Answers

By   •   June 1, 2004   •   Topics:

Q:

When a Christian dies is it all right to cremate the body?


A:

The Bible does not give specific directions for the disposal of the body following death. Bible-era practices are described in Unger’s Bible Dictionary as follows: “Interment in Bible times followed soon after death, as is evident in the narratives of the burial of Sarah (Genesis 23:1-20), Rachel (Genesis 35:19-20), and Rebekah’s nurse (Genesis 35:8). The Hebrews did not normally cremate, except in most unusual cases of emergency, as in the case of Saul and his sons (1 Samuel 31:11-13).

Later Babylonians burned their dead and deposited their ashes in ornate funerary urns, as did Greeks and Romans. Hebrews in later time, indicated by the numerous ossuaries found in New Testament Palestine, also practiced cremation.”

Christians will want to show respect for the body. Even though the essential person or spirit has moved on to an eternal destiny, the body is the tangible reminder of all that person meant to us. In addition, the body is destined for resurrection, transformation, and reunion with the spirit at Christ’s return.

Whether burial or cremation best expresses that appropriate respect is a very personal decision. The wishes of other close family members and friends should also be considered in any decision, because they are the ones who will live with the decision and with the memories.

At the resurrection it will not make any difference whether a person’s body has been buried or cremated. God knows how to raise the body, either in the resurrection of life or the resurrection of condemnation (John 5:28-29). The new body of a Christian will be a radically changed and glorified body like the body of the exalted Christ. It will be an eternal, spiritual body never again to experience weakness, disease, suffering, or death (1 Corinthians 15:35-54 and Philippians 3:20-21).

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46 Comments

  1. Sandra Yost says:

    Our purpose in cremation is to save money also. Funerals are very expensive these days.

  2. Joseph Faust says:

    The only reason I would consider cremation is the cost of a burial. I do not want to burden my wife and family financially.

  3. jean says:

    My pastor just died, of whom is of Christian Bible believing faith. To my surprise, requested to be cremated. I am very disappointed. This was a shock to the congregation and faithful members of the church. His immediate family, which are also members of the congregation stated that he wrote the request in his will. Granted he weighed about 300lbs, but I’m sure the casket was affordable due to insurance for his burial. The church committee is planning a memorial service. I’m distraught and hurt that I won’t be part of a good home going service for a great pastor.

  4. Wanda Stout says:

    Thank you. I have been worried if cremation was biblically permissive.

    1. Sandra W Gilbert says:

      I have been very concerbed too if cremation is a sin.