For some years, I have answered a question that someone has sent to our ministry inbox or posted on our ministry social media. One question that, much to my surprise, has been among the most asked is whether or not someone can still go to heaven if they were cremated. This is likely because the majority of people who die in America today are cremated instead of buried.
Historically, God’s people, starting with the people of Israel, have buried their dead and not practiced cremation. This was done largely out of respect for God who made the body of the deceased and anticipation of the bodily resurrection of the dead fully restored to health. Christians followed this practice embodying the Temple of Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 3:16, 6:19).
Some pagan nations throughout history have practiced cremation, which has led to the question of whether or not cremation could somehow undo God’s plan for bodily resurrection thereby denying a cremated person from eternal life in God’s New Heaven and New Earth.
For the following reasons, if someone does belong to Jesus Christ, and is cremated, that act will not undo their resurrection for the following 5 reasons:
- Some people who have experience the equivalent of cremation were victims. Examples would include mass casualties in war, people who suffered from such things as nuclear or chemical war or disaster, believers put into gas chambers by the Nazis, or devastating plagues throughout history that destroyed the human body. To punish someone who is a victim would be unjust.
- Some places are so scarce with land that generations of burial are untenable for practical reasons. One example would be Japan.
- Some people who were cremated did not make the choice, as someone made it for them after they were dead. To hold someone responsible for a decision they did not make would be unjust.
- The Bible never simply states that cremation is a sin like it does other sins (e.g. murder, stealing, lying, etc.) which makes it unable to simply be declared a sin by God. Some try to argue that since some pagans in the Bible cremated people it is a sin (1 Sam. 31:11-13, Amos 2:1, 6:8-10). But, even if it is a sin, Jesus died for all sins, and cremation is covered by Christ.
- Eventually, even a buried body decomposes to the state that is equivalent to a cremation (Ecclesiastes 12:7). Therefore, cremation accelerates an inevitable process.
- Sometimes, cremation is a tremendous honor as is the case with Christian martyrs who were burned at the stake.
Grace’s dad was a pastor that our kids called Grandpa Gib. He loved Jesus and passed away some years ago. Then, his body was cremated. The good news is that Grandpa Gib, and those like him, will get their resurrection body, even if God has to bring it to life from the dust of the earth.
God made the first body from the dust of the earth with Adam. Genesis 2:7 says, “the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.” That same God promises to remake resurrection bodies also from the dust of the earth. Daniel 12:2 says, “those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.”
What are you most looking to experiencing in a fully healed resurrection body?