Are We Cross at the Cross?

As I was getting ready for church one Sunday, I went to put on a necklace. I looked at the cross that a non-LDS family member gave me a few years ago. She knows I’m a Christian and I’m sure she thought it would be a nice gesture (which it absolutely was!), but I opted for the heart necklace instead. I’ve worn my cross out in public many times and I personally have no problem with it. But I’ve yet to wear it to church. 

This got me thinking about something I’ve never been quite sure about. How do we Mormons really feel about the cross? It’s one of those things that we don’t really discuss very often, but over the years I’ve heard everything from respect to disdain from Mormons for the symbol of Christianity. Some reasons that I’ve heard the cross being absent from Mormon life is that:

a) It’s more of a Catholic or Protestant symbol and we are neither
b) The cross represents some terrible crimes that have been committed in the name of Christianity, such as the Crusades, and we don’t want to be associated with that
c) The cross has become nothing but a fashion statement for most
d) We want to focus on the Resurrection and not so much the Crucifixion

Non-LDS Christians are often quick to notice the lack of crosses in LDS chapels and materials. When they’ve asked me about it, I usually give them the speech citing reason d), about how we don’t use the cross because we prefer to focus on Christ’s resurrection and the fact that we believe that He lives, instead of focusing on his death. I don’t feel like I’m lying when I give them the speech, but I have wondered about other possible reasons. I will summarize a story that I remember reading once, which illustrated how some Mormons feel about the cross. A non-LDS Christian woman entered the home of an LDS family. The non-LDS woman was wearing a cross, and somehow the subject came up. When asked why they did not use the cross, the LDS woman said that she could explain it this way: “If one of your loved ones was killed in a car accident, would you wear a car around your neck to remember them?”

I find that the lack of crosses in the LDS religion makes it hard for other Christians to identify with us. While I understand our need to differentiate ourselves from other Christians because of our unique doctrine, I sometimes fear that our missing crosses make it more difficult for skeptical non-LDS Christians, many of whom are already highly suspicious of Mormons, to even call us Christians (much like how many can ask how Jehovah’s Witnesses can call themselves Christians when they don’t celebrate Christmas). And yet at the same time, Mormons are often lamenting over the fact that other Christians don’t consider us to be Christians. It’s easy to understand their skepticism when we have seemingly rejected the most fundamental symbol of Christianity. 

Personally, I accept the reasoning that we choose to focus on the fact that Christ lives. But at the same time, remembering and honoring the Crucifixion is a vital element in giving His life the significance that it deserves. If we focus only on the Resurrection, the Atonement seems to lose some of its meaning — at least for me. I’ve visited many Catholic and Protestant churches and cathedrals throughout my travels and have always been impressed by all the paintings, statues and icons depicting Christ on the cross. I find them to be very moving, as they capture a special spirit that I haven’t felt anywhere else — not even in the LDS Church. I love Mormon art of the Saviour, but I find traditional crucifixes to be something unique and unmatched in beauty. I remember being in Münich, Germany and visiting a small store which sold Catholic art, crucifixes and statues of Christ and the Virgin Mary. I remember thinking how beautiful they were and that I would proudly display them in my own home, except for the fact that other Mormons would find it so strange.

So aside from when I’m at church, I will continue to wear my cross whenever I feel like it. Most probably won’t even notice but if they do, they will either:

a) Assume that I’m just trying to be fashionable
b) Assume I’m just another Catholic or Protestant
c) Not care

Ironically, I think the only ones who would notice would be fellow Mormons who know me.

Questions:
  • Have you or would you wear a cross or crucifix to meetings in the LDS Church?
  • Would you display a cross, crucifix, or a traditional Christian work of art where the cross is prominent, in your home?
  • Do you think that we should be more open to using and displaying the cross (at least outside of official LDS Church capacities), or will we lose our unique Christian-Mormon identity by doing so?

Comments

comments

55 comments for “Are We Cross at the Cross?

  1. Paul S.
    January 31, 2009 at 2:40 am

    To answer the questions in order:

    – Have you or would you wear a cross or crucifix to meetings in the LDS Church?

    No – while I honestly have no rational objections to crosses or crucifixes, and am not personally bothered by other Christians using the symbol, having been LDS all my life, I suppose I have an irrational aversion to using the symbol personally – I’d feel about as strange wearing a cross to church as I would bringing a beer.

    – Would you display a cross, crucifix, or a traditional Christian work of art where the cross is prominent, in your home?

    I’d certainly display something with a cross in it, as long as the cross itself wasn’t the main point of the work: i.e., I’d display a painting of the crucifixion of Christ, but I wouldn’t just display a crucifix by itself.

    – Do you think that we should be more open to using and displaying the cross (at least outside of official LDS Church capacities), or will we lose our unique Christian-Mormon identity by doing so?

