LCN Article
A Young Lady’s Questions

January / February 2024

Gerald E. Weston

We are all home from what so many are saying was another wonderful Festival season. However, when it comes to the meaning of those special days, we do not all relate to them the same way. Those who are older, who are married and perhaps have children or grandchildren, look forward to Jesus Christ’s return—it cannot come soon enough! We see a world of hurt, and some of that hurt may be very personal as our physical bodies break down. Parents with school-aged children, concerned about a corrupt world trying to destroy their precious ones, hope for Christ’s return to come as soon as possible. Small children, hearing a sermon mentioning Isaiah 11, may look forward to having a pet lion who will not eat the family lamb.

We all have different reasons to pray, “Your kingdom come!” But not everyone prays that prayer with the same enthusiasm—or even at all. This was brought home to me three decades ago when I received the following letter from a sincere 16-year-old. Even though she signed it anonymously, I knew who this very fine teen was, and I saved the letter, as it expressed what more than a few think but do not say.

I am writing you to ask about a topic that has been on my mind for over two weeks now. Every once in a while, “life” questions pop into my head and, most of the time, I can either answer them myself or ask someone who can help me. This question, however, has not been answered and my curiosity has definitely grown. I will do my best to express my question clearly.

When a baptized man and woman marry, they are physically bonded. Marriage is “until death do us part” (if all goes well, considering TODAY’S marriages. Sad, but true—yes?). If Christ returned while this couple was still alive, they would then be spirit beings in the Kingdom of God (given they have God’s Holy Spirit). I have found in Matthew 22:30, Mark 12:25, and Luke 20:35 that “marriage” is not possible as a spirit being. My question, which will be broken into other sections and topics, starts as “what happens to those feelings?” Togetherness is one thing, but a bond is another and that sounds so much better when you care for someone to a great extent.

Another question: “Can we manifest into physical beings and have that bond?” I looked through my Bible concordance (Strong’s Concordance) and found Isaiah 30:20, which says that we can show ourselves as “physical teachers.”

I suppose that my main question [has] to do with marriage and where the feelings go and how you look at your “ex-spouse” during Christ’s reign. I can see it now—“Hey! How’s it goin’, Bob?” (Bob is just a name.) I mean, you know everything about them, you have had good and bad times together, and you have shared affection. How does a person, or I guess in this case “spirit being,” just drop all of this? I understand that you can BE together and you have strong feelings still, but there is a difference, correct?

My next question may sound like an “I-should-have-known” question. I don’t look at sex as such an important thing for me as a teenager. I understand and believe in God’s law about abstinence but, out of curiosity, I am asking. Sex is a very special thing that God gave man. When a couple have this commitment, feelings of love increase, and the sense of security is there. It makes your marital bond more “official.” We can’t have this as spirit beings, correct? Can we change to our physical selves with our spouse (that we had before changed to spirit beings) and have that?

Another branch to take on this (are you still with me?), if the last question was answered yes (if at all), would be “can children come into the picture at this point and time?” What if Christ comes back and, as a couple, you haven’t started your family? If you couldn’t have this family, wouldn’t there be something “missing”? One of my sources I asked told me that God may not change a person to a spirit being if they are not ready. Is that true? Would he allow a couple to start a much-wanted family?

At this time, there are so many questions racing through my mind. I know that some of these questions are impossible to answer until man is actually living through the time of Christ’s return. But if you know an answer or two to any of these, I would love to hear them. I happened to be very intrigued by this subject and others may be as well. I have never heard a sermon of its type—is there enough scripture, questions, and answers to make one?

I have run out of time in my typing class. I thought that I would ask, since it has been bugging me for so long. I also hope that staying anonymous with a desire to learn about this, will (maybe) trigger a discussion or a sermon (my preference, personally). Thank you for your time!

Kansas City East Y.O.U. Member

Those are heavy-duty questions. While other teens and young adults might not express them so eloquently, some of those questions are no doubt on the minds of many.

Many older adults have experienced the things this bright young girl wanted in life—marriage, sex, children. These are all God-ordained gifts when experienced according to His will, but the older we grow, the more we see the limitations of physical life. We not only see suffering and pain in the world around us, but we share in the same. If we understand God’s plan, we yearn for that better world and a better body. This is not merely philosophical—it’s personal.

Teens and young adults, however, through lack of experience, usually do not have this same perspective. At their stage of life, they may view Jesus Christ’s return as an event that will interrupt their hopes and dreams. The questions expressed in this letter are really saying, When Christ returns, this may prevent me from getting married, experiencing sex with that person of my dreams, and experiencing children of my own. Put plainly, Christ’s return may mess up everything that I look forward to that is pleasurable and rewarding. This young lady did not have a bad attitude. She was expressing sincere thoughts that many Church teens feel when they think ahead based on where they are in life, and this is quite understandable.

