Archive for October 4th, 2011

October 4, 2011

Ashes To Ashes?

by pastortimfowler

My dear friend is at it again; asking me to blog about stuff that is not the easiest to explain and of course, I don’t just explain, I opine. I often wonder what is really at work inside my friend’s head and I am sure that I don’t really want to know. So…the question was about cremation and should Christians be cremated.
If you watch much TV you have heard the minister at a funeral say something like, ‘ashes to ashes, dust to dust’. It sounds good, but we did not come from ashes and the Bible never mentions coming from ashes or returning to ashes. The Bible does say that we came from dust and will return to dust. That is one reason for a Christian to believe that it is proper to be buried. So before I go any further I will state that cremation is not a Christian or Jewish tradition or religiously appropriate way of disposing of a dead person, (or a live person in case you were wondering).
I can’t find where there is a specific punishment for cremating a body, either for the living who instruct this to happen of the dead who is burned. This body that we live in is perishable and not the one that Christians believe to receive after physical death. That will be a glorified body, immortal and incorruptible according to the Apostle Paul’s writings. This does not mean that we are not to follow the examples of the Bible though. If you see something that is only practiced by the people of God and another practiced only by those who are not people of faith in God, then it is a logical assumption to do what that example says, even if there are no consequences mentioned. One of the commands of Jesus is to follow Him. Guess who was buried? Jesus. When Moses died, according to Deuteronomy 34:5,6, God buried Moses. Every mention of Godly men and women who die in the Bible stated that they were buried. Some may argue that Jesus was placed in a tomb, but it was not a man-made structure, rather a cave or dug out place in a hill. Genesis 3:19, Psalm 104:29 and Job 10:9 all state that we return to dust, reflecting burial in the ground of some sort.
There are several mentions of cremation in the Bible. The term cremate is not generally used, but it is stated that the dead were burned. Some modern translations of the Bible may use the word cremate, but I am not sure. These cremations were always mentioned when disposing of those who were wicked or rebellious. 1Samuel 31:12, 2Kings 23:20, and Amos 2:1 all speak of burning the dead and those who were being burned were not God’s people.
One reason for cremation not being a Christian way of disposing of a body is because burning was also a way of offering sacrifices. On the altar of God, the blood and the fat of the animals sacrificed were burned and the meat was eaten. This was an act of worship that God instructed for as long as the sacrifice has been instructed. Pagan religions also offered sacrifices and some even offered human sacrifices, thus burning the bodies. It was not just the blood and fat, but the whole body that was burned, because except in the extreme cases of cannibalistic people, it was never appropriate to eat human flesh. Even the Israelites fell into the hideous traps of human sacrifice and began to offer their children as burnt offerings. God finds this appalling.
So that is why I never suggest to anyone that they cremate a loved one who has died. Sure it may be cheaper to cremate, but it is not the way that God shows us to dispose of the human body once the soul has left it. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter to that dead person, and I am not sure how it may affect the living who make that decision, but if we are to follow God’s example, we will bury the dead. Genesis 3:19 By the sweat of your brow, you will produce food to eat until you return to the ground, because you were taken from it. You are dust, and you will return to dust.”

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