Cremation in the Bible
It is sorrowful when a loved one departs and leaves the people who loved him behind on this earth. The aftermath of this incident is more distressing when the grieving family has to dispose of the dead person’s body. Though there is nothing regarding cremation in the Bible, the debate still goes on whether a person should be buried or cremated. The custom of cremating the dead has been around since the Stone Age in 3000 B.C. It became a usual practice in Greece during 800 B.C. and in Rome in 600 B.C. The Hebrews and the Christians have rejected this custom and bury their dead instead.
The religion of Islam also prohibits cremation while the people of the Hindu faith cremate the dead as a regular custom. Every part of the world follows a different custom depending on their religions and their belief about what would happen in the afterlife. There were instances when people got burnt at the stakes. But this was done as a form of punishment and that too when the individuals were alive. This type of punishment is not the same as the actual cremation process.
Cremation carried out in exceptional cases
The custom of cremating the dead was followed in ancient times especially after fierce battles were fought between enemy armies. The bodies of the huge number of warriors and soldiers who had died in these battles had to be disposed of. Digging graves for each of the soldiers seemed to be a Herculean task with the insufficient amount of land available for the purpose. The decomposition and decay of the bodies also caused health hazards.
At this point, cremation was the best option available to get the job done in a short time and without much effort. Thus burial took a back seat, and the dead soldiers were confined to the flames with proper respect. This custom got followed in the cases of plagues and epidemics when the authorities had to dispose of a vast number of dead people within a very short time. The custom of burying the dead came long after this, but there are no clear suggestions given on cremation in the Bible.
Why Christians want to bury their dead
Very little is about cremation in the Bible which only says that the human body has to return to dust where it came from. The Christians also believe that the spirit returns to God when someone dies, and God, later on, resurrects the body which has been left behind so that the person can join Him in eternal life. Cremating the body means that the body is being destroyed leaving no option for its resurrection from the dead.
Many people from the same faith argue that when the body is buried it slowly decomposes and decays. Thus the body of a person buried for a long time ultimately has changed to dust, so there is nobody left to be resurrected in any case. They argue that after resurrection God gives the person a new body which is different from the one that is left behind. Thus the argument rages on even though there is nothing definite given about cremation in the Bible. Some people even have the opinion that God and no man made the body has the right to burn it.
Arguments for burials
In spite of there being nothing about cremation in the Bible many people believe that burying the dead has a lot of points in its favor. First of all love, respect and honor can be shown to the deceased person in the proper way by a memorial service. People will get the chance of viewing their loved one for the last time during the memorial service. They can feel one with the person for the last time before the person is put into the ground.
The burial service will give the departed soul a proper resting place in a grave that is marked by a proper headstone. They can visit the departed ones whenever they want to, put flowers on their graves and pray for them. They feel at peace when they are with their departed ones even if they are no longer alive. To them, it does not matter whether there is anything mentioned about cremation in the Bible or not. To them, it is more important to follow the customs set down by their forefathers for centuries.
Arguments for cremation
While most people feel that burying the dead is the most proper way of disposing of the body, many favor cremation instead. Their arguments get strengthened by the lack of mention, whether for or against, about cremation in the Bible. They believe that the body after resurrection is not the one that got buried but is a different one. Hence it does not matter whether the body is buried or cremated as the body, as per the Bible, has to return to dust ultimately.
Cremation only hastens the process of the body to change into dust while if it gets buried, the time taken is much longer. They also say that irrespective of what is written about cremation in the Bible, it takes less space and expenses for completing the process. Space for burying the dead is decreasing by the day and the area reserved for the final resting place is limited. Furthermore, you can keep the ashes or ‘cremains’ from the crematorium in an urn in your house itself. You can pay respect to the memories of your loved and departed one while staying at home without having to go to a burial site.
The final word
The fact that nothing gets distinctly mentioned about cremation in the Bible has only made people argue more loudly. It all depends on the person or persons who have lost their loved one to decide whether to bury or cremate the body. The issue has not been convincingly addressed and has left a lot of gray areas for people to argue about.
People can put forward a significant number of arguments both in favor and against burial to prove their point. But ultimately it boils down to the feelings of the relatives and family members who are in distress. The decision taken by them needs approval by everyone in the household and consent should be unanimous. It has to be regardless of what gets mentioned about cremation in the Bible and should not be influenced by it.