    I don’t necessarily thinks we should officially adopt the use of the cross, but I certainly thinks we should stop being critical of other churches’ use of it.

    Now, in regards to your 4 points (I’ll just quote them here)
    a) It’s more of a Catholic or Protestant symbol and we are neither
    b) The cross represents some terrible crimes that have been committed in the name of Christianity, such as the Crusades, and we don’t want to be associated with that
    c) The cross has become nothing but a fashion statement for most
    d) We want to focus on the Resurrection and not so much the Crucifixion

    I really think these are just excuses we’ve collectively developed over the years to justify our somewhat irrational fear of the symbol of the cross. I strongly suspect the real reason we don’t use the cross is that the Church has long tried to distance itself from anything that resembled Catholicism or Protestantism – I really don’t think there’s any actual theological reason to not use it. For me, it’s just a matter of habit to avoid its use.

    • Barbara Hughes
      August 11, 2016 at 5:45 pm

      I would display the crucifix in my home and I have wore a cross to church (I am a Mormon). I think it’s a stupid thing to not wear a cross. How can you focus on the Resurrection without thinking about the Crucifixion….they do go together. It’s like we are trying to bypass the thought of the Crucifixion and how horrible it was.

  2. James
    January 31, 2009 at 2:55 am

    We were taught in the mission days a little story. If your son was killed by a magnum pistol would you want it hanged up in your front room? That what it’s like for our heavenly father it is emphasizing one of the instrument used to kill Jesus. Our church emphasises the good news that he is resurrected and alive.

    In saying all that when I go into a Church of England with a cross and Jesus on a stain glass window. My mind is focused instantly to Jesus his story.

    When I go to our chapels I rarely think of Jesus their are no pictures of him in the lobby or hallways – nothing.

    My thinking has changed a lot since my mission and I don’t mind cross’s but in a subtle way. I think the cross

    When you go into some of the small cities in France they have huge I thought gorry statues of Christ as you go into the town which I found depressing.

    • Terry Lynn Madeleine Dillon
      February 21, 2014 at 9:34 pm

      The cross redeemed us and is therefore a sign of victory not defeat. A picture of Christ in His Passion is a cause of our Joy and, like Moses who raised the serpent on the staff in the wilderness, gazing upon it is also healing. We drop our burdens at the cross, especially those of grudges. Jesus forgave and so must we.

  3. Ray
    January 31, 2009 at 4:12 am

    “When I go to our chapels I rarely think of Jesus their are no pictures of him in the lobby or hallways – nothing.”

    Wrong. Pictures of him are in almost all, if not all, meeringhouses – just not hanging on the cross.

    I have no problem with the cross as a religious symbol, as long as it doesn’t become a graven image to be worshiped on its own – and as long as the person can worship without it.

    • Terry Lynn Madeleine Dillon
      February 21, 2014 at 9:35 pm

      Additions of LDS art of the Savior are now in LDS wards and stakes in the last few decades. These are a new addition as we see more artistic representations coming forth from among our artists. A picture of Christ’s Passion would be a worthy addition.

  4. January 31, 2009 at 6:16 am

    When it comes to big crucifixes and “gory” statues, although “depressing,” it is kind of hard to not focus on Christ. For a big mind-wanderer like me, I wonder if I would daydream less in sacrament meeting if there was a big crucifix on the wall behind the pulpit.

    Distraction or a helpful focal point?

    Ray is right that there are pictures of the Saviour in probably ever LDS meetinghouse. Even in my little branch building which is about the size of an appartment, there are a few LDS paintings in the foyer. But nothing in the chapel. Come to think of it, I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen any pictures of the Saviour in any LDS chapel (the actual chapel where sacrament meeting is held). Am I wrong?

    • Jr
      August 24, 2015 at 4:53 pm

      I also agreed, none at all. Pictures of the savior will definitely make me focus on his love for us. Its better then to listen to these made up stories testimonies.

    • March 22, 2016 at 10:59 pm

      I have thought about the lack of no cross(s) in the chapels etc. It seems to me that Mormons fail to give honor to the cross and what it truly represents, Christ’s suffering for the sins of all men and that we can return to him through the blood he has shed for us. I am having trouble with this….I can’t wrap my head around it…..I don’t feel that way….I have been watching catholic programming and I believe they surely teach the gospel of Jesus Christ.

  5. January 31, 2009 at 6:29 am

    Paul S. you said, “I’d display a painting of the crucifixion of Christ, but I wouldn’t just display a crucifix by itself.”

    That’s interesting. Would it be possible, though, to display a crucifix or Catholic statue as an appreciation for its artistic value? Would you feel more strange about having a crucifix on the wall than, say, a small statue of Buddha on your bookshelf?

