The recent sermon series, Good Grief: Facing Death With Hope, at Resurrection raised some interesting questions. Many of you wanted me to address these two questions:
1. Is cremation okay?
2. If you marry and your first spouse dies, and then you remarry, who will you be married to in heaven?
Read on for my answers!
An increasing number of people are choosing cremation today. Does the Bible give any guidance as to whether this is acceptable to God? Are the remains of our earthly body somehow needed at the final resurrection so that cremation would keep us from experiencing the resurrection?
Here are a few of my thoughts:
1. Our earthly bodies are not what is resurrected at the final judgment. We are given, Paul teaches, a new heavenly body.
2. Christian martyrs have been burned throughout the centuries, and Christians have died in house fires, through fire in war, and in tragedies like 9/11. No one doubts that God will raise them up with a resurrection body.
3. Cremation simply expedites the decomposition process and avoids more costly forms of burial.
4. King David cremated Saul and his good friend Jonathon after they were killed by the Philistines. I don't believe he would have done this with his friend had he believed this dishonored Jonathon or offended God.
I plan to be cremated, and I hope to have my ashes inurned at the church in our memorial garden near others who were also a part of the church. I think it more likely that my kids will come to visit to remember me there rather than at a cemetery.
Will I be Married in Heaven? To Which Spouse?
Jesus indicated that people will no longer marry in heaven. This concept seems disturbing to many who are happily married but may be a great source of relief to those who have struggled in their marriages!
Here's what I think about these questions. We will not be married in heaven if by that we mean an exclusive and sexual relationship. It seems clear in Scripture that we will continue to be ourselves in heaven, only with a greatly enlarged capacity to love others. So, in heaven, I anticipate that LaVon and I will continue to love one another, and share our lives together, and that we will actually love one another more fully and deeply than we do today.
Having said that, I read Jesus' words to mean that this relationship will not be sexual or romantic and that, in heaven, I will have the capacity to love all people in the way I love LaVon. She too, will do the same (think of the close friendships you have with others aside from your spouse today). So, a deep love and friendship with LaVon and the capacity to have deep, loving friendships with others—this is how I picture Jesus' teaching about marriage in heaven.
Hence, if you were married and your spouse died, and you remarried, in heaven both spouses would be close companions, but there would be no jealousy, only gratitude each for the other.
If you have questions about death, dying, and the afterlife, listen to the four-part sermon series, Good Grief: Facing Death With Hope. Also, check out my other blog post on this topic: