Quotes about Funerals
There is no sin in cremation, that is for sure. And there is no inability on God’s part to raise a cremated body from the dead. But is cremation, a practice most often seen in Eastern religions, the best for the believer in Christ? 1. It is clarifying to note that burial was God’s preferred method of disposing of the body of Moses. God had the power to cremate Moses’ body on the spot, but rather, this gentle and loving phrase is found: “[God] buried him in the valley in the land of Moab” (Deut. 34:6). This fact alone is enough for me. If God chose this method Himself, then it certainly should be my preference also. 2. Burial underground (or in tombs) was the ordained method for the patriarchs, for God’s chosen people, and for New Testament believers. There are numerous references to this, from Abraham’s burial in the cave of Machpelah to Lazarus’ entombment in a crypt. The bodies of these saints were kept, as much as possible, in their original state, awaiting the resurrection of the body. 3. Consider the death of Christ Himself. He is our example in everything. Christ was in charge of His death. As He said, “No one has taken [my life] away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative” (John 10:18). Certainly His burial was no accident either. The dramatic events God ordained to take place included the tomb as an essential ingredient. It accentuated His resurrection. 4. Christianity is the most materialistic of the religions in this respect. That is, it gives an importance to the body and to all things tangible that other religions do not… Christianity sees the body as useful, rather than evil. It can do much good, if a believer is controlled by the Spirit. It is so valued by God that the very body we are living in will be raised up one day, made new for eternity. For this reason, we symbolize the importance of the body by burying it with love. 5. The burial of Christians was designed by God as the basis for our understanding of baptism. Though baptism does not save, it does picture our death, burial, and resurrection with Christ (cf. Rom. 6:3-4). Such a powerful picture as baptism is dependent for its meaning on the burial of Christ and of believers. 6. We should bury because the grave is such a potent reminder of the future (bodily) resurrection.
Does the Bible Prohibit Cremation?
1. Scripture says nothing about a required mode of burial for either believers or non-believers. However, burying the body was the standard practice among the Israelites in the Old Testament and Christians in the New (exceptions: 1 Sam. 31:8-13; Jos. 7:25).
2. Obviously any buried body will eventually decompose (Ecc. 12:7). So cremation isn’t a strange or wrong practice – it merely accelerates the natural process of oxidation.
3. The believer will one day receive a new body (1 Cor. 15:42-49; 1 Thes. 4:13-18; Job 19:25-26), thus the state of what remains of the old body is unimportant.
4. The imagery of Christ’s resurrection pictures burial and then a raising up from the dead (Rom. 6:3-5; 1 Cor. 15:3-4). Because of that, many Christians prefer burial to cremation to maintain a likeness to Christ’s burial (although literally He was laid in state in a cave, not buried in the ground).
Since we believe in the resurrection of the body, we do not see a corpse as garbage. From the time of our earliest ancestors in the faith, we have buried our dead, committing them to the earth from which they came with the conviction that they will one day be summoned from it once more. The image of sleep is useful—not because the dead are unconscious but because they will one day be awakened. God deems as faith Joseph committing his bones to his brothers for future transport into the land of promise. In the same way the act of burial is a testimony of the entire community to the resurrection of the body. Cremation is a horrifying testimony of the burning up of the flesh and bones, a testimony that is decidedly pagan in both origin and in practice. Of course, God can resurrect a cremated Christian (or a Christian torn to pieces by lions, etc.), but how we deal with the body of a Christian teaches us – and the watching world – what we really believe about the gospel. Cremation ought then to be shunned by those who hope in Christ.