This article looks at the issue of cremation in relation to Christianity and attempts to clarify: Is cremation a sin or okay? Who is actually sinning…
It seems relatively simple at first glance: Surely the Book of Books (i.e. the Bible) will have some answer that describes exactly how to deal with dead bodies and how not. In fact, there is no instruction what to do with a dead body.
Sure. There are some regulations in the Old Testament that deal with the purity of individuals who come into contact with dead bodies;- but how to deal with an inanimate body is absolutely not prescribed.
All the rituals that belong to a burial are created by people: Coffin, burying in the ground, cremation… all human inventions.
If you are a Christian and have a bad conscience about being cremated, you should stop it. Probably the Holy Spirit will speak in you. However, do not make your personal feeling a generally valid statement – this does not directly support the Bible, as mentioned.
Table of Contents
Is Cremation a sin in the Bible?
I have already put forward the steep thesis that cremation is not a problem in the Bible. I realize that there are other doctrines on this. Here is the breakdown of why I believe it is not a problem: There is no instruction for a precise burial ceremony that should apply to all people or believers. But for still there are passages in the Bible that address burials.
In Genesis 5:21:223-23 the burial of people condemned to death is dealt with. There they are “occasionally” not to be left hanging overnight. The word “bury” is used occasionally (depending on the translation). This is so unspecific that I do not want to make a generally valid statement from it.
The only “cremation” I could find is in 1 Samuel 31:8-13. There, however, it is spoken of as a matter of course that the decapitated corpse was burned. There is no valuation of this very act, only the fact that it happened. Therefore I would say: There is no valuation for the cremation in the Bible.
Who sins at cremation?
Have you ever thought about who could possibly sin at a cremation? I maintain: it cannot be the dead person. Then according to common theological belief (and use of human dispatch) dead people cannot sin. According to Christian belief, the dead await resurrection; but can no longer sin, since they are no longer in the fleshly (as Paul so beautifully puts it) body.
Accordingly, only those who do the burning (i.e., the living) can sin. There again we find no reference to the Bible. In the above passage in 1 Samuel, yes, it should say exactly that. But it doesn’t.
But yes: in the tradition of the ancient Hebrews, burning (while alive) seemed to be a punishment that was not viewed socially. However, we should rely on the Bible and not tradition when interpreting the Bible (we are not Catholics after all…) Therefore, I personally only see the danger of sin in one place:
Romans 13:1 states that one must abide by the dictates of the authorities. I.e. laws of the current country should be obeyed. If it is not allowed in a country (for whatever reason) to burn someone, it is sin.
Is cremation a sin against God and a problem for salvation?
Let’s face it: most people who want to know whether cremation is a sin or not want to know whether they will go to heaven despite having their body cremated. The short answer is yes, if you received Jesus Christ into your life while you were alive. Corinthians states quite clearly that God can raise all men again, and the Old Testament describes that all men return to dust anyway. (Which is what ashes technically are).
Is cremation a sin in the Catholic Church?
The Catholic Church has answered this question for itself: In May 1963, the Catholic Church lifted the ban on cremation. Believers are now free to choose. However, I could not find out for sure whether the Catholic Church considers it a sin. This seems to vary from source to source. The local priest should be consulted here.
Summary: Is it a sin to get cremated?
In my opinion and research, cremation is not a sin for the above reasons. However, if you have a guilty conscience about being cremated, then you should take appropriate precautions – perhaps the Holy Spirit is trying to tell you something.