What does the Bible say about cremation? Is it a sin to be cremated? Does it make a difference to God?
What Does the Bible Say About Cremation?
The Bible is actually silent as to whether a deceased person should or should not be cremated or burned. There are examples of burning the bones of people (2 Kings 23:16-20) and Manasseh, one of the most evil kings of Israel, burned his own son in the fire (2 Kings 21:6) but this is not exactly befitting of the question of whether a believer should allow his or her body to be cremated after death. What Manasseh did was an abomination to the Lord but it did not relate to his son’s burial.
Every example of burial in the Bible was always done in the ground or in a cave for the most part (Genesis 23:19; 35:4; 2 Chronicles 16:14; Matthew 27:60-66). Cave burial was the most frequent burial custom of the ancient world and particularly with Israel and the Jews. Cremation was practiced by pagan nations but was never practiced by Israel or by any of the Jews. This does not mean that it is not acceptable because contemporary funeral services are extremely exorbitant and some families can not afford to be buried in a casket. For financial considerations many have predetermined to have their bodies cremated after death.
Is it a Sin To Be Cremated?
Once again, there is no sin in cremation that the Bible speaks of. We know from Scripture that life is sacred and since God is the Giver of Life, then He is the only one who can determine the time and circumstances of a person’s death but what happens after death does not appear to be of great consequence to God. No Christian needs to fear losing their afterlife if they are cremated since God will someday resurrect both believers and unbelievers (Corinthians 15:35-58; 1 Thessalonians 4:16). The Bible does not appear to support it nor does it prohibit it specifically.
As for mankind, we are from dust and we will return to dust so considering the spiraling costs of funeral services, a person would not be said to be in sin if they have made prior arrangements to be cremated after death. It appears that biblically speaking, this is a personal decision for someone to make. I have made out a will and like anyone else, they can specify to loved ones or in a will what their wishes are for after they are deceased.
Does it Make a Difference to God?
The Islamic faith prohibits the burning of bodies after death but this is a religious preference. The Apostle Paul indicated that he would be willing to have his body burned for Christ’s sake if need be: “And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing” ( I Cor. 13:3, NKJV). This is not actually an endorsement for cremation but it also seems to indicate that it is not necessarily a sin either. Paul never mentioned cremation in the New Testament nor was it mentioned in the Old Testament. This would appear that God does not prohibit cremation, particularly if it were for financial considerations. Since God did not specifically prohibit this in any of the Old Testament Mosaic Laws it seems likely that He would be indifferent to it being sin or not. Where God clearly indicates His will, He normally spells it out plainly in the Law and cremation is never mentioned in the Mosaic Law as being forbidden.
What does make a difference to God is where the soul goes after death. A person will face fire someday in eternal torment after death if they have not come to a saving faith in Jesus Christ. If a believer dies, they can know with certainty that their body – whether cremated or buried – will be resurrected back to a perfect state. The soul will join with the body after Christ’s return and they will never have to face death again. That makes a difference not only to God but also to each and every person that knows Christ. It also will make an eternal difference to an unbeliever because they will be in a state and place of suffering from which they can not return. It makes a difference to us too and that is why I would hope and pray that if you are not a believer in Jesus Christ, you might come to know Him today.
When you place your trust in Him, your eternal state is something you can rest assured in. And that is something that does matter to God since He desires that no one perish and that all would be saved. As Peter was inspired by the Holy Spirit, God says in 2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” So you can see that to God, you are important to Him and it makes a difference to God where you spend eternity.
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