Cremation vs. burial

What is WELS’ official position on cremation? We are faced with opposition based on feelings that we are doomed to hell upon cremation of our remains. We don't agree, as we have read documents from LCMS and other conservative groups that cremation is an "option.” We hold to the feelings of Christ's return, and our bodies will be raised regardless if buried in a casket or in an urn. We believe in Christ’s return! He will take charge of our remains regardless of how they appear. Thank you for your prayerful thoughts.

I am sorry to hear about the difficulties you are experiencing. Scripture is silent on the issue of cremation, so our church body does not have an official stance on the subject. Individuals have freedom to choose between traditional burial and cremation. To remove that freedom would amount to burdening consciences.

There was a time when some voices in the Christian church cautioned against cremation. In a day and age when some unbelievers utilized cremation as a way to defy God (“Let’s see if this supposed God can put me back together some day.”), some Christians advocated that followers of the Lord not cremate their bodies, so as not to be associated with unbelievers or an activity of unbelievers.

That type of taunting has largely disappeared, so Christians today who make use of cremation are not likely to be confused with unbelievers. The choice of cremation over burial often includes ecological, economical and convenience factors. In the end, cremation essentially speeds up the process that occurs with traditional burial: “Dust you are and to dust you will return” (Genesis 3:19). And, regardless of cremation or burial, “All who are in their graves will hear his [Jesus’] voice and come out” (John 5:28-29).

What a blessing for you to know and believe in “the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting” (The Apostles’ Creed). God bless you.