Is It Okay for a Christian to Be Cremated?

Question:  I can not find anything in my bible study relating what is proper in burial of the believer.  Would cremation be allowed bibically?  Is there anything in the Bible that would forbid it?  This is a question that weighs heavy on my heart.

 

Answer:  You are right that the Bible does not say anything for or against cremation.  Because in the time of the early church it was a common pagan custom to cremate, the church at first only buried the dead.  Because we believe the body is important, and will be resurrected because it is so important, we believe it should not be viewed as a useless appendage to be done away with at death. 

But both burial and cremation can be done with this perspective in mind.  Based upon how long a body remains in a grave, it will be reduced to basic elements.  Those who have been buried at sea have perhaps eventually become food for marine animals and their DNA spread all over creation.   Neither burial nor cremation really preserves the body in any permanent way.

So a respectful ceremony acknowledging the meaning of death and the hope of resurrection can be done for a burial and for a cremation and God will be honored.  I am personally planning on being cremated as a way of saving expense for my family and with a full acknowledgement that it will take just as much of a miracle to resurrect my body as it will for the person buried at sea.  God is able to accomplish this.

Related Articles:

Good Question: Cremation Confusion

Is Preaching the Kingdom and the Gospel the Same Thing?

Ceiling frescoes

Image by / // / via Flickr

Question:  What is the Kingdom of God mentioned in Luke 9?  It says, “When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick” (9:1,2).  Is it as simple as the Gospel?  The disciples would not know the gospel as Christ had not been Crucified yet.  I know the Kingdom of God is mentioned many times and I dont really know exactly what it is.

Answer:  It is not completely as simple as the gospel, but close.  The “gospel” means the good news and Jesus was preaching the good news of the kingdom, that is, that the kingdom was near and that you could enter it by being born again.  It was an invitation at once to submit to God and at the same time to find His forgiveness when you quit working to become more submissive and trusted Him to work in your life.  With the preaching of the kingdom by the King, Jesus, came numerous foretastes of the kingdom in the form of miracles.  In the kingdom all our sickness and sin will be done away with.  As Jesus introduced the kingdom he gave people a taste of what it would be like by healing their diseases, casting out demons and setting them free with forgiveness.  Another part of the kingdom promise (Jer 31) is a new heart to enable us to keep God’s laws.

Dealing with Pride

Question:  How can I best deal with pride in my life?  What are some ways I can develop humility? 

Answer:  Try spending the next 30 minutes absolutely quiet and without distractions.  Ask God to show you your heart, then begin to catalog the thoughts and feelings that well up.  No matter how disgusting or trivial they may be, write them down (keep a paper shredder handy for afterwards).  Ask God what He wants you to learn about yourself through this and record that.  Read the following Scriptures:  John 15:5; Luke 11:13; Psalm 103:13; 1 Corinthians 8:1-3; Philippians 2:1-11.  Meditate on these and ask God to show you where you are proud and self-centered instead of humble.

Submitting to Parents When You Are an Adult

Question:  How long should I submit to my parents? 

Answer:  As long as you are dependent upon them and living under their roof and are not capable of assuming an adult role in life.  Once you are able to do that you should not be in submission to your parents’ authority but respect it.  This means that you will honor them and their opinions and views on things, but make your own decisions as the head of a new household.  Moses called this “leaving father and mother” (Genesis 2:24).

Even if you are not starting a new household (i.e., getting married), you need to learn to live on your own and face the multiple decisions that come your way.  It is best, of course, to face them in light of God’s will for your life and with His wisdom.

Children, Obey Your Parents…Yeah, Right

Question:  How can I get my kids to submit to my authority the way God intended? 

Answer:  The best way is to model what you tell them to do, tell them in a firm but loving way, and as they are able to understand, tell them why it is important to obey what you are telling them. 

It is important for us to know why God’s laws are what they are (they are always designed for our greatest good) and it is important for our kids to understand why they are doing our laws, otherwise they do not become an internal ethic that drives their decisions throughout life, but merely a standard they do not understand or appreciate. 

Of course, if your kids do not submit they must face logical and reasonable consequences for their disobedience.  These should range from less to more severe depending on the attitude or severity of disobedience.  A couple of great books that might help in this process are Loving Obedience: Child Training Techniques that Work, by William Richardson, and Parenting Adolescents, by Kevin Huggins (my favorite parenting book of all time).

Should Spouses Submit to Each Other?

Question:  Why should I submit to my spouse or my spouse to me?  Shouldn’t it be 50/50? 

Answer:  I suppose it should be 100/100, but regardless of that, submission is really a matter of practicality.  There is a need to have someone who makes the final decision.  There is nothing wrong with the person who has that authority letting the one or ones under his or her authority be a part of that decision and even let them make the decision.  But the bottom line responsibility rests with the person in authority. 

It seems God has given husbands authority in their families, not because they are superior to their wives in decision making skills or intelligence or any other factor, but because that is how He chose it to be and it reflects our relationship to Him (Ephesians 5:22-33).  You would not expect your boss at work to be required to accept that his employees would get 50% of the say in whatever decisions are made (whatever that looks like).  He might choose to let employees make some of the decisions or weigh in on many of them.  That is good leadership.  But the ultimate responsibility lies with the boss as to what decisions are made and that might require doing something the employees don’t like, yet is for their good or the company’s good.  Authority is a serious responsibility before God and should be exercised in humble dependence on Him.

Responding to Our Authorities

Question:  If I don’t agree with my boss, who is not a believer, how do I humbly communicate a Christian principle to him if it is contrary to his desires in a particular situation? 

Answer:  There are two approaches you can take, the Daniel approach (Daniel 1) and the Apostles approach (Acts 4).  The Daniel approach would be to seek to understand what the boss is trying to accomplish with the procedure he is asking you to implement and then to offer an alternative (Christian) way of doing it as a test to see if it accomplishes the same or better results.  This approach works best when the authority does not have an ax to grind but is about bottom line results. 

The Apostles’ approach (Acts 4) would be to make it clear that you will not violate your own ethics even if it means losing your job.  If your employer values you he or she will have to make a choice about whether he or she values you or the outcome more.  This approach assumes that the authority is not only pragmatic but adamant about how to achieve the desired outcome and perhaps even militantly anti-Christian.