What does the Bible say about cremation? Should Christians cremate family members or merely bury them in a casket? Is cremation a sin? These are all nice questions.
Cremation is the strategy of burning a deceased body till there’s nothing left but ashes or tiny, fragmented stays. Some individuals choose to cremate deceased family members and hold their ashes in an urn or different decorative show, whereas others choose to unfold the ashes in some meaningful place. Cremation is rising in popularity in our tradition as a consequence of the rising costs of burial plots.
What Does the Bible Say About Cremation?
The Brief Reply: The Bible by no means instantly addresses the challenge of cremation, nor does it prohibit it. Subsequently, it will not be a “sin” to cremate a beloved one. Nevertheless, the Bible does establish a reasonably clear sample which suggests that the “burning” of bodies or bones was typically reserved for punishment or shame (and was generally practiced by pagans), whereas the “burying” of people was typically completed out of reverence or respect (and was typically practiced by the Israelites or New Testomony Christians). Subsequently, burial seems to be a Christian “best practice,” and it ought to be most popular to cremation. However cremation shouldn’t be a sin.
For the longer answer, let’s look at some passages referencing the “burning” and “burying” of individuals so that we will have a greater Biblical perspective.
Some Bible Passages Describing the Burning of Our bodies
First, notice how the dying penalty by “burning” was typically completed to “shame” or “punish” a person for some action. In the Bible, hearth is usually symbolic of punishment, testing, judgment, or wrath.
Judah, appearing like a hypocrite, prompt that Tamar be “burned” for turning into pregnant out of wedlock and “playing the harlot”. Unbeknownst to him, he was the one who obtained her pregnant!
Genesis 38:24 And it came to move about three months after, that it was advised Judah, saying, Tamar thy daughter in regulation hath performed the harlot; and in addition, behold, she is with baby by whoredom. And Judah stated, Convey her forth, and let her be burnt.
Next, we see that God instituted demise by hearth for sure offenses in the Mosaic Regulation, and He also punished the Israelites by hearth, including Aaron’s two sons (Nadab and Abihu). Furthermore, Joshua was instructed to punish Achan’s family for taking the spoils of struggle by stoning them to dying and then burning them:
Leviticus 20:14 And if a man take a wife and her mom, it’s wickedness: they shall be burnt with hearth, each he they usually; that there be no wickedness amongst you.
Leviticus 21:9 And the daughter of any priest, if she profane herself by enjoying the whore, she profaneth her father: she shall be burnt with hearth.
Leviticus 10:2 And there went out hearth from the Lord, and devoured them, they usually died earlier than the Lord.
Numbers 11:1 And when the individuals complained, it displeased the LORD: and the LORD heard it; and his anger was kindled; and the hearth of the LORD burnt among them, and consumed them that have been in the uttermost elements of the camp.
Joshua 7:25 And Joshua stated, Why hast thou troubled us? the LORD shall hassle thee today. And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with hearth, after that they had stoned them with stones.
As a aspect word, the corpse of King Saul and his sons have been additionally burned with hearth (1 Samuel 31:12), however this was in all probability as a result of their our bodies had been severely abused by the Philistines, not a lot to dishonor them (although Saul definitely wasn’t a godly king who deserved honor).
Subsequent, we see how the pagans typically practiced the burning of their youngsters as a sacrifice to pagan gods, and the Philistines also burned Sampson’s spouse and father after he set their fields on hearth:
Jeremiah 19:5 They have built additionally the excessive places of Baal, to burn their sons with hearth for burnt offerings unto Baal, which I commanded not, nor spake it, neither came it into my thoughts:
2 Kings 17:31 And the Avites made Nibhaz and Tartak, and the Sepharvites burnt their youngsters in hearth to Adrammelech and Anammelech, the gods of Sepharvaim.
Jeremiah 19:5 They have constructed also the high locations of Baal, to burn their sons with hearth for burnt choices unto Baal, which I commanded not, nor spake it, neither got here it into my mind:
Judges 15:6 Then the Philistines stated, Who hath carried out this? They usually answered, Samson, the son in regulation of the Timnite, because he had taken his wife, and given her to his companion. And the Philistines got here up, and burnt her and her father with hearth.
