The Bible Does Not Forbid Cremation
First, it is important to recognize that the Bible does not forbid cremation.
The Gospel Coalition explains, The consensus among most Christian traditionsincluding evangelicalsis that because the Bible does not directly forbid cremation, it is not a sin.
However, cremation is mentioned much less often in the Bible than burial.
In 1 Samuel 31, Saul and his sons were burned, and their bones were buried, likely because their bodies were decomposed past the point of traditional burial when they were found.
Cremation And The Concept Of Resurrection
Many Christians worry that cremation goes against the concept of resurrection, though the book of Revelation addresses this. It states that to God, it is of no consequence where a body lies. Instead, he shall make a judgment based not on their resting place, but rather on their acts while living.
And the sea gave up the dead which were in it and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. Revelation 20:13
The book of First Corinthians continues to address the idea of a physical body and resurrection.
Nevertheless, someone will say: How are the dead to be raised up? Yes, with what sort of body are they coming? 1 Corinthians 15:35
But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body. 1 Corinthians 15:38
What Does The Bible Says About Cremation
The Bible neither favors nor forbids the process of cremation. Nevertheless, many Christians believe that their bodies would be ineligible for resurrection if they are cremated. This argument, though, is refuted by others on the basis of the fact that the body still decomposes over time after burial.
Protestant Christian Views On Cremation
Most Protestant Christian views on cremation are rooted in one or more of these seven arguments:
The preference among Protestant Christian thinkers and authors tends towards burial, but most believers, churches, and Christian organizations seem to be open to cremation.
Does The Bible Say A Cremated Body Cant Rise
No. God made our bodies from dust, and designed our bodies to be returned to dust . All Christian interpreters, theologians, and teachers agree that God is able to resurrect any body.
No matter how completely destroyed, or how long ago the person lived, God is capable of giving every believer a wholly perfected and renewed body at the resurrection.
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The Body Is A Blessing
The human body was made with wonderful creation . We are all lucky to have such a body to use and take care of in this life. We simply get one body in this life. If we mistreat it or harm it, that will carry with us for our entire mortal existence. It is our duty to make the most of our time on earth.
We will all die eventually so it makes sense that we each do the research and planning ahead of time. There are a variety of options to consider when we die so doing the proper research and planning years ahead will save your family the headache and stress. In the meantime, let us all enjoy our lives.
Our Earthly Bodies Are Not Our Heavenly Bodies
Therefore, it is important for Christians to understand that our earthly bodies are not our heavenly bodies.
Our earthly bodies are merely a vessel.
However, some faiths such as Catholicism, do not approve of cremation when it involves the scattering of ashes because they want the body to remain together for the resurrection.
In contrast, Christians believe God has the power to raise a body, whether buried or cremated .
According to Focus on the Family, The idea that God cannot resurrect them in the one case as well as in the other doesnt hold water. He does not need our specific ashes and chemical components to bring about resurrection. Why not? Because the resurrected body is a new spiritual creation .
In other words, we shouldnt get too caught up on our earthly bodies.
John MacArthur argues, Obviously any buried body will eventually decompose . So cremation isn’t a strange or wrong practice- it merely accelerates the natural process of oxidation. The believer will one day receive a new body , thus the state of what remains of the old body is unimportant.
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Cremation Doesnt Interfere With Life After Death
Cremation in no way interferes with Gods ability to resurrect the deadto give us life after death. People have died in countless ways throughout history, from accidents to warfare to being lost at sea, and yet, God will still resurrect them in the future. How can He do that without a body?
As Ecclesiastes 12:7 notes: Then the dust will return to the earth as it was. All physical bodies decay after death. The verse concludes with the words, and the spirit will return to God who gave it. Some erroneously interpret this as a reference to righteous souls going to heaven. However, the context shows this analysis is wrong. For one thing, the verse says that the spirit of everyone who dies goes back to God who gave it. The context speaks of aging and death taking their natural course in every person. Clearly then, these verses are not speaking only of a spirit within the righteous dead going to God upon death.
