Let's be reasonable with one another, shall we?

Monday, June 19, 2006

A Very Morbid Subject

I am sorry if any of you reading this have recently experienced the loss of a loved one. This is in no way meant to offend you or hurt. I will write plainly ... and possibly bluntly. I will touch on the practices we have of “visitation” “viewing” and “burial” because they have been on my mind for quite some time.

Following is a little personal background.

When I was 11, my one-year-old dog, Benny, ran headlong into a car and died. It broke my heart. I remember crying intermittently for about a month. It was the worst thing that had ever happened to me. We got another dog, Charlie, shortly after and I eventually got over my feelings of loss. About a year later, when Charlie was one year old, my parents were planning a trip to Mexico.

My older sister, Mary, her husband and child were going to stay with us - me and my four-year-old and sixteen-year-old brothers, while our parents were away. During the week leading up to the trip, we kids and parents had many conversations about the plane crashing and what would happen if Mom and Dad died … and never came back form Mexico. It was all very tongue-in-cheek, of course.

On the Friday they were to leave, I went to school as usual, knowing that when I came home, my parents would be gone and my sister Mary would be there. When I got home from school, I found things just as I expected. Mary and a couple of my brothers were in the family room. I said “hi” and no one answered. I then said something cocky and sat down. I noticed that Mary started to cry. I asked what was wrong and she didn’t answer. I stood and repeated my question … still, no answer from anyone. I began to think that my dog Charlie had died! I then raised my voice, demanding to know what was wrong. Charlie came in the room, barking. Oh no - it must be the plane had crashed … Mom and Dad!!! My mother followed Charlie into the room, reaching down and shushing the dog after I had continued to call out “what is wrong with everyone?!” Then, when I saw my mother, I just knew. She looked at me and said the words I will never forget, “Rosie, honey, Daddy has died.” He had suffered a fatal heart attack in the morning and died before they ever were to leave for the airport. He was 48 years old.

My father had a “Memorial Service.” He had donated his body to science … and so there was no “viewing,” no casket, no funeral home with “visitation,” and no burial … or grave. My mom’s sisters thought this was terrible. They said that they were never really sure that Bill (that was my Dad’s name) was really gone - because they never saw the body (this strikes me as a very strange thing to say.)

I, on the other hand, am glad for the way he did it. I don’t have any Scriptural reasons - I don’t think - I am just glad that I don’t have a memory of seeing my father’s still and lifeless body lying in a box. I think it would have been awful and that it would have made a very sad occasion more morbid then it already was. Maybe I am wrong, but that is what I think.

----------------------------------------------------------

The week before last, there were two funerals at our church. I did both of the funeral “bulletins” and cried for both as I did the work. These things make me very sad - even though I am confident that the people are with the Lord. I feel so bad for the pain that the families must go through. The worst was that of a 20 year old boy who was hit by a truck while riding his bicycle across a busy highway. It was dreadful. His funeral took place on Saturday when I was on vacation. His poor, poor family.

The other death was that of a very beloved associate pastor of ours. He was 82 years old. His “visitation” was held in our chapel and the main memorial service (funeral?) was in the larger auditorium on Friday when I was at work (before I left for the lake). If I thought that any of his family or close friends would read this, I would not mention the following self-centered thoughts.

The casket made me feel very disturbed. I had to walk through the chapel to get paper to print the bulletin and I glanced at the open casket. I deliberately avoided the immediate area. I felt very guilty for not walking up and greeting his wife and fine children and grandchildren. They probably did not notice me – there were many visitors - but how bad of me not to stop. I told myself I would come back in a little while. Then, it was conveniently too late. I felt guilty … and selfish. Why did his body need to be there? It would not be uncomfortable if they were standing there alone.

I have been to a few funerals and seen a couple of open caskets.

