Cremation [3]

Posted on March 10, 2011

Question

Why does the Orthodox faith not allow cremation?


Answer

Orthodox Christianity does not allow cremation because the origin of this practice is rooted in the belief that the body is inconsequential, that it is evil by virtue of the fact that it is material, and/or that it is a “prison” for the soul, which only reaches its “true potential” when it is released from the body—as expressed in the thinking of certain ancient philosopher, such as Plato.

Christianity holds that the body is a gift from God, that it is the temple of the Holy Spirit, and that even after the soul departs therefrom, rendering the body lifeless, it is still to be treated with the utmost respect, for it bore the soul and in it was borne the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist. Hence, the body is not destroyed, as if it had no meaning, as if because it no longer has a “meaningful function” it is no more useful than a flat tire, or as if some dualistic notion that that which is spiritual is good while that which is material is evil is truth. This is not Christian teaching.

Contemporary ideas concerning cremation—that it is “less expensive” than burial [a totally repugnant thought that smacks of the height of monetary greed—“If we cremate grandpa, we’ll inherit more!”], that it is more convenient [“We can get the service over in an hour and won’t have to deal with a viewing or driving to the cemetery”], that it is “more dignified”
than placing the body in the ground to rot [as if placing a body in an oven to burn is dignified or “natural”], or that it is necessary because “we’re running out of land and cemetery space” [ever drive across Nebraska or Kansas?!]—are seen as simply ridiculous.