If We Don’t Have Children while Alive, Will We Be Able to Have Children in the Afterlife?

Here is a Spiritual Conundrum submitted to Spiritual Insights for Everyday Life by a reader named Giselle:

If we don’t have children while alive, will we be able to have children in the afterlife?

Thanks for the good question, Giselle! It is one that lies heavy on the hearts of many women and men who wish for children, but do not have them for reasons that are often beyond their control. Some are able to adopt children and satisfy their longing to be parents in that way. For others, it is a dream that is never fulfilled during their lifetime on earth.

Mother and Child

Mother and Child

For those who wish for children but never have them here on earth, does this mean they have missed their opportunity, and will never have children, even in the afterlife?

I have good news, and I have bad news.

First the bad news:

No children are born in heaven. If you long for children who carry your genes and are your own flesh and blood, then your only opportunity is to have children here on earth.

Now for the good news:

Even if you don’t have children on earth, that doesn’t mean you can never be a parent and raise children.

Every day, tens of thousands of children die all around the world. That’s millions of children every year, year after year.

Every single one of those children needs parents in the afterlife.

You see, children who die don’t just automatically become angels. They must still grow up in heaven. And that means they need parents to raise them.

All children are born on earth

First, let’s deal with the bad news.

All human beings and angels get their start in the physical world. All the angels in heaven were once flesh-and-blood people, who then died and went to heaven. Some died as children, some died as adults. But all of them had at least a brief life in a physical body.

Think about it. Why would God have created this incredibly vast and complex physical universe if it weren’t required for God’s plan of creating a heaven of angels? Something about starting out with a physical body in a material universe must have been necessary for God’s plan, or there wouldn’t be a material universe.

Exactly why it is necessary to live in a physical body first is a complex philosophical and spiritual question. Here is a simple version of one of the reasons:

Just as the human body needs a skin to hold it together and protect it from many things in the world around it, so the human spirit needs to have lived in a body to give itself the boundaries and fixity required to keep its integrity. Otherwise it would gush out, melt away, and dissipate into the spiritual environment.

You see, the spiritual environment is far more fluid and alive than the physical environment here in the material world. In the spiritual world, thoughts, ideas, feelings, knowledge, and everything else can easily flow into one another. If there weren’t something to provide a boundary, everything would melt together into a sort of spiritual soup in which everyone’s spirit was dissolved. We would lose our distinct character and identity, and would blend into one another rather than being able to have relationships with one another—and with God—as unique individuals.

But God created us especially to be in loving relationships with one another and with God.

So God provided for us to start out with a physical body that would give our spirit something like a “skin” that would keep us distinct as unique individuals rather than just flowing and merging into one another in the spiritual world.

Okay, that’s enough philosophy talk!

The main point is, all babies are born here in the material universe.

If you’re intent on having your own children that are of your own flesh and blood, and carry your heredity, then earth is the place to do it! And unfortunately, if for whatever reason you are unable to have children here on earth, you will not have the opportunity to bear your own children in heaven.

The beauty of adoption

And yet . . . there are so many children who need good and loving parents!

People who adopt children here on earth are doing a tremendous service not only for the children, but for God. That’s because God tenderly loves all children, and wants them all to experience the love of parents who will raise them to be good, thoughtful, and loving adults—and future angels.

If you are unable to have your own children, but you want children and are able to adopt, I greatly encourage you to do so.

There are many orphaned children who would thrive on your love, your teaching, and your example. And every child has the potential to become an angel in heaven. By raising children here on earth, whether or not they are your own biological children, you are helping to provide angels for God’s kingdom in heaven.

Yes, adopting children can be a challenge. But it is a challenge that is worth it if you feel called to be a parent and raise children in a good and loving home. And please consider the possibility of being a foster or adoptive parent to an older child or teenager. Many are waiting and longing to have parents to love and be loved by.

Now let’s move on to becoming a parent in heaven.

Children who die don’t automatically become angels

Traditional artwork depicting angels as little cherubs with wings might give the impression that babies and children who die become angels immediately, and stay forever little just as they were when they died.

But according to Emanuel Swedenborg (1688–1772), who spent many years exploring the spiritual world while still living in his physical body, that’s not how it works.