What is the spirit in man? Is it an immortal soul within a physical body? It may surprise you to learn that the Bible nowhere teaches the doctrine of an immortal soul. Explore what the Bible teaches in our articles Spirit in Man: What Is It? and Immortal Soul: What Is a Soul?
The Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter
Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have said that cremation is “not encouraged” however the church provides instructions for properly dressing the deceased prior to cremation. In the past, ApostleBruce R. McConkie wrote that “only under the most extraordinary and unusual circumstances” would cremation be consistent with LDS teachings.
The LDS position on cremation was clarified in a 1991 issue of the LDS Church’s Ensign Magazine, “Where there is no overriding reason to cremate, burial is still the preferred method of handling our dead. In the end, however, we should remember that the resurrection will take place by the power of God, who created the heavens and the earth. Ultimately, whether a person’s body was buried at sea, destroyed in combat or an accident, intentionally cremated or buried in a grave, the person will be resurrected.”
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Is Cremation Okay According To The Bible
The Bible does not take a stance on cremation, nor does cremation in any way hamper Gods plan to one day resurrect all of humanity.
Although burning the remains of the dead is mentioned a few times in the Bible, the modern practice of cremation is not specifically addressed. One account describes a man being stoned and then burned due to his reprehensible behavior . Another refers to valiant men who rescued and burned the remains of King Saul and his sons to prevent further dishonorable treatment of their bodies .
Is Cremation A Sin
There is no explicit scriptural command against cremation. Some believers object to the practice of cremation on the basis that it does not recognize that one day God will resurrect our bodies and reunite them with our spirit .
The fact that a body is cremated does not make it impossible or difficult for God to resurrect that body. He can resurrect a body eaten by a shark or a baby torn limb from limb and aborted by its mother. God is equally able to raise a persons remains that have been cremated as he is the remains of a person who was not cremated. The question of burial or cremation is within the realm of Christian freedom.
When we consider how God created mankind, it supports this fact. In Genesis 1:27, we are told that God created man. The verb to create is the Hebrew bara. In Genesis 2:7, the Bible says God formed man . Since both of these verses speak of God creating man, we find that man was both created and formed. God created Adam by using pre-existing material, the earth. The word translated form is used in Scripture of the work of a potter forming his clay. The Hebrew has a play of words in Genesis 2:7. The word translated man is the Hebrew word adam while the word translated dust of the earth is the Hebrew word adamah.
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What Does The Bible Say About Cremation
The Bible does not clearly define about cremation as a means to dispose of the dead. However, there is no scriptural prohibition of cremation in the New Testament. The Bible neither favors nor forbids the process of cremation.
Nevertheless, many Christians believe that their bodies would be ineligible for resurrection if they are cremated. This argument, though, is refuted by others on the basis of the fact that the body still decomposes over time after burial.
Moreover, as God is known to be all-powerful, it should not be impossible for Him to resurrect someone even after cremation.
Besides, there are individuals who do not bother about burial as well as cremation because it is the spiritual body that is allowed to enter Heaven, not the physical body.
1 Corinthians 15:35-55It is the same way with the resurrection of the dead. Our earthly bodies are planted in the ground when we die, but they will be raised to live forever. Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. They are buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies. For just as there are natural bodies, there are also spiritual bodies.
There have been examples of burning the body, like in the case of Saul and Jonathan. Their bodies had been mutilated by the Philistines. Thus, they were cremated and their bones were buried to protect them from ridicule from the enemy.
Biblical Examples Of Burials
The Bible does not command burial or have laws against cremation. The Old Testament and the New Testament demonstrate how Gods chosen people always buried their dead. Jesus Himself was buried in a tomb.
The field which Abraham purchased of the sons of Heth: there was Abraham buried, and Sarah his wife .
There they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife there they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife and there I buried Leah .
But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre, And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain .
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What Religions Do Not Allow Cremation And Which Do
Sociologists, philosophers and other intellectuals often write of the value of religion in our lives. Certainly, our religious beliefs give us a moral framework for living in community but how do religious views on cremation shape the way we care for ourselves at the end of life?
