John Piper: Should Christians Donate Their Bodies to Science?
Christians should not necessarily view donating their body to science in the same way they would view cremation, John Piper says.
Piper, who serves as the chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary in Minnesota and founder/teacher of DesiringGod.org, sought to differentiate between cremation and donation in a recent blog post.
The theologian wrote that while Christians should avoid the act of cremation after death because it involves a burning of their body, they should not necessarily avoid the prospect of donating their body to science.
Piper explains that while the visual image of being dissected for science may seem undignified, it can actually be viewed as a highly beautiful and dignified process.
"[…] when one considers that the aim is the discovery or the improvement of some healing procedure for the body or training of doctors in the healing arts for the body, then those very so-called indignities to the body take on a kind of beauty that, in fact, serves the dignity of the body," the evangelical teacher explains.
This is not to say, however, that every Christian is obligated to donate their body to science, Piper continues.
"There are many family issues that need to be taken into account among others. For example, are there young children involved who just lost a mommy or a daddy who need to process the death of a parent differently than thinking they are being carved up at the university? A grave to visit may be very, very important," Piper states.
The evangelical leader adds that when contemplating the donation of their body to science, Christians can look to Jesus' crucifixion on the cross as an example of allowing your body to be desecrated as a sacrifice for the greater good.
"Surely the human body that Christ took on was not designed to be tortured and whipped and lacerated and speared and nailed to a cross like a piece of meat," Piper explains. "But all of those indignities were embraced by Christ. He chose them. He submitted himself to them. He gave himself to them not only that our souls might be saved, but precisely so that our bodies would be raised from the dead — and all the indignities of disease and death and torture would be overcome precisely because he gave his body to them."
The evangelical leader concludes his message by encouraging Christians to heavily weigh the prospect of donating their body to science, explaining that the decision should be made based on the need of such donations in the medical community.
"The closer the connection between the greatness of the need in medicine and the immediacy of my decision to give or not to give, the greater the obligation to give," Piper explains.
Piper previously spoke on the topic of cremation in a DesiringGod.org post, writing that Christians should opt for burial over cremation to keep in line with biblical teaching on the resurrection and the evilness of fire.
"Burial — sowing the seed of the body — is the biblical picture of belief in the resurrection of the body," Piper wrote in a post earlier this year.
"The use of fire to consume the human body on earth was seen as a sign of contempt. It was not a glorious treatment of the body but a contemptuous one," Piper added at the time.