My mom’s mother died in the year 2000. I walked up to that casket. There were two flies on her face. My oldest son, who was four at the time, tried to get the flies to leave her alone. I thought this was very awkward and inappropriate. Why should I look at my grandmother’s dead body and see her with flies bothering her lifeless body? I knew she was dead ... seeing her body was not necessary. Why is this done?

John and I are working these things out and I think I want to donate my body to science. I have heard Christians say this is wrong because they desecrate your body.

What about cremation? Is this unbiblical?
Is it biblical to roll a dead body into the house of worship?
Why do we do these things?
Do they do it this way in other civilized coutries?

I am sorry if these words have offended anyone. I know it was very frank and I hope I have not been too selfish by posting it.

44 Comments:

  • This is a subject that needs to be discussed.

    Cremation is not the Biblical way. It is a pagan practice and shows a disrespect to the bodies that will be raised on the last day.

    On the subject of burial, I think it is worrying that many people who suffer grief end up being induced by funeral directors to pay handsome sums for their loved one's burials. Those counselling the recently bereaved need to be wise to this.

    I think it is right and proper for Christians to donate their bodies for medical purposes. Our bodies do not belong to us and we must be good stewards of them.

    Every Blessing in Christ

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 6/19/2006 1:43 PM  

  • I'm glad you brought this up, Rose. And I think you are incredibly sensitive in how you worded this post. Thank you for that.

    These are questions I have been asking myself, too. I thought I was alone in this!! But the whole idea of viewing the body, etc., seems odd to me, as well. And I'm not comfortable with it.

    Some would theorize that our discomfort in those situations is an unwillingness to face our own mortality, but I think it's way different than that. I think it has to do with realizing that death is not what we make it out to be, and the focus on that body seems to run counter to what we know as believers.

    Just my thoughts...

    steve :)

    By Blogger Steve Sensenig, at 6/19/2006 2:00 PM  

  • hi Rose,
    I don't like to view the body,
    I would like to remember them the way they were, I did go to a friend funeral the other day, and view her, and I wished I hadn't because she didn't look anything like she didn't when I saw her last!

    take care

    By Blogger jel, at 6/19/2006 2:17 PM  

  • My mother passed away this past February. I was totally opposed to having an open casket at the visitation, but was overruled by my dad and siblings. I have always dreaded the "viewing" and try to avoid it if at all possible. At the end of the visitation, I FORCED myself to go to the casket. My mom had been in chemotherapy for four months prior to her death so she had not looked the same to me for quite some time, so I was already expecting her to look very different. When I approached her casket, I laid my hand on her arm. It felt like wood. I realized at that moment that our body IS just a shell - a casing to hold our spirit until our death. And regardless of whether a person is a Christian or not, once they die, they are no longer in that body. I have since been to two visitations with open caskets and it didn't bother me at all.

    Rose's post brought to mind a recent conversation I had with a friend about why people visit and decorate graves. This has been a long-standing Memorial Day tradition in my mother's family. I always went as a kid because she made me. As an adult, I don't visit or decorate graves. My loved ones are not in the grave, they are with Christ. I believe it is much better to honor them through my actions and words than by placing some ugly, plastic flowers on their gravesite once a year. What do others think about that tradition?

    By Blogger Superwoman, at 6/19/2006 2:54 PM  

  • Matthew,

    I'm thinking since God made the world out of nothing he'll have no problem putting my body back together should I choose cremation.

    Rose,
    My dad had an open casket as well-- I don't think it necessary--that was then when ceremony was big with where I was--where you were as well--
    I went to a Baptist funeral a year or so ago--no body there and it did not take away from the service at all--it was a beautiful remembrance of a life.

    Still Just a Bill

    By Anonymous Still Just a Bill, at 6/19/2006 2:57 PM  

  • My mother, my best friend died, March 14, a mere 3 months ago. My dad (also named Bill) died in Oct 2001. I'm still stunned that I actually have no parents. And of course I'm still in the throes of mourning my mom, she was a daily part of my life, and I feel very lost without her.