Then we’ve the fascinating story of Josiah, the Godly king. Throughout his rampage of “cleaning up” the land, he broke down the homes of the sodomites (homosexuals), broke down groves, and extra. He also burned clergymen on the altar, but that wasn’t enough for him. He then went so far as to collect the bones of the false prophets/idol worshipers from the surrounding tombs, and he burned them on the altar as nicely. Discover that when these bones have been burned, the altar was thought-about “polluted:”
2 Kings 23:16 And as Josiah turned himself, he spied the sepulchres that have been there in the mount, and sent, and took the bones out of the sepulchres, and burned them upon the altar, and polluted it, based on the phrase of the LORD which the man of God proclaimed, who proclaimed these phrases.
2 Kings 23:20 And he slew all the clergymen of the excessive places that have been there upon the altars, and burned men’s bones upon them, and returned to Jerusalem.
In the e-book of Amos, we see that God promises to punish Moab for their transgressions. What’s one among the causes God lists for this punishment? It was the burning of the bones of the king of Edom into lime. God clearly seen this as a depraved act:
Amos 2:1 Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Moab, and for four, I can’t turn away the punishment thereof; as a result of he burned the bones of the king of Edom into lime:
Finally, we will’t overlook that God Himself uses hearth as an everlasting punishment for evildoers, as shall be the case in Hell and/or the Lake of Hearth:
Matthew 13:40 As subsequently the tares are gathered and burned in the hearth; so shall it’s in the end of this world.
John 15:6 If a man abide not in me, he’s forged forth as a branch, and is withered; and males collect them, and forged them into the hearth, and they are burned.
Matthew 25:41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into eternal hearth, ready for the devil and his angels:
Subsequently, while the Bible doesn’t immediately handle the challenge of cremation, the burning of a body (stay or lifeless) or bones was commonly carried out to disgrace or punish an individual. Though God typically commanded it as a punishment, He additionally expresses displeasure in it when it was executed to the king of Edom.
However what about burial? What does the Bible say about that?
Bible Passages Relating to Burial
The Bible is full of examples of burials, so I’m not even going to aim to record all of them on this article. What’s fascinating is that God seems to exit of His strategy to document many individual’s burial, even going as far as to describe landmarks or other essential details. God additionally tells many individuals that they’ll “die in old age” and be buried “with their ancestors.” The patriarchs and most of their wives’ deaths are recorded in the Bible, in addition to most notable figures in the Previous Testament. Under are a number of outstanding examples:
First, we now have the unhappy but lovely scene of Abraham burying his beloved Sarah (Genesis 23). The significance here was that Abraham wasn’t prepared to simply accept a free tomb–he needed to pay for it. Why? It meant one thing to him. He needed to honor his spouse by shopping for an appropriate burying place. Although Ephron the Hittite was prepared to provide the land to Abraham free of charge, Abraham insisted on paying the full worth. And he did purchase it for the full worth (400 shekels of silver)! Consider me, I’ll guess Sarah was value every penny.
Next, we’ve the story of Joseph’s demise in Egypt. Joseph was so involved about the resting place of his bones (and had such religion that God would later ship the Israelites into the promised land) that he made them swear an oath to take his bones once they left (they usually later did simply that):
Genesis 50:25 And Joseph took an oath of the youngsters of Israel, saying, God will surely go to you, and ye shall carry up my bones from therefore.
Another noteworthy instance is Moses’ dying. Moses was God’s trustworthy servant, and God Himself buried him, probably by way of the assistance of angels (Deuteronomy 34:6). There are three fascinating issues to note about Moses’ demise:
- The Bible later tells us of a mysterious “dispute” that arose over the burial of Moses’ body between Michael the archangel and Devil (Jude 1:9). We’re not informed what the dispute was over, however some students recommend that Devil might have needed to either flip Moses physique into an object of worship, or obliterate it in an try and maintain him from coming back during the transfiguration (or probably as considered one of the “two witnesses” described in Revelation 11:3).
