Today, nearly half of Americans are cremated rather than buried.
These are the two main traditions that take place after death. Does God prefer one over another? Is cremation against Christianity?
There is not a specific verse in the Bible that states whether cremation is favored or forbidden.
We know cremation is not a sin. If it were considered a sin, God would have made it clear, as he did with other religious customs.
What is emphasized in the Bible is that “The human body was made with wonderful creation” (Psalm 139|14).
We do know that God wants us to treat all bodies with respect and care.
If you or a family member need to decide between a burial or cremation, you should pray for wisdom (James 1|5). God will help you decide which option is best for you and your loved ones.
Why is Cremation Common Today?
There are several reasons why cremation is becoming a more commonly practiced tradition today.
First of all, life is expensive! People need to find ways to reduce their expenses just to survive.
If you look at the cost of a traditional funeral and burial, you will see they are between $10,000 to $35,000. In comparison, cremation is generally only $1,000 to $2,500.
Others who choose cremation say they want to leave less carbon footprint. Many chemicals are released during the embalming process and burial, making it less environmentally friendly.
Some also like the idea of cremation because ashes can be divided between family members and transported anywhere. Cremation jewelry is popular today and used to remember and honor loved ones.
The History of Cremation
Cremation has been practiced for thousands of years, as archeologists have found evidence of this tradition dating back to the stone age.
There were different reasons for cremation throughout history, some associated with evil, and others out of respect.
At one time, Christians did not agree with cremation because it was a common practice held by the Greeks and Romans, who did not believe in the afterlife. This made Christians feel that only those in pagan societies partook in such a practice.
For about a century, cremation diminished, and until 1876 there were no crematoriums in North America. In the 20th century, cremation gained popularity, and by 1975 there were 425 crematoriums.
Christian Views on Cremation
While many once believed that a cremated body could not be resurrected, most Christians today would agree that is not true.
The Lord is perfectly capable of uniting the scattered. Just think, even those who are buried eventually turn to dust. Cremation only speeds up the process.
If you know a Christian who was or will be cremated, know that it will not affect their eternal destiny. What does affect our eternal destinies is our relationship with the Lord.
It should not make a difference whether a Christian chooses cremation over burial, as long as the body and its remains are treated with dignity and respect.
What Does the Bible Say?
One very straightforward thing is that all bodies will eventually return to dust after death regardless of how they have died.
And then, their souls will await judgment day.
“By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3|19).
There are no laws or commands in the Bible against cremation. It is a personal preference, often based on culture and philosophy. What is suitable for some may not feel right to others.
While the following verse may seem cold and rude, it tells us that our full attention should be placed on the Lord and not the disposal of the dead.
“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’” (Luke 9|59-60).
Common Questions About Cremation
What is Cremation?
Cremation involves intense heat, which transforms the human body back to its basic elements. After most of the body is vaporized, all that remains are bones.
The remaining bone particles are referred to as ashes or cremains. It takes temperatures between 1800 and 2000 degrees to complete this process in a masonry-lined chamber.
How long does cremation take?
It typically takes 2 hours, but times can vary between one to four hours. How long it takes depends on a person’s height, weight, and the equipment used.
How is a body prepared for a cremation?
Before cremation, anything that does not burn or can be dangerous to the environment is removed. Jewelry, internal plates, nails, and pacemakers will be removed, as well as radioactive implants containing mercury.
What can you do with cremated ashes?
Some families choose to bury the ashes of their loved ones, and many cemeteries have a specific area for the burial of cremains.
Other times family members may choose to keep the ashes of their loved ones. When doing this, ashes are usually placed in an urn or worn as jewelry.
It is also a common practice to scatter the ashes of a loved one in an area that is meaningful to them.
Is Cremation a Sin?
Nowhere in the Bible is it stated that cremation is a sinful practice. It is a personal choice that each individual must make for themselves and their families.
Bible Verses About Cremation
We know God is perfectly capable of resurrecting bodies, whether they have been buried or cremated. Just think, even those who are buried eventually turn to dust. Cremation only speeds up the process.
For your eternal destiny, what matters is your relationship with God. Through his death and resurrection, Jesus paid the penalty for our sins. Jesus conquered death and made a way for us to be right with God.
Hebrews 2|14-15 NLT
“Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. Only in this way could he set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying.”
Philippians 3|20-21 NLT
“But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control.”
1 Corinthians 15|42-44 NLT
“It is the same way with the resurrection of the dead. Our earthly bodies are planted in the ground when we die, but they will be raised to live forever. Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. They are buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies. For just as there are natural bodies, there are also spiritual bodies.”
1 Corinthians 13|3 NLT
“If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.”
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