Should a Christian Be Cremated?

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

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.  I think it is best, if a family can afford it, to have a burial because life is sacred, and that body in the casket used to have life in it and should be treated in a very respectful manner.  Even so, some cannot afford a burial and so they have little choice but to choose cremation.

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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If this article was helpful to you, please consider linking this article to your own blog or sharing this through the social buttons to the left. You might also find some of these other good Christian Answer articles helpful:

What Are the Gifts of the Spirit?

What Does The Bible Say About Divorce and Remarriage?

Should Christians Get Tattoos?


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{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

Pam September 22, 2011 at 8:28 pm

Very nice explanations Jack. This is a question that we deal with almost daily when ministering to families. I am so glad you wrote this. It is a subject that I think many Christians question. Great job!


Jack September 22, 2011 at 8:29 pm

Thank you so much Pam. I too have had this asked but in the end, God can put us all back together again, and better than Humpty Dumpty ever was. Isn’t our God an awesome God?


Margaret Yohanna September 23, 2011 at 12:00 am

Jack,i really don’t understand u,the Bible said Manasseh burned his own son in the fire was an abominatio to the Lord,anything abomination to God is it not a sin?is manaseh that sin and not the son,so the relations that are doing it to their death ones are sinning.I 100% agreen with your explaination of 1cor15:35-58,1 thess 4:16.But in 1cor 3:3 is paul not refering to be burnt alive?or is he saying his death body?somebody who will give himself to be burnt alive so that he will die is it not a sin?pls explain more thanks.


Jack Wellman September 23, 2011 at 10:17 am

Margaret, thank you for your comment. I am glad you mentioned this event of Manasseh. Why was it an abomination to God? He sacrificed his own son in the fire, practiced sorcery and divination, and consulted mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the eyes of the LORD, provoking him to anger (2 Kings 21:6). Having a deceased person cremated due to their (the family’s) inability to pay for an funeral (e.g, casket, embalming, etc. which can be anywhere from 4,000 to 10,000 dollars) is not even the same thing as “sacrificing his own son in the fire” and Manasseh “practiced sorcery and divination, and consulted mediums and spiritists” so this is why it was an abomination to the Lord. I had a friend’s father who had little money to even afford a preacher for the service so I did it free of course. It was my privilege. The average cost funeral services (in 2009, latest figures available) was $7,500! The casket alone can be from $600 to $10,000.

My friend’s father was poor, living below poverty level and my friend is disable only having SSI income. How can you say that he did an abominable thing to the Lord. He was not “sacrificing his own father in the fire” nor did he “practice sorcery and divination” and as a Christian, he certainly did not “consulted mediums and spiritists”. So I respectfully disagree that my friend was doing what Manasseh was doing. Read the context of all of Chapter 21 of 2 Kings, and in fact, all of 2 Kings and you can see that cremation of deceased loved ones is not the same things as Manasseh who “sacrificed his own son in the fire, practiced sorcery and divination, and consulted mediums and spiritists.”

How would you respond to this?


Margaret Yohanna September 24, 2011 at 1:11 am

Thanks alot,i wanted more explaination which you’ve done, is understood and i’m bless,but you left the second part of my qustion unanswed.My discovering of this site has given me more knowledge of the Bible.May God bless you and your team abundantly. Thanks.,


Jack September 24, 2011 at 3:17 pm

Margaret. Thank you so much. What a grace-filled comment. I appreciate your words so full of kindness and love. Wow.

As for I Cor. 13:3, you are right. That is probably not a good example to use but I should have clarified more precisely what this verse was saying so I am going back to I Cor 13:1-3 which says

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.”

I failed to clarify my point with I Cor 13:3, so I owe you my apology. I am sorry for that. What I should have said was that even if Paul was burned alive, which many Christians were, particularly in Rome, was that even through a death by fire, that God would never have any problem resurrecting a human body at Christ’s return. I did a poor job of explaining so you were right that I failed to answer the second part. I am glad you caught me in that. I did not intentionally ignore it, but I just goofed. So sorry. First Cor. 13 is what is called the “love chapter”. His conclusion is that even if all will “it shall vanish away” love endures forever and God’s love will not leave us abandoned in the grave, no matter what happens. Be well and blessed. Thank you for commenting again and again, I am sorry for my incomplete answer to all of your question. My bad.


Margaret Yohanna September 25, 2011 at 8:10 pm

Apology accepted.You’ve blessed me again, you ‘re really a material.I am happy with your explanations and well articulated.May God’s GRACE BE WITH YOU ALL.