  6. January 31, 2009 at 8:45 am

    While it is true that the LDS do not emphasize the cross as a symbol, it is also TRUE that the cross is absolutely essential to our theology.

    I recommend my essay: The Cross of Jesus is Essential.

    • Terry Lynn Madeleine Dillon
      February 21, 2014 at 9:36 pm

      What is the Ankh/Cross connection? Does the Ankh counteract against LDS ordinances?

  7. January 31, 2009 at 10:26 am

    I’d always only heard the explanation d for why we don’t wear crosses. It was always stated in this exact way, “We do not focus on Jesus as he died, but as he lives.”

    With an emphasis that death was past tense…it was temporary…but lives is present tense…it continues today.

    I’ve never been particularly moved by pictures anyway, but that’s probably just the heathen in me, so I can’t say that either Crucifixion pictures or the pictures of Christ that our church has are more moving.

    I didn’t think pictures hanging in the chapel were allowed, but there are pictures hanging all around in the lobbies, foyers, etc.,

    so, to answer the questions.

    1) nope, never worn one to church.

    2) uhh, this is awkward, because this is asking “would” instead of “have”…I stare at the future and the future stares back at me…[heathen answer alert]: no. but that’s because I’m not particularly a fan of pictures on walls. Back at home, my mom and dad have a picture of the LDS temple next to black Jesus…I’m sure the black Jesus didn’t come from our church, but I’m not sure if it represents a “traditional Christian work of art” either. No crosses though.

    3) I really don’t think it would matter if we started using the cross or if we continued not using it. I think there would have to be some authoritative guidance on why we don’t…so that we know exactly how significant this is supposed to be. Right now, the issue [heathen answer alert] seems no more consequential than having 5 or fewer deacons pass sacrament than 6 or more. As long as the presiding person gets sacrament first and the Sacramental prayers are recited verbatim, nothing else “breaks” clearcut Mormon rules.

  8. Jen
    January 31, 2009 at 10:46 am

    For me personally, I prefer art showing the Lord in the Garden of Gethsemene. It reminds me of His sacrifice in a very real way. Having the constant reminder of the Savior on the cross with a picture, or crucifix itself brings me pain and sorrow for my Brother. I cannot imagine standing there having to watch Him suffer to such a degree. It is not that Gethsemene does not bring me sorrow for Him as well, but I can envision the angel there strengthening Him. When I think of the cross I hear those painful words “Father why has thou forsaken me?” I have no need to focus on that moment when the Savior of the world felt forsaken by His father. For me, the focus is on the willingness of the Savior to sacrifice Himself for us. The Garden scene reminds me of Him saying “Not Thy My will but Thine be done”. That focus is an important one for me because that is what I strive to do in my life. There are already enough things in life to remind me of other’s suffering and pain, I especially don’t want to be reminded in my worship of my Savior of His worst moments here on the earth. I know that He suffered and I know that it was for me (and you) and when I see Him in artwork more typical in LDS churches it helps me to focus on His daily good works while He was on the earth, reminding me of my purpose here…..to be like Him.

  9. James
    January 31, 2009 at 10:50 am

    “Wrong. Pictures of him are in almost all, if not all, meeringhouses – just not hanging on the cross.”

    Ray glad to take some photos of some in our stake if you doubt me!!

  10. Jen
    January 31, 2009 at 10:51 am

    I want to change a word in a sentence I wrote. “I have no NEED to focus on that moment when the Savior of the world felt forsaken by His father.” That is not true….I have had a NEED to do that. I have no DESIRE to focus on that moment would be the correct word. Just because we don’t desire to do something doesn’t mean we don’t need to once in awhile.

  11. NoCoolName_Tom
    January 31, 2009 at 11:09 am

    I’ve come to the conclusion that the reason Jen enjoys the Garden of Gethsemane is the same reason that traditional Christians enjoy the cross – it is a constant reminder of God’s love, of how much Christ sacrificed because of His love for us.

    I asked the “Would you wear the bullet that had killed your friend?” question often at the beginning of my mission and it really struck me when one person answered, “Of course I would!” Shocked, I asked why, and was told: “Well, in your question you seem to be assuming that the death of my friend was a horrible thing. But, in my view, the reason my friend died wasn’t just because he was shot: he took the bullet for me. He jumped in front of me to protect me. That bullet wouldn’t represent the evil I know is in the world – it would represent the love my friend had to save my life and would be a constant reminder to make that sacrifice mean something.” Since then I’ve never asked the bullet question again.

    I don’t wear the cross mostly out of my upbringing and it just feels odd, but if anyone else ever wore one to Church I’d be the first to stand up for that choice because it represents a love for the Savior.

