With their strict and distinctive religious practices, do Jehovah’s Witnesses believe in cremation?
It’s their opinion that when Christ was resurrected, it was only his spirit and not his actual body that ascended.
Therefore, they have no problem with cremation because God will not require our bodies for resurrection.
If you’re interested about a Jehovah’s Witness funeral, we’ll go through some of the important highlights below.
We’ll look at their beliefs on death, rules, customs, and what you can expect at a funeral service.
Jehovah’s Witness Beliefs
They are the followers of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, which dates back to 1879. Many of their beliefs and religious practices are not mainstream. In fact, some practices may seem a bit odd.
They are frequently accused of being a cult. At times, this can lead to misconceptions.
They teach that before Adam and Eve’s error in judgement, we were originally created to live forever. However, there will be a day in the future when again, there will be no such thing as death.
So we will be given again the opportunity to live an unflawed life.
The end of the world
The end of the world is certainly forthcoming according to the beliefs of Jehovah’s Witness. According to them, they are the only true religion and therefore will be the only ones that receive salvation when life on earth comes to an end.
Furthermore, there will be only 144,000 Jehovah’s that will enter the kingdom of heaven at that time.
The majority of those who do not die during Armageddon, in addition to the resurrected, will learn the correct way of worshipping God, according to Jehovah’s Witness faith.
There is no belief in the concept of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. They deem there is only one God who they refer to as Jehovah.
Jehovah’s Witness Beliefs About Death
As mentioned, Jehovah’s beliefs are quite dissimilar to other religions. Below are some of those views that you may find interesting.
What happens when you die?
Death is compared to a deep sleep. It’s a state of nothingness where we will be unaware of anything. Not only does the body die, but there is no immortal soul or spirit that lives on. It will die along with the body.
Therefore, death should not be feared as we will remain in this state until Armageddon, where we will be resurrected.
What are their customs and practices?
Celebration of religious holidays such as Christmas and Easter are prohibited. Most holidays are thought to be of pagan origin.
They take a neutral stance in political matters and do not serve in armed forces. Independence Day, Memorial Day, or Veteran’s Day are not celebrated. Nor do they salute the flag.
They also view Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and birthdays as the excessive glorification of a person. It’s considered a pagan ritual based on false spiritual customs.
Jehovah’s are prohibited from giving or receiving blood transfusion. It’s taught that blood is sanctified and represents life.
The familiar collection plate is not passed as with other religions. Each congregation is funded through other charitable contributions.
If someone leaves their church, other members are prohibited from associating with them.
Do they believe in Heaven?
Yes, they do believe in heaven on earth. The 144,000 people chosen by God, will take their place in heaven at God’s side and rule as priests and kings. However, that doesn’t mean there is no hope for the rest of us.
At the time of Armageddon, most will be resurrected and will live forever in a paradise on earth.
Do they believe in Hell?
No, they do not believe in hell. At least not in the usual sense, such as spending eternity burning in fire and brimstone.
Most of them will be resurrected, but those who have no intention on living and learning by God’s rules, will spend eternity in the nothingness of death.
Jehovah’s Witness Beliefs About Cremation
In (Dan. 3:16-18), three Hebrews were condemned to burn in a furnace by King Nebuchadnezzar because they refused to worship golden idols.
They told the King that they did not fear the burning furnace because God would still be able to resurrect them.
Jehovah’s Witness believe the spirit of Jesus was resurrected, not his body. Therefore, it makes no difference what happens to our physical bodies. Our bodies will not go with us to heaven.
Jehovah’s Witness: Cremation & the Bible
In no place does the Bible state that God prohibits cremation. Likewise, the bible does not instruct us on what we should do with our bodies after we die.
This is a topic in which Jehovah’s Witness are in agreement with most other religions. They consider it to be conducted according to the deceased or their family’s wishes.
In biblical times, burial was the typical method of laying someone to rest. However, there are also quite a few references to cremation in the bible.
Upon first glance, it seems as if those were people whose reputations were less than honorable.
Cremation as punishment
Seemingly, prostitutes, thieves, murderers, and other sinful people were not in God’s good graces. So it would seem as though they were undeserving of a proper burial.
Due to scripture of this type, it’s frequently the assumption that Jehovah’s Witnesses must be against cremation.
For example, the Mosaic Law says that should a Jehovah priest’s daughter becomes a prostitute, she will be executed and then burned.