Jack September 26, 2011 at 1:42 pm

Thank you Margaret. You have blessed me and also made me want to be more prayerful, discerning, and study a little better before I answer. I am surely an work in progress no doubt. Your words are so full of grace and the love of Christ that I really needed this especially today. Thank you.


Lester January 28, 2013 at 1:17 pm

You have explained the matters about cremation in different religion very well. I think if the religion doesn’t directly prohibits cremation, it is ok to have the body of the deceased to be cremated, especially when the family of the deceased don’t have much budget for a traditional burial.

Human Cremation Urns


Jack Wellman January 28, 2013 at 1:24 pm

So true Lester. My own late mother had little money as she was alone and even though we children offered to help and pay ALL of the funeral costs, she insisted that we not pay the extra money and so she was cremated. Many families struggle with the extreme cost of doing so and sadly, funeral homes are under few regulations on costs and expenditures and many times take advantage of those who have little money to pay for a funeral and it is beyond their ability.

Regardless, my own mother is today, and those who could not afford a normal funeral burial process with casket and all, in the presence of God as she has put her trust in Christ and that is all the assurance that she and we need.


Sharon February 2, 2013 at 2:25 pm

hi from Sharon:

Thanks for the very informative article about cremation vs burial. I am a Christian, but I do not have a lot of money either. I was wondering if it is OK for someone like me to be cremated. I am glad that you answered this question. I don’t think that God would condemn a Christian being cremated today due to financial problems. I did not realize that funerals and burials were so expensive. My mother is planning to be cremated when she dies because our family cannot afford the cost of a traditional burial. I don’t think that God would punish someone for having been cremated due to lack of funds.


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Milton Billingsley July 22, 2013 at 7:50 pm

It really doesn’t matter because the only thing in the world that can not be destroyed, even by burning, is the Spirit God gave us and the Soul we gathered while here on earth. They will go the heaven not your physical body but the new body cleansed of all sins and diseases.


Jack Wellman July 22, 2013 at 7:57 pm

Amen my friend. You are so right. My own mother asked to be cremated because she didn’t have enough money to have a casket and even with us children chipping in, she said what you said that God will join the body with the should again someday in heaven. I agree with you Milton. Thank you sir for your comment.


Sandra November 4, 2014 at 2:59 am

Thank you so much for posting this article. For many years now, I have asked a lot of people about this subject and no one has been able to answer me. My family has given me a hard time because I have always said that I wanted to be cremated. They think it goes against God’s word. I’m going to share this with them so they can finally understand and accept my decision. Thank you again and God bless….


Jack Wellman November 4, 2014 at 8:31 am

Thank you for your kind words Sandra. I am glad that you have some comfort over this issue that many believers don’t extend grace on. I hope it helps your family accept this decision of yours.


Dorothy December 3, 2014 at 11:54 am

Thank you for your article.


Jack Wellman December 3, 2014 at 11:57 am

You’re welcome Dorothy. I hoped to give believers with little money for a traditional funeral some reason that its okay to be cremated. May God richly bless you for your encouragement.


Martin Lopez December 18, 2014 at 10:04 pm

Very nice Jack, you have good words of wisdom for all. Thanks.


Jack Wellman December 19, 2014 at 7:01 am

Thank you for your kindness Mr. Lopez.


PHYLLIS January 23, 2015 at 8:28 pm



Shirley Johnson April 13, 2015 at 4:21 pm

On the article of cremation….I find peace with cremation of my sister because her ashes were buried. Just a thought!


Jack Wellman April 13, 2015 at 4:28 pm

That’s a great point Mrs. Johnson. Thanks for adding that important consideration.


Vave June 29, 2015 at 3:22 pm

So glad to have found this website. I am a 44 year old Christian who has Stage 4 Breast Cancer. I don’t know when the Lord will call me home, but I do know funerals are very expensive. I want to be cremated. God Bless all of you.


Jack Wellman June 29, 2015 at 3:33 pm

I am overjoyed that this could give you some peace of mind. I myself look forward to that day when I shall see my Lord face to face.


Kim August 11, 2015 at 5:49 pm

Thank you. My Uncle just died and as far as I was concerned, he had a relationship with Christ and that is all that mattered, because as you say, we are going to be put back together again. My stepfather questioned his salvation because he opted to be cremated. I am positive it was due to the lack of finances. God bless you and I will see you on the other side.