  12. Jen
    January 31, 2009 at 11:30 am

    NoCoolName_Tom

    “I’ve come to the conclusion that the reason Jen enjoys the Garden of Gethsemane is the same reason that traditional Christians enjoy the cross – it is a constant reminder of God’s love, of how much Christ sacrificed because of His love for us.”

    I think it is important to remember that traditional Christians don’t necessarily “enjoy” the cross but, at least in some cases, it could be more about what you mention in your last line….”I don’t wear the cross mostly out of my upbringing and it just feels odd.” Traditional Christians have been brought up to wear it and it might feel odd not to.

  13. NoCoolName_Tom
    January 31, 2009 at 11:45 am

    Hmm, I’d never thought of the reverse there… Great, now things are complicated again! 🙂

  14. Alpha Echo
    January 31, 2009 at 11:55 am

    I prefer to think of the living Christ but I have no objection to the cross as long it isn’t gory. I’d hate for someone to offend a new member or visitor by saying “Mormons don’t wear the cross!”

  15. DavidH
    January 31, 2009 at 2:04 pm

    As I understand it, LDS attitudes toward the cross have evolved over time. I gather that at the time the Church was restored, most Protestant churches did not display crosses and ours did not either. I believe that the Protestant custom of using empty crosses (as distinct from the Roman Catholic crucifix with Jesus on it) developed during the time Mormons were settling and developing Utah, and that custom or tradition did not make it to Utah. Mike Reed has done some research indicating that an LDS antipathy toward the cross developed in the 20th century, particularly during David O. McKay’s administration, perceiving that even the empty cross was too tied to Catholicism. I have not seen or read his research or full analysis, although I understand he will be publishing something at some point.

    In other words, our non-use of the cross was an accident of history–the Restoration occurred when Protestants, from whom most early converts came, did not use the cross, and that general non-use stayed as LDS custom. As I understand it, there was not a deliberate decision, inspired or otherwise, on this point. The public justifications usually offered are ex post facto, they are more like justifications for not changing the tradition rather than why it started.

    In my opinion, our non-use of the cross is sort of like our non-use of “you” in prayers, an historical artifact, continue in place, because our Church is naturally an organization where change usually occurs slowly and deliberately.

  16. January 31, 2009 at 2:15 pm

    I would wear a cross if someone I cared about gave one to me as a present. But I still have a vague memory of the first time I saw a crucifix — it was at my great-aunt’s house when I was 4 or 5 — and I was shocked and horrified. They still kind of creep me out.

    I think it would probably be a net positive for the Church if it started using crosses, or at least stopped unofficially discouraging members from wearing them.

    The explanation I was given when I joined the Church was that it was a symbol of Christ’s death (except I was told “stabbing” and “knife” instead of a car accident). I think the real reason we don’t use crosses, though, probably started with the Church’s origin among New England Protestants who disliked ornamentation in their churches and was reinforced by a desire for separation from 19th century Christian persecutors. I think the other explanations sound more like attempts to invent a theological justification for the tradition.

  17. Cicero
    January 31, 2009 at 2:28 pm

    The Cross is used as a symbol, and likewise the absence of a Cross is also symbolic statement.

    Other Christians use the Cross as a symbol of Christ’s death, and his grace to us. I understand this, so I don’t get offended by their use of the Cross, nor would I compare it to car crashes or anything else that makes light of their symbolic statement of appreciation of Christ’s sacrifice. I recognize this intent, and I admire it.

    That said- I do not use the Cross, and I avoid using the symbol myself, because I also want to make a symbolic statement. Namely, that Christ is not dead, but living, and that likewise I believe in a Living Church, a living prophet, and in living miracles.

    Most other Christian theology focuses exclusively on Christ’s mortal ministry- and they explicitly reject an extension of His work into today. Why doesn’t God talk to prophets today? “Because Christ has already come and done His work, and there is no need for any more visions or apostles or miracles.” It’s an outgrowth of the focus on Christ’s mortal ministry and the symbolic use of the Cross is part of that exclusive focus.

    It even bleeds over into prayer. Sadly, while many Christians believe in prayer as a petition, few believe in it as a conversation- and those that do tend to be viewed as unorthodox (though not necessarily in a hostile way- sometimes there is a sense of envy).

    Our rejection of the symbol of the Cross should be a symbolic reminder to us that Christ’s work is not finished- that He is alive, that He speaks to men today, and that we are part of that ongoing work. In other words, what happened in Gethsemane and at Golgotha are not just events that happened in the past- but rather are ongoing events in which we are participants.

    When someone asks why we don’t use the cross as a symbol, it is an opportunity to express our belief in a living active Christ, who speaks to prophets today.

    He is not dead. He lives. (And surprisingly many Christians today are a little wishy washy on the literal Resurrection- so that is also another arrow in our quiver that comes from officially rejecting the Cross symbol).