Yes, children who die are still children after they die. But they don’t stay that way forever. Swedenborg wrote:

Children who die are still children in the other life. They have the same kind of childlike mind, the same innocence in their ignorance, the same total delicateness—they are only in the rudiments of becoming angels; for children are not angels in being but only angels in becoming. Everyone who leaves this world stays in the same state of life—a baby is in the state of a baby, a child in the state of a child, an adolescent or adult or senior in the state of an adolescent, an adult, or a senior. However, this state eventually changes. (Heaven and Hell #330)

The only thing that changes about us right after we die is that we are no longer in our physical body. Our mind is still the same. We have the same thoughts, feelings, ideas, beliefs, attitudes, and character that we had here on earth. So if we die as a baby, child, or teen, we will still be a baby, child, or teen when we arrive in the spiritual world immediately after death. We will even have a spiritual body that looks and feels just like our previous physical one.

Of course, our life does change in many ways because we are no longer with the parents, teachers, and friends that we had here on earth. We are in the spiritual world rather than in the physical world. On the positive side, this means that if we were living with poverty, disease, war, or abuse, we will no longer have to suffer those things. Every child in heaven is provided all the love and care she or he needs to thrive.

But we are still ourselves. That means that if we die as a child, we still have to grow up in heaven before we become angels.

For more on children in the afterlife, see the article, Where are my Children who have Died? Will I Ever See Them Again?

Children who die need angel parents to raise them

Because babies, children, and teens are still babies, children, and teens after they die, they need parents to raise them just as they do on earth. Swedenborg wrote:

As soon as children are reawakened (which happens immediately after their death), they are taken to heaven and given to female angels who had loved children tenderly during their physical lives and had loved God as well. Since in this world they had loved all children with a kind of maternal tenderness, they accept these new ones as their own, and the children love them as their mothers as though this were inborn in them. Each such angel has as many children as her spiritual maternal nature wants. (Heaven and Hell #332)

Keep in mind that this was written in the eighteenth century, when gender roles were much more clearly defined than they are in the Western world today. These days, even in heaven I suspect that men are more involved in child-raising than they were in the 1700s when Swedenborg wrote Heaven and Hell. And yet, even today women and mothers provide the lion’s share of the everyday care of babies and children.

Mother and Children

Mother and Children

Given that there are tens of thousands of children dying every day, and millions every year, Swedenborg’s statement that every angel who wants to care for children “has as many children as her spiritual maternal nature wants” almost sounds like an understatement. I can imagine new adult arrivals in heaven being greeted with this celestial billboard:

Angel Parents Needed!
Please Sign Up Here!

So fear not.

If you long for children, but for whatever reason do not have them here on earth, there will be plenty of opportunity to love, care for, and raise children when you arrive in heaven. And you will have the satisfaction of knowing that every child you raise in heaven will become one of God’s angels, adding to the richness of the heavenly community. As Jesus said:

Take care that you do not despise one of these little ones; for, I tell you, in heaven their angels continually see the face of my Father in heaven. (Matthew 18:10)

This article is a response to a spiritual conundrum submitted by a reader.

For further reading:

 

About

Lee Woofenden is an ordained minister, writer, editor, translator, and teacher. He enjoys taking spiritual insights from the Bible and the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg and putting them into plain English as guides for everyday life.

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Posted in Sex Marriage Relationships, The Afterlife
6 comments on “If We Don’t Have Children while Alive, Will We Be Able to Have Children in the Afterlife?
  1. Jack says:

    Hello, Lee. I see you’re a Swedenborgian. Good for you. I like Swedenborg’s ideas very much and read a great deal of his work a few years ago. But I gradually came to believe through what I was reading about mediums, phonies and supposed real ones, that all mediumship is unreal–that God has clearly separated the two worlds so that no spirits make physical contact with our world far as communication goes. Yes, guardian spirits can pull us out of a jam once in a while according to God’s wishes, but that for the most part guardian angels stand by and watch helplessly as unfortunate children are raped, abused, starved, subjected to the worst horrors imaginable in war and tragic circumstances without lifting a finger. So that pretty much did it for me far as believing Swedenborg was having genuine contacts with angels. I still enjoy reading about his “visions” of what heaven must be like, but I can’t accept them as factual.

