Cremation is the process of burning a body to ashes, and some religions see the practice as disrespectful to the human body and even to God. The Lutheran faith, however, does support cremation as a valid way to treat remains. Cremated remains may be afforded the same funeral and rites as a body.
The Lutheran Church does not have any overarching objections to cremation. Rather, the religion says that as long as the remains of the deceased are handled with respect, either burial or cremation are acceptable means of laying someone to rest. An individual or her family can have a funeral in the Lutheran Church while either the body or cremated remains are present.
The Lutheran faith includes the belief that deceased followers will be resurrected by God and reunited with their souls when Jesus returns. Even though cremation reduces human remains to ashes, Lutherans believe that God is capable of resurrecting anyone who has proclaimed his faith in Jesus, regardless of the state of their remains. Therefore, cremation is not seen as an obstacle to resurrection.
The one exception to Lutheran support of cremation is if it is done as an act of defiance towards God. For instance, if someone specifically requests to be cremated as a way to somehow test God's ability to resurrect, then the cremation would not be supported by the church. As long as the cremation is done for any other reason, it's considered acceptable.
Treatment of Cremated Remains
According to Lutheran beliefs, the cremated remains -- often called cremains -- of a person may be placed in an urn or scattered. The primary concern is that the remains are given a proper funeral and treated with respect. Some families may elect to bury the cremains in a cemetery or keep them in the family home, while others may spread ashes over a piece of landscape or at sea.