Recently the question was brought to my attention of: Is cremation a sin and is it in the Bible.
My initial response was:
“Cremation as a sin, I honestly i do not think it is. “
I did elaborate further as to why i believe this in my conversation with the person and included biblical references which I will cite as well as my side of the conversation.
Before I do that let me begin with this, what is sin? Let’s define that and see what the
Bible defines as sin in both the OT and NT.
Sin- Merriam Webster Dictionary states- (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sin)
1 a : an offense against religious or moral law b : an action that is or is felt to be highly reprehensible it’s a sin to waste food c : an often serious shortcoming : fault
2 a : transgression of the law of God b : a vitiated state of human nature in which the self is estranged from God
In the very beginning, God told man what was right and wrong. To Adam in the Garden, God said, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die” (Genesis 2:16-17).
When Israel was freed from the oppression of Egypt by Moses aided by God, God provided the Law to Moses (the Ten Commandments Exodus 20:1-17). Though these are not all the laws these are synopsis of laws, for example From the Ten Commandments we are told we are not to have false worship, idolatry, misusing God’s name, violating the Sabbath, dishonoring parents, murder, adultery, stealing, lying/libel, and coveting.
Though in the books of Deuteronomy and Leviticus respectively are filled with laws. It is said by Jewish rabbis that there are 613 laws in the Torah (Books of Moses). Of those, 365 are in the “thou shalt not…”.
In the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5–7), Jesus took some of these same sins to a new level.
Regarding murder, Jesus said, “Anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment…. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell” (Matthew 5:22).
Regarding adultery, Jesus said, “Anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28)
In Galatians 5:19-21, we are told, “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
Now that we got sin covered, let’s talk about burial and cremation.
I wish I did more extensive research when the question was presented to me.
Nonetheless here is what I found.
I found an article that describe different burial custom world wide. Here are a few snap shots but for further information I have provided Links within this post.
“This Hindu practice literally translates to ‘last sacrifice.’ Depending on the caste, gender, and age of the deceased, they are symbolically returned to the elements of creation in a specific ritual. It is common that a funeral pyre is used in at least one part of this practice.”
South Korea: burial beads
Since there is such limited space for burial in South Korea, they have to get creative with the bodies of the deceased. In this practice, the body is cremated and pressed into jewelry-like beads. They are often colorful and kept in an urn or bottle.”
Philippines- hanging coffins
“Hidden high up along mountainsides and in difficult to reach places. The people of Sagada in the Philippines believed that the closer a coffin was to the sky, the closer the deceased was to heaven.”
The Philippines also has the “Tinguian Funeral,” where “people dress the dead in their finest clothes, sit them in a chair, and give them a smoke. There the dead sit smoking for several weeks.”
Jade burial suit Han dynasty china
Royal members of the Han dynasty were buried in ceremonial suits of jade. The jade was cut into square, rectangular, and triangular shapes and threaded with wire to cover the entire body, like a suit of armor. They were extremely expensive and took years to complete.”
Those are some of the many customs world wide about burials. Traditions vary based on regional needs, geography, population density, traditions, customs, beliefs and so forth.
In my response to my friend’s inquiry I started out with this:
The thing we have here (concerning cremation and burial in the bible) is the customs of old (Hebrews and Egyptians ) where they would embalm a body in order to preserve the body. But that’s just to delay or prevent decay as well as cover up the stench of rotting flesh. Eventually it will decay and return to ashes (which is what cremation does by speeding up the process).
The Bible doesn’t mention cremation at all… from my knowledge it only mentions traditions that the Jews and Egyptians followed.
The Bible mentions that we were created from dust and to that we shall return, but it doesn’t mention how. (Scientifically speaking we know that decaying is the how….. but the Bible doesn’t mention it- per say other than that we shall return to dust).
In Genises we were created from dust right….but it also states we will return to dust Genesis 3:19 | NIV By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground,since from it you were taken;for dust you are and to dust you will return.”
Then in Job 30:19 | NIV says : He throws me into the mud,and I am reduced to dust and
Ecclesiastes 3:20 | NIV All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all
These are where people get the phrases ashes to ashes dust to dust from
People might call it a sin because of the rapture…. when Jesus returns and calls upon his followers everyone whom believe are supposed to ascend to heaven with him…. even those whom have long died. Some feel that if you cremate that you have no body to ascend from to enter heaven.
What people forget to realize those whom died 2000 years ago or even 500 years ago, or even 100 years ago their bodies have already decayed to the point of dust. Their physical bodies are in existent. We we ascend to heaven with Jesus it’s our spirits that are going up not us physically. (At least that my understanding of it).
So those whom believe you need the body for the rapture will say it’s a sin.
Some say it’s a sin because we are not to harm ones body because our body is our temple…. I feel that instruction is for the living once we are dead, are bodies are no longer needed, it’s just a vessel used for our soul. Jesus preached on salvation so our souls could be saved…. not necessarily our bodies, though it is the temple for our soul and we shouldn’t desecrate it.
Again I do not think it’s a sin to cremate a loved one.
The Bible doesn’t mention cremation. It mentions burial traditions of the past but that doesn’t mean that’s how it has to be done. if we were to bury our loved ones like they did in the Bible they would be wrapped in cloths and dropped in a ditch or placed inside a cave (stone tomb sepulcher) vs a cemetery plot.
Personally my husband and I both discussed cremation, we want it, my parents want to be cremated…. it’s less of a hassle & more economical.
Do I feel being cremated will jeopardize me in the after life … no.
Do I feel it’s a sin…. no.
My compadre (son’s God Father) when he passed was cremated… and I was surprised because his mom is one of those old school Christians whom doesn’t believe in Tattoo’s, desecrating nor defiling the body and she has very strong opinions on specific issues. She didn’t want to bury her son in a plot, she wanted to have his remains near her until his son is old enough to decide what he wants to do with the ashes.
At the end of the day, you and I can read the same verse and still interpret it differently, because the message God reveals in the interpretation is specific to you at that moment. The decision to cremate rests solely in the hands of those making the decisions.
I was relieved to find that most of the information I shared is what several others shared to people seeking answers to this question, though the research I found was after I said what I said.
Reverend Billy Grand stated the following which is something I did not think of:
“No, this isn’t what the Bible says, and I find nothing in the Bible that
forbids cremation as a means of disposing of a person’s body.
It’s true that burial was the common practice in the Bible, and
cremation was rare. When cremation was practiced, it showed contempt for
the person (e.g., Achan, who disobeyed God and brought defeat to the
Israelites—see Joshua 7:25). Cremation is often practiced today in
cultures that have no respect for the human body or see it as evil;
Christians in those societies reject cremation. We believe God gave us
our bodies, and they should be treated with respect. After creating the
human race, “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good”
One reason burial has been preferred by Christians is because the Bible
teaches that one day those who die in Christ will be raised from the
dead and given new bodies. But God is able to bring together whatever
has been scattered: “And he will send his angels and gather his elect
from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the
heavens” (Mark 13:27).”
I feel relieved that I did not provide misinformation, then again when one is guided by the spirit, it is he who provides the knowledge needed.
Heavenly father I thank you for the opportunity given to help out a friend in need of answers. I thank you for guiding her to my direction. I thank you for guiding the answer that I was able to provide her. I thank you for your wisdom and your knowledge for it was you whom directed me to those verses I cited for my friend. Father I ask that you to continue to guide each of us when it comes to question concerning your ministry, your word and your teachings. May we not cause blasphemous claims dear lord. I pray that the information provided could be of use to those whom may need it. Amen.