    Symbols have power, and I think most of us have overlooked the powerful nature of our rejection of the Cross as a symbol for Christ.

    • Toni
      March 23, 2015 at 11:23 pm

      Cicero, I don’t know about other Christians, but most of the Catholics I know believe that prayer can be a petition and a conversation with Our Lord. Contemplation and meditation are also other forms of prayer. I know that Mormons say they don’t use crosses or crucifixes because they want to focus on the Resurrection of Christ. But, you would not have a resurrection without a death. It is by His death that we are saved and by His resurrection that we have the promise of eternal life. We need both. I personally am very moved by the crucifix, as it is a reminder of the great love the Savior had for us. As a Catholic, I believe in a Living Church, and miracles that are present today. I also believe that there is still prophecy in today’s Church. However, as the Bible states God spoke to us in times past through prophets, but in these last days He has spoken to us through His Son (Hebrews 1:1). So, that was the end of public prophecy. Today, God may speak to an individual in order to strengthen their faith, but He will never say anything that contradicts what He has already told us in the Bible or the Sacred Oral Tradition handed down from the Apostles.

  18. Latter-day Guy
    January 31, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    In order:

    –I have not yet, but I would, if I found a nice one. (As a guy though, I’m not sure how. Necklace? No. Tie tack? Maybe. Tattoo. Oh yeah!)
    –YES, YES, YES. I plan on it when I get my own place.
    –YES, we should, I think. Most of the reasons for not doing so seem fatuous. Do we lose our Mormon identity by reading from the Bible as opposed to the Book of Mormon?

  19. January 31, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    I kind of wish it could be more of a personal decision as to how prominent the cross is in our personal lives. I mean, hopefully all Mormons will agree that the cross or a crucifix isn’t offensive. That some would prefer not to wear one is fine, but should we look down on fellow Mormons who do? If I saw someone in my branch wearing a cross around their necks, I wouldn’t dream of saying, “Hey, why are you wearing THAT?” And yet I know that some would do exactly that.

  20. Ray
    January 31, 2009 at 4:26 pm

    #15 – DavidH, thanks for your comment. That is a very logical conclusion, and it’s a much better answer than most of the automatic responses we hear.

  21. Jen
    January 31, 2009 at 4:43 pm

    I don’t think most LDS people would look down on another member who was wearing a cross, they most likely would just be curious and find it interesting. When you are part of a culture that has many unwritten rules about what you do and don’t do you can’t expect one not to be curious and questioning when one “goes against the grain” so to speak. If an LDS person is really living true to their beliefs they will not make judgments or assumptions based on what they see. Of course you will always have members that judge or look down on others but for the most part we have to give people the benefit of the doubt and assume they are trying to be like the Savior.

    Having said that you have to know if you have been a member of the LDS faith for very long that it is not customary for LDS people to wear crosses and whatever the reasons are for not doing so, you are going to make people curious and wonder if you do wear one. Anytime you choose to do something that is not customary in a “culture” you will raise curiousity….it’s just the nature of the beast.

  22. oscar
    January 31, 2009 at 7:52 pm

    James,

    ‘When I go to our chapels I rarely think of Jesus their are no pictures of him in the lobby or hallways – nothing.’
    If this is the case then do something about it and ask your ward leaders to put some pictures on the walls in your chapel.

    Good luck.

  23. January 31, 2009 at 8:10 pm

    Like Ray, I certainly applaud DavidH’s comment (# 15) that Mormon non-use of the cross was likely an accident of history, arising from Protestant non-use during the early years of the Church. American Protestant writings of the early nineteenth century referred often to Christ suffering and dying on the cross. A few American Protestants of that period even had visions of Christ on the cross. However, during all my immersion in Protestant writings of that place and time, I have never gotten the impression that they used the cross symbol very much at all. An 1824 Northeastern publication on the millennium included the following comment by British millenarian writer George Stanley Faber (1773-1854):

    “With regard to the mark of the beast, I think with Sir Isaac Newton, that it is the cross. This symbol has been abused by the Papists to the purposes both of the most infernal cruelties, and of the most childish superstition.” —Ray Potter. A Treatise on the Millennium, Or Latter-Day Glory of the Church, Compiled Principally From the Productions of Late Eminent Writers Upon that Subject. . . . By Ray Potter, Minister of the Gospel, Pawtucket. (Providence: Brown & Danforth, Printers, 1824), 269.

  24. k
    January 31, 2009 at 10:29 pm

    I have a beautiful carved wooden cross on the wall in my bedroom. It belonged to one of my many great grandmothers. I keep it on the wall in honor of her and the sacrifices she made for her family. I also have a star of David necklace that I often wear. It belonged to my great grandmother, who was Jewish and also sacrificed a great deal for her family. I have no problem wearing either a cross or a star of David necklace, nor do I have a problem wearing a CTR ring or bracelet. They are, after all, jewelry that simply reflects the fact that I am religious. One of my most precious possessions is a Russian Orthodox icon depicting Jesus Christ and Mary. It was a gift from a dear friend who left it to me when she died. It has a cross in the background, and I have it on my wall in the entry of my home.

