Is cremation proper for Christians?
The Scriptures do not present any basic objection to the practice of cremation.
There are Biblical accounts relating that the bodies or bones of dead people were burned. (Josh. 7:25; 2 Chron. 34:4, 5) This may have indicated that those people did not seem to merit a decent burial. But what amounted to cremation did not always carry such a meaning.
We can see this from the account of the death of King Saul and his three sons. The four of them died battling the Philistines. One of the sons was Jonathan, the good friend and loyal supporter of David. When valiant Israelites living in Jabesh-gilead learned what had happened, they recovered the four bodies, burned them, and then buried the bones. David later praised those Israelites for their actions.—1 Sam. 31:2, 8-13; 2 Sam. 2:4-6.
The Scriptural hope for the dead is the resurrection—God’s restoration of the person to life. Whether a dead person is cremated or not, Jehovah is not limited in his ability to restore the person to life with a new body. The three faithful Hebrews who faced death in a fiery furnace as ordered by King Nebuchadnezzar did not need to fear that if they were thus destroyed, God could not resurrect them. (Dan. 3:16-18) That was also true of faithful servants of Jehovah who faced death and subsequent cremation in Nazi concentration camps. Various loyal servants of God have perished in explosions or in other ways that left no trace of their remains. Still, their resurrection is assured.—Rev. 20:13.
Jehovah does not have to reassemble a person’s former body in order to resurrect him. That is shown by God’s resurrecting anointed Christians to heavenly life. Like Jesus, who was “made alive in the spirit,” anointed Christians are resurrected as the same person but with a spiritual body. No part of their former physical body accompanies them to heaven.—1 Pet. 3:18; 1 Cor. 15:42-53; 1 John 3:2.
Our hope in the resurrection rests, not on what might be done with the physical corpse, but on faith in God’s ability and desire to fulfill his promises. (Acts 24:15) Granted, we may not fully comprehend how God has performed the miracle of resurrection on past occasions or how he will do so in the future. Still, we put our trust in Jehovah. He has provided “a guarantee” by resurrecting Jesus.—Acts 17:31; Luke 24:2, 3.
Christians do well to take into consideration social norms, local sentiments, and legal requirements regarding the disposition of dead bodies. (2 Cor. 6:3, 4) Then, whether the body of a deceased person is to be cremated or not is a personal or family decision.