Thinking Out Loud - Ms. Green

Commentaries from a female, conservative Christian worldview. Intermittent observations on human behavior and current events. Occasional bursts of personal tirades,confessions, and discoveries. Frequent discussions about my "Narrow-Minded Faith".

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Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Christians and Cremation

Someone asked me the other day what I thought about Christians choosing to be cremated.

Is it sinful? Does God care? What difference does it make whether someone is buried or cremated?

My search of Scripture failed to find anything that specifically condemned cremation. I don’t believe it is sinful to do so, but my personal conviction is that I want to be buried – not cremated.

First of all, cremation has historically been a pagan custom. To some, it supposedly “frees the spirit” at death. Others believe it is part of the reincarnation process. For instance, Hindus cremate the bodies and then sprinkle the ashes into the Ganges River. Pagan religions deny the bodily resurrection. That is one of the main reasons I choose a traditional Christian burial.

Secondly, God specifically speaks in Scripture about bodies being buried:

His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God;) that thy land be not defiled, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.” Deuteronomy 21:23

And after this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah before Mamre: the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan.” Genesis 23:19

And the field, and the cave that is therein, were made sure unto Abraham for a possession of a buryingplace by the sons of Heth.” Genesis 23:20

There they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife; there they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife; and there I buried Leah.” Genesis 49:31

So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD. And he buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Bethpeor: but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day.” Deuteronomy 34:5-6

Rebekah’s nurse Deborah was buried
Rachel was buried
Miriam was buried
Aaron was buried
Moses was buried
Gideon was buried
David was buried
Solomon was buried
Lazarus was buried
John the Baptist was buried
Jesus was buried

In the cases I found in Scripture where bodies were burned, it was either for sanitary reasons (lepers were to be burned outside the camp) or as a sign of judgment.

And he slew all the priests of the high places that were there upon the altars, and burned men's bones upon them, and returned to Jerusalem.” II Kings 23:20

Achan and his family were cremated as judgment. (Joshua chapter 7)

Burial is a part of the Gospel:

Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;… For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:” I Corinthians 15:1-4


Is it a sin to be cremated? No. Can God resurrect a person’s ashes? Of course He can. But cremation is a poor witness to the lost. Being buried, along with a Christian funeral, gives opportunity to witness to the lost about the hope of resurrection. I personally know people who have actually gotten saved at funerals! Fire is for the lost and thank Jesus, resurrection of the body is for the saved!

And on a side note - I'm hoping to avoid either one and praying for the Rapture!

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10 Comments:

At 8:32 AM, Blogger Neil said...

Interesting queston and a very good answer!

 
At 2:03 PM, Blogger Brooke said...

My basis for decision: God knows my soul, can raise ashes, and cremation is cheaper for the family! LOL!

I don't think that as Christians we are a witness with the way our bodies are handled after death, but rather how we lived. I only hope I don't do more harm than good while I'm here!

 
At 6:30 PM, Blogger nanc said...

cremation for me.

burials have become so overrated and expensive - i don't want my family to bear that burden and have felt this way ever since i could remember...now, what was i saying? ha!

i don't want this body back anyway.

great discussion topic, ms. green.

 
At 10:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I rather not start with burning up first, so i think i will let God decide that one and i will go out with one of those boring traditional funerals!

 
At 11:37 PM, Blogger ELAshley said...

I agree. Cremation seems to me a poor testament to our faith. Everything I've read in the Bible indicates that the body is to be treated respectfully. If our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit in life, should they not be treated respectfully in death?

Furthermore, creamation and the scattering of ashes lends itself to an acceptance of a faith that says, we are born of stardust and in the fulness of time we'll return to stardust.

The vessel that housed the Holy Spirit IS a witness of our faith that God will not leave our bodies in the grave. He will come again to awaken us. An image that implies our bodies merely sleep. Ashes, on the other hand, cannot be awakened, they can only be scattered to the four corners of the world by every wind of false-doctrine... the ultimate image of oblivion, and that, brothers and sisters, is not our fate.

I too pray for the rapture.

 
At 10:21 AM, Blogger nanc said...

the bible also says we will be refined as if passing through a fire.

when i was very young i wanted to be cast to the wind in whole so the birds, bugs and animals of the night could feed on my carcass. now, i don't believe it is of any great import. don't ask me why.

it is a great conversation starter though!

 
At 10:22 AM, Blogger nanc said...

p.s. o.t. - this guy will definitely be passing through a fire before all is said and done:

http://apnews.myway.com/article/20061103/D8L5IM680.html

 
At 6:20 PM, Anonymous Herm said...

Since I'm the guilty party for opening this issue, I will add some additional thoughts about this. I can find some agreement with almost all the postings so far. It seems to me that long standing tradition has been the most driving motive for direct burial thus far for Christians. Cremation for Christians really has become more prevelant in the 20th century. I wonder if most Christians chosing cremation over direct burial, like my self have done so mostly because of monetary and or logistical issues. ie: I now live in Oregon, but families plot is in Ohio. I'm the old one left. No one left there to take care of grave sites. Who knows where my daughters and their families will end up. Point of all this is as "Nanc" posted, it has become a costly proposition when considering the "Cost". But, is there truly a moral question to consider? Is tradition in its self, something that needs this consideration? Am I holding the value of money over ethical or moral choice? I have no doubt that Our Christ will gather all the required evidence of our earthly existence when he comes for his Bride on that glorious day! My son-in-law, a Baptist Minister, believes as some of you do, that it is not a sin, just not the right ethical or moral choice, because of the long standing "Christian Tradition". I appreciate Ms Green posting this issue, and all the comments posted. Hope more will be encouraged to do so. Thanks, Herm

 
At 1:32 PM, Anonymous Rev. Evan Nutter said...

As an ordained minister, in the Wesleyan Church, I have zero priblem with cremation.

I do not see how it is a porr witness, as it does not inhibit God's ability to raise us when Christ returns. I also do not see any reason that a memorial service cannot be a witness to God's faithfulness and give just as much hope to those who remain that the deprated will be resurrected as the bidy will be a spiritual one and that they too can have the hope of heaven in Christ.

I also do not see how it constitutes being disrespectful of the body.

Basically I think like a lot of issues we as Christians elevate way beyond their importance, the thought that cremation is wrong is nothing more than a belief born out of a folk style theology, bred by the preferrence of the Christian culture, and manifested in the lives of people who accept whatever they hear from the pulpit as biblical whether the Bible says it or not.

Ultimately, it is not the body, but the spirit that God is concerned with. It is not the outside of the dish, but the inside, the heart. It is not how our bodies return to dust, but how we lived while in them.

 
At 11:31 PM, Blogger Ms.Green said...

These have been some interesting comments. And I respect each and every one of them for one simple reason. The Bible never says it is a sin to be cremated, so this is simply a matter of preference and personal opinion - of which there are many! I appreciate all of you taking the time to stop and give your thoughts on this subject!

 

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