In a recent blog post, I answered a question about whether the Bible forbids cremation. See here. The other day, I received a response to that blog from an American living in South Korea. His response was outstanding. He gave his permission for us to publish it.
I didn’t really have a question here, but I wanted to make a few comments concerning Bob’s recent blog article on traditional burial vs. cremation. I basically agree with everything Bob wrote. There is certainly nothing in the Bible that mandates either cremation or burial.
As an American who is married to a Korean and has been living in South Korea since 2003, I have learned to view this issue from a very different perspective. As you guys probably know, there is a large Christian presence here in Korea.
Ironically, most of the pastors over here urge their parishioners to choose cremation rather than burial. The reason for this is that visiting the gravesite of a deceased relative has always been closely linked with the traditional Korean practice of jaesa, which is essentially a form of ancestral worship. In fact, many non-religious Koreans often tend to favor traditional burial. In particular, many of the older non-Christian Koreans view cremation as a more Christian practice. (Of course, I should note that a lot of Buddhists also favor cremation.)
The other issue that is often missing from this whole debate is scarcity of land. Certainly, this is not a relevant issue in the U.S. or Canada; however, many Korean Christians prefer cremation to save on the exorbitant costs involved with burial as well as for environmental reasons. There simply isn’t enough land available in Korea, and the land that is available is completely unaffordable to the average person.
These are a couple reasons why Korean Christians generally prefer cremation as opposed to burial. Again, I liked Bob’s article. I thought that Al Mohler’s position on cremation was very Americentric. I would be surprised to find a single pastor here in Korea that would agree with his position for the reasons I cited above.
Anyway, that’s all I wanted to say. God bless you guys!
That is so well said. While financial concerns may not be great for many of us in developed nations (although they are for many even in the U.S.), they certainly are in developing countries. The land issue is also a consideration that I did not mention, but which makes a lot of sense in many countries. And the issue of ancestral worship is something I had not considered either.