By   •   June 1, 2004   •   Topics:


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


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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  1. Robin Crawford says:

    Just looking for biblical scripture that tells if wrong to be cremated

  2. Maria Alexander says:

    Pray for me, my husband just died unexpectedly at 64.

  3. Paulette Wells says:

    thank you, Had to get that straight in my head about cremation. some baptist relatives are convinced that if you are cremated you will not go to heaven. Thank you, Either way I’m going to be with my Lord and Savior

  4. PN says:

    Since burning of the body, whether dead or alive, was and still is practiced by so many pagan cultures I would think that as Christians we would, by burying our dead, show the world the value of our bodies as specially created by God, indwelled by the Holy Spirit. As Jesus Christ himself was buried, we should follow His example in life and in death. God does everything for our good and HIS glory.
    As an aside, our current culture considers abuse of a corpse to be a crime. Could that be deeply rooted in our Christian heritage?

  5. ALiu says:

    If the issue is in what form a body is at the time of Christ’s return, then given enough years, a body in a casket will be dust just as a cremated body is. The Bible says “dust to dust.” God created from dust and can and will raise from dust. (Consider those lost in a fire or explosion.) (Laws governing sales of cemetery coffins and vaults prohibit claims of “eternal” protection of remains.) If the issue is honoring remains, then I wouldn’t tell my mother she wasn’t honoring dad when she chose to be able to hold his remains in her arms and keep him close instead of burying him in the cold, hard ground. Need to be so careful not to judge and condemn someone for something that the Lord Himself clearly does not condemn.

    1. Harold says:

      Aliu: thanks for your insight and thoughtful reply.

  6. Phillip Aguirre jr says:

    A friend asked me is it a sin to go back and creamate her son after he has been buried. Is it ? As a Christian I have not faced this question before.

    1. BGEA says:

      Hi Phillip,

      We have passed your question on to our team.

  7. Julia says:

    As a Christian I have tried to research the info in the bible according to the scriptures, so I choose to take example that Jesus did and request my body be buried.

  8. Gary Sisk says:

    Thanks for the great work that God has done through you and your family.I am blessed to live in a time when i could hear Gods word through you.In Jesus name i pray for you.

  9. John says:

    Many of you are missing the point made in this post that Christians want to “show RESPECT for the body.” Since there is a definite future regarding “your physical body” the decision of how someone treats their body, especially after death should be of significant consideration. It saddens me when many people make a hastily decision for cremation due to its slight monetary cost savings. Our Jewish roots would never voluntarily choose cremation as an option to treat their body given by God. How much more for the Christian, who is promised a physical resurrection in the future… Instead of asking the question of how God CAN resurrect our bodies EVEN after cremation. We should be asking about RESPECTING our bodies God gave, even after death?

    1. Amber says:

      John, Help me to under how It doesn’t “show RESPECT to the body”? Is it possible that point could also be missed in the case, “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).” The point that the emergency today could be that’s all a person can afford to be cremated and just have a cremation and memorial. Can you consider finances? I think a body being disrespected could mean all kinds of things.!that could even be in burial. I like your view. And glad that you are a Christian. I hope that it doesn’t deeply sadden you to a point of unnecessary judgment of Others/Christian. As we don’t understand everything. Isn’t That God’s job, do we have that power?

  10. Vickie Anderson says:

    Thank you for answering my question.Im an organ donation that is why I’m leaning towards cremation.