- God might have merely “vaporized” Moses’ body, but God chose to bury Him. This means to me that God locations an ideal emphasis on burial, and it is a strategy to show respect or honor for the particular person (versus cremation).
- An fascinating phrase is used in Deuteronomy 32:50, when God tells Moses that he might be “gathered unto thy people.” Though this phrase is usually used as a generic phrase which means “they passed away,” I feel this example clearly suggests that Moses was immediately taken to paradise (“Abraham’s bosom”) and reunited together with his religious fathers. Why? None of his ancestors have been ever buried on this mountain, and the location of his tomb was ceaselessly unknown.
Subsequent, discover how in the guide of Jeremiah, the Lord says that as a result of Johoiakim’s sins, he may have a pathetic burial:
Jeremiah 22:18-19: Subsequently thus saith the LORD regarding Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah; They shall not lament for him, saying, Ah my brother! or, Ah sister! they shall not lament for him, saying, Ah lord! or, Ah his glory!
He shall be buried with the burial of an ass, drawn and forged forth past the gates of Jerusalem.
Here we see that an unrighteous man was typically given little honor in burial (if he was even buried in any respect), and God appeared to emphasise this a form of punishment for Johoiakim’s transgressions. Whereas God did typically permit unrighteous kings to have a proper burial, He offered extra honorable burials for righteous kings corresponding to David (1 Kings 2:10).
Lastly, we now have the example of Jesus Christ. Although he was poor financially throughout His time on earth, He had a rich man’s burial. They took nice care to deliver spices and so forth for his body. In the passage under, we are additionally informed that “the manner of the Jews is to bury.” It was their custom, as it was for many early Christians:
John 19:40 Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury.
God’s individuals used burial as a customized, and we should always attempt for the same commonplace. That was just their Godly way of life. By burying an individual, it points to religion in a future resurrection. That’s not to say that God MUST have our our bodies buried to resurrect them (in fact, some cannot be buried since their bodies have been destroyed). However it’s a picture of the resurrection, and it’s a option to categorical religion in it.
Dr. J. Vernon McGee, a famend Bible instructor who has now handed on to glory, answered a question about cremation on his Bible radio program some years in the past. In it, he strongly advocated burial for the Christian, and he indicated that he thought it was a “poor testimony” to cremate. Why? He cited the following passage:
1 Corinthians 15:42-43: So also is the resurrection of the lifeless. It’s sown in corruption; it’s raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonour; it’s raised in glory: it is sown in weak spot; it’s raised in energy:
Here, Paul refers to the lifeless body as being “sown” like a seed (a clear reference to burial), only to be resurrected later in an excellent event. Subsequently, by burying our family members, we not only present them honor and love, however we additionally reveal our faith in a future resurrection.
Conclusion: Burial is Highly Beneficial, But Cremation is Not a Sin
The Bible never explicitly condemns cremation as a sin, nor does it command us to bury in a certain approach. Cremation, whereas not very best, is an choice for many who can’t otherwise present a proper burial. Nevertheless, the Bible additionally demonstrates a transparent pattern: Burning a physique (or a lifeless corpse) was a option to humiliate or punish an individual. Pagans also burned bodies throughout sacrifices and as a way to kill or dispose of people.
In distinction, God went to nice lengths to bury Moses, and He additionally ensured good burials for many of the patriarchs or righteous kings. Joseph was adamant about the placement of his bones, and Abraham insisted on buying a tomb to provide Sarah a correct burial. Jesus was also given a rich man’s burial. Burial is clearly the very best Christian remedy for a beloved one, as demonstrated in God’s word.
Subsequently, Christians should attempt to bury their loves ones out of respect or honor, if attainable. A few of my very own extended relations have cremated their family members, and I’ve definitely never condemned them for it. At the similar time, my wife and I plan on a burial for our circle of relatives. To me, there’s simply one thing comforting about understanding your beloved continues to be there in a grave, although their spirit has departed to be with the Lord. And contemplating how the Bible holds burial in excessive esteem, I feel it’s the applicable selection for all Christians.