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So is a funeral something the Bible requires, either directly or indirectly, if an unbelieving family member dies? Would it make a difference if the dead person was a Christian, whether to have a funeral or not?

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I think your question may have been answered already in this post: christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/18949/… – crownjewel82 Oct 10 '13 at 6:13
    
Not quite, but thx for the link. It was helpful in another way. – user5197 Oct 11 '13 at 9:26

The Bible neither requires nor prohibits the funerals of anyone. In general this is a wisdom issue - would not having a funeral offend the family? Would it damage relationships?

Jesus does however say something that might be taken to say that Christians shouldn't be involved in the funerals/burials of nonchristians:

Another of the disciples said to him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.”

And Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.” (Matthew 8:21-22, ESV)

This shouldn't however be taken as a blanket prohibition of Christians attending funerals for their fathers. These verses, and the ones immediately before them, tell us that there is a high cost to following Jesus, that following Jesus will require us to make sacrifices and that our ties with our families will be strained. And indeed, there are many Christians who have been unable to attend funerals because they are serving God in circumstances that don't permit them to return, such as missionaries in foreign countries.

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Thx. I guess the example of Jesus attending funerals is a strong indication that it is right to have one or rather that it's wrong not to have one. ... – user5197 Oct 11 '13 at 9:33

I think that the Bible gives a very strong prototype for funeral services in the death and burial of Christ himself.

Then took Mary a pound of ointment fo spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour ... Then said Jesus ... against the day of my burying hath she kept this."

John 12:3-7

And after this Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus. And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury. ... in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid. There laid they Jesus

Mark 15:43-46

And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him. And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun

Mark 16:1-2

Then there is the martyrdom of Stephen:

And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.

These are descriptions of funerals done in the Bible. Jesus himself commends the actions of Mary when she anoints him for burial and those who bury Jesus and Stephen are described as the most devout followers of him. Therefore I would say that funerals (even expensive ones) are certainly supported by scripture. However, this doesn't necessarily condone embalming, funeral vaults, or other stuff made available by technology. The image given is that in which the loved ones do the services themselves; much similar to the green burial and home funeral movement that is going on now.

There is a book that came out recently that attempts to address this issue by giving an overview of the Christian beliefs about burial (http://www.achristianending.com/). There is a rich tradition of Christian burial practices that all denominations and communities should learn about, I think.

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