What Christians Need to Know About Cremation and the Resurrection of the Dead

In 2015, the percentage of Americans choosing cremation rose to an all-time high of 48.2%. In a span of 65 years, that number had increased by 1,238.88%. Over half of all Americans are expected to choose cremation by the year 2020.

There are many reasons for the dramatic rise in popularity of cremation. One is that cremation costs much less than a funeral and burial service. Another reason so many people are choosing cremation is due to environmental factors, such as protecting the land from the toxic chemicals used in embalming, and concern for the increasing scarcity of land.

While cremation seems to provide many benefits, it does put Christians in a quandary. Biblical scholars can assure Christians that cremation does not appear anywhere in the Bible, but what about the concept of the resurrected body? What happens if after a Christian dies, the body is cremated instead of buried? How does the body get resurrected if it has been turned into ashes?

What Christians need to realize is that no matter how one dies, their body is going to decompose at some point. This proves that an intact body is not necessary in order to get resurrected. In other words, a Christian’s physical body is not what goes to heaven.

For Christians who want to know if cremation is truly an acceptable way of caring for the body after death, they will have to turn to the Bible. Again, the topic of cremation is not mentioned in the Bible, and since it’s not, some argue that it cannot be considered a sinful act.

Burial however, is mentioned in the Bible. In fact, there are many scriptures that discuss burial in a tomb, cave, or the ground. For instance Matthew 27:59-61, says, “Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a long sheet of clean linen cloth. He placed it in his own new tomb, which had been carved out of the rock. Then he rolled a great stone across the entrance and left. Both Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting across from the tomb and watching.” The scripture is of course mentioning the burial of Jesus. There are also many other references scattered throughout the Bible where people buried the dead, such as Abraham burying his wife Sarah and Jacob burying Rachel.

Neither the Hebrews nor the believers of the New Testament engaged in the practice of cremation but historical studies have proven that there were people and cultures who did.

Cremation was a custom of the ancient Greeks and became widely practiced by the time of the Roman Empire. The Jewish culture, however practiced sepulcher entombment and early Christians practiced burial as they believed cremation to be pagan. By 400 A.D. burial had replaced all occurrences of cremation under Constantine, who was responsible for Christianizing the Roman Empire. For the next 1,500 years earth burial remained the accepted practice throughout Europe.

It wasn’t until 1873 that an acceptable form of cremation came about when it was discovered by an Italian professor in Vienna. The practice made its way to the British Isles and began to gain popularity when Queen Victoria’s surgeon used the method to deal with hazardous health conditions. The Cremation Society of England was then founded in 1874.

The first crematory in North America was built in 1876 in Pennsylvania. Protestant clergy who wanted to reform burial practices were largely responsible for the opening of several more crematories.

Whether a Christian chooses burial or cremation, the Bible promises Christians that they will receive a new body once they enter into eternity. This is discussed by the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:1-3 which says, “For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies.”

When God resurrects a body, it will not matter whether or not that body was buried or cremated. And whether the body slowly decays after being buried or burns quickly during cremation, God will provide a new body – one that will dwell with Him for all of eternity.

~ Christian Patriot Daily


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