Celebrating at a Funeral?

July 17, 2019 at 10:08 am | Posted in Q&A | Leave a comment
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Question: Someone in my family died, and this person had a strong salvation testimony and lived for many years the way the Bible says we would expect a Christian to live. The funeral was more like a party than a funeral. Everybody was laughing and joking, and they even played upbeat party music. Is this okay, since everybody agreed that the person had gone to Heaven?

Answer: Well, I don’t want to say it was NOT okay. There is certainly a sense in which it is okay to celebrate when we believe someone we love has gone to Heaven. But I wouldn’t want to tell people they are not supposed to grieve when someone they love has died, either. I Thessalonians 4:13 says, “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.” Some people take that to mean we shouldn’t sorrow at all when a Christian dies, but I think it means that it is okay to sorrow, just not the same way we would sorrow over someone that died without ever having trusted Christ. After all, Jesus Himself wept when Lazarus died (John 11:35), and He knew He would bring him back to life!

There are two considerations that might temper the celebratory atmosphere at the funeral of a Christian. One is compassion for those in attendance who may not feel like celebrating (Romans 12:15). It would be callous to act irreverent in the presence of people who are going to miss the person who has died. Two, the Bible makes it clear that death itself shouldn’t be frivolously talked about as some “natural, circle-of-life, blessing-in-disguise” occurrence. Death is caused by sin (Genesis 2:17, 3:6; Romans 5:12, 6:23). Death is an adversarial invader into God’s originally “very good” (Genesis 1:31) creation. Every time someone dies, we should grieve over the fact that we ourselves engage in behavior that our Creator deems worthy of death, and a funeral is a stark illustrated sermon on the seriousness of sin and its consequences.

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