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What does the Bible say about cremation?

In the Garden of Eden after the fall, mankind was promised, “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.” (Genesis 3:19).

The standard practice for the nation of Israel in Bible times was burial in a tomb, cave or in the ground. However, the Bible nowhere indicates that burial is the only allowed method for managing dead bodies; nor does it specify that a body cannot be cremated. For example, when Saul and Jonathan were mutilated by the Philistines – their bodies were cremated and their ashes buried (1 Samuel 31:8-13).

Jesus’ own words suggest that it is not the method of disposal of remains that matters, but the quality of the life lived,

“Let the dead bury the dead…”
Luke 9:60

We know the resurrection is provided for all through Christ’s death, “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to judgment.” (John 5:28-29)

In 1 Corinthians 15, the Apostle Paul reminds us “…What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body.”

There is no indication that the same bodies of flesh which are buried (or reduced to ashes) will be what is raised. The Creator of the Universe does not need those original human organic components to reconstruct a resurrection body – He will provide a body as He “sees fit.”

Some Christians are firmly opposed to cremation, while others much prefer it to burial. The reasons are varied and the matter is a purely personal decision. The Bible does not dictate any approved method of body disposal.

To learn more about what happens after death, listen to our series, “Where Does Your Soul Go When You Die?”