    I don’t wear crosses to Church, I usually have on the CTR ring and bracelet. Does that make it any different that wearing a cross? Both are symbols of our beliefs, one just isn’t culturally acceptable and one is.

    Either way, I think it is a personal choice, and no one’s business but my own. Like many who have posted, I like to focus on the living Savior, not on the way he left this mortal earth. But that doesn’t mean I don’t find the art of the many other religions of the world beautiful. Oh, I also have a wonderfully carved jade Buddha sitting on my bookshelf, and two Muslim prayer rugs displayed on another wall along with a Hindu goddess. Guess you could say, I like art for art’s sake and don’t place a lot of value on its religious symbolism.

  25. gregeth
    February 1, 2009 at 3:05 am

    I remember hearing a speaker (believe he was a GA) years ago that put an interesting twist on the topic. He said that the reason to not depict or wear the cross is not because of what is typically said by most (not focusing on crucifiction, negative symbol, etc), but that because of what it represents is so sacred that it doesn’t need to be just put up everywhere. It was an interesting view and one that I don’t hear very often (I’ve met many who really look down on people who wear a cross which is sad) and he actually continued on to say that it should be a personal decision for people. Though of course that doesn’t mean we’ll likely see any crucifixes in Church buildings anytime.

  26. February 1, 2009 at 9:50 am

    I think what is missing, although what has been said has been important and enlightening, is to discuss the nature of “symbols” in Mormonism. When a symbol is used, what symbol and what kind? Mormons might not use the cross out of historical accidents and might make excuses to keep from starting, but why? I think it has to do with the sacred nature of symbol in Mormonism that is seen in few religions.

    How has the Mormon use of symbols start? More often then not any significant symbol is associated with the Temple. There are only two “official” symbols used by the Church that are not tied to the Temple in a direct way and that is the Sacrament and the CTR ring. The Sacrament has a very specific purpose used at a very specific time. It is an extension of our baptismal oaths and covenants. One could argue that makes it partly Temple related. As for the CTR ring, it really started more as a primary gimmick that seems to have slipped from official usage and became consumerist. Paintings commissioned or displayed by the Church are actually rather generic and serving the purpose mostly of garnishing. There are still very few chapels that have any art (symbols) of any kind displayed – not even in the way of Islamic geometric patterns.

    The reason Mormonism has not “taken up the cross” is because it already has a symbol that the cross fills in for; and that would be the Temple. Pictures of the Temple in homes are often placed where other religions would put their own symbols. When a prophet says that the symbol of Christ should be our own lives rather than a cross, that means something more than a cute expression of examples to others. That is precisely what the Temple is commanding us to do as members. Not saying that is what the prophets mean by that, but who knows? I have come to the conclusion that crosses are not bad (I prefer and keep, but don’t actually wear, an Ankh), but they are superfluous for Mormon tradition. I might even go so far as to say that Mormons who have gone to the Temple should put it aside. There might be several reasons a Mormon wants to wear a cross, but the only ones I feel that have a legitimate reason are converts and out of friendly gestures. I would love to expand on this topic, but worry about crossing sacred lines by expounding on my thoughts of why the Temple fills in for the Cross.

  27. Ray
    February 1, 2009 at 11:11 am

    #26 – That is an interesting idea, Jettboy. Thank you for sharing it.

  28. Carrie
    February 1, 2009 at 4:25 pm

    I think a significant thing is how as LDS, we focus on Gethsemane as the location of the Atonement being worked out; other Christians do not recognize that anything significant happened there. For them, the work of salvation was carried out on Calvary, on the cross. As the location of their salvation, the cross is sacred to them, and in that sense, is perhaps similar to our pictures of the garden of gethsemane, or even of the temple.
    And yes, I would wear one, if I had one.

  29. February 1, 2009 at 5:00 pm

    I joined the church as a teenager, after not having been raised in any religion. When I was choosing my high school class ring, we could pick any number of symbols that were meaningful to us. On one side of my ring, I chose a cross inscribed with the letters “WWJD” (What Would Jesus Do?). I saw it as an expression of my faith. I wore it to school, church, etc., and nobody gave me any trouble for it, although I knew I was bucking culture.
    I don’t wear a cross now, but that’s mainly because I don’t really wear much jewelry at all. I wouldn’t wear a crucifix, though. There’s something about it that strikes me as a bit morbid. (No offense to anyone who finds deep meaning in it.)

