Death Is Not Going to a Better Place

I want to suggest something very tenderly, very humbly as we consider death.

We often speak of death as our loved ones "going to a better place."

I'm not so sure that that is true.

I absolutely think it is true that those who die will enter "the loving embrace of God." What Jesus called paradise. "To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord." When our bodies die, our souls will continue and they will enter into a state we can call confidently call good.

And I do believe that there are plenty of things here on earth that we can confidently call not good. Evil, in fact.

But I still hesitate to call death "going to a better place." Death is wrong. Evil, demonic. "The last enemy to be defeated." A soul, absent of a body, is in an unnatural state. It's not the way things are intended to be. Souls, even when in the loving presence of God, are not meant to be bodiless. Our loved ones' souls, even when resting in paradise, are incomplete. Unfinished. Even while being present to God, they are imperfect as to God's intention for their personhood.

Death is "better" insofar as there is nothing that can physically harm or affect the person who has died. But it is worse in that there is nothing physical at all!

Fortunately "going to heaven when you die" is not the end of the story. The souls of our loved ones await bodily resurrection. Christian hope hinges on the historicity of Jesus' own bodily resurrection and the promise that what has happened to Jesus will happen to each of us. "For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his."

Our dead loved ones are in God's loving embrace, in paradise, at rest.

But the best is yet to come.

Anthony Parrott

Anthony Parrott

Washington, DC