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Question 194

Kalimera sas, I like to ask the Greek Orthodox Church views on cremation? thank you

 

Answer to Question 194

 

The Orthodox arguments against Cremation are:  1) Our Lord, God and Saviour Jesus Christ died on the Cross and was buried. (Nicene Creed) therefore we should imitate Jesus. 2) Everyone will be bodily resurrected in the Second Coming of Christ. Cremation is a denial of the bodily resurrection. 3) The human body is the temple of God and is a sacred sanctuary even after physical death. 4) Cremation with Godís blessing is never mentioned in the Old Testament.  5) We must not be conformed to this world (Romans 12:2) especially as cremation becomes more common. Cremation is the denial and purposeful destruction of Godís human temple. As followerís of Christ, we are not dualists or spiritualists who believe that the material world is inherently evil and to be despised. Rather, as Christians, we believe in the inherent goodness of the material world, especially our human bodies. Together, our body and soul, are created in Godís image and likeness. We are called to redeem and transfigure the creation to its original glory and beauty by continually resisting sin and temptation, repenting of our transgressions, and opening our hearts, minds and bodies to the indwelling presence of Godís divine grace through His only-begotten Son and life-giving Holy Spirit. The only fire we should submit ourselves to is the fire of Godís love and holy presence. Because the Orthodox Faith affirms the fundamental goodness of creation, it understands the body to be an integral part of the human person and the temple of the Holy Spirit, and expects the resurrection of the dead. The Church considers cremation to be the deliberate desecration and destruction of what God has made and ordained for us. The Church instead insists that the body be buried so that the natural physical process of decomposition may take place.

 

Same member

Thank you for your response to my question Pater, personally I see this as a suppression of human rights by the church. As I understand it we bury people just in case one day they will be resurrected ? These days with overcrowded cemeteries families are forced to exhume loved ones after 3 years to make room for the next person? and yet in case of an epidemic compulsory cremation is acceptable by the Orthodox authorities?

 

Answer

 People who support cremation say that they have a right to choose how to dispose of their bodies and that the Church should give in to their demands. The Church replies that: as they are free to choose any method of disposal of their bodies, so also the Church is free to follow her Holy Tradition and teaching, and can therefore deny to those wanting cremation a Christian funeral service. There is no suppression of human rights, people have a choice, but so does the Church.