    As far as cremation or burials go, I view it as a personal matter. I don't believe the Bible addresses this issue. Many people like a marked grave so they have somewhere to 'go' - a physical place to mourn, visit, remember, whatever. Funerals/memorial services are a way for the living to grieve, and to honor somone who was loved. I don't wish to be cremated, but I am an organ donor.

    Maybe people are uncomfortable with viewing bodies because really and truly, that person, dead, doesn't look much like that person alive. My mother didn't look so much like herself, but was still beautiful and I don't have any strange memories as a result of viewing her in a casket. That was a fleeting moment in time; I remember her from the gazillion pictures I have and from the memories of her being my mother for 46 years.

    I agree with Matthew though, funeral expenses are exorbitant, and those people should be ashamed of themselves. Going through all this with my mom caused my husband and I to get things prepaid, and the way we want it.

    We've purchased our lots and our grave marker. It's amazing how much funeral homes mark up those headstones. We went straight to the monument company and purchased a nice granite stand up monument for less than what the funeral home wanted for a small flat one.

    Oh well, sorry for rambling so. It's just that this subject is so fresh.

    By Blogger Gayla, at 6/19/2006 3:17 PM  

  • Superwoman, plastic flowers -blech!!!! I'm not a fan of all that decorating - it gets...well...rather tacky looking. But real flowers, I'm ok with that. There's certainly nothing inherently *wrong* in decorating - whatever helps a person cope...

    Like you, this was my first Mother's Day without mom. And it was the first time I'd gone to her grave since the funeral. I brought 2 roses. I wanted to see that her marker was placed, which it was. And I stood there and bawled. It was very surreal to be in a cemetery on Mother's Day.

    By Blogger Gayla, at 6/19/2006 3:24 PM  

  • Bill, I am sure you do not think I have any doubts about the fact that God can put together the ashes of a deceased person.

    However, the Scriptures always talk about people rising from the grave. There is a presumption of burial.

    Why is it that professing Christians (and Jews and Muslims)have always favoured burial and shunned cremation? Because this practice reflects the hope of the resurrection.

    Every Blessing in Christ

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 6/19/2006 3:33 PM  

  • Rose, before you decide to donate your body to science you might want to read Stiff. It's a book about what bodies donated to science are used for. Morbid? Yes, it is. It's also rather amusing at times. It's written by a journalist and not a scientist, so it is written in layman's terms. I think I'll remain an organ donor and let "science" use someone else's body...

    Ooooh! Here's a question for those who might be concerned about God gathering body parts. If a man dies and donates his heart to someone else, when both are dead and buried and it comes time for resurrection, to whom does that heart belong?

    By Blogger The IBEX Scribe, at 6/19/2006 4:28 PM  

  • Oh, yeah, and I find dead bodies a bit creepy myself. I have no desire whatsoever to actually touch one. I kind of like the closed casket with a nice picture of the person on top of it. I don't need to see them to know that they are dead.

    My family has some burial plots purchased already and have done a lot of the preparation for my grandmother's funeral although she is still alive in a nursing home. Preplanned funerals generally cost less and leave less for the grieving family to worry about. (Does that sound like a commercial or what?)

    By Blogger The IBEX Scribe, at 6/19/2006 4:34 PM  

  • I will be back later, but for now I must say, these are some great comments.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 6/19/2006 5:22 PM  

  • Every time I've seen the body of a "dead" family member--the realization hits me that their body is just a "shell" (in a sense); and that being absent from the body they are present with the Lord!

    I don't think there is anything ethically wrong with viewing a dead body--anymore than there is viewing a "live" body.

    I think "burial" reflects a belief in the "resurrection" better--but I don't think there is a demonstrable scriptural mandate for "burial" as the only way of dealing with dead bodies!

    As far as science goes Rose, how do you know what agenda is being fulfilled in the usage of a particular body? In other words, science, last time I looked, is not necessarily concerned with the preservation of life, or ethics in general (i.e. stem cell research, bio-engineering, etc.).

