Christianity's Views About Cremation

Ilsa Z.
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Guidance from the Bible on the religious but obscure practice of cremation. 

Cremation is the final procedure of disposing of a dead body after funeral rites have been dealt with. It is a common practice in Christianity that serves as an alternative to burial. Cremation has been mentioned in the Bible and is an old but disputed practice in the Christian world.

Today, cremation is the most widely accepted and fast way of sending off one's loved one after death, even though the validity of this process is questionable in the eyes of people with faith. 

Process of Cremation

In cremation, a dead body is transformed into its basic components using intense fire. The body is turned into ashes while placing it in a wooden box or casket. This concept of turning ashes to ashes and dust to dust reduced a body to its bone fragments, and nothing else was left of the deceased.

Cremation is a somewhat more effective, less costly, and quicker way than burial to dispose of a body. The simplicity and reliability of this process are what attract people the most and have made cremation a widespread practice instead of burial.

The bone fragments are then picked up by hand and crushed using a processor into a fine powder. The final cremains are then placed in a container and handed over to the deceased's family. 

Reference in the Bible 

There is only one reference in the Bible about the cremation process found in Samuel 1 that talks about Saul and his sons being burned in a fire and, later, buried underground. There is no clear indication of cremation in the Bible, but the book indirectly mentions cremation in words like 'burning with fire' and 'bones being buried". 

In the Old Testament, there are around 200 references that indicate cremation being the burial practice in the old times.

For Jews, Israelis, and Palestinian Jews, burial in a cave, tomb, or underground was a common practice, and cremation was a no-go. Moreover, the Standard practice mentioned in the New and Old Testament is burial. 

Alternative or Punishment

As made clear by the Old and New Testaments, burial was standard practice, and cremation was seen as a punishment rather than a funeral practice.

Moreover, the burning of Saul and his sons was also considered to be done for sanitary reasons rather than religious, according to most Christian scholars.

Many scholars also believe that the concept of 'ashes to ashes and dust to dust 'doesn't hint towards cremation but the fact that all bodies will turn to ash and dust after being buried in the soil. 

Catholic Church 

Catholics are forbidden from the cremation process as the Catholic Church has banned cremation. The Catholics firmly believe that a human body cannot be resurrected after death until and unless the body of the deceased is in contact.

Cremation was also banned by the Catholic Church to counter Roman Pagan beliefs.

There is no evidence of whether the Bible promotes or forbids cremation. For this reason, most Christian denominations do not consider it a sinful act. However, the Catholics beg to differ on this because of their rigid beliefs in the burial process and resurrection of the dead in the afterlife. 

Over time, multiple changes took place in Christian beliefs, and cremation was approved for Catholic Christians. After the ban was lifted in 1963, the cremated remains were also allowed in funeral masses in 1977. The cremains was treated the same way as the dead body. 

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