Bible Questions and Answers

 
     
 

Bible Question:Is it wrong in the sight of God to be cremated?

Bible Answer: Cremation was a common practice among many ancient nations. The Greeks are an example of a people who only cremated their dead. The Romans sometimes cremated their dead. The Jews rarely cremated.
Biblical Examples. Several examples of cremation occur in the Old Testament. Three examples of cremation as a punishment for crime occur in Genesis 38:24 and Leviticus 20:4 and 21:9.

Also the daughter of any priest, if she profanes herself by harlotry, she profanes her father; she shall be burned with fire. (NASB) Leviticus 21:9

1 Samuel 31:11-15 records the cremation of King Saul's body by his own troops.

All the valiant men rose and walked all night, and took the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons from the wall of Beth-shan, and they came to Jabesh, and burned them there. (NASB) 1 Sam. 31:12

The exact reason for the cremation is unknown and consequently there are a number of opinions as to why. It seems mostly that they burned his body either because decay had already set in or to make it easier to carry his bones home (apparently the fire was not hot enough to completely turn the bones to ashes). This is a particularly important example because later in 2 Samuel 1:1-15 David is angry over the killing of the Lord's Anointed, Saul. So he has Saul's murderer killed, but David never expresses anger over the cremation of Saul.
1 Corinthians 13:3 reinforces the idea that cremation is not wrong. Paul is talking about the importance of love in a Christian's life and seems to use cremation as an extreme example of suffering.

And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. (NASB) 1 Cor. 13:3

Paul does not condemn cremation. It is clear from Paul that cremation is not biblically wrong.
Early Church. History tells us the early Christians did not practice cremation. In fact, the persecutors of the early church burned the bodies of the Christian martyrs as a mockery of the resurrection, but every body eventually decays and returns to ashes.

By the sweat of your face You shall eat bread, Till you return to the ground, Because from it you were taken; For you are dust, And to dust you shall return." (NASB) Genesis 3:19

The Romans were not aware that it does not matter how our bodies are destroyed. God is able to resurrect our bodies,

For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. (NASB) 2 Cor. 5:1

Conclusion:While cremation was the practice of ancient godless nations around Israel, it is referred to on several occasions in the Bible without a negative comment. Scripture does not forbid cremation. God does not provide any direct commands or prohibitions. It is a personal choice.

 

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