Jack Wellman August 11, 2015 at 6:34 pm

Hello Kim. I am so very sorry for your loss. My condolences to you and your family and I am glad that this might have helped some in this great loss and many I know, my own mother for one, had no way to have the traditional burial but this cannot affect her being present with the Lord. May God richly bless you and comfort you in this time of loss.


Heidi October 6, 2015 at 4:15 pm

Thank you for this information. I have been struggling since we cremated my son (not for financial reasons) but I think that was his desire. He died suddenly. We buried his ashes and I have been struggling thinking “will he rise again and be with Christ”. It has been haunting me daily.


Don Kotas January 31, 2016 at 11:20 am

The Bible tells us that our bodies are not our own. They are the temple of the Holy Spirit. All throughout history we see that whenever the people of God are attacked by enemies the enemy will burn their temples (places of worship) down to the ground.

Why would you take what once housed the Spirit of the living God and burn it the same way heathens do? The Nazis burned the Jews in ovens.

We see in the Bible that the Patriarchs wanted their bones preserved and buried in Israel. Giving specific instructions that their remains be taken out of Egypt when the time comes and taken to Israel in order to be buried, not cremated.

Yes our God can resurrect any body no matter how desecrated their remains may be. But does that mean we should then do as the heathen or enemy does and cremate our loved ones bodies? Also, God can forgive any sin, but does that mean we should think nothing of sinning since we know we can be forgiven?

I’m not saying that cremation is a sin, I’m saying that there are reasons for doing or not doing things. There are more reasons given in the Bible that points to us as believers being buried upon death. Doesn’t our baptism reflect that? A burial and resurrection.

Why do as the heathen does? Honor God in our death the way we honored God during our life.


Gia November 21, 2016 at 3:36 pm

I am sorry to hear about your son. I also had my daughter cremated and then pondered over my decision. I hope I didn’t hurt her. I will also be cremated in the same funeral home as her when I pass. I hope I did the right thing and I will be giving her back to earth where we all belong. If you hear anything else that is positive about cremation let us know. I need all the assurance I can get as well. Thank you for posting. I send love to all of our loved ones that have passed and a prayer that they will be in the light. Gia


Mark March 30, 2018 at 5:55 pm

Sorry if I cause offence , but …

Yes – cremation is a sinful pagan/heathen practice and Christians should not do it.

For example:
If we as Christians were living as one – and like the early Christians holding all things in common – then there would be a common fund to make sure every Christian of a congregation had a burial.

Cremation within Christianity shows the lack of love and Christ-likeness within Christianity. Jesus was prepared and placed in a tomb given by others – we as his followers should make provision to do the same.


Jack Wellman March 31, 2018 at 10:54 am

There is no sin in cremation. The BIble never states this. Some people are poor and cannot pay almost $7,000 dollars plus for a casket funeral, and it doesn’t matter anyway. Cremation does not show a lack of love or CHrist-likeness. You have no Scriptural support at all over this. If a family can’t afford a casket, do you suggest they are sinning because they can’t afford one? My friend, this is far too judgmental on poor people. Cremation is not sin. They can only do what they can do with what they have so you are clearly wrong.


Ron March 25, 2019 at 12:10 am

Since your last response on cremation was over a year ago, I do not know if I will receive an answer or others will read this, however I am going to write to you anyway.

I agree the Scriptures do not specifically speak about cremation; however I do believe the answer is in the Scriptures. It is in Romans.

Where some of your readers have said and believe they think that it is ok, others are against it.
In my opinion, money should NOT be in the discussion, not at all.

I believe the real answer is in Romans where it says >

If you do anything that you believe is not right, then you are sinning.

So if someone believes it is wrong and yet does it for monetary reasons, I believe they have sinned. Although, if the same person sees nothing wrong in cremation, it is not a sin.
The answer is what do you honestly believe in, where is your faith?


Jack Wellman March 25, 2019 at 12:15 am

So my mother who was poor and had no money to pay for a funeral, was sinning? I disagree. What choice did she have. I was the only son who was there and I didn’t have $3,600 dollars. She may have thought it wrong, but what choice did she have. Where is your compassion man? You are taking one text to apply to something where the Bible is silent, and that is not sound Scriptural teaching. You are judging someone as sinning who didn’t even have a choice!! That is not fair at all. We are all sinners, still, aren’t we? Do you still not sin?


WILLIAM ROSENTHAL March 3, 2020 at 11:56 am

…excellent commentary …I was wondering about this issue and your biblical exposition was a blessing. It was very fair and humble in the way you understand the scripture …


Jack Wellman March 3, 2020 at 1:40 pm

Thank you Mr. Rosenthal.


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