity. This had a powerful impact on the history of Christian thinking about heaven. The ideal life was an escape to the monastery, where you denied your body to develop your soul. For centuries, through the dark ages, Christianity became an anti body religion, totally contrary to the revelation of God's Word. The very idea of physical pleasure in our resurrected bodies was a scandal. This has influenced Christians to this very day.
St. Augustine was a slave to his lust, and it was God's will that he be saved from his body-centered life style. The body is the tool Satan uses to lead us into temptation. The flesh does war against the spirit. The body does need to be controlled, or it will lead us astray. But to throw out the baby with the bath water is folly. The goal of salvation is not just to save the soul, but the body as well. The body is to be delivered, sanctified, and glorified.
The resurrection of the body is what sets Christianity apart, as unique, in the religions of the world. Christianity says that the body is good. It is made by God, and He said it is very good. His Son took on a literal body in the Incarnation. He raised up His body and took it to heaven in the Ascension. His plan is to raise up all the redeemed in their bodies. The body is a key part of God's plan for man. God intends to save the bodies of men forever.