    In Christ,

    Bobby G.

    By Anonymous bobby grow, at 6/19/2006 5:40 PM  

  • Matthew,

    I thought about that after I posted--Kind of a tired end of the day post that should have been avoided.
    Are there any burials in the Bible that were not Jewish ceremonial burials?
    I think perhaps I'd just as soon be cremated as a space saving and money saving option--just don't put me on a shelf somewhere.

    bill

    By Anonymous Still Just a Bill, at 6/20/2006 6:24 AM  

  • DF,
    I have heard that about cremation. An old friend of mine used to say that God can gather the molecules from all four corners of the earth and put them back together, which is, I think, Bill's point. I don't know ... it seems like a viable option. Then again, a pine box and a body-less memorial service might do me just fine. That same friend used to say "just throw me in a dumpster ... it's the big blue for me." (a dumpster is a very large metal garbage receptacle kept behind businesses and collected weekly. They are often blue over here.)
    Do they do the funeral home and viewing etc. the same way in the UK as they do here?

    Hi Steve,
    I think your thoughts are close to my own. After reading the comments, it seems a lot of those contributing feel that the focus on the body is counter to the idea of absent from the body present with the Lord as well. Thanks.

    Hi Jel,
    Well put.
    I think you are on the same page as I.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 6/20/2006 9:10 AM  

  • Hi Rose,

    This has been a very thought provoking post and the comments have been equally insightful and touching. I really think a lot of our funeral traditions have cultural origins, rather than Biblical ones, because the Bible gives no particular instructions. So there is no particularly ‘right' way of doing it. But here are some thoughts on some of your questions:

    First, we are made of dust and ashes (Gen 18:27) and to this our mortal body returns upon our death. So, even though I personally do not favor cremation, there is nothing wrong with it. In fact, it appears to be more appropriate in a case where the body, shall we say, is not viewable (2 Sam 31:11-13).

    Jacob and Joseph were embalmed in the Egyptian style. Abraham and his family and many others were entombed above ground, while others, of less wealth, were buried in a grave. Jesus Himself was buried culturally, ‘in the manner of the Jews', and others were buried at sea (Rev 20:13).

    Personally, I do not favor donating our remains to science. This view stems from an episode about 20 years ago, when I worked in a teaching hospital. It was Halloween and the different departments had decorations out (there was a contest) and in the radiology department they had a real human skeleton propped up in a corner, with a jack-o-lantern pulled over its head. I was very greatly disturbed by this, and said so. I was then told that several other departments were using human skeletons in their Halloween displays, too.

    I walked into the hospital vice president's office and complained. When someone donates their mortal remain to science, it is with the clear, almost sacred understanding that those remains are to be treated with the utmost dignity. But doctors and other medical personnel soon become desensitized to this. I could tell you other stories of this nature but I will spare you. Anyway, the displays came down.

    I have to leave for work now, I hope this shows another side.

    Loren

    By Blogger Cleopas, at 6/20/2006 9:20 AM  

  • Hi Superwoman,
    I am sorry about your mother. The experience you shared was very open. Your thoughts are right on. I think you were very brave and the fact that the open casket doesn't bother you now is interesting. It must be like an initial getting over something makes it less of a dread.
    Decorating graves ... I think I am very glad I don't have a grave to visit, but if there was a grave, I am not sure I would visit it. I don't think I would take flowers, but I cannot say for sure and I cannot say what is right or wrong for others to do in these cases. I believe death is so painful that whatever (within reason and decency) one must do to cope and deal with the pain, they should do. What one person may find dreadful, another may find comforting. I wonder if that applies to viewing the body?

    Hi Bill!
    We agree. A service without a body is the way to go for me.

    Gayla,
    I am sorry for your loss. I thought of you when I wrote this post and I hoped it wouldn't make you feel bad.

