Funeral Do’s and Don’t’s ... part 2
The following are a list of things to consider when planning and thinking about a funeral
service. Last month we learned:
- Items placed inside the casket should be in good taste.
- Keep personal mementos to a minimum.
- The best place for the funeral service and viewing is at the church.
- A eulogy, a speech in praise of the deceased person, is not in the best Christian tradition.
This month we examine the final three points:
- The public participation of lodges and secret societies at the funeral service is
strictly forbidden. It is forbidden even for membership in the Christian
congregation for a person to take part in an organization that has secret oaths and
promises. Organizations such as the Masons often require oaths that are contrary to Holy
Scripture and the Christian confession of faith (See Article III.E of the constitution of our
parish). Military and other honors are welcomed and are conducted apart from the main
service. While a flag may be draped over the casket for the visitation, it is removed or
replaced with a funeral pall during the service (and placed back on the casket for the
committal). In the Christian funeral all people face God the same way, as sinners in need of
God’s mercy in life and in death.
- Under normal circumstances cremation is to be severely discouraged among Christians.
Reasons why cremation is discouraged among Christians:
- “He was crucified, died, and was buried.” (Nicene Creed) Christians desire to follow
their Lord and Savior who died and was buried. If it was good enough for Him it should be
good enough for us.
- The burial of the dead is the confession of our unique faith in the resurrection of
the body. Unlike all false religions, we actually believe that our body will live again.
This belief informs what we do. To purposely burn a body confesses more that we do not
believe this to be true.
- Earth burial was the exclusive norm in Christian civilization for more than a 1000
years until cremation was revived again in the late 1800’s. In 1874 the first cremation
society began in New York and was offered specifically for atheists, freethinkers,
Spiritualists, Unitarians, and Universalists. Cremation is historically a pagan practice
promoted by false religions and is un-Christian.
- We believe in the dignity of the human body. The body is not our own. It is a lie to
say that it is our own. We are not free to do with it what we want. Our body is a temple
of the Holy Spirit that was purchased by Christ.
- Cremation is an act of unthinkable violence that involves burning up a body and
putting the bones through a grinder (hardly a loving thing to do). Fire is a symbol of
hell and God’s judgment. We normally call people psychotic who do such things to dead
bodies and yet cremation somehow no longer even phases us.
- Burial is the exclusive practice in the Old and New Testaments. The burning of a body
was reserved only for grave criminals. Jews were even known to bury their dead enemies
after a battle was over!
- Cremation was unthinkable for a Christian even forty years ago and is not in keeping
with a Christian burial.
- Under normal circumstances the bodily remains of the deceased should be reverently
buried at the conclusion of the funeral service or in the next days after the
service. Keeping the remains of the deceased in one’s private possession has no
place for the Christian who believes that the soul is “with God.” (And not “with us.”)
Keeping the remains is a heathen practice stemming from animistic cultures that believed that
bodily remains were a connection to the spirit-world. Spreading the ashes of the deceased is
often illegal, and confesses nothing of what the Christian believes about the resurrection of
the body to everlasting life.
In conclusion these faithful Christian practices have been neglected. Well-meaning Christians
might regret a past decision. Obviously we can’t dig up the past, but we can consider the
future. As Christians we do things differently. We don’t follow our own whims or the customs
of the current culture and there is a reason why. In life and in death we confess our faith
in the one thing that has everlasting value and meaning: These bones shall
In Christian Love.