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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156 Comments

  1. Linda long says:

    I was so worried whether cremation was a sin or not
    Thank you Pastor Graham for your insight.

  2. Regina Akery says:

    Thank you for printing this information. I will share it with my mother.

  3. Betsy Williams says:

    Thank you so much for this wise answer. It answers a question I have had for several years and brings peace to my heart. God bless you!

  4. Brenda Collins says:

    Thank you for answering the guestions concerning burial and cremation. I once heard a minister talking about those who died in ship wrecks and plane crashes, and other types of death. She said that God knows all about each person, and at the end of time he will call us up whether ashes or none on bone.

  5. Flo says:

    I am glad I read this article. I have thought often about cremation. I want to be cremated and my ashes be scattered on the campground where I work each summer. I volunteer at a camp for children. My heart is there at the campground. My family will have the final decision I know and I know some of them don’t approve of cremation. Thanks for writing this article, maybe I can put their mind at ease