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This page contains comments from the following authors:
Bruce L. Olsen
Elder Bruce R. McConkie
by Bruce L. Olsen
Since the organization of the Church in 1830, Latter-day Saints have been encouraged by their leaders to avoid cremation, unless it is required by law, and, wherever possible, to consign the body to burial in the earth and leave the dissolution of the body to nature, "for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return" (Gen. 3:19). President Spencer W. Kimball wrote, "The meaning of death has not changed. It releases a spirit for growth and development and places a body in Mother Earth" (p. 45). In due time the mortal body returns to native element, and whether it is laid away in a family-selected site or buried in the depths of the sea, every essential part will be restored in the Resurrection: "Every limb and joint shall be restored to its body; yea, even a hair of the head shall not be lost; but all things shall be restored to their proper and perfect frame" (Alma 40:23).
To understand the LDS feeling about cremation, it is essential to understand the doctrine of the Church regarding the body. In a General Conference Elder James E. Talmage, an apostle, stated, "It is peculiar to the theology of the Latter-day Saints that we regard the body as an essential part of the soul. Read your dictionaries, the lexicons, and encyclopedias, and you will find that nowhere, outside of The Church of Jesus Christ, is the solemn and eternal truth taught that the soul of man is the body and the spirit combined" (CR, Oct. 1913, p. 117).
Kimball, Edward L., ed. The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 45. Salt Lake City, 1982.
Lockhart, Barbara. "The Body: A Burden or a Blessing?" Ensign 15 (Feb. 1985):57-60.
Nelson, Russell M. "The Magnificence of Man." Ensign 18 (Jan. 1988):64-69.
Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol. 1, Cremation
Copyright © 1992 by Macmillan Publishing Company
by Elder Bruce R. McConkie
Cremation of the dead is no part of the gospel; it is a practice which has been avoided by the saints in all ages. The Church today counsels its members not to cremate their dead. Such a procedure would find gospel acceptance only under the most extraordinary and unusual circumstances. Wherever possible the dead should be consigned to the earth, and nothing should be done that is destructive of the body; that should be left to nature, "for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return." (Gen. 3:19.) (Mormon Doctrine, p.172)
(See Buriel; Death and Dying; Daily Living home page; Attitudes Toward Health, Medicine, and Fitness home page)
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