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What The Bible Says About Cremation

Many of us turn to God for comfort, guidance, and solace. Christian funeral services occur within the Church, offering friends and family a chance to mourn and pray for their loved ones. Christianity's focus and paramount comfort are found within the focus of an afterlife and heaven, meaning for many Christians, a funeral service is a necessary time to reflect upon faith and mortality. 

A Christian funeral's traditional, familiar customs offer solace during a heavy time. Different denominations of Christianity will have different variances on what is considered traditional services and burial, and many Churches provide individualized services to create a more personal ceremony while also honoring your faith. 
Should you or your loved one choose cremation and are wondering what the Bible and God say about cremation, we'll share what we discovered the Bible has to say about the issue, which we hope will guide you to the ideal funeral arrangements. 

Judaism and Cremation

Holy texts and religious leaders, such as your Rabbi, are the best sources for people who have many questions about their faith. We encourage you to consult with the sacred texts or speak with someone who is an expert in Jewish law. 

However, generally speaking, Judaism forbids cremation of a body. The scriptures and the Talmud (a compilation of Rabbinic writings) explain that destroying our bodies by fire is prohibited. These texts also instruct and discuss the proper care for a deceased body. 

The Torah and scriptures openly discuss the importance of protecting our bodies. Such verses explain that purposefully cutting, marking, or damaging our bodies is prohibited unless such an act saves a life. 

"The Lord has chosen you to be his treasured possession." – Deuteronomy 14:2. Rabbis agree that cremation destroys the Lord's most treasured possession; since the human body belongs to God, Cremation is against Jewish law. The Talmud describes how death by fire was utilized as a punishment because it was considered a dishonorable way to die. 

For Judaism, not only was it seen as dishonorable and destroying God's most precious possession, but it also affected the afterlife. In the Rabbinic writings of Maimonides, resurrection is considered one of the fundamental 13 principles of the Jewish faith. Therefore, those who chose cremation cannot be resurrected to take part in the coming world because there isn't a body to resurrect. 

Cremation in the Christian Bible

According to several Biblical study websites and discussions, there is no explicit scriptural command for or against cremation. No passages appear to forbid cremation; however, some passages describe the standard practices around death during that time. 

The Old Testament

The first reference to cremation is found in 1 Samuel 31. In the passage, the bodies of Saul and his sons are burned, and their bones are buried. 

"They removed the bodies of Saul and his sons from the wall of Beth Shan and brought them to Jabesh. There, they burned the bodies. They took their bones and buried them under the tamarisk tree in Jabesh. Then the people of Jabesh fasted for seven days."

Saul and his sons were burned because burial was not possible. While ancient Hebrews and Egyptians traditionally buried their dead in tombs of some form, cremation was also an option when necessary. 

King James Version

Older translations of the Bible also mention cremation.

"In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return." Genesis 3:19. 

You are no doubt familiar with the paraphrasing of this passage, "ashes to ashes and dust to dust." These words carry a lot of significant personal meaning about the cyclical nature of life. It reminds us that we were formed from earth by God, and upon our death, we will return to it. 

Is Cremation a Sin? 

Burial of the deceased was the Bible's most common practice, and for most Christian European practices, it has been the preferred method. Even though many Bible passages see cremation as only needed during dire times, nowhere within the Christian Bible is Cremation directly condemned. Undoubtedly, for most Christians, the concern lies in whether or not their bodies can still be resurrected if cremated. 

According to a statement by the Vatican in 2016, God can resurrect a body, even if it is cremated. 

"The Church raised no doctrinal objections to this practice since the cremation of the body does not affect their soul, nor does it prevent God, in his omnipotence, from raising up the deceased body to new life. " 

However, it is essential to note that every religion and every branch of Christianity may hold differing viewpoints and opinions on cremation or how it is done. 
We hope that we have assisted you in some way today to bring you comfort, peace, and guidance.

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