An industrious young man in his early twenties expressed it even more openly to me: You and my father want Christ to return, but I don’t want Him to come right now. I want to have time to get married, have children, and make my mark in the world. This was an honest expression of how he sincerely felt at his stage in life. He wanted Christ to return—just not right then. This young man did get married, had children, and built a successful business from scratch with scores of employees. And, over time, he, like so many of us, learned that life in the “here and now” was not all he expected it to be. He eventually walked away from the successful business he built, and one of his children had serious health issues. Life has a way of “beating us up.”

Not Always as Planned

So, how should we address this young woman’s questions? How might we explain to a young man who hasn’t yet “made his mark in the world” that it will be good for him if Christ returns before then? How can we hold out hope in a world wallowing in confusion and lacking hope?

The Bible gives us vital answers. We read of how other young people faced disruptions to their hopes and dreams—and how life still turned out well for them. It is no accident that God gives us accounts of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, as well as accounts of Esther, Ruth, David, Jeremiah, Jacob, Joseph, and many others. We see that their lives did not always go the way they had planned.

Joseph no doubt wanted love and marriage as much as any virile 17-year-old, but his life took a shocking turn when his brothers sold him into slavery. We learn how traumatic this was when his brothers were confronted 13 years later with a similar circumstance. “Then they said to one another, ‘We are truly guilty concerning our brother, for we saw the anguish of his soul when he pleaded with us, and we would not hear; therefore this distress has come upon us’” (Genesis 42:21).

Yet, while Joseph was in slavery, Potiphar’s young wife constantly tried to seduce him. He could have given into temptation and fulfilled lustful desire, but he refused to—and for his righteous decision, he ended up in prison. How many young men would be so honorable? Remember, Joseph did not yet know the rest of the story; what he knew was that God exists and must be obeyed.

We find the same message in the book of Daniel. He and his three friends found their lives rudely interrupted by war, and were transported to the land of their captors. All their hopes and dreams were shattered, and they had no understanding of what lay ahead. However, they were good students, they had faith in God, and they possessed great courage—all traits that served them well in Babylon.

History tells us that other captive Jews settled into life, married, and had children. One of their descendants was a young woman named Esther. Many young women dream of Prince Charming sweeping them off their feet as they ride off into the sunset together, but marriage to King Ahasuerus, who had a sizable harem, was not the same, even if you were the first among the others. Yet Queen Esther exercised faith, courage, and self-sacrifice—and God used her to save the Jewish people.

While Ruth was still young, her first husband died. We may romanticize her story and eventual marriage to Boaz, but it was not what she planned her life to be. Her story reminds us that life comes with many twists and turns. We plan, we dream, we expect; but plans, dreams, and expectations often go awry. So, what advice should we give to young people who do want Christ to return—but not to return so soon as to spoil their plans?

We must not shrug off their concerns. Wait until you get older; then you will understand is not sufficient advice. Young people need to know that we care about them and that we respect their concerns. The truth is that we do not know the answers to every question in this teenager’s letter—but we know some, and can address others appropriately. 

Most of our worries never materialize; the letter from this young woman was written nearly three decades ago, and she likely got married and has children. But what about today’s teens? Sometimes, in our attempts to make the Kingdom of God more appealing to children, we talk about pet lions, tigers, and bears (Isaiah 11:6). This is true, and may appeal to a ten-year-old—but not necessarily to a teen whose hormones have begun stirring. Forget exotic pets; they are now interested in romance, marriage, and sex. Were we any different?

They, too, may wonder whether they will be changed to spirit before they marry and have children. They may wonder: If they are baptized, can they choose to remain physical to have and raise children? And as Spirit beings, will they be able to physically manifest again, to share intimacy with the spouse they had during physical life?

Maturing Desires

It may help to realize that we very naturally have different interests and desires through different stages in life. A five-year-old may want to know whether Spirit beings can eat french fries and ice cream. Will his dog Buffy be resurrected? (More than one adult has asked that question, actually.) But, as we grow, our desires change.

My childhood friends and I would go to Saturday-afternoon movies to see our favorite cowboys. We were not into singing, guitar-strumming cowboys—and cowgirls were a boring distraction. No, we were into fist-fighting, gun-slinging cowboys. Our favorite scene in every movie was the barroom brawl, with chairs and bottles breaking over heads and people thrown through windows. But, somewhere along the line, this changed. Those Beach Party flicks with Frankie and Annette became more interesting. Then there was Elvis and Girls! Girls! Girls!

