Confusions on Cremation
Cremation in the tradition of Christianity has a striking resemblance with Judaism especially on their preference when it comes to burial. Not long ago, the Christian church agreed with the Judaism that burning the remains of the dead is considered unethical to their customs and belief. Today, there are Christian churches that have changed their position regarding electronic filter which has lead to an increase on the Christians choosing this process as their preferred burial practice.
The Confusions on the Cremation Process
Traditionally, our ancestors have four ways of disposing the body of the dead. The Cremation is the traditional burial practice of the Romans and the Greeks. Most of them believe that the soul is immortal and that there is absolutely no reason why you need to provide special care and attention to the body. Based on historical facts, the early Christians preferred to bury the body of their dead loved ones. The early gravesites of the Christians are known as coemeteria that translates to ‘sleeping ground’ which reflects the Christian’s belief on resurrection.
Why Do Christians Pay Attention to the Proper Disposal of the Body?
Perhaps the early tradition of the Christian on the proper disposal of the body can be caused by varying reasons. Christians believe that our body was a creation of God. It is created using the image of God and should be treated with proper respect. They also believe in incarnation and that God has hallowed the life into the human body. Christians also think that the Holy Spirit is dwelling inside our body. Finally, since the body of Jesus was buried and resurrected, they also believe burying the dead body is a preparation to the upcoming resurrection. Cremation of the body is a contradiction to these beliefs.
What Lead to the Change in Belief?
Perhaps the change in this belief is due to the fact that there is no excerpt in the Bible that specifically forbids the Cremation of the dead body. In fact, there are lots of martyrs that have been burned to stake. The understanding of the Christian on the relation of the soul and body has changed over the past few centuries. The teachings of the Christian church became more emphasised on the soul of human compared to their body. Since their view has already changed, their belief on the resurrection of soul has also been changed.
Today, Christian who originally opposed the practice of Cremation is no longer condemning it. Since 1963, the bodies of the deceased who are being cremated are no longer being denied on the resurrection. The Catholic priests officiates the mass before they will be cremated. However, the Catholic Church still prefers the traditional burial method. In 1983, the church has provided guidance on this process stating how they prefer the burial, but they also do not forbid the bodies to be cremated.
The memorials and the funerals should not just be focused on the body of the deceased loved one. It should also serve as a reminder on the Christian’s belief on the eternal life. Christians believe that the appropriate memorial service combined with Cremation will still honour this purpose.