One of our readers has asked about cremation vs. burial. Tacitus, the Roman leader, once said that the Jews “bury rather than burn dead bodies” (Hist. 5.5). Not all have agreed with this ancient tradition, though. What do you think? Who has some thoughts about cremating vs. burying our loved ones? What do the pastors think?
Both the ancient Israelites and the early Christians avoided cremation — in part, no doubt, because it was a common pagan custom.
In Leviticus, for the body to be burned was an ultimate sanction and abomination (cf. Lev. 20:14; 21:9).
On the other hand, it must be admitted — and correct me if I’m wrong here medically/physically — that bodies decompose over time so that, however long it takes for a body to decompose, the cremated body and the buried body eventually end in (roughly) the same condition.
It must be admitted also that a major reason why both Israelites and Christians did not cremate was to distance themselves from paganism.
Environmental and economical issues can be factored into the decision made by individuals (who choose to be cremated) and familes.
If God can put back together the bodies of the decomposed by burial, he can do the same to the decomposed by cremation.
My friend, the Zarman, had this comment: “I lean toward putting me in the dirt; don’t burn me up.”