The man is free to dispose of his body and to decide how he wants to be buried after death, isn’t he? Isn’t the soul more important than the body, so the issue relating to the body we must consider as a secondary problem?
When we say that the soul is more important than the body, we mean that the body is important too, and the soul of the most important. This saying underscores the importance of the body. Christ also taught, saying: “Take no thought for your life [soul], what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on”(Matt. 6:25).
Christianity differs from other religions in matters about the body and the material. In Buddhism, the body is an obstacle to pass to the spiritual world, and the aim of the follower of this religion is to eventually get rid of the material world at the end of his life and achieve a blissful state, peace, nirvana. In the Buddhist tradition, nirvana is described as the extinction of the fire of suffering, ignorance, and attachment. With this sufferings come to an end and a complete rest begins.
In Hinduism, the goal is to eventually get rid of reincarnations and join to the Absolute spiritual being. The Greeks also had a particular idea of the body in Greek philosophy. Plato interprets the Greek word “body – soma” as derived from the word “grave – sema”, teaching that the body is the prison of the soul, and at the end of life the soul gains freedom and moves away from the prison. Therefore, when the Apostle Paul was speaking about Christ in the meeting of the Areopagus before the Athenians, they were listening to him attentively, but when Paul spoke about the resurrection, the Athenians mocked him (Acts 17:32), because for the Greeks the resurrection was the same as the man released from prison, getting a freedom returned to prison again.
But the Christian perception is completely different. The material is highly important in Christianity. God from nothing created matter, the universe, the world, the man. God, who is spirit and has no body, for the sake of the salvation of mankind became material, incarnated. Also at the general resurrection, people will be resurrected from the grave with the new, perfect bodies.
In this sense, we can say that Christianity is also a materialistic religion because in Christianity great importance is given to the material, and man is considered as not only the soul but the unity of both, of the soul and the body. Therefore, the funeral also takes place with the presence of the human body.