Mark 9:43-47 says, "If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out." And then there's 1 Corinthians 15:35-54, that differentiates between earthly bodies and heavenly ones. When we enter heaven, will we take another form? 1 Corinthians 15:50 says flesh and blood can't inherit the kingdom of God, but Mark 9 gives the impression that we will enter with the same deformities we have here in the earthly body. -- Megan Le Blanc (Los Angeles)

Yes, the apostle Paul informs us that the body we rise with will not be an earthly body, but a heavenly one. He explains that our flesh and blood will be transformed. His analogy is the relationship between a seed and a plant. There is continuity between acorn and oak, and yet the difference between the two is enormous, isn't it? Still, there is a body.

Historically, after the first century or two the church became embarrassed about the physical body. This is why some even in the first century denied the resurrection. But the body is crucial! We will not be disembodied spirits, floating around restlessly. We will be embodied! Yet not with the same bodies we had "down here."

There is no need to worry about missing teeth, hair, body parts, etc. Consider Jesus' own resurrection body. He was, after all, the firstfruits of the resurrection. His body was "healed." He was walking on his feet, despite severe wounds and traumas inflicted only days before. Nor did whatever blood he had lost affect his ability to function. So when Jesus speaks of entering heaven with one eye, I understand him to be making a point about avoiding sin, not necessarily affirming our resurrection bodies will be defective in any way.

In addition, I certainly don't think physical or mental challenges (Down syndrome, autism, etc.) will continue in heaven, but of course that is an inference. We look forward to wholeness, to healing, to shalom. In the light of 1 Cor 15, Phil 3, and other passages, this hope is well grounded. Presumably the transformation entails the openness, understanding, and connectedness of Christ. While we remain ourselves, we also become like Christ, for we see Him as he is (1 John 3).

We are attempting to plumb a great mystery, and I know my theological groping towards the light is feeble indeed.

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