What Does the Bible Say About Cremation?

Honor Your Body

Since the Christian’s body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, he should consider a burial which will not involve cremation.

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

According to 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit for each child of God. With this in mind, one can readily understand that, while living, the body should not be defiled with tobacco, alcohol, immoral activities and improper eating habits. This passage of Scripture would also lead us to want our body, even in death, handled with loving care, respect, and dignity.

Options in Crowded Cities

All of us understand that in large cities where the population is dense and plots for regular burial are at a premium, it would be easy for the practice of cremation to develop. However, in crowded cities, buildings are being erected where funeral services are held and the body is deposited for keeping in that same building. These buildings accommodate a large number of bodies. This tells us that an alternative to cremation is possible, even in crowded cities.

All of us also understand bodies have to be buried at sea when a vessel on which the person has died will be at sea for quite some time and there are no accommodations for preserving the body until the ship gets to shore. Nevertheless, the burial at sea is usually very sacred and dignified.

Burial is Often Preferred, but Not Required

Cremation is wrong for you if you are contemplating cremation as part of a religious ceremony for a non-Christian religion or you think cremation will help you escape judgment by God in the future. However, if you live in a society that mandates cremation by law (because of limited burial space) or you have another valid reason (burial too costly), then it is not wrong to cremate. However, most believers will want to follow the example of Jesus and be buried in the earth to wait for Resurrection Day.

Also, if a person is contemplating their own body or a loved one’s body being disposed of by the method of cremation, they should consider whether or not other members of their immediate family or close friends would be emotionally hurt by such a method. It would be wise to prayerfully seek God’s peace regarding the decision of body disposal.

God certainly has the power to make our resurrection bodies from the dust or ashes to which our bodies decompose after death. The main thing to remember is this: the body of a Christian is the temple of the Holy Spirit. This is in life and in death and it should be dealt with in dignity, respect, and loving care.

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Dr. Elmer Towns is a college and seminary professor, an author of popular and scholarly works (the editor of two encyclopedias), a popular seminar lecturer, and dedicated worker in Sunday school, and has developed over 20 resource packets for leadership education.His personal education includes a B.S. from Northwestern College in Minneapolis, Minnesota, a M.A. from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, a Th.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary also in Dallas, a MRE from Garrett Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois, and a D.Min. from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California.He is co-founder of Liberty University, with Jerry Falwell, in 1971, and was the only full-time teacher in the first year of Liberty’s existence. Today, the University has over 11,400 students on campus with 39,000 in the Distance Learning Program (now Liberty University Online), and he is the Dean of the School of Religion.Dr. Towns has given theological lectures and taught intensive seminars at over 50 theological seminaries in America and abroad. He holds visiting professorship rank in five seminaries. He has written over 2,000 reference and/or popular articles and received six honorary doctoral degrees. Four doctoral dissertations have analyzed his contribution to religious education and evangelism.

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