Built To Last: Christians, Cremation & Permanent Things
It’s late January, and do you know where your Christmas decorations are? If you’re like me, you’ve only recently taken down the lights on your house. Having purchased brand new lights for this holiday season, many of the strands we own are already dysfunctional and beyond repair.
It is not only Christmas lights made in China, however, that are cheaply made. If you look around, we have created a disposable society in which hardly anything is built to last.
Wal-Mart, which used to boast of its Made in America product line back in Sam Walton’s day, seems to be the world capital of cheaply-made items that won’t last long. Stores have disposable items of every stripe—kitchenware, cameras, contact lenses. There is no shortage of disposable items that will find themselves quickly going from store shelf to the trash dump.
Now I am no environmentalist, and I use more than my share of disposable items. Yet, I have observed that I need to be careful that my use of these items does not affect my worldview. If we start to view the things around us as disposable, it won’t be long before we risk viewing people around us as disposable.
Take also, for example, our society’s changing view of the body. If we view the human body as transient or something that will be done away with, that will affect how we eat, exercise and behavior. A disposable view of the body, as opposed to the Christian view which teaches that the body is made by God and will be resurrected in the last day (John 5:28), leads to careless and casual habits.
We also see evidence of this in the evil practice of pornography. The very act of consuming pornography—which is of the Devil—creates a worldview that people are to be used and then thrown away. This act cheapens our view of sexuality and life itself. It is not a stretch to say that our throw-away views about sex have made cohabitation, divorce and even abortion more widely practiced and acceptable.
This disposable tendency shows itself in far more subtle ways too. Consider how widespread the practice of cremation of the dead has become. In Christianity, we see that the historically preferred action at death is burial, because it points to the day that our bodies will be resurrected. While many people feel forced to cremate loved ones due to economic hardships, the act of cremation can suggest that the body is of less permanent and enduring value. Because of this, churches have an excellent opportunity to come alongside financially those families who wish to bury their loved ones.
I am, of course, not saying that this act of cremation means people view others as disposable. What I am saying is that as much as any time in history, Christians today must be more careful about treating things, people, the body and life itself as disposable. I am also saying that a worldview that embraces a disposable view of life usually goes on to embrace death.
Contrary to this, we know that, as one Christian thinker said, God is not into scrapping things. While the world is passing away, His creation will someday be made new. While our bodies grow old and wear out like a garment now, He promises one day to return and resurrect us into bodies that are imperishable and incorruptible.
Knowing we are part of His plan means we know we are part of something meant to last. And that single promise creates a bright light that can never flicker, fade or go out.