People throughout Bible times treated the human body with great respect, and often showed deep concern about the disposition of the remains following death. (see Genesis 49:29-31 for instance) The Bible says that embalming was practiced in both the Old and New Testament times. (see Genesis 50; 26; Mark 16:1) The Bible also says that it was a great disgrace not to have a proper burial. (1 Samuel 31:9-13; 2 Samuel 2:4-6: Ecclesiastes 6:3)
What does the Bible say about death?
Cremation in Modern Times
Cremation is one of the options now available for final disposition of the body at death. It is estimated that less than 5 percent of American families choose cremation, but in Japan and England over half the families take this option.
Funeral arrangements for a cremated body are not necessarily significantly different from other options. The body may still be viewed prior to the service, and a worship service may be held with the deceased present in most cases. There are a number of options available as to the disposition of the cremated remains, including burial and scattering.
In contemplating cremation and the other choices available, Christians will want to give thoughtful consideration to all who may be affected by the decision, such as loved ones who may have strong feelings on the subject of cremation. One certainly would not like to bring unnecessary distress to anyone.
Final Thoughts on Cremation
As we finish examining what the Bible says about cremation let's consider the following:
- The attitude of the Christian's heart will show deep respect for the wonderful body that God designed. (Psalm 139:14)
- God will resurrect all of His children regardless of what has become of their bodies. When Jesus comes, "The dead in Christ" will be raised and given immortal bodies, "fashioned like unto his glorious body." (1 Thessalonians 4:16; 1 Corinthians 15:54; Philippians 3:21) How happy we are as we look forward to that great day!