Is burial preferable to cremation?
With the increased popularity of cremation instead of burial, people often ask me if the Bible forbids cremation. The Bible does not prohibit cremation, but it does seem to show a preference for burial.
In defense of cremation, the apostle Paul speaks positively about death by fire in 1 Corinthians 13:3 with the phrase, “if I give my body to be burned…” While Paul was referring to martyrdom, not cremation, the apostle certainly did not think death by burning would prevent him from being in heaven. God can reassemble the molecules of your body at the resurrection, whether they are burned to ashes or decay to ashes.
I have done funerals for people who chose cremation. It certainly is a less expensive option.
Nevertheless, the Bible shows a preference for burial. In the Old Testament, passages such as Genesis 50 show great concern for the proper burial of the remains of Jacob and Joseph. In the New Testament, the Christian belief in resurrection is vividly shown as Lazarus and Jesus were buried and bodily raised from a grave. In Romans 6:4, baptism is depicted as a burial and resurrection: “We were therefore buried with Him through baptism…” Mark Coppenger says, “I would hate to think what sort of ceremony cremation would suggest.”
So while cremation is not prohibited and may be understandable for financial reasons, burial has a stronger basis in the Bible and is a clearer testimony to our faith.
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