What caused this transformation? The truth is, something called hormones. And those hormones did not happen by chance. God gave us this transition in life. He made us male and female. It was He who gave us this wonderful gift. A life of 70 years may seem like forever when we are 16, but it is not, as we all come to realize. Yet, He gives us the potential to live forever. Would a loving God give us the dessert before the broccoli? Hardly. “You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11).

Music is another example. Consider what is considered fine music to a seven-year-old: He may not relate well to “All I Ask of You” from The Phantom of the Opera or “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Misérables, but given a decade or two, these songs may move him to tears. One must wonder: What kind of music will there be in the Kingdom?

The Apostle Paul confirms life’s stages. “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:11–13).

At first, most teens understand love in terms of how other people make them feel. God made us this way. But He expects us to grow to understand love beyond emotions and passions. Godly love involves actions that demonstrate outgoing concern. “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:4–7). We must not minimize the value of affection between a man and a woman, but it is important to teach young people that there is more to love than personal feelings. This knowledge comes with maturity, and the young lady who wrote the letter was clearly mature enough to begin thinking and reasoning beyond just emotion.

A fulfilling life involves much more than sex. People find great reward in work and seeing a project through to the end. Couples may choose to spend their Sunday afternoons watching their favorite sports team. Physical intimacy is wonderful, but it is not everything. We learn that with maturity, but this does not mean that we should disregard a teen’s questions and concerns. We are made to go through these stages of life, and as adults we must be sensitive to our children’s questions.

Now, let me briefly and directly answer a few of the questions I was asked.

Q: What happens to those feelings?
A: The feelings will no doubt be there and even increase. As we grow older, sex is not normally such a big part of life, but we all know older couples who grow in their love and respect for one another. When we read of how Jesus spoke of the Father, we perceive strong feelings. The question is not whether the feelings are there, but how they will be expressed. To the best of our knowledge, we will not need the physical act we refer to as sex to express and receive those feelings.

Q: Can we manifest into physical beings and have that bond?
A: It is my guess that we will have no interest in doing so; we will be too busy doing other, more interesting things. I understand that this is a hard sell to the younger crowd, but remember how important a child’s game once was and how it has ceased to interest you today.

In the same way, eternal life will be filled with incomparable joys and excitements, such that it’s hard to imagine we’d ever want to go back to things that were mere shadows or pictures of eternity. Again, King David longed for the “fullness of joy” and “pleasures forevermore” ahead in God’s Kingdom (Psalm 16:11) and says that a single day in the Kingdom with God is better than any 1,000 days one could live in this life (Psalm 84:10).

Q: What if Christ comes back before a couple has children?
A: This physical life offers no guaranteed future—many people are childless for other reasons than Christ’s return—and eternal life in the Kingdom of God will no doubt change how we think about various subjects. Note how God addresses this question: “Nor let the eunuch say, ‘Here I am, a dry tree.’ For thus says the Lord: ‘To the eunuchs who keep My Sabbaths, and choose what pleases Me, and hold fast My covenant, even to them I will give in My house and within My walls a place and a name better than that of sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off’” (Isaiah 56:3–5).

God’s point to the eunuch is that eternal life in glory in the Family of God will be so great that even the eunuch will not look backward and think he had “missed out.”

A Life Entrusted

Youth is a special stage in life, meant to be enjoyed. However, wise young people grow to understand that what is important today may not be so important later. They also recognize that God knows best, and they learn to turn their lives over to Him as a result. “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps” (Proverbs 16:9). Jeremiah was not much more than a teenager when he wrote, “O Lord, I know the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps. O Lord, correct me, but with justice; not in Your anger, lest You bring me to nothing” (Jeremiah 10:23–24). Note how he entrusted his life to God’s hands. Jeremiah did not even fear correction; he demonstrated faith that, in every way, God would do nothing for him that was not in his best interests.

Solomon tells us to enjoy the life stage in which we find ourselves. “Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth; walk in the ways of your heart, and in the sight of your eyes; but know that for all these God will bring you into judgment. Therefore remove sorrow from your heart, and put away evil from your flesh, for childhood and youth are vanity” (Ecclesiastes 11:9–10).

Brethren, we must listen to our children’s concerns. We must reason with them based on their level of maturity. We must admit that we do not have the answer to every question—but we can point them to the God of love. We can encourage them to trust that God will only do for them what will make them truly happy in the long run. We can invite them to be part of the greatest cause ever given mankind—involving themselves in the very Work of God. We can give them a hope of a world far better than the violent and confused one in which they now live. We can encourage them to learn patience, to take life as it comes, and to avoid taking shortcuts that only bring heartache. And we must learn how to inspire hope within them. Only then will they find the answers they seek.