Does The Bible Forbid Cremation?

Burial has been the traditional way Jews and Christians honor their dead for thousands of years. The Bible does include some exceptions.

When the beheaded body of King Saul and his sons' remains were recovered from the Philistines, the men of Jabesh first cremated their bodies before they interred them. Achan and his family were cremated.

Scientifically, it doesn’t make a difference; heat from the fires of cremation speed up the oxidation and decomposition that a dead body would experience naturally, buried or not. Paul makes it clear that the buried body is different than the body we will have in Heaven:  

 

1 Corinthians 15

35 But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” 36 You foolish person! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37 And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. 38 But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. 39 For not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. 40 There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.

42 So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. 43 It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. 44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. 47 The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall  also bear the image of the man of heaven. 

Ultimately, the Bible does not give specific funeral rites for Christians. The decision then is left to culture, tradition, and personal conviction. Hope in the resurrection has established the tradition of burial for Christians, but if financial, legal, or unusual circumstances make cremation the only practical choice, the Bible does not condemn you.

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