    I think you and Matthew both hit on something that drives these traditions. $$$$$ That is a shame. Let the grieving beware and not be manipulated.
    This is a big business.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 6/20/2006 9:22 AM  

  • Yes, we do all that stuff here to some extent, Rose~.

    Bill and Cleopas, cremation is easier than burial and yet Christians carried out burials even knowing that the Lord would raise the dead and the spirit had gone to be with the Lord.

    Does that not teach us something? That maybe we should respect dead bodies, even if that takes up more time and a bit more expense than cremation?

    Every Blessing in Christ

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 6/20/2006 9:57 AM  

  • Hi IBEX,
    Good question about the heart and the 2 men. I have an organ donor card in my wallet. It seems like a wonderful thing to do. But then what about the rest of the body that nobody wants?

    I don't think I want to read the book. I have heard about what they do to the bodies. Once in high school a friend told me about the Medical College of Ohio which he had visited on a tour and all the displays of bodies. It was creepy thinking of my dad like that, but I got over it real fast when I remembered how long he was gone from his body. Then again, I do think a certain level of respect is due.

    Hi Bobby,
    Good point about the agendas of science. I hadn't thought about that. Maybe donation isn't for me. It just sounded like the cheapest way to relieve my family of my carcass. Maybe a pine box is it. Can you even get a pine box anymore?

    Bill,
    You don't like those vaults at the Toledo Memorail Cemetery? Me neither! Oooooh. I am with you on that. I wonder why people came up with that idea? It is a very strange business, burial.

    Hi Cleopas,
    Like I told IBEX, I have heard about the teaching hospital. The guy when I was in high school told me that they preserved this one body in fermaldahide and treated it with something that made it like rigid plastic and then sliced it and separated the slices by about five inches each, suspending them from the ceiling so that the body stretched the whole length of a long room. Yuk! It is disturbing, but then I am reminded that the body is nothing but a "shell" so I am a little mixed up. I guess I think a measure of respect is due, but not too much, which is maybe what our modern practice does - perhaps giving too much reverence for the shell. Balance is good.
    Thanks for listing the biblical characters and examples to show that no one particular way is prescribed. I think that must be the bottom line. Thanks.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 6/20/2006 10:00 AM  

  • EVERYONE!

    What does anyone know about the modern Jewish way of burying a body within 24 hours of death? Is this because of the law? That is another point I have thought about - doesn't the law say that dead bodies are unclean? I know we are not under the law, but should that effect our thinking at all?

    By Blogger Rose~, at 6/20/2006 10:00 AM  

  • Color me learning sis. I have the same questions but I'm not put-off by the current customs. My concern has always been with those remaining and their own desires concerning the disposition and treatment of the body for their conscience sake. For no sound reason I only have a desire for a simple burial for myself but can certainly understand the reasons for any other means of use or disposal.

    By Blogger Kc, at 6/20/2006 10:55 AM  

  • Rose, the bodies of organ donors are returned to the family. Usable organs are removed very shortly after death. Autopsies often involve cutting the torso open anyway, so your family will get you back looking much like you would after such an autopsy, just a few organs lighter. Your clothes should cover the stitches, so the body in the casket looks like any other dead body still in possession of all of its organs.

    Rose, Jewish burial is interesting. I don't remember why they bury within 24 hours, although I am sure I was told at some point. I do know that they are supposed to be buried with as many body parts as possible. This may be rather disgusting, but after a bombing in Israel you will see Orthodox Jews on site picking up all of the bits of body so they can be buried. They also want to be buried as close to the temple mount as possible and often above ground. The Mount of Olives is covered in white tombs. The point of all of these things is to have the body as ready as possible to be resurrected, since they believe that the closer you are to the temple the sooner you will be resurrected. Interesting stuff, really.

    If you think about it, bodies do decay and we turn into dust anyway, so God is going to have to do major reconstruction if He is going to use our earthly bodies for resurrection regardless of what happens to our body after we die. I do agree that bodies should be treated respectfully. I would not donate my body for medical research just because there are a select few bodies chosen for doctors to learn how to do plastic surgery, which involves disembodied heads. No thank you!

