The practice of cremation is often seen as a modern phenomenon, but it actually has a long history. In fact, cremation was practiced by many cultures in the ancient world, including the Greeks and Romans.
Cremation is the process of reducing a body to ashes through the use of intense heat. In addition, cremated remains can be buried or scattered in a place that is significant to the deceased, or they can be kept by the family in an urn.
While cremation has become increasingly popular in recent years, it is still considered a controversial practice by some. Today, cremation is often chosen as an alternative to traditional burial for reasons of cost, convenience, or personal preference. For many people, the idea of having their remains reduced to ashes is seen as a more natural and dignified way of dealing with death. However, critics of cremation argue that it is a disrespectful way to treat the human body.
Ultimately, whether or not to cremate a loved one or consider it for yourself is a personal decision that must be made with careful consideration.
The Catholic Church
Catholics have historically been opposed to cremation, viewing it as a practice that denies the body’s role in resurrection as they believe it desecrates the body and denies its unique purpose in God’s plan… However, the Catholic Church has softened its stance on cremation in recent years. While the Church still prefers traditional funeral services and proper burial in a consecrated space, such as a cemetery, it now allows priests to officiate at cremation ceremonies and permits ashes to be scattered or interred in a columbarium.
For many people, cremation offers a more affordable and convenient option. As the Church continues to evolve, cremation will likely become increasingly accepted within the Catholic community.
Christians have a long history of burying their dead. This practice is based on the belief that the body is a temple of the Holy Spirit and should be treated with respect. Furthermore, many Christians believe burial allows for the body to be eligible for resurrection. However, in recent years, cremation has become an increasingly popular option among Christians. While some believe that cremation is a violation of God’s command to “not destroy the physical body,” others disagree and argue that it is simply a more practical option. Additionally, some Christians believe that cremation allows for the soul to be released from the body more quickly, making it easier for the deceased to enter heaven. And while not cremation per-se, there is also scripture to suggest burning human bones was acceptable.
Ultimately, whether or not to be cremated is a personal decision that each Christian must make for themselves.
What does the Bible say about cremation? While there is no explicit mention of cremation in the Bible by name, there are several passages that suggest that the practice was known and accepted by the early Christians. Scripture suggests that burial in a family tomb was the preferred method of burial at that time, however, it is certainly possible that cremation was seen as a way to protect the dignity of the dead and prevent their bodies from being desecrated. If cremation truly was a sin, God would have denounced the practice in the same way he denounces so many other sins.
At first glance, some verses may not appear related to cremation at all, but it is important to remind ourselves that on the topic of cremation, sometimes a Christian isn’t looking for examples – but rather about the spiritual law for or against it. For example, it’s fair to presume that Romans 8:38-39 informs us that cremation would not separate us “from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Death by Fire as Punishment in the Bible
Death by fire, also known as immolation, is commonly referenced as punishment throughout the Old Testament. This process is adjacent to cremation as it can often lead to similar results as a cremated body. While total and complete cremation under the process of immolation is rare, the similarities are often tragic considering the process of immolation generally takes place while the victim is still alive.
Though Christians are considered “New Testament believers,” and follow Lord Jesus Christ as their savior, this does not discredit the Old Testament as a part of their faith and knowledge base.
Cremation Bible Verses
10 And a man’s uncle shall take him up, and he that burneth him, to bring out the bones out of the house, and shall say unto him that is by the sides of the house, Is there yet any with thee? and he shall say, No. Then shall he say, Hold thy tongue: for we may not make mention of the name of the Lord.
Amos 6:10, KJV
20 Josiah slaughtered all the priests of those high places on the altars and burned human bones on them. Then he went back to Jerusalem.
2 Kings 23:20, NIV
15 The one who has stolen what was set apart for destruction will himself be burned with fire, along with everything he has, for he has broken the covenant of the Lord and has done a horrible thing in Israel.”
Joshua 7:15, NLT
12 all the valiant men arose and went all night and took the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons from the wall of Beth-shan, and they came to Jabesh and burned them there. 13 And they took their bones and buried them under the tamarisk tree in Jabesh and fasted seven days.
1 Samuel 31:12-13, ESV
25 And Joshua said, “Why have you troubled us? The Lord will trouble you this day.” So all Israel stoned him with stones; and they burned them with fire after they had stoned them with stones.
Joshua 7:25, NKJV
9 And the daughter of any priest, if she profane herself by playing the whore, she profaneth her father: she shall be burnt with fire.
