Christian Views on Cremation
Christian Views on Cremation –Is Death a Negative Event
Death has always been accepted as a negative event. It was imposed upon the race of mankind as a result of sin. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the ancient paradise of Eden, they immediately received the ultimate consequence: separation from God. Romans 5:12 says, “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men...”
This separation, while initially a spiritual one, affected the body, soul, and spirit. Spiritually, man lost the right to have fellowship and communion with God; he was spiritually dead. But the body also suffered in that it took on the properties of corruption, began to decay, and counted its existence in time -- culminating in death. This was the origin of an issue, ultimately evolving into a problem: “What is to be done with the dead body?”
Over the years, many factors have affected man’s choice of what to do with the body after death. These factors include the wealth of the family, the status of the individual, the climate of the country, health, sanitation, aesthetics, and religious beliefs. Embedded within this myriad of variants is the age-old debate of burial vs. cremation. The aforementioned factors contribute to the choices that each individual and family will make with respect to this question.
The Bible, however, nowhere answers the question as to the method of disposal. Moral and religious questions are raised as to the right to “destroy” the body through cremation of the remains. Often, even the procedure of autopsy is challenged on religious bases when the cause of death requires further investigation. These questions, ultimately, can only be answered in an individual’s or family’s conscience. The Bible has remained silent as to a correct technique.
Christian Views on Cremation – Does the Bible offer instruction?
The Bible is clear concerning death and the mortality of the body. Genesis 3:19 says, “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.”
Jesus further illustrated a perspective towards the disposal of the body when he spoke to one who would follow Him: Luke 9:59-60 says, “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.’” At first, this appears to be a harsh and unfeeling response, but Jesus was determined that those who followed Him would give Him their full attention; disposing of the body of the dead was obviously of very low priority. If the Bible renders a low priority to this issue then it would seem that the method of disposal may be left to individual taste and, perhaps, other societal and environmental dictates.
Cremation, while still a controversial practice is nonetheless widely performed throughout the world. For those who favor cremation, it offers the following benefits:
The entire process of cremation, whether or not it includes a service or just the incineration of the corpse, is far cheaper than burial, even though a coffin or container is used.
For those prone to ponder the lasting appearance, the process of cremation offers a quick, purifying process. This helps people to banish the thought of the body lying for decades in the ground while suffering slow decay.
- The cremains, as the ashes are termed, can be kept at home in a fashionable container or urn, thus offering the family the opportunity to remember the loved-one on a daily basis.
The sanctity of the human body and value the fact that burial keeps the body intact.
Burial is less ‘final’ to its advocates and affords those left behind the chance to remember the person either at a grave site or vault.
- Funerals for those to be buried afford dignity and promoters for the burial process assert that the body belongs to God; let not man take it into his hands to destroy.
Christian Views on Cremation – How will the body be raised?
The believer’s hope, whether we will submit our remains to burial or cremation, is that the body that is buried or incinerated is not the body that will ultimately dwell with the Lord. 1 Corinthians 15:35, 37, 42-44 reads: “But someone may ask, ‘How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?’ ...When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else...So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.”
No one needs worry that the body will be destroyed and thus unable to participate in that “great catching away.” No. The body that is interred will either slowly decay or burn rapidly, but God will give all of His children a new body, glorious, and incorruptible to dwell with Him forever. Once and for all the negativity of death and separation from God will be nullified.
“The last enemy to be destroyed is death” (1 Corinthians 15:26).
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