Is Cremation Christian?

The following are the reasons Christians should not practice cremation.

Burning of the dead

It is a heathen practice!

Why do the Hindus and those of other heathen religions cremate?

They do it in the belief that the dead are not raised again, whereas the Bible says there is a resurrection of the just and the unjust.

In heathen religions, it is believed that the dead will be reincarnated; and to destroy the body by cremation is sometimes considered a way of releasing the spirit of the deceased.

There is nothing Christian about cremation.

God’s people have always practiced burial

Abraham

“Then Abraham gave up the ghost, and died in a good old age, an old man, and full of years; and was gathered to his people. [9] And his sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron the son of Zohar the Hittite, which is before Mamre; [10] The field which Abraham purchased of the sons of Heth: there was Abraham buried, and Sarah his wife.” – Genesis 25:8-10

Sarah

“And Sarah was an hundred and seven and twenty years old: these were the years of the life of Sarah. [2] And Sarah died in Kirjath-arba; the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan: and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her. [3] And Abraham stood up from before his dead, and spake unto the sons of Heth, saying, [4] I am a stranger and a sojourner with you: give me a possession of a buryingplace with you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight.” – Genesis 23:1-4

Rachel

“And Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrath, which is Bethlehem. [20] And Jacob set a pillar upon her grave: that is the pillar of Rachel’s grave unto this day.” – Genesis 35:19-20

Isaac

“And Isaac gave up the ghost, and died, and was gathered unto his people, being old and full of days: and his sons Esau and Jacob buried him.” – Genesis 35:29

Jacob

“And when Jacob had made an end of commanding his sons, he gathered up his feet into the bed, and yielded up the ghost, and was gathered unto his people.” – Genesis 49:33

“And Joseph fell upon his father’s face, and wept upon him, and kissed him. [2] And Joseph commanded his servants the physicians to embalm his father: and the physicians embalmed Israel. [3] And forty days were fulfilled for him; for so are fulfilled the days of those which are embalmed: and the Egyptians mourned for him threescore and ten days. [4] And when the days of his mourning were past, Joseph spake unto the house of Pharaoh, saying, If now I have found grace in your eyes, speak, I pray you, in the ears of Pharaoh, saying, [5] My father made me swear, saying, Lo, I die: in my grave which I have digged for me in the land of Canaan, there shalt thou bury me. Now therefore let me go up, I pray thee, and bury my father, and I will come again. [6] And Pharaoh said, Go up, and bury thy father, according as he made thee swear. [7] And Joseph went up to bury his father: and with him went up all the servants of Pharaoh, the elders of his house, and all the elders of the land of Egypt, [8] And all the house of Joseph, and his brethren, and his father’s house: only their little ones, and their flocks, and their herds, they left in the land of Goshen. [9] And there went up with him both chariots and horsemen: and it was a very great company. [10] And they came to the threshingfloor of Atad, which is beyond Jordan, and there they mourned with a great and very sore lamentation: and he made a mourning for his father seven days. [11] And when the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, saw the mourning in the floor of Atad, they said, This is a grievous mourning to the Egyptians: wherefore the name of it was called Abel-mizraim, which is beyond Jordan. [12] And his sons did unto him according as he commanded them: [13] For his sons carried him into the land of Canaan, and buried him in the cave of the field of Machpelah, which Abraham bought with the field for a possession of a buryingplace of Ephron the Hittite, before Mamre.” – Genesis 50:1-13

Joseph

“So Joseph died, being an hundred and ten years old: and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.” – Genesis 50:26

Joshua

“And it came to pass after these things, that Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died, being an hundred and ten years old. [30] And they buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnath-serah, which is in mount Ephraim, on the north side of the hill of Gaash.” – Joshua 24:29-30

Eleazar

“And Eleazar the son of Aaron died; and they buried him in a hill that pertained to Phinehas his son, which was given him in mount Ephraim.” – Joshua 24:33

Samuel

“And Samuel died; and all the Israelites were gathered together, and lamented him, and buried him in his house at Ramah. And David arose, and went down to the wilderness of Paran.” – 1 Samuel 25:1

David

“So David slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David.” – 1 Kings 2:10

John the Baptist

“And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison. [11] And his head was brought in a charger, and given to the damsel: and she brought it to her mother. [12] And his disciples came, and took up the body, and buried it, and went and told Jesus.” – Matthew 14:10-12

Ananias and Sapphira

“And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things. [6] And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him. [7] And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in. [8] And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much. [9] Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out. [10] Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband.” – Acts 5:5-10

Stephen

“And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.” – Acts 8:2

In Romans 15:4

“For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.”

and 1 Cor. 10:11

“Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.”

God tells us that we are to follow the Bible’s examples as well as its direct instructions. Even in difficult circumstances God’s people in olden days practiced burial.

For example, Joseph’s body was kept for over 400 years in Egypt and then carried through the 40 years of wilderness wanderings before being buried in the Promised Land.

We read of this in Genesis 50:24-25

“And Joseph said unto his brethren, I die: and God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. [25] And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence.”

“And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him: for he had straitly sworn the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you; and ye shall carry up my bones away hence with you.” – Exodus 13:19

“And the bones of Joseph, which the children of Israel brought up out of Egypt, buried they in Shechem, in a parcel of ground which Jacob bought of the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for an hundred pieces of silver: and it became the inheritance of the children of Joseph.” – Joshua 24:32

How much simpler it would have been for the Israelites to have cremated Joseph, then carried his ashes with them in a tiny container! This they refused to do. Joseph, a follower of the one true God, a man who looked forward to the bodily resurrection, was given an honorable burial.