  30. lmnop!
    February 1, 2009 at 8:56 pm

    When I ponder the topic of crosses I think back to a comment a missionary made a few years ago. Several young members were hanging out with missionaries. We hiked up a mountain in an area where Catholic pilgrimages are common. At the top of the mountain was a cross. We took pictures of our group and the view. I suggested we take a picture in front of the cross. One missionary dismissed the idea by saying “The cross is an apostate symbol.” At the time I was simply viewing this particular cross as proof that we had reached the peak of the mountain. But I find it an interesting statement and wonder about its validity.

  31. Ray
    February 1, 2009 at 10:26 pm

    He was wrong. That’s not uncommon for such young men.

  32. heather
    February 2, 2009 at 9:32 am

    I think what most mormons don’t understand about the cross is it’s meaning, especially to protestants.

    A crucifix is a cross with christ hanging from it. It is a symbol of Christ’s sacrifice and not typically worn, but used in rosary and other places like churches.

    A CROSS, however, is empty. It is a symbol of the resurrection, of the fact that Christ overcame death and is not there, for he has risen. It’s empty because christ is not dead, but conquered death. It is NOTHING like wearing a pistol around ones neck.

    I always resent seeing the comparisons between a cross and a weapon being made, it shows a lot of ignorance about what other churches believe.

  33. Ray
    February 2, 2009 at 3:04 pm

    Very well put, heather. That’s the biggest problem with glib rejections of anything – that they over-simplify and unintentionally mis-represent others’ beliefs.

  34. Hawkgrrrl
    February 2, 2009 at 5:17 pm

    heather – that’s a great reminder. Thanks!

  35. Holden Caulfield
    February 3, 2009 at 9:37 am

    Robert Rees’ presentation at the last Sunstone Symposium regarding the cross gave an interesting brief history of the cross during the 1800s in America. He discussed the cultural atmosphere which probably led to our church not adopting the cross as a common symbol to be used.

    Joseph Fielding Smith, as only he or his son-in-law could express, wrote the following:
    “To many, like the writer, such a custom is repugnant and contrary to the true worship of our Redeemer. Why should we bow down before a cross or use it as a symbol? Because our Savior died on the cross, the wearing of crosses is to most Latter-Day Saints in very poor taste and inconsistent to our worship.” (Answers to Gospel Questions, 4:17)

    He also went on to use the weapon of death analogy, a dagger or sword in his example.

    What makes the difference to me is that he gave his life, it was not taken. What has made it “repugnant” (a word only a very few—one?–would use) is the tradition in which Mormons have been raised. We have talked elsewhere about the middle initial syndrome of the general authorities and the “odd” feeling we get when not calling them by their “official names”. To me it is all culturalization, not the essence of the cross itself.

  36. KT
    February 6, 2009 at 4:04 am

    when it is all said and done, a cross is just a cross. when i wear one i just say it is a plus sign. symbolism on jewelry is absurd. it is only a piece of metal, i don’t think jesus will be offended at me wearing jewelry that resembles the cross he gave his life on.

  37. Rich
    February 18, 2009 at 7:03 pm

    Doctrine has nothing to do with “is it right or wrong”, it’s personal preferance only, or in other words culture.

  38. March 20, 2009 at 5:57 pm

    I really dig this blog, I go to it every day. Thanks for putting in the time on it. You are the first LDS person I have ever heard acknowledge that they wear a cross. I was impressed how open and casual you were about it, because (in my opinion) that’s how ALL members of the church should be about the cross. Christ’s crucifiction was a sacrifice for our sins, and the cross is a representation fo that sacrifice. I have never taken offense at the cross, or even those huge life-sized Mexican-style catholic crucifixes with gallons of blood sloshed all over them. Maybe I they should offend me, but they don’t.

  39. dex
    July 3, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    Interesting issue, this. As a missionary many years ago, I was troubled witnessing the practice some missionaries employed of removing crosses from new converts’ homes. It is something I couldn’t wrap my head around and I just wouldn’t do it. Seems strangely ironic to me that a church that relys so much on symbolism for so many of our sacred things would shy away from use of a cross.

    What is the downside of someone using a symbol such as a (insert your traditional LDS necklace, CTR ring, etc., here), or a cross to show their devotion to God and acknowledgement of Jesus’ awesome sacrifice being accepted in their lives? No crosses, by golly, but say yess to the sickeningly sappy “Mormon Top 40” songs being performed in LDS meetings. If the church hadn’t put a stop to the uncontrolled farewell rituals, I’m not sure how much more I could have stomached.

    I consider the standard LDS responses to the question to be total bunk and no more than vain attempts to come up with answers to appease the doctrine police (if you are LDS, you are grinning now because every ward has ’em).

