CREMATION VS. BURIAL
A question often posed by Christians is whether cremation is Biblical or not. Of course, this query is especially sensitive during times of the impending loss of a loved one. It’s a good question to ask, especially in the light of the increasing popularity of cremation due to spiking funeral costs. Does the Bible speak for one method of burial over another? Let’s look at both sides and then make a conclusion.
For Christian advocates of burial, their contention is that the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and that it should not be desecrated by burning. (1 Cor 6:19-20) Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. They also bring up the fact that in the Old Testament the whole body was buried or placed in a tomb. Genesis 23 records an entire chapter concerning Abraham securing a burial place for his wife Sarah and which then became the place of interment for the future patriarchs.
Next, burial-only supporters bring up the fact that when people were cremated in the Bible it was something done for wicked deeds. (Joshua 7:25) And Joshua said, “Why have you (Achan) troubled us? The Lord will trouble you this day.” So all Israel stoned him with stones; and they burned them with fire after they had stoned them with stones. (See also Lev 20:14; Lev 21:9; 1 Sam 31:12; Amos 2:1).
Another argument for burial vs. cremation by Christians has been the teaching of the resurrection and how the Lord will raise the body up and change it into a new body. (1 Cor 15:51-52) Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
Proponents of cremation typically respond by saying that the body of believers who died long ago are already broken down into dust, so why is it any different than a body in ashes? What burial does in a set of years is accomplished in a few minutes by cremation. God doesn’t need the old body to make a new body. Or even if He did, couldn’t He bring it back together by His power? And wouldn’t this be the same for a person lost at sea, etc? Besides this there are the practical reasons such as low cost, simplicity, delaying the memorial service for family members to arrive, the deceased love one’s wishes, etc.
Let’s be sensible. Nowhere in the Bible does it forbid to be cremated. There might be personal reasons but surely they are not Biblical. It then comes down to an issue of Christian liberty as with other debatable subjects. (Rom 14:5) . . . Let each be fully convinced in his own mind.