From this important example, we learn that even if cremation is less expensive or easier than burial, it is still to be rejected, as the Israelites rejected the economical and simpler way to transport Joseph’s body.
Burial show belief in the resurrection

The reason God’s people have always been careful to practice burial is not difficult to understand. We believe in a bodily resurrection.

“For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. [23] And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.” – Romans 8:22-23

“But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. [21] For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. [22] For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. [23] But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.” – 1 Cor. 15:20-23

“For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” – 2 Cor. 5:1

“Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, [52] In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. [53] For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. [54] So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. [55] O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? [56] The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. [57] But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” – 1 Cor. 15:51-57

Yes, the buried body will decompose in time. Yes, there are occasions in which Christians die in ways, which render burial impossible–in the sinking of ships, in fires, etc. But when at all possible Christians bury.

Why the trouble?

Because it is our Biblical belief that the same individual will be raised in perfect body.

The physical body is called the seed for the resurrection body. When planted, a seed decomposes, and the new plant comes forth. The Bible uses this to illustrate resurrection.

In 1 Cor. 15:35-44 the Apostle Paul answers those who would ask how it is possible for God to raise again a decomposed body. The terminology used by the Holy Spirit in this passage is that of husbandry–planting seed. The farmer does not destroy his seed; he plants it, and then from the decaying seed comes forth the new life. Such is burial and the resurrection.

“But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? [36] Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die: [37] And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain: [38] But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body. [39] All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds. [40] There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. [41] There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. [42] So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: [43] It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: [44] It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.” – 1 Cor. 15:35-44

When we bury a Christian loved one, we are planting the seed for the resurrection body! It is a powerful testimony of our unwavering faith in God’s Word regarding the promise of bodily resurrection.

Contrast heathenism

They have no such knowledge or hope. The Hindus and Buddhists, for example, believe in reincarnation. Though they believe in a human soul which is distinct from the body, they do not believe that soul, once departed from the body at death, will be resurrected in any relation whatsoever to the first body.

Rather they believe the soul will be reincarnated in another entirely unrelated body, or into a non-physical sphere of existence.

God’s people have always buried their dead with this magnificent hope burning in their hearts. We will see that brother or sister again, only changed, glorified! Hallelujah! Only through the death and shed blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ can we have this certain hope. He has taken upon Himself on the cross the punishment for our sins, carried our sins into the grave, and risen again in eternal triumph three days later.

When an individual thoroughly acknowledges his sinfulness before God, repents of his sin, and receives Jesus Christ as his or her Lord and Savior, the sin debt is paid, and eternal life and glory is promised from God the Father. Part of this heritage in Christ is the glorified resurrection body.
God practices burial

“So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord. [6] And he buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Beth-peor: but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day.” – Deut. 34:5-6

Cremation is a sign of God’s curse

Throughout the Bible the destruction of a human body or of an object by fire is used as a sign of divine wrath.

“And he took the calf which they had made, and burnt it in the fire, and ground it to powder, and strawed it upon the water, and made the children of Israel drink of it.” – Exodus 32:20

“And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the Lord, which he commanded them not. [2] And there went out fire from the Lord, and devoured them, and they died before the Lord.” – Leviticus 10:1-2

“The graven images of their gods shall ye burn with fire: thou shalt not desire the silver or gold that is on them, nor take it unto thee, lest thou be snared therein: for it is an abomination to the Lord thy God.” – Deut. 7:25

“And there came out a fire from the Lord, and consumed the two hundred and fifty men that offered incense.” – Numbers 16:35

“And they brought forth the images out of the house of Baal, and burned them.” – 2 Kings 10:26

“And when they had left their gods there, David gave a commandment, and they were burned with fire.” – 1 Chron. 14:12

“And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds. [19] Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver.” – Acts 19:18-19

“And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” – Rev. 20:15

For a person not to have a proper burial was considered a dishonor

“And of Jezebel also spake the Lord, saying, The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel. [24] Him that dieth of Ahab in the city the dogs shall eat; and him that dieth in the field shall the fowls of the air eat.” – 1 Kings 21:23-24

“Do unto them as unto the Midianites; as to Sisera, as to Jabin, at the brook of Kison: [10] Which perished at Endor: they became as dung for the earth.” – Psalm 83:9-10

The Christian’s body belongs to God

The body is not ours to destroy by fire or by any other means.

“For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s.” – Romans 14:8

“What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? [20] For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” – 1 Cor. 6:19-20

God has plainly called cremation wickedness

“Thus saith the Lord; For three transgressions of Moab, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because he burned the bones of the king of Edom into lime:” – Amos 2:1

The Lord Jesus Christ was buried, and He is our great example

“And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus. [39] And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. [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. [41] Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid. [42] There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews’ preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand.” – John 19:38-42

Just as the Lord Jesus Christ was buried in certainty that He would rise again on the third day according to the Scriptures, even so is the Christian said to rest at death.

To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord, as the Apostle Paul testified

“Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.” – 2 Cor. 5:9

“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. [22] But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. [23] For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:” – Philip. 1:21-23

The body without the spirit is dead

“For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” – James 2:26

The dead body sleeps in the grave while the redeemed soul waits in glory for the great resurrection day. Of course we cannot force people either to bury or not to bury. We know that the manner of one’s burial does not affect one’s salvation or resurrection but we do believe these things are important, and we are convinced that Christians should take their stand upon the examples of the Word of God.