Certainly many individuals have strongly held beliefs about cremation. And sometimes these opinions are a reflection of their spiritual beliefs and their commitment to follow the guidance of their faith regarding cremation. If you are concerned about the relationship between religion and cremation we urge you to read further, or contact us to speak with one of our dedicated funeral staff.
Burial Practices By Religion
Many religions outline funeral and burial practices for followers, and as individuals decide upon their final resting place, many want to make sure they are in line with what their religion states. Where the soul will rest eternally can be the most important decision of all, and various religions dictate different practices.
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So In Summary What Does The Bible Say About Cremation
Therefore, cremation is an acceptable means of dealing with the dead. Cremation does not conflict with the Bible nor does it interfere with Gods ability to resurrect the dead.
Those who are considering cremation should also consider the impact of their decision on their survivors. For many people, a funeral and the ensuing interment is an opportunity to show one final act of love and respect for the deceased. Would cremation provide them with the sense of loving closure they need? Prior to making a decision to have ones remains cremated, we recommend that people discuss these matters with family members to be sure they are also comfortable with this decision.
If you are dealing with the death of a loved one, our article How to Deal With Grief may help.
Cremation & The Catholic Church
Its understandable that many people are confused about the Catholic Churchs views on cremation.
Anyone familiar with the religion knows it has changed its policies on a number of principles over the years, including cremation.
As mentioned, the church did not believe in the cremation procedure because they associated it to the Romans and Greeks who they considered to be Pagans.
These two cultures did not believe in the afterlife and used cremation when disposing of their dead.
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What Happens After Cremation
Cremated remains can be scattered or buried. Cremation plots are usually cheaper than a traditional burial plot or mausoleum crypt and require less space.
Some religions, such as Roman Catholicism, require the burial or entombment of cremated remains. The remains may often be put in a family member or another person’s plot without any additional cost.
It is a common practice to scatter the remains in a place the deceased liked. Such favorite places include a river, a beach, a park, or a mountain. Scattering ashes is generally forbidden in public places. Sometimes the place is designated in a person’s will.
A small part of their ashes can be distributed to family members in urns if they want them. Cremated remains can also be converted into diamonds. Urns are costly. If you plan to bury it, there is no need to pay a lot of money for it. If you plan to keep the urn as decoration, then feel free to select a more beautiful one.
Woman scattering ashes from an urn in a river
Christian Views On Cremation
Christians give a high priority to the disposal of a body and have a great fear of making the wrong choice. Unfortunately, there is no precise instruction as to the right or wrong decision.
However, although Jesus did not give definitive answers, He did make reference to the disposal of the body. There is a compelling story that may ease your mind, which includes words spoken by Jesus in Luke 9:59-60
He said to another man, Follow me. But the man replied, Lord, first let me go and bury my father. Jesus said to him, Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.
This may seem to be a cold and harsh response, but Jesus was saying that his followers should give their full attention to Him and the disposal of the dead should not be a high priority.
Many Christians believe that it is not our physical bodies that will dwell in the house of the Lord.
What Happens To The Body At Death
In Genesis, we know that man was formed from the dust of the ground. After Adam and Eve sinned, death entered the world. Because of their sin, we now face suffering and death. Here is what happens to our bodies after death:
By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground since from it you were taken for dust you are and to dust you will return .
The natural evolution of the body after death is that it will eventually return to dust. The length of this process can vary depending on how the body is treated after death, but regardless it is going to happen. You might even consider cremation as the express version of what is going to happen naturally.
In biblical times within the nation of Israel, cremation was not practiced burial was the tradition. We see this in both the Old and New testaments. Here are two examples:
1 Kings 2:10 Then David rested with his ancestors and was buried in the City of David.
Acts 8:2 Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him.
These are just two examples but there were plenty others including Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob, Hezekiah, Lazarus, even Jesus himself. Burial was an important part of the process of mourning and respecting those who had died. In spite of this, the Bible doesnt make any mandate that the body at death has to be treated in this fashion. This could be seen very much as a cultural decision and not necessarily a spiritual one.