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Burial or Cremation?

posted Sep 5, 2017, 10:10 AM by First Baptist


The Cremation Association of North America (who knew?) recently reported that, for the first time in American history, more Americans are choosing cremation over burial (51% versus 49%).


By 2025, the percentage choosing cremation is expected to rise to 65% -- and to 80% by 2035. That’s a big shift in American culture, especially when you consider the cremation rate was only 3% as recent as the 1960s.





Obviously, cost is a big factor. Cremation typically costs about a third of what burial costs.


Another factor is increased mobility. More-and-more Americans live far from their hometowns and family burial plots. These families tend to want more flexible options for end-of-life decisions.



Spiritual Considerations


The Bible does not prescribe what is to be done with the body upon death. Thus, Christians are free to choose burial or cremation. Either is acceptable; neither is wrong or sinful.


However, as cremation becomes the “go-to” choice in America, Christians may want to give burial extra consideration. The reason is that the practice of burial has its roots in a Judeo-Christian worldview.


Within Judaism, there was always reverence for the body. This was over & against those competing worldviews that considered the human body inherently sinful or merely a temporary (and disposable) dwelling place for the spirit, which is the “real” person.


Christianity takes reverence for the body a step further, of course, with the promise that the body will be gloriously resurrected.


The Old Testament hints at resurrection, but not until the New Testament, is the promise explicit. With the coming of Christ, the dead will rise!


The New Testament also declares the body (of a Christian) to be the temple of the Holy Spirit. That is further evidence of the importance of our bodies. Finally, in Christ’s resurrection, we’re given an example of what the resurrected body will be like.





Again, it’s certainly not a sin to be cremated. That’s not the issue. Rather, it’s a matter of Christian judgment, informed by the fact that burial has very deep theological & biblical roots in both the Christian and Jewish tradition. Burial can be a powerful (and final) witness to what we believe.



Pastor Dan