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What does the Bible say about cremation?

First, the Bible doesn’t forbid cremation. It also doesn’t dictate if a person should be buried or cremated.

Second, throughout the Bible, people treated the human body with great respect and often showed deep concern regarding a dead person’s remains, as can be seen in Genesis 49:29-31.

Third, it was a great disgrace not to have a proper burial. (See 1 Samuel 31:9-13; 2 Samuel 2:4-6; Ecclesiastes 6:3.)

Fourth, Genesis 50:26 and Mark 16:1 show that embalming was practiced in both the Old and New Testament times.

Returning to dust

After death, God ordained that a person should be reduced to dust. “In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, for out of it you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19).
Browse Topics: What does the Bible say about death?

When the body of a dead person is buried in the ground, the process of oxidation disintegrates it and in time reduces it to dust. Cremation or burning is merely another way of hastening the pro­cess of oxidation.

Cremation does in a few minutes what burial in the ground would require years to do but the results are the same—the body is reduced to dust.

Therefore, cremation is in harmony with God's purpose for the disposal of the dead.

The final resurrection

The resurrection of the dusty remains of those who have died will present no difficulties to the Life-giver. The omniscient, omni­potent God who created the world out of nothing and who marks the resting place of His saints, will, at His coming, bring them back from the dead and glorify their bodies regardless of their condition in death or if they were cremated or buried. (See 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17 and John 5:25-29.)

Cremation in Modern Times

Cremation is becoming an increasingly popular choice for the final disposition of the body at death.

Funeral arrangements for a cremated body are not that different from other options. The body may still be viewed prior to the service, and a service may be held with the deceased present in most cases. There are a number of options available as to the disposition of the cremated remains, including burial and scattering.

Be considerate in contemplating cremation and the other choices available, Christians will want to give thoughtful consideration to all who may be affected by the decision, such as loved ones who may have strong feelings on the subject of cremation. One certainly would not like to bring unnecessary distress to anyone.

Final Thoughts on Cremation

As we finish examining what the Bible says about cremation, let's consider the following:

  • The attitude of the Christian's heart will show deep respect for the wonderful body that God designed. (Psalm 139:14)
  • God will resurrect all of His children regardless of what has become of their bodies. When Jesus comes, “The dead in Christ” will be raised and given immortal bodies, “fashioned like unto his glorious body” (1 Thessalonians 4:16; 1 Corinthians 15:54; Philippians 3:21). How happy we are as we look forward to that great day!