Leviticus 21:9, KJV
42 So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable;
1 Corinthians 15:42, NIV
12 he went to the people of Jabesh-gilead and retrieved the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan. (When the Philistines had killed Saul and Jonathan on Mount Gilboa, the people of Jabesh-gilead stole their bodies from the public square of Beth-shan, where the Philistines had hung them.) 13 So David obtained the bones of Saul and Jonathan, as well as the bones of the men the Gibeonites had executed.
14 Then the king ordered that they bury the bones in the tomb of Kish, Saul’s father, at the town of Zela in the land of Benjamin. After that, God ended the famine in the land.
2 Samuel 21:12-14, NLT
14 They buried him in the tomb that he had cut for himself in the city of David. They laid him on a bier that had been filled with various kinds of spices prepared by the perfumer’s art, and they made a very great fire in his honor.
2 Chronicles 16:14, ESV
19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.
Genesis 3:19, KJV
14 “‘If a man marries both a woman and her mother, it is wicked. Both he and they must be burned in the fire, so that no wickedness will be among you.
Leviticus 20:14, NIV
3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
1 Corinthians 13:3, ESV
1 This is what the Lord says:
“For three sins of Moab,
even for four, I will not relent.
Because he burned to ashes
the bones of Edom’s king,
Amos 2:1, NIV
39 For not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. 40 There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another.
1 Corinthians 15:39-40, ESV
Key Takeaways on What the Bible Says about Cremation
- While the Bible does not explicitly mention cremation, several passages reference burning human bones or bodies, suggesting the practice was known.
- The Bible emphasizes respectful treatment of the dead. Some associate burial with eligibility for resurrection, but cremated remains can also be buried.
- Passages depict burning bones to cleanse holy places of past sin, like Josiah burning bones on pagan altars. This suggests purification, not condemnation.
- Accounts of burning the bones or bodies of evil kings imply destruction of their legacy, not commentary on proper handling of all bodies.
- New Testament verses metaphorically mention delivering one’s body to be burned, indicating self-sacrifice, not prohibition of cremation.
- Scripture stresses that our earthly bodies are temporary and perishable. Our souls endure eternally through God’s redemption, regardless of burial or cremation.
- The Bible focuses on spiritual regeneration through Christ, not promoting one acceptable funeral method. Our bodies return to dust through decay or fire.
- Respectful cremation does not affect resurrection or limit God’s power. He can raise the cremated just as easily as those long decayed in graves.
- No biblical doctrine hinges on burial over cremation. The emphasis is honoring the dead, not method. Cremation does not impede salvation or God’s love.
- The Bible neither promotes nor prohibits cremation. Deciding between burial and cremation is a matter for personal choice, conscience, and Christian freedom.
Does the Bible support cremation?
The Bible does not directly address cremation, but does include instances of burning human bones and bodies. There is no clear biblical support or opposition to cremation.
What does the Old Testament say about cremation?
The Old Testament contains accounts of burning bones or bodies for purification of pagan sites or destroying the legacy of evil kings. This implies some acceptance of cremation.
What does the New Testament say about cremation?
The New Testament does not mention cremation specifically but does use sacrificial metaphors about delivering one’s body to be burned, focusing on spiritual devotion not method.
Is cremation a sin according to the Bible?
No, the Bible does not classify cremation as a sin. Scripture emphasizes respectful treatment of bodies and focusing on eternal redemption, not promoting one funeral method over another.
Does cremation prevent resurrection?
From a biblical perspective, cremation does not prevent resurrection any more than standard decay and decomposition in a grave would. God can resurrect both buried and cremated bodies.
Does the Bible support burial over cremation?
The Bible shows burial was common at the time but does not directly advocate burial over cremation or restrict Christians to only burial. Decisions on method are left to believers.
What does the Bible say about treating the dead?
The Bible advises treating the dead with respect and does warn against desecration of bodies. Both burial and cremation allow for honoring the deceased if done properly.
Can you go to heaven if you are cremated?
Yes, cremation does not affect one’s eternal destiny according to Scripture. The state of one’s soul after death depends on salvation through Christ, not the method used to treat their earthly body.
Does it matter if you’re buried or cremated?
Biblically, it does not matter whether a believer’s body is buried or cremated. What matters is honoring the dead and maintaining faith in spiritual redemption, not the funeral method chosen.
Are there any Bible verses against cremation?
There are no clear Bible verses speaking against cremation. Decisions about burial compared to cremation are not directly addressed in Scripture.
For more articles on biblical themes, please reference our articles here.
This article references verses written from the King James Version (KJV), New International Version (NIV), New Living Translation (NLT), English Standard Version (ESV), and New King James Version (NKJV) translations of the Bible.