15 January 2024 |
Dear Aunt Sevvy,
I have heard that some consider cremation to be a pagan practice. Does our church have a particular position on cremating dead bodies?
Signed, Funeral Planning
Some Christians say that God disapproves of burning the bodies of the dead. Arguments Aunty has heard include:
- Saul, a disgraced king of Israel, was cremated, as was Achan, a thief.
- Of the Bible’s heroes whose remains are mentioned, all were buried (though “burial” often meant placing the body in a cave, not covering it with soil; remember the tomb Jesus was placed in).
- During the reign of Constantine, cremation was identified with pagans, so Christians didn’t do it.
- Jews don’t cremate remains, and the Vatican discourages Roman Catholics from doing it.
Aunty doesn’t think much of these arguments. Saul was burned because his body had been mutilated by the enemy, and Achan’s body was burned in anger. Just because Bible people put bodies in caves doesn’t mean we need to today. And what Christians of Constantine’s day, or Jews, or Roman Catholics do, for whatever reasons, isn’t required of us.
What you (or your family) decide to do with a dead body is up to you; there is no definitive biblical statement on the matter, nor has the Seventh-day Adventist Church taken a stand. We know God doesn’t need original material to bring people to life in the resurrection: think of all the faithful Christian martyrs who were burned at the stake or eaten by animals, not to mention the many Christians whose bodies were lost at sea.
If you find the concept of cremation objectionable, then opt for the traditional embalming, coffin, and marker stone. But be aware that the funerary industry loves for people to buy expensive furniture to hold the corpses of their loved ones, and then bury it all in the ground with a carved stone above it—it makes them a lot of money. Billions of dead bodies take up countless acres of land, for no scripturally defensible reason.
Aunty prefers her remains to disappear, and trusts that God has the power to resurrect her. What you choose to do is up to you, but there is no convincing argument against cremation.
Aunt Sevvy has collected her answers into a book! You can get it from Amazon by clicking here.
You can write to Aunt Sevvy at DearAuntSevvy@gmail.com. Your real identity will never be revealed.