    By Blogger The IBEX Scribe, at 6/20/2006 11:08 AM  

  • Rose,

    Yes--I'm not keen on the whole above ground vault thing, but I was specifically thinking of my ashes in an urn in a curio or something--just scatter me in the wind.

    bill

    By Anonymous Still Just a Bill, at 6/20/2006 12:41 PM  

  • Hi Rose,

    A quick reply to Matthew, if I may. Matthew said:

    "Cremation is easier than burial and yet Christians carried out burials even knowing that the Lord would raise the dead and the spirit had gone to be with the Lord.

    Does that not teach us something?"


    Honestly, I think it teaches us that burial is a cultural preference over cremation, which has nothing to do with a prescribed Scriptural procedure. And truth is derived from the word of God, not from a Christian consensus. Although, I do respect Matthews preference and choices.

    By Blogger Cleopas, at 6/21/2006 12:25 AM  

  • I am not sure why I am commenting on this subject. I rarely ever comment on any blog, but I found it interesting that this post was started. Just yesterday our mailman passed away. He had a heart attack about 3-4 weeks ago and has been in the hospital in a coma since. On Friday they finally declared him brain dead so his wife took him off of everything and decided to allow him to die naturally.

    We live in a small community so everyone knows everyone and everyone is kin somehow it seems. Anyway, my point is that it had me thinking about death and then I stumbled onto this post.

    I can say that growing up in "this particular" small area viewing the body has always been the way it is done here, and also people hang around at the funeral home while the viewing is going on after they have given their condolences to chit chat which seems odd at times, but since this is all I am use to it does not bother me.

    I will say that I had one experience that traumatized me. One of my dear friends that I grew up with from the time I was 6 years old was killed in a truck accident in 2001. His brother and sister in law were missionaries at the time in Nepal so they had to wait for them to get here. Heathe was killed early Sunday morning around 2 a.m. the viewing was on Thursday, funeral Friday and then on Saturday he was driven 2 hours to where he was buried and his casket was then opened again for those family who could not attend the Thursday and Friday service. I was at all 3 and let's just say they should have buried him much sooner and now I have that visual of him for the rest of my life not to mention nightmares for a long time.

    My sister told me about 3 years ago that she wanted to be cremated because she did not want people walking by her casket saying "oh doesn't she look good". I laughed when she said that but it is true that is what people say. It is so strange. The person is gone but people are commenting on their appearance. I guess it is human nature.

    Recently, there was a VERY GODLY man who passed away at our church (Baptist) I might add, that was cremated. They had a small box at the front of the sanctuary and they had a graveside in our church cemetary where the box was buried.

    This man knew the Bible cover to cover and was a theologian to say the least. I don't think any less of him for choosing cremation. I believe it is a personal choice and since the Bible is not specifically clear on this matter then a Christian should use their own judgement. I would say even pray about this if you feel you must and have a peace about what you think God wants you to do when that time comes.

    By Blogger Brian's Wife, at 6/21/2006 8:09 AM  

  • Rose~
    I agree to some degree with our friend Matthew, in that we need to be good stewards, but at the same time I don’t think a Christian needs to be too alarmed about cremation. John Huss was cremated.

    I see the point of some that we should consider what our bodies will be used for if donated to “science”.

    I guess that’s why I hold to individual soul liberty.

    In science class in the 5th grade we tore up a piece of paper the teacher said that it was an illustration of physical change. Then we burned the paper and the teacher said that was an illustration of chemical change. Both types of change to the human body can and will be restored and glorified by God in His time.

    As for my body... to "science".

    By Anonymous J. Wendell, at 6/21/2006 11:36 AM  

  • I just think it is unwise to depart from a custom universal among Christians, Jews and Muslims for the sake of convenience.

