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Once there was an oriental man who was on his way to a place where a member of his family was buried. He brought a tray of food to leave at the burial place so his loved one wouldn't go hungry as he made his journey into the unknown.

Then someone from the West stopped him and said, "Don't you know it's useless to bring food? That person can't come forth and eat!" To this, the oriental gentleman answered, "Perhaps not, but neither can your loved ones come forth and smell the flowers with which you cover their graves."

Scripture Or Tradition?
It has been said that the heart, or "crux" of a religion, can be seen in how those who believe in it approach the loss of a loved one.

Do the survivors of the deceased really seem as though they comprehend what takes place at death? Do they act like they believe and know where their loved one has gone?

Or is more consideration and attention given to "proper burial" than is given to where the living spirit of the deceased now lives?

I have heard the statement made "that if a loved one is buried in the ground—that is Christian—but to cremate a body is pagan."

What do you think? Is this statement based on scripture? Or on tradition?

The burial of a loved one and the many decisions that must be made by the survivors is emotional enough without debating the method used in putting the loved one to rest.

However, before a Christian faces this decision, or forms an opinion, I simply believe they should carefully study 2 Corinthians 5:1-8. For example, consider the first verse:
For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved [or, disintegrated]1 we have a building of God, and house, not made with hands, eternal in the heaven.
(2 Cor. 5:1)
This Body Dissolved
The Bible teaches that the human body following physical death is disposable. Dake's Annotated Bible translates dissolved as, "throw down" (Matt. 24:2). The Amplified Bible refers to the body's earthen house as "a tent."

Erdman and Wuest translate it as "this present tent-life." The New English Bible as, "the earthly frame that houses us." And Conybeare as, "...the tent which is my earthly house be destroyed."

In verse four of Paul's teaching in 2 Corinthians 5 he goes on to say that we "...groan, being burdened; not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life."

In another chapter of this booklet we will refer to our unsaved body in which we dwell as a temple for our inner or, spirit man. But here, in 2 Corinthians 5:4, Paul refers to the human body as a "burden."

Phillips Twentieth Century Translation says, "as long as we are clothed in this temporary dwelling, we have a painful longing...unwilling to take it off, yet wishing to put our heavenly body over it."

And Beck's translation says, "So while we are in this tent, we sigh, feeling oppressed."

The Afterlife Is What Matters
The point to be made here is the disposition of the human body following death pales in the light of the life after. And that the method chosen by the bereaved can be made in the light of this truth.

The fact of the matter is, God said nothing in the Old or New Testaments concerning any kind of method for "tent" burial. When Sarah died, the father of the Hebrew faith, Abraham, bought a field with a cave as a place to put Sarah's body so he could "...bury my dead out of my sight" (Gen. 23:4).

And we do know that he said to the people among whom they lived, "I am a stranger among you, give me a burial place among you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight" (paraphrase of Gen. 23:4).

So Abraham of course knew what would happen to a dead body that was left to decompose out in the open (which is no way to remember a loved one). He sought to hide Sarah's dead body in a cave, out of sight, so the memory of her would be a good one...not a lifeless corpse.

But God didn't specify in scripture the exact manner that Abraham was to dispose of his dead before his beloved Sarah's body would return to the dust.
In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat read, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.
(Gen. 3:19)
The Choice: Cremation or Burial
Again, it is not the intent of this article to make either burial or cremation a "right" or "wrong" choice. This is not in question.

What is in question is the fact that we face this choice many times without really understanding the issue. Therefore, it is my desire that you educated yourself to the point of being able to deal with this delicate issue from an informed perspective.

Why? Because the facts concerning our physical and spiritual perception of the disposition of the body from a biblical standpoint will help us make a non-prejudicial choice based upon the facts.

That way, we can be assured we are making the best choice(s) possible concerning our loved ones who go home to be with the Lord.

1 Strong's Exhaustive Greek Dictionary of the New Testament, 2647 kataluo (kat-al-oo'-o); from 2596 and 3089; to loosen down (disintegrate), i.e. (by implication) to demolish (literally or figuratively)

Source: Creation to Cremation by Dr. Roy Hicks
Excerpt permission granted by Harrison House Publishers

Author Biography

Roy Hicks
Web site:
Roy H. Hicks was a successful minister of the Gospel who gave his life to pastoring and pioneering churches throughout the United States. He served the Lord in various foreign fields, having made missionary journeys to South America, the Orient, Australia, and New Zealand.

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