    But addressing the issue of not having children in this life when we want them, I believe that God should be nothing if not somewhat fair, and most people who desperately want children but never had any were likely trapped in circumstances not of their own making, such as women who were born infertile or developed it somewhere along the path of life. These unfortunates were dealt a bum hand from the very beginning and it doesn’t seem fair to me that if it’s God’s will that we should be made happy, if not on this earth then in the spirit world, and if we carry the exact same personality with us into the spirit world, most of these women are going to remain unhappy about their unfortunate circumstances for quite a while, possibly even continue to resent God, which is a horrible detriment to being able to evolve to higher planes. It’s difficult, if not impossible for a person who wanted such a basic unselfish need as bearing children here on earth to accept never be able to experience the joys of having children in the next world. In a sense, they were set up to fail against their will from the get-go. It’s not like they can be blamed for bad choices—at least in those circumstances choices were offered. And it’s not like they were after carnal things like fame, fortune, sex, and power and material delights, etc —those can be easily dismissed as well as unsuitable pursuits in this world and the next. But if God truly wants to fulfill what makes us happy and He gives women a command to “Be fruitful and multiply” and then takes away that ability, then He can’t be called a fair and just God, can He, when He yanks the rug right out from underneath women? Indeed, it calls into question the very validity of believing God even spoke those words; rather that they were just concocted by scribes writing out Creation legends of Adam and Eve in the Old Testament.

    In sum, it seems to me that it is a dichotomy to call God fair and just in this matter when the one good impulse women have in this world is robbed of them through no fault of their own and then is not remedied in the next. For many women, raising other people’s children just doesn’t fulfill this innate need they have to bear their own. According to the Bible God created spiritual beings we call angels today. That may be myth, it may not be. But if there is any truth to it then I see no reason why He couldn’t allow women to do the same i.e. give birth to spiritual babies who are nurtured and then sent to earth to be given a physical life. It validates the idea that spirits come forth first in the spirit world and then are planted in a physical body here on earth. Maybe this is how God accomplishes the task. I mean, why create spirits Himself when He has a whole army of women who have died childless ready, willing and able to undertake the task for Him?

    • Lee says:

      Hi Jack,

      You are, of course, free to believe what you wish regarding Swedenborg, women and children, the pre-existence of souls, and every other matter under the sun.

      However, about Swedenborg’s writings vs. spirit mediums in particular, you might want to consider what he himself wrote about the source of the teachings and Bible interpretations in his writings:

      I also testify that ever since the first day of this calling, I have accepted nothing regarding the teachings of this church from any angel; what I have received has come from the Lord alone while I was reading the Word. (*True Christianity* #779)

      This is part of the clearest statement Swedenborg made in his published writings about the nature of his spiritual experiences. You can read the whole section here.

      Short version: Swedenborg was not a spirit medium. Though he did speak with angels and spirits, he did not derive the teachings and Bible interpretations in his writings from angels and spirits, but, in his own words, “from the Lord alone while he was reading the Word.”

      If you are going to reject the possibility that angels and spirits can speak with humans on earth, then you might as well just throw away the Bible. The Bible is full of angels and spirits talking to human beings. And if God arranges for this to happen in the Bible, there’s no particular reason why God can’t arrange for it to happen outside of the Bible as well, when it suits God’s purposes.

    • Lee says:

      Now about women longing for but not being able to have children in the material world:

      On this you are also welcome to your own views and opinions.

      However, I would suggest, especially in these modern times, that you not limit the usefulness and fulfillment of women to having children. It’s been sufficiently demonstrated by now that women can be very capable and gain great satisfaction and fulfillment from activities and careers other than having children. So to suggest that women who are unable to have children are doomed to an empty, unfulfilled life is simply unrealistic.

      Both women and men long for many things that they cannot have. Part of the spiritual lesson that we learn here on earth is the lesson of patience and endurance in suffering and unfulfilled desires and wishes. A man may long to be the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, or to be President of the United States, and think that is his destiny. Yet he may never be able to attain the desired-for position. Does that mean he is doomed to an empty, unfulfilled life? No. It means that he must focus on serving humanity where he is, and not throw up his hands in despair because he isn’t where he wishes he were.

      In the very same way, women who wish for children, but cannot have them for one reason or another, have many options open to them to serve and find fulfillment in other ways. And for those who are strongly drawn to caring for and raising infants and children, there are many, many infants and children who desperately need care and desperately need parents. Perhaps God is telling these women to expand their hearts and minds, and extend their love beyond their desire for their own biological children. It doesn’t mean these women are being punished. It means that they may be called to a broadening of heart and mind, and an opening of their spirit to needy infants and children whom they might not otherwise have paid any attention to.