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 6/21/2006 11:47 AM  

  • For whatever it is worth, here is an informative paper on the subject being discussed:

    Burial or Cremation, by R. Decker

    By Blogger Solifidian, at 6/21/2006 12:26 PM  

  • KC,
    I am not surprised that you would say that. That is your kind attitude about many things, I think. I agree - whatever the family must do, we must allow and not judge. I wish I could be more participatory and comforting and let my own feelings of being disturbed become less prominent to myself.

    Bill,
    Isn't that funny - you said "don't put me on a shelf" and I pictured your body lying on a shelf - but you meant don't put me in an urn on a shelf. Yes, I think you are right - the idea of pointing to an urn and saying, "There's my dear friend, Bill" - I don't like it.

    Brian's Wife -
    (are you Sandy?)
    Thanks for sharing. The story about your friend - that illustrates my horror to an extreme degree. I am sorry you have that memory. That is how I feel about seeing a body just once - it doesn't work well with my psyche - I guess I am just not used to it. I need to get over it. I think KC is right - Whatever the family must do to feel right about it and find comfort, this must be understood.

    Thanks, J.Wendell,
    Yes, Individual Soul Liberty - this is a good thing and I think Cleopas is basically saying the same thing as well as others. How is that drywall coming? ;~)

    By Blogger Rose~, at 6/21/2006 3:39 PM  

  • Solifidian?
    I didn't know you ever read here. In fact, I think this is the first comment you have ever left on my blog. And ... it is sort of a non-comment. Thanks for the link, but ... what does the Solifidian think? :~)

    (I have printed out the article by the way, and will attempt to read it or at least look it over - my husband J. Wendell will read the whole thing.)

    By Blogger Rose~, at 6/21/2006 3:41 PM  

  • It's even more unwise to teach as commandments of God the doctrines of men, don't you agree?

    By Blogger Cleopas, at 6/21/2006 7:09 PM  

  • We certainly have liberty, but we must not use that liberty to do things that are not edifying.

    Cremation is not edifying becuase it encourages a lack of respect for the bodies that God created and hides the hope of the resurrection.

    Scripture and tradition both affirm the appropriateness of burial. There is no commandment to be buried as opposed to be cremated, but that in itself tells us nothing about which option one should choose.

    Every Blessing in Christ

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 6/22/2006 2:32 PM  

  • I think it would be edifying to not have to see my loved one's body after death. I don't want to argue with the DF, but I don't know what difference in respect it would make between cremation and burial - there doesn't seem to be any inherent disrespect in burning an unclean thing. I do now see the possibility for disrespect for donating one's body to science with no directives, but I don't get it with the cremation.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 6/22/2006 3:13 PM  

  • The dead body was unclean, yet the Jews and early Christians went to the trouble of burying it.

    It would have been easy to burn this unclean thing, yet they felt the need to bury it.

    Does this not give us some indication that a Biblical worldview includes respect even the dead body of a human?

    Every Blessing in Christ

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 6/22/2006 3:36 PM  

  • Yes, but why is burning inherently disrespectful, my friend?

    By Blogger Rose~, at 6/22/2006 4:04 PM  

  • I don't like the idea of cremation partly because of the Holocaust & the crematoria method of body disposal. Not at all honoring, although highly convenient. I don't think it is inherently dishonoring, however. Take a funeral pyre - that was considered honoring worthy of kings in many cultures!

    Matt, do you think there's a symbolic significance to the Israelite/Bible-era Jewish practice of gathering with their fathers (going into the tomb after a year and putting the bones in an ossuary that was then placed by the ossuaries of other family members)?

    By Blogger The IBEX Scribe, at 6/22/2006 4:23 PM  

  • Hey Rose,

    Yes, that was my wife. I was kinda surprised to see her here, but glad she commented. That was our former pastor's son who wrecked. Sandy and Heathe were schooled by him together. It was like losing a brother for her.

