Why I Love the Cross

I don’t wear a cross around my neck. I don’t hang one in my room. I don’t by t-shirts or artwork that predominantly features the cross. But I love the cross. I think the image of the cross is one of the most powerful symbols in the world and that it would only be the church’s loss to discontinue promoting the cross.

A cross in and of itself doesn’t prove anything. It’s foolish to assume someone wearing a cross is a Christian, or to even assume that a church is doctrinally sound because they have a cross (have you ever seen a cross being used by Scientologist? It’s the weirdest thing, they don’t even think of themselves as Christian). I don’t need to get into the many horrible things that have been done in the name of the cross.

There’s a general cultrual LDS bias against the cross. I’ve never seen anyone explain the prohibition via LDS canon. You will never see a cross inside or outside of a ward house or temple. On rare occasions you’ll encounter an LDS wearing a cross as jewelry, but it’s rare. Some say it’s because LDS believe that the atonement happened in the Garden, but as far as I can tell that’s up for quite a bit of open debate even amoung LDS. About the clearest argument against using a cross that I’ve heard goes something like: “If Jesus had died in an electric chair would you hang that around your neck? Why glorify a torture device.”

And that is exactly the point. Jesus’ act on that cross was so profound and powerful, that not only did it save humanity from sin, it even transformed a symbol of fear and tyranny into and object of beauty. What the Romans devised to strict terror into the hearts of men, is now something people look to for strength and encouragement. As Paul says, he used their own cross to make a spectacle out of them (and not just the Romans). Col. 2:15

That’s what Christ does. He takes what is vile and depraved and transforms it into something beautiful and mighty. That is why I love the cross.

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8 thoughts on “Why I Love the Cross

  1. The Murder Weapon argument is the one I always understood. “We believe in a resurrected Jesus, not one that is dead on the cross” is another one.

    I honestly think that in reality it is part of a paradigm by which traditional Christianity is rejected: it sharpens the lines separating the True Church and all the religions of men, with their abominable creeds, etc.

    Also ultimately it reflects a general Mormon de-emphasis on the role of Jesus Christ (although in the past twenty years or so that has been changing in a slow top-down fashion).

    But those aren;t the conscious reasons for not using crosses. they’re the implicit reasons.

  2. Yeah, those implicit reasons are ones I don’t want to state, less I’m accused of telling Mormons what they believe. They may not be the reasons at all, but they are the perception that is communicated to the rest of Christianity.

    The phrase “perception is reality” comes to mind. Perception is the reality that has to be dealt with and communicated against, even if it isn’t reality at all. LDS are so often accused of not being Christ-centered you would think they would go far out of their way to prove that they are extremely Christ centered. Often, all you get is the disappointing “well his name is right there in the name of the church.” It’s a terrible answer to a troubling question. I believe there may be many LDS who are very Christ-centered. Those that are should know that that answer doesn’t pass mustard. When Jesus separates the sheep from the goats, he gets after the goats for merely carrying his name. (a problem not by any means limited to LDS).

    Welcome back for vacation, Kullervo. Hope you had a nice time.

  3. I have always understood the lack of cross wearing to be because we prefer to think of Jesus Christ as a living being than as someone who died.

  4. Exactly Katyjane.

    Moreover, if there were an elegant emblem that represented Jesus leaving the Garden Tomb, THAT would be what Mormons would wear around their necks.

  5. I am a latter-day Saint who also loves the cross, and frequently press city governments to allow Christian churches to have higher and larger crosses on their Worship Centers.

    BYU Professor Robert Millet gave a talk to the students and faculty at BYU Hawaii called “where did the cross go?”, where he recounts the frequent mention of the cross as the location for the atonement in uniquely LDS scriptures and the writings of prophets, and shows where we certainly unwisely began emphasizing Gethsemane rather than Calvary as the location for the atonement, rather than both of them equally, our real beliefs. Large excerpts of it are on my blog at this location: http://ldschangingfocus.blogspot.com/2007/04/latter-day-saints-cross.html

    Thanks, Steve LDS Interfaith, Orange County

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