Burial Beliefs

This past Saturday I presented a talk at our church on planning for your memorial.  Pretty perky sounding topic, eh?  It’s appropriate for an older congregation like mine, but the topic is eminently pertinent to everyone.  I tried to make this clear by simply emphasizing the obvious – barring a divine return, we’re all going to die.  No ifs, ands, or buts.  We don’t know how or when, but keeping this rather important fact in mind throughout life is a really, really, really good idea.  We’re not to obsess over it, but we dare not forget or ignore it the way our culture would prefer us to.

I touched briefly on the topic of cremation vs. burial, indicating that there is no strong Biblical endorsement of any particular funerary practice.  What matters is that we treat the body as a gift of God, a gift that foreshadows the body we will once again enjoy when we are raised from the dead on the day of Jesus’ return.  As such, the rationale behind the decision on how to deal with our dead body is probably more important than the particular decision reached.  In short I don’t see a problem with burial or cremation.  But I alluded to the fact that there are evolving burial practices that I do have a problem with.  

Then an acquaintance on Facebook posted this link.  Red flag statement?  “Bios urn transforms death into life through nature.”

Now, let’s not be silly here.  There are plenty of folks whose bodies have disintegrated over time, become part of the soil and undoubtedly absorbed into the local flora and fauna.  From dust we have come and to dust we will return – it’s not just an Ash Wednesday mantra, it’s reality.  However, it’s a side effect.  From dust we have come, but dust is not what we were originally destined to return to.  And the life that comes through death for the Christian has nothing to do with becoming part of a tree or a shrub or an animal or some other Lion King sort of circle-of-life silliness.  Our hope for life is linked to the life of Jesus of Nazareth, the life He demonstrated to hundreds of people after he was executed and buried.  He is our hope for life, and any other source of hope is a pretty dismal alternative.  

That being said I don’t take issue with wanting to be environmentally friendly.  Embalming and all the other things we do to put off the natural decay of the body strike me as highly unnatural.  Pumping dead bodies and therefore eventually the ground with toxic chemicals makes no sense to me.  But the reasonable alternative is not the hope that our dearly departed will now be a tree.  

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2 Responses to “Burial Beliefs”

  1. And Now a Word | Living Apologetics Says:

    […] to consider in planning for their death, from the Church’s perspective.  We talked about a variety of things, including my preferred format for memorial services.  But one thing we didn’t go into a […]

  2. Death – Again | Living Apologetics Says:

    […] repeatedly over the years on the topic of how a Christian approaches death and burial (here, here, here, here, and here). I keep revisiting the topic because the topic continues to be revisited in our […]

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