2008-10-08 - Shades of Gray ~ Cremation
This is not a popular topic, and sometimes difficult to think about. But sometimes Christians are concerned about whether their relationship with God will be affected by whether they are buried or cremated, and it's no favor to our loved ones, to leave them to deal with this decision when they are grieving our deaths. I think its worth examining.
Some believers think that their physical body must be intact, in order to be resurrected. Others believe that the physical body is merely a shell, and the essence of their soul isnt affected, one way or another. The latter group often chooses cremation as a matter of stewardship of God's Earth (as we are instructed in Genesis), not wishing to take up space on the Earth. And sometimes, families like to keep the ashes of their loved ones nearby, as a reminder of them. Other people choose to preserve their shells, and donate them to medical organizations, so that their eyes, hearts etc. can be beneficial to others after their deaths. (If you are interested in this, and don't know how, please let me know.)
The Bible really doesnt speak to this issue of cremation, at all. But that doesnt mean its evil; many issues arent mentioned. You wont find eyeglasses mentioned in either Testament, either but nowadays few would argue they are satanic (though some believers did once refuse to wear them, due to faith issues).
And surely even the most adamant anti-cremation folks would concede that believers who died for their faith, burned at the stake, will be with the Lord even though there is nothing physical left of them, except for their ashes. Or how about John Wycliffe, who was devoted to courageously translating the Bible into the vernacular (common language)? The Catholic Church wasnt too keen on the possibility of the Bible being accessible to folks like us, and wouldn't even drop the matter after he died. One Pope actually ordered that Wycliffes bones be dug up and burned. He would have no normal physical body at the Resurrection. And what of those who die in airplane fires, hotel fires and the like?
It can be hurtful when their loved ones hear that bodies are necessary, so be careful about what you say about this issue, and I urge you to be careful to stick to the Bible, which is pretty silent about it. There is no evidence in the entire Bible, to support condemning the practice of cremation.
In fact, the word of God does teach us that we will have entirely new bodies, anyway, and that the old ones will pass away. 1Corinthians 15 reminds us that the first man was of the dust of the Earth" (as in the common funeral statement, "ashes to ashes, dust to dust") - and states If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. Paul goes on to remind us that as a matter of fact,flesh and blood (our current physical bodies) cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. When the time comes, God will give us the spiritual clothing that we will need for Heaven.
So the bottom line is that God doesnt need our physical bodies, and if He did, as Creator, He could create new ones for us anyway. If we believe that He is omnipotent and omniscient, then it doesnt matter one iota, what state our bodies are in, when we leave this world. He will recognize us, and deal with us accordingly. So as with many other issues, we have freedom of conscience and preference. And so does everyone else; physical burial of an entire body is no holier or superior than cremation, and vice-versa. As Paul would say, we have no business judging someone for something that just happens to be different from our preference. And as the French would say, a chaque son gout (to each his own).
Comments or Questions,