    I find the symbol a positive thing and feel positive when I see someone wearing one….I think it is a brotherhood thing perhaps. For Mormons to claim it is a “focus” issue is without depth of understanding and hyportical beyond belief. How can we assert that one particular component of the Atonement carries more sway than another?

    While Mormons get wrapped around the axle regarding the use of a cross, I can’t help but wonder what Christ’s thoulghts would be regarding our insistance in portraying Christ, a Semitic, as having Anglo features. Interesting notion, that.

  40. beachboy
    August 30, 2009 at 8:37 pm

    We have a sister that has worn a cross for as long as I have known her and has one on her car tag.She is a member for many years and I’m sure has had at least afew remarks about it.She is about 70 yrs old and has as close of a relationship with the Lord as anyone I know. I personlly don’t use the cross in my daily life but don’t see any thing wrong in using objects to focus your faith ( seer stones, statues of Moroni,Behives)etc. We all use them at some point in life, either in times of strenght or weakness. If we want to know what the Church thinks of the cross we could wear one next Sunday and see who notices. I would say probally no one in my Ward would say anything to me as they would suspect something was up. But really, I wouldn’t wear a cross unless it truely had a reason in my heart,otherwise I would feel I was trampling on things sacred to other people.

  41. Rsvoices
    October 9, 2011 at 6:14 pm

    I am so late on this, but I want to comment and just say the Cross isn’t the only symbol of Christianity, a good alternative symbol is the fish, and its one, that I have yet to find a reasonable necklace that I like, but its one that I do most certainly believe is a Christian symbol, and it focuses on the work of Christ to “Be yea fishers of men (and women)”.  If you don’t feel comfortable wearing the cross, I would suggest wear the fish. (And as a side note, I would love a necklace that is the fish, with CTR in the middle, it would be fantastic, maybe I can learn wood carving and make my own). As another alternative symbol, I love the messianic Judaism symbol, of Fish, Star of David, and Menorah, I would personally just have the fish and the star of David. I sincerely believe there are a few other symbols that can be used alternatively to the Cross as the sign of christianity. And my Belief is that the Fish, actually was the symbol used by the Ancient Saints, after Christ died, as a sign of who they where during the prosecutions. If anybody has any scholarly evidence of this, please link me to the articles.  

     I most certainly have a cross in my bedroom. It is white with a girl praying and I will prominently display that cross in my new home once I’m married later this year.  I do have a couple cross necklaces, and its from my Great-Grandmother, on my Father’s maternal side. 

    I most certainly think we use the Cross, its just reserved for LDS Chaplains to wear. Because Chaplains serve everyone in the military, wearing the cross on their helmets or gear, is a sign to Christians to come to them for spiritual guidance and help. 

    And lastly I believe that pictures in the Chapel are banned, but I quite like the flowers. I think of the song that has something to do with flowers growing over the sea, and that is where Christ was born and lived and did his mortal work. It’s a visual reminder to me, of a beautiful life, as Christ is the creator. 

  42. Renee Wilson
    April 26, 2012 at 9:10 pm

    I am a LDS young woman, and like you, I find myself wearing my cross necklaces outside of church. I understand why we “shy away” from crosses…but I still enjoy wearing mine. I like to think it’s more of a symbol of just Christ, Christianity, or (since I’m speaking about crosses and not crucifixes) that Christ has risen.

    It’s much like Heather said in the comments: “It is a symbol of the resurrection, of the fact that Christ overcame death and is not there, for he has risen. It’s empty because christ is not dead, but conquered death.”

  43. May 5, 2012 at 9:44 am

    #1 Yes I proudly wear my crucifix at Church
    #2 Yes I put one either on my door or to the side of my door in my apartment at BYU
    #3 I would be open to it, but I think we need to fix the cultural distaste many members have for it

    Note I am a convert from Catholicism, and I understand the crucifix is not a symbol of Christ’s death, but his victory over death and his resurrection.  Actually, one time I got in trouble with my Bishop at BYU for having my crucifix on my door, saying that I would offend people.  When I took it down, my room mates told me to put it back up.  They got use to it, and liked the reminder of what Christ did and was a good thing to see before starting the day.  

  44. Nathaniel Wixom
    March 14, 2013 at 6:17 pm

    I really liked this. I have many of my friends that are LDS and I received a cross from one of my teammates. I love the symbolism for the cross even though us LDS members focus on TE redirection his death is still very important things to us. So like you I will continue to wear my cross around. I have many catholic friends and when they see my cross they ask questions about the LDS religion and I am open for answers so I am proud to carry around the cross around my neck

  45. Black Sheep
    April 4, 2013 at 2:58 pm

    I recently started wearing mine. I think of it like a wedding ring, it’s an outer representation of an inner commitment.

  46. Terry Lynn Madeleine Dillon
    February 21, 2014 at 9:31 pