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
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
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.
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.
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.