And it shall be, that he that is taken with the accursed thing shall be burnt with fire, he and all that he hath: because he hath transgressed the covenant of the LORD, and because he hath wrought folly in Israel (Joshua 7:15)
Cremation for the respected
Nevertheless, there are also accounts of burning people who were favorable in God’s eyes. For instance, the Philistines hung the dead and mutilated bodies of King Saul and his sons on a wall in Beth-shean.
What’s important is that nowhere in the bible does it state that cremation is a punishment for a sinful lifestyle. Neither does it specify that burial is the only acceptable choice.
As with many other religions, Jehovah’s Witness does not prohibit cremation and considers it a personal family decision. For example, Catholics allow cremation but there are a few restrictions.
Jehovah’s Witness Funeral Service
The service normally takes place in a funeral home or a Kingdom Hall, which is the place of worship for Jehovah’s.
There are no stipulations about having a closed or open casket.
Excessive mourning is not a common practice. In fact, they look forward to resurrection in the end.
Less emphasis on the deceased
The deceased person is only briefly mentioned. Many people compare their funerals to be more like a bible study.
The Elder spends most of the time reminding the congregation about death and resurrection and how they should live their lives.
Their church is adamant that their members spread their Word. Most of us have answered a knock on the door and found Jehovah’s Witness members asking to share their beliefs.
Don’t be surprised if you are urged to join their faith, while at the funeral.
Because they believe there is no immortal soul and the dead are unaware of anything, there is no reason for an extravagant ceremony.
Audio recordings are allowed, but video recordings are not.
Order of Service
The funeral is normally conducted a week or less after the death. The service is brief and lasts as little as 15 to 30 minutes.
The church elder may say a few words about the deceased person’s life. That’s especially the case if he or she was a great example for others to follow.
He will probably say a couple of prayers. Additionally, any words that the deceased wished to express to his or her loved ones may be read.
The burial or cremation will then be conducted, where there are usually prayers or scripture readings.
Flowers are allowed, but not in excess. Food is usually served at some time during the process.
Again, there is no particular script for the service. These may occur in any order.
Men are expected to wear a suit and tie. Women should wear a modest dress or skirt. It’s not necessary for women or men to cover their heads as sometimes thought. You could describe it as dressing in a way that does not attract undue attention to themselves.
If you are not Jehovah’s Witness, you are welcome to attend the funeral. They expect that you may dress differently. Therefore, dressing somewhat modestly is probably the best direction to go.
Although music is not typical at a Jehovah’s funeral, it’s not prohibited. It’s usually music requested by the deceased. Some songs that may be played or sang are “Kingdom song of Jehovah’s witnesses” or “What sort of person I should be”.
Memorial Service Etiquette
For some people, the thought of attending a Jehovah’s Witness funeral may be a bit intimidating. You shouldn’t let that dissuade you from attending.
Remember, it’s about your desire to pay your respects to the one that has passed. The rest is unimportant.
Keep in mind, it will be somewhat different from a funeral at your own church, however, probably not as much as you may expect. There are a few things to remember that may make the experience more comfortable.
- It is the belief of some that they will not be welcome, but that is not at all accurate. Members of the church welcome people of other faiths.
- The service is usually much shorter and more somber than with other funerals. There will be no excessive crying and very little said about the deceased person. In fact, members are discouraged from excessive mourning.
- As mentioned, don’t worry about your clothing being different from theirs. They don’t expect you to change your attire in order to attend the service. Just dress respectfully and you’ll be fine.
- Sending flowers or a plant is acceptable, but is best sent directly to the family either before or after the service. Refrain from sending arrangements that are intended to be displayed at the funeral. This includes those that cover the casket or ones that are displayed on a stand.
- In addition, do not send flowers in the form of a symbol, such as a cross or those that include a symbol within the arrangement. Most religions consider the cross a representation of the place where Jesus died. However, Jehovah’s Witness worship only God and look at any image as an idol, including the cross. In addition, they believe that Jesus died on a stake, not on the cross.
There’s no denying that Jehovah’s Witness has some beliefs, which differ from others. We’ve discussed many of those distinctions, including their philosophies about death and cremation. We covered what you should expect when attending one of their funerals.
One very important conviction that most of us have in common is our belief in God.
If you will soon attend a Jehovah’s Witness funeral, knowing these differences will help you avoid anything that might be regarded as impertinent.
Nonetheless, should you mistakenly do something that would be offensive to their beliefs, they are understanding and forgiving people and will most likely overlook any small discrepancies.