Questions From Readers
● Is cremation proper for Christians?
Among the ancient Hebrews it seems that it was the common practice to bury the dead in the ground or in tombs. (Gen. 50:13; Judg. 8:32; 1 Ki. 11:43) But on occasion bodies were burned or cremated for various reasons. The men of Jabesh-gilead took the corpses of Saul and his sons, faithful Jonathan included, to “Jabesh and burned them there. Then they took their bones and buried them.” (1 Sam. 31:12 13) For this they were praised by David. (2 Sam. 2:4-7) So, while cremation is not the general custom of Jews today, for ethical or personal reasons, “it is generally agreed that there is no express law to be found in the Bible demanding the burial of the human body.”—Jewish Encyclopedia, Vol. IV, p. 343.
It appears that the early Christians, many of whom were natural Jews, generally followed the Jewish practice of burial in the earth. But since the Bible does not require burial, they were not overly concerned about some special custom. In time, though, pagan practices and fears began to creep into Christian beliefs. The Catholic Encyclopedia, under the heading “Cremation,” points out that the “Greeks and Romans varied in their practice according to their views of the after life.” Pagan persecutors misunderstood the Christian belief and felt that the Christian resurrection depended upon a preserved body. The same publication continues: “The pagans, to destroy faith in the resurrection of the body, often cast the corpses of martyred Christians into the flames, fondly believing thus to render impossible the resurrection of the body.”—Vol. IV, p. 481.
Of course, the true Christian has no misconception about the dead body in connection with the resurrection. In reference to those who are to rule with Christ in heaven, the Bible plainly states, “Flesh and blood cannot inherit God’s kingdom.” (1 Cor. 15:50) Accordingly, God will provide suitable bodies for those to be raised from death to earthly life. So whether a body returns to the elements by decaying in the ground or is burned to ashes does not in any way affect God’s ability to resurrect the person, if that is His desire.
Christians can, therefore, consider local legal requirements as well as the sentiments of those in the community in deciding on this matter. (Phil. 1:10) Since Jehovah does not express disapproval of cremation in the Bible, it remains a matter for personal decision.
Faithfulness and loyalty are qualities that all servants of Jehovah God need. As they carry on their ministry, preaching God’s Word, they find that they are called on to demonstrate these qualities every day. This will continue to be true during July as Jehovah’s witnesses call on people everywhere to point out from the Bible the dangers of false religion and the blessings of God’s kingdom. To aid truth seekers, they will offer the book “Babylon the Great Has Fallen!” God’s Kingdom Rules!, along with a booklet, on a contribution of 75c.
SINCERITY CANNOT COVER CONTRADICTIONS
“What’s in a name?” Many say that of religion—“just as long as you are sincere.” But sincerity cannot cover the multitude of opposing and contradictory beliefs. Nor can such differences be pleasing to God. The apostle Paul made this clear when he said there are “one Lord, one faith, one baptism.” Your life depends on learning where these differences arose and how a vast system of false worship has grown out of the conflicting views about God. We are commanded to ‘get out of her lest we suffer of her plagues.’ Read “Babylon the Great Has Fallen!” God’s Kingdom Rules! Send now and receive free the booklet God’s Way Is Love. Send only 75c.
“WATCHTOWER” STUDIES FOR THE WEEKS
August 1: Plaguing the Modern “Egyptians” with Truth, ¶1-22. Page 392.
August 8: Plaguing the Modern “Egyptians” with Truth, ¶23-29, and The Tenth Plague—Firstborn Slain. Page 398.