Religious considerations are often top of mind when making funeral arrangements. Whether you are pre-planning arrangements for yourself or planning a funeral service for a loved one, religion can play a significant role in the decision-making process. With just about half of all Americans choosing cremation over traditional ground burials, many are left wondering “What does the Bible say about cremation?”
What the Bible Say About Cremation
The Bible does account for notable figures practicing traditional ground burials, but there is nothing within the text that dictates a burial take place or forbidding cremation. While Catholics traditionally opposed cremation, in 1963 the Pope lifted the ban on the process and allowed Priests to preside over cremation ceremonies. Cremation tends to be more heavily favored among Protestants, and the Lutheran Doctrine has specific instructions regarding the handling of ashes. Many churches now have niches for urns and ashes to be held.
Many instances of burial are mentioned throughout the Bible, yet cremation is explicitly mentioned in one case. The bodies of Saul and his sons were burned, presumably because they had been mutilated. It was practice to cremate any body that was deemed to be “unclean.” This may apply to plague, desecration, or many other situations.
This ambiguity often leaves individuals wondering what the right option is for them. What is considered most acceptable to God, and how should their soul be laid to rest? While the Bible never explicitly states whether a body is to be buried or cremated, or whether cremation is forbidden, what happens to the body after death is mentioned in many verses.
Bible Verses Regarding the Deceased and Their Bodies
“In the sweat of your face, you will eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken. For dust you are and to dust you will return.” Genesis 3:19
“If it were his intention and he withdrew his spirit and breath, all humanity would perish together and mankind would return to the dust.” Job 34:14-15
“And the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.” Ecclesiastes 12:7
“And the priest shall look on the plague, after that it is washed: and, behold, if the plague have not changed his color, and the plague not be spread; it is unclean; thou shalt burn it in the fire.” Leviticus 13:55
Cremation and the Concept of Resurrection
Many Christians worry that cremation goes against the concept of resurrection, though the book of Revelation addresses this. It states that to God, it is of no consequence where a body lies. Instead, he shall make a judgment based not on their resting place, but rather on their acts while living.
“And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.” Revelation 20:13
The book of First Corinthians continues to address the idea of a physical body and resurrection.
“Nevertheless, someone will say: ‘How are the dead to be raised up? Yes, with what sort of body are they coming?” 1 Corinthians 15:35
“But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body.” 1 Corinthians 15:38
Christianity, The Bible, and Cremation
Ultimately, the decision of whether to have a ground burial or be cremated is deeply personal. The Bible does not address which method is mandated for Christians, and the decision is left to the individual and their loved ones. Many feel better after discussing the process with their religious leader, be it the family Priest, Reverend, Rabbi, Chaplain, or Minister.
Whether a ground burial or cremation is chosen at the end of life, The Gardens of Boca Raton is here to support loved ones and their families throughout the entire process. We offer pre-planning services as well as services for those in immediate need. We are a resting place that is dedicated to the celebration of life, offering all who enter serenity.
If you are looking for more information regarding funeral arrangements and services, contact us today to speak with a member of our team. We are entirely dedicated to helping your whole family through this challenging process.
Burial Practices by Religion
Many religions outline funeral and burial practices for followers, and as individuals decide upon their final resting place, many want to make sure they are in line with what their religion states. Where the soul will rest eternally can be the most important decision of all, and various religions dictate different practices.
The burial customs among Christians vary significantly according to religious sect, region, and family tradition. Ground burials are the most common practice, rooted in the concept of resurrection. Throughout history, Christian customs have varied, though, with the ancient Romans and Greeks practicing both ground burials and cremation. Eastern Orthodox Churches strictly forbid the process. However, most other sects, including Catholics, have come to embrace the option of cremation in recent times.
In the Jewish religion, cremation is strictly forbidden, as is the process of embalming a body. This is because followers believe that the body should decompose naturally, and customs are based strictly on the teachings of the holy script, the Torah. Burials traditionally take place within 24 hours of death, with the funeral service taking place as soon as possible.
There is no open casket and flowers are generally not present at the service. Judaism emphasizes a simple burial, in plain clothes after the body has been washed, with a modest wooden coffin so as not to impede the process of decomposition. It is a tradition for burial to take place with the deceased individual’s feet facing in the direction of Jerusalem. While these are the most traditional practices, cremation has still increased among the Jewish population in recent years.
Funerals and burials in Islam also follow very specific practices and also include washing and shrouding of the body. Burial traditionally takes place within 24 hours of death, and cremation is strictly forbidden. This is not specified in the Qur’an and is instead deeply rooted in traditional customs and beliefs. With Islamic burials, the feet of the deceased are to be pointed towards Mecca, the religion’s holy city.
Cremation is typically the method of choice among Buddhists, though they do permit embalming and burial of the deceased as well. Buddhism is more lenient than other religions . There is no specified time-frame for the burial or cremation, and it is believed that the soul does not leave the physical body for several days after death.
Cremation is also the preferred practice by Hindus. Loved ones and family members are said to collect the ashes of the dead before spreading them over a scared body of water on the fourth day. Hindus do not typically embalm the deceased, though the religion does allow for a ground burial if the family or individual prefers.