      God’s ways are higher than our ways. We look at the immediate circumstances, and our wants and desires in the moment. God looks at the eternal happiness of our souls. When we are denied joys and pleasures that we desperately long for, that doesn’t mean God is punishing us. It certainly has causes, but from God’s perspective, those causes are secondary to the possibilities for spiritual growth within the heartbreaks and suffering that we experience here on earth.

      The joy that God seeks to give us is not temporary, earthly joy but eternal, spiritual joy. And all women and men who are denied desired-for joys here on earth can still dedicate their life to the service of others, and increasingly experience a deeper joy that they otherwise may never have experienced.

      As for the unfairness of this world, here are some articles that may help put things into perspective:

      I hope these articles will offer you some new perspectives to consider on the big issues you are struggling with.

      • dawn says:

        Sir thank you for your insight. I am 47 years old with no children. I strongly desired…submitted papers n money… to adopt a baby prior to getting married at 43 but after marriage my husband who has 1 son then age 20 could not come to terms of adoption. He wanted the 3 of us to b a family….first wife decease. Prior to getting married I had helped raised several adult Children n I now did not feel like raising another with no hope of having a family of our own. …Disgusted hurt n discouraged I begged God to remove these feeling of being a mother. Now 4.5 years later I am coming into the change of accepting that I won’t b a mother….its a process….now he wants to adopt. I’m so turned off n want nothing to do with the thought of adoption or sharing a child with him or being associated with his own son. I know it’s wrong but I don’t have the physical or mental strength to start this journey again. I told him like he told me at one time….if u want kids …go get them. I need God to heal n fill this void with new things that will allow me to move on ….please advise!

        • Lee says:

          Hi dawn,

          Thanks for stopping by, and for your comment. I’m sorry to hear about all of your struggles, both with your own unfulfilled longing to have a child and with your disconnect (in two directions) with your husband on this issue. It is a hard road. And of course, only you can decide what to do and how to move forward. Meanwhile, I do have a few thoughts that I hope will be helpful.

          First, it sounds like you have a serious rift with your husband about all this. One way or another, that is going to have to be resolved if the marriage is to continue as a real marriage. The two of you will have to come to some common understanding of this whole issue, or it will drive you apart. What that understanding will be I can’t say. It can only unfold over time.

          Second, as I’m sure you’re well aware, raising a child is not something you do in your spare time. To do a good job of it your heart needs to be in it and you need to be 100% committed to it. If you aren’t, then adopting is not a good idea. And it would be a mistake to let your husband talk you into it if your heart and mind have moved on and you no longer feel prepared and committed to adopt and raise a child.

          Third, as I’m sure you’re also aware, bearing or adopting children becomes more of a challenge as you get older. You have to count the number of years from now to when the child will be a grown, self-responsible adult and consider whether by the later years before that time you think you will still have the health and energy you need to do the work of being a mother. Yes, of course there are many joys in child-raising. But there is also an awful lot of hard work involved!

          Fourth, if your husband wants to adopt, but you’re not so sure, another possibility would be to foster or adopt an older child, especially an older boy. Though many parents want to adopt infants and raise a child from infancy, there are also many older orphans, going right up through the teenage years, who would love to have someone to call Mom and Dad. And they are often forgotten precisely because they aren’t cute little babies and toddlers. And with an older boy specifically, he would likely identify with your husband—and not to put too fine a point on it, but it would be especially your husband’s job to provide him guidance, a role model, and do father/son things with him. Of course, you would still be his mother, and you would still have an important relationship with him, so your heart would still need to be in it as well. But this might be a way to make sure that it’s not your husband’s bright idea, but your job to do the actual work—which could lead to a lot of resentment and conflict. And that would not be good for you, for your relationship with your husband, or for any child you adopted.

          Once again, these are just thoughts and possibilities that come to mind. Only you are in your shoes, so only you can decide what direction to go with all of this. I would recommend doing the best you can to calm your bitterness, recognize that the past is in the past, and consider what you want for your own present and future. Having a goal for your life is helpful. It gives you something to focus your energy and time on, and gain satisfaction from.

          I hope this helps. Our thoughts and prayers will be with you. And speaking of prayer, it might not hurt to take this all to God in the quietness of prayer, and see if God whispers anything in your heart.

  2. Lee says:

    To a reader named lwer344131212:

    Thanks for your comments. They are much too personal and raw for me to approve for others to read. But I want you to know that I did read them, and I do feel for you in your struggles. There is too much for me to respond to in a comment, but here are a few other articles that might be helpful to you:

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