Today’s Question and Answer
Should Christians be cremated? Are there any biblical passages about this?
Asked by: Steve
Well Steve you’ve asked a very interesting and important question, and it’s a question that I approach with caution.
I know Christians who have been cremated, and sometimes that’s surprised me. And of course, in our society, a greater number of people are asking to be cremated.
There may be times when cremation is good. Certainly this was true during the time of the plagues when disease was spreading rapidly. Then you have times when people have no choice. We think of those who died at 9/11 and those who were cremated, so to speak, in the inferno that took place after the planes crashed.
But if you have a choice, I say to you Steve, as a Christian, you should choose burial. Let me give you a couple of reasons why.
First of all, because the early Christians followed the example of Jesus and the Apostles who were all buried. And those early century graves were important, and I still think that they’re important. But also, Christians believed that burial was a better way to demonstrate the sanctity of the body. Because our bodies are created by God, when we bury them the apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15, we are putting them as a seed into the ground and just as an acorn eventually becomes an oak, in the very same way, that the seed we plant is going to produce the body and God is going to raise the body. He’s going to change the molecular structure, of course, and create something brand new, but with preexisting materials. Think, for example, of Jesus who still has the scars in His hands and in His side.
The bottom line is this: I don’t think that cremation is a sin because the Bible does not specifically warn against it. However, it is interesting that other cultures, particularly in the East, they believe in cremation because in their minds this means we go back to the original One: the body is to be dispersed in nature. Christians have always said that because of the importance of the body, and because of the resurrection, burial is to be preferred.