Sunday, August 19, 2007

Should I be cremated

Should I be cremated?
Cremation is a topic with fewer scholastic writs. When someone dies, from nowhere people start to scramble for the corpse to show their love. Where were they before the defunct died? Believers in each religion were and are divided on how to discard their dead. If many people were well informed about it, they will surely pursue that road. Unfortunately, some have been falsely informed that, cremation is not God’s perfect will because he buried Moses and that in the Old Testament, only thieves and murderers were cremated. Others contend that being buried is a Christian practice that will anticipate your resurrection and tells the world the Christian is awaiting resurrection.

If you love your family and don’t want them going front and back the courts then write your will while you live. The living will not take verbal declarations to heart. They will try to put asunder what God has joined together. As you know; profit making and not brotherliness is the heartbeat of the current society. People will make a deal out of nothing if they have monetary interest at stake. Those involved with zombies will want you to leave your body so they could come back and repossess it. Remember that we will be controlled by two extremes; the far right and the far left because it is a new philosophy. Though the moderate have to bear the brunt of their extremism. One should be open to both camps if they want to be wise and be foolish too. Both have a bit of foolishness and a bit of wisdom. We need both in life.

In the absence of a written will, we have to rely on the utmost good faith of the living partner to execute the wish of the defunct. Marriage being a family affair and not a reclusive turncoat, you will have to share your will with family members to avoid any foul play in case your will did not match that of your living partner. A good decision can only be made with a sound mind. So don’t postpone writing your will. The decisions we make as we live will influence our entire life. If you don’t make wise decisions, the living will make them for you when you die. David says, “teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” (Ps 90:12). It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart (Eccl 7:2).

If one of the partners dies without living a will, the living partner has the right under biblical considerations to do with the body as he or she pleases because “therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh(Gen 2:24). When a woman leaves her parents, she gets married to her husband and not her parents, the state or church. That means, in the absence of a written will, the husband decides how to keep the body of the wife and no one else. The church intervening in such matters, is destroying the very fabric of the institution of marriage whereby “The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife” (I Cor 7:4).

Finally, when the light is out, the beacon of the dead stalls and shines according to their works. Consequently, the bitter memories will live for sometime between the family of the dead and that of the living partner. Such calamites sometimes put the country one more time in the lime light, raising serious questions about the laws of the land.

Cremation not being a popular concept may pose problems if the dead did not leave behind a living and written will. People might think the living has something to hide forgetting that there will always be an autopsy to determine the cause of death. Cremation is cheaper than obtaining a casket and looking for a burial spot. Perhaps it’s still even cheaper when a burial spot is bought.

Burial of the dead was a Jewish tradition that finally transposed itself into most Christian milieus. That does not make it a biblically prescriptive method of discarding the dead. Disposing dead bodies by burial is by mere deduction from the fact that God buried Moses, most dead people in the Bible were buried and it was the only means that the Bible uses in the New Testament. However, there is nowhere in the Bible where God stipulates to dispose of dead bodies by burial. Jewish laws fall under the ceremonial laws and they end only with Jewish people. God has not given a way or method for us to do away with dead bodies. If discarding of dead bodies was so important, then God would have thought about the people killed in wars with the philistines. Most of them were just left in the valleys. That is why most wars were fought on hills tops and valleys so that the dead are pushed down into the valley for sanitation reasons where they get rotten. It is on that base that we have that vision in Ezekiel 37 of Dry Bones that become an army.

In addition, the Bible does not mention how to discard the dead bodies though by inference of the way Lazarus (Jn 11) and Jesus (Mt. 27:60) were discarded would tilt towards burial. This again must appeal to the culture and epoch in which they died. If the body was so important then Jesus would not have changed his body while ascending into heaven. So why preserve that which will not be used? That is expenditure without income.

I believe in making theological statements after profound and laborious research of traditions, myths, common sense and Bible. There is no book and no author in his conscience who will say “the Bible says don't cremate”. All the arguments have been by deductions, and, deductions though could be useful, cannot be the canon for doctrine.

Some people contend that only thieves and murderers were burned in the Bible. I am conscious people being burned in the Bible but they were not thieves and murderers. I know that people were killed with the sword after the Golden Calf Incident (Ex 32:28) and that the ground opened after the Korah Rebellion (Num. 26:10) but not thieves and murderers. The common punishment was lapidation. When Israelites used their children as burnt offerings to foreign gods, God rebuked them that the idea of burning people on fire as a sacrifice had never even crossed his mind (Jer. 7:31). Don’t forget that these were living beings. Cremation does not deal with living beings. It burns the body of the dead. More so, it still does not peter out cremation which in no way is a sacrifice to a god but discarding a dead body. I am also conscious that only the bodies of wicked people were left into the open for the birds of the sky or dogs to lick their blood (Gen 40:19; I Kings 22:38) but cremation is not living the dead in the street. One may evoke the sad incident of Ray Brown Marsh’s case in Atlanta as an isolation and exception. What about grave diggers or those corpses stolen from the graves?

Some people say Moses was buried and not cremated. The idea of Moses being buried is from Deut 34: 6. Jude tells us that Michael the archangel disputed Satan for the body of Moses (Jude1:9). However, it does not say whether it was for burial or cremation. God does not have respect for dead bodies. That is why, He decided to bury Moses where the people will not see so that they do not go and start worshiping a dead man. The presence of graves is increasing idolatry because each year people go and put flowers on the graves of their extincts and talk to them or the grave. All unconscious acts of necromancy and ventriloquism greatly prohibited by God (Deut 18:10-14). Though it’s not a guarantee if someone is cremated, I think it even averts or reduces the evil practice of idolatry.

Despite most religions and especially Christianity having adopted burial as a form of discarding the dead, it is not a normative biblical doctrine either. “From dust you are made and unto dust you shall return” (Gen 3:19) could be a good excuse for anyone to cremate their dead. Cremation takes you faster to the state of dust than burial which will have pass through rot first before you become dust.

If you propound the theory that we need an “intact” body as a sign of faith for resurrection, you mean that those brethren who drowned in the sea and we never saw their bodies will never resurrect. It will be faithless for anyone to think that if they are cremated they will not resurrect on the last day. There are people who just disappeared those who drowned and those burned in fire that we never saw their bodies. They will all reappear during Judgment Day, “and I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Rev 20:12-15). Else, we surmise that the early missionaries who were torn apart by wild beasts will never resurrect or people like Polycarp who were burned on the stake by the emperors or those of the catacombs who were dinned to hungry lions wasted their time believing in Jesus. Believing in Christ gives us the power to resurrect “Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live” (Jn 11:25). During resurrection, the saints will change in a twinkle of an eye, at the trump of God from mortal to immortal and corruptible to incorruptible bodies (I Cor 1Cor 15:35-58; 1Thes 4:16). If someone has accepted Christ, it does not matter what people do with their body after they die. The immaterial man has gone to God and a mere carcass remains on earth to be disposed as man wishes.

Now that you are alive it behooves me to tell you what I will say when you are dead Courage my friend, you did not stumble though your path has been dark. The Holy Spirit guided you in a dreary course. The end to your life of afflictions and joy has come. You fought a good or bad fight (for you alone know). Human government and human law were imperfect .Don’t worry. You go to a place with perfection or condemnation. Stay well or bad. We will use this same vehicle that has carried you today. Both your haters and lovers, we are on our way. Yes, you reading this mail may be next.

Until then, unto dust you came and unto dust you will return!

Prince & PA Hamilton Ayuk

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