Christians are never given any instructions or commands on the proper way to dispose of a body after death. We might assume that whatever is done should be dignified and respectful, but the specifics may differ from culture to culture and time to time. There is nothing in the Bible that addresses donating one’s body to science.
Cremation is becoming more popular, but many Christians object to being cremated because fire speaks of judgment—and a Christian will never have to experience judgment. These same Christians also believe that burial is the best biblical symbol because it looks forward to the resurrection. For them, burial is more dignified and respectful than cremation. But what should happen to the body after death, before cremation or burial?
Since donating a body to science is not addressed in Scripture, it cannot be a violation of a biblical mandate. Some object to scientific body donation (and to autopsies as well), feeling that such actions do not treat the body with the respect it should be shown. They may consider donating one’s body to science as a desecration of the body.
Others see it differently: donating one’s body to science is one of the highest uses of the body for the good of those who are still alive. The benefits derived from donating one’s body to science make the donation inherently dignified and respectful. While the body itself may go through certain “indignities” (being viewed by strangers, being dissected, and maybe ultimately cremated as “medical waste”), the ultimate use of the body is for good. If medical personnel and scientists do not have human cadavers to work with, their training and research would be incomplete, and their living patients would suffer as a result.
Ultimately, donating one’s body to science is a matter of conscience and personal choice. So, in answer to the question as it is phrased above (“Should a Christian donate his body to science?”), the answer is no, in that the word should denotes obligation or duty. No Christian is under an obligation to donate his body to science. If the question is phrased a different way, “Is it acceptable for a Christian to donate his body to science?” the answer would be, yes, it is biblically permissible.
This is an area not specifically addressed in Scripture, so Christians can decide for themselves how they can best honor the Lord with their bodies after death. As in all “gray areas,” Christians should do what they believe to be correct yet avoid judging other Christians who come to different conclusions (see Romans 14). It would seem that family members should honor the requests of their “dearly departed” in this matter, even if it is not to their liking.