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Does the Bible say anything about cremation?

This question came up a few weeks ago. And I found this ... Thoughts?

Does the Bible say anything about cremation?

from R.C. Sproul Jr. Jun 02, 2011 Category: Articles

No. Cremation, however, may have something to say about the Bible. The proper handling of human bodies after death is not something the Bible expressly deals with.  There are sundry ceremonial laws in the Old Covenant about touching dead bodies, but no instruction on what to do with these bodies. As such we need to be careful not to condemn what the Bible does not condemn. How though, could cremation speak to the Bible?

Cremation, strange as it may sound, is a form of liturgy.  It is a form for dealing with matters of eternal consequence. As a form it in turn communicates a message. That message, it seems, does speak against the Bible’s understanding of death. Cremation, however subtly, suggests that our bodies are of no significance or import, that they are simply so much trash that must be burned.  It is implicitly a Gnostic practice, a denial of the goodness of the creation in general and the human body in particular.

Burial, on the other hand, communicates something far more consistent with the Bible. It affirms not only that the human body has dignity, but also that it has a future. It affirms that death is not the end of the body. Consider for a moment why so many cemeteries have in their name some variation on the notion of “Garden.” That cemeteries are well kept and green is consistent with our dignity, but that is not what “Garden” in this context communicates. Because of the promise of the gospel, because of the promise of the resurrection, we are not so much burying the bodies of our loved ones when they pass, as planting them. We are put in the ground to wait for the return of Christ when our corruptible bodies will be made incorruptible.

The practice of burial is so closely identified with the Christian perspective on death and the human body that anthropologists track the spread of the Christian faith westward across Europe through history by looking to the spread of cemeteries.  They know that Christianity came to dominate a given region at that time that cemeteries came into use.

Anytime we consider how our behavior communicates we need to be careful. On the one hand we don’t want to be Gnostic enough to suggest that our bodies, and how we treat them are meaningless and communicate nothing. On the other hand this does not mean that anyone who ever approved or requested a cremation has self-consciously denied the gospel and affirmed Gnosticism.  Of course buried bodies decompose. And of course, better still, cremated bodies will in fact be resurrected. Nothing we do can undo the promises of God and the glory of the resurrection. Balance, however, suggests that we think through our behavior, that we think deliberately. Balance also suggests that we ought to honor our fathers who gave us this liturgy in the first place.

One cannot say that cremation is a sin. One might say that burial better reflects the biblical perspective on life, death and the body. One can say with certainty that Christ will come again, and our bodies will be raised again, never to die again.

Answer Question

Asked by -Eilish- at 1:00 PM on Jun. 2, 2011 in Religion & Beliefs

Level 28 (33,578 Credits)
Answers (9)
  • Well that's a rather twisted view. I'm supposing he never saw what happened to a body after it's been in the ground a few decades

    Answer by KristiS11384 at 1:04 PM on Jun. 2, 2011

  • Well either way if it is or isn't a sin God just has to understand that I'm broke and probably always will be with the way the economy is and how expensive the cost of living is. Cremation is my only option @ the current time. I'm sure he will understand.

    Answer by myownhappiness at 1:05 PM on Jun. 2, 2011

  • That is interesting but... still not really a good explanation. Yeah, does he know what happens to our bodies after death? I mean, they say that a casket will help preserve the body but....WHY should it? ANd your brain deteriorates too which means that the brain/soul disappears and the body is no longer needed. I really think the funeral business is a money making ripoff. People who are mourning and in pain from losing a loved one will be easily influenced and spend WAY TOO MUCH MONEY...and for what?

    Answer by minnesotanice at 1:10 PM on Jun. 2, 2011

  • I have wondered about this thanks

    Answer by vntNyll at 1:56 PM on Jun. 2, 2011

  • Cremation used to be considered a sin for the reason it was being done, not the act itself. People used to be cremated as a protest against the belief in the Resurrection. Therefore, the Church forbid it........After Vatican II happened in the 60's it was decided that cremation not done for blasphemous purposes was just as sacred as any other legitimate means of disposing of the body....Just a bit of history here.... :)

    Answer by Anna92464 at 2:58 PM on Jun. 2, 2011

  • from dust we to dust shall return,once your organs shu down your soul has already left your body.i don't know which faith that say cremation is a sin i know it's one of them,i myslef sees nothing wrong with it.and it just as expensive as burying some one.

    Answer by MADUKES402 at 3:54 AM on Jun. 3, 2011

  • Form a Jewish perspective, the prohibition against cremation comes from Genesis 3:14 "You will return to the ground, for it was from the ground that you were taken." But ultimately, the prohibition against cremation also comes from the belief that, as teh body descomposes, the soul goes through a more comforting separation from the body, a painful experience in itself made easier. That's also why in Judaism embalming and mausoleums are prohibited as they make decomposition longer. Cremation, on the other hand, makes this separation more drastic and violent, not giving that soul the comfort of separating at the appropriate pace.




    Answer by momto2boys973 at 2:30 PM on Jun. 3, 2011

  • And I beg to differ with the article, but it's not true that we have no souorces as to how to treat dead bodies. We absolutely do. The author should read the Talmud.


    Answer by momto2boys973 at 2:33 PM on Jun. 3, 2011

  • I wonder, then, what happens to the souls of people who were unfortunate enough to die in such a way that doesn't allow their intact bodies to be buried? People who've burned up in house fires, a terrible car wreck, a plane crash, or even the people who became buried underneath the world trade center. IMO, that also includes our bodies becoming dust. I personally feel we have been given the knowledge, skill, and less often the urge to love our neighbor enough to give the parts of our bodies we won't ever need again, but could keep so many others alive another day. And finally, the God I believe in doesn't expect people to take out a loan or put their families in debt to turn to dust. What you've done your entire life up until that moment of death is what matters.

    Answer by PTmomma3 at 8:01 PM on Jun. 4, 2011

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