    Brother Harper who just passed away was indeed a man that loved the Lord. The body? It was put to death on the cross. Still, I don't wish to be cremated. It did seem important to the patriarchs that there bones be carried hither and yon. Odd that Satan disputed over a dead body isn't it? Is there something we don't know about?

    By Blogger Bhedr, at 6/22/2006 8:44 PM  

  • I doubt it though. I sometimes wonder if the pagan origin of cremation was an attempt to tell God he can't find me or bring me back. Just a thought. I may be in outer space on that one. Either way the body of sin died on the cross. Hey maybe that is why the Patriarchs wanted their bones in Zion? Do we have a word picture there? Who knows. Nothing solid.

    By Blogger Bhedr, at 6/22/2006 8:53 PM  

  • Angie, I doubt that Ossuaries were the consistent practice of Hebrews throughout Scripture.

    Rose~, how do we determine whether anything is disrespectful? We look to texts, whether written or unwritten. We look to cultural practice.

    Within Judeo-Christian culture there is a consistent practice of burial. This reflects the hope of resurrection and the value of the human body. Cremation is excluded from this canon of cultural practice.

    If we want to make a case for cremation being respectful, we must look to a cultural practice outisde of those who share our Judeo-Christian values. We cannot have the same assurance that this practice is pleasing to God and shows the appropriate reverance for the body.

    Every Blessing in Christ

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 6/23/2006 3:36 AM  

  • Matt, it was at least the practice for the upper class. They had to re-use the stone-hewn tombs, so they had to get the bones out of the way to make room for other family members who died. Ossuaries are extremely common in excavated tombs in Israel, to the point that most solid Biblical archaeologists say that when the Bible says that someone was "gathered" to their fathers or people that they were referring at least in part to the physical gathering of the bones.

    By Blogger The IBEX Scribe, at 6/23/2006 11:43 AM  

  • During the whole period from Joshua to our Lord, Angie?

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 6/23/2006 12:26 PM  

  • It was certainly done during the time of Christ. One of the big archaeological debates is over whether an inscription on "The James Ossuary" is authentic or forged. The ossuary itself is from the 1st century. They also found one that is labeled Caiaphas, with designation of high priest, if I am not mistaken. They have found older ossuaries, too. When the Israelites left Egypt they took Joseph's bones (Ex. 13:19) to be buried, although they weren't actually buried for quite a number of years.

    I have 30 years of Biblical Archaeology Review on CD-ROM that I could use to research various dates of ossuaries that they have found if you want a "scholarly" answer.

    Saul and his sons were "cremated" in 1 Samuel 31, by the way. The flesh was burned but the bones remained and were buried. ;)

    By Blogger The IBEX Scribe, at 6/23/2006 4:24 PM  

  • I for one am re-thinking this issue(as if I gave it much thought anyway).

    I think rapture would be the best way to go, come quickly Lord Jesus!

    By Blogger J. Wendell, at 6/23/2006 5:30 PM  

  • Now that would save a lot of expense!

    Amen!

    By Anonymous Still Just a Bill, at 6/26/2006 8:18 AM  

  • IBEX,
    Thanks for your very informative comments. I must admit I was very ignorant about the information you have shared.

    Brian,
    Thanks for bring that up about the dispute over the body of Moses, right? I hadn't even thought about that. This is a good point. OK, I am back to square one and don't know what I will do. I have made my wishes known to be an organ/tissue donor, but what of the rest of me - I have yet to decide. John and I are working through it and all of these comments have helped my depth of thinking increase.

    Matthew,
    I am not sure that your reasoninig holds water with me, especially when I think of the fact that the Jews entombed, not buried. Must we entomb in order to follow their tradition? Ah - I am just not sure and tradition has never been a good motivator for me. You have made some good points, though and I appreciate your having shared your thoughts.

    J. Wendell,
    Yes, that would be the way to go!

    Hi Bill!

    By Blogger Rose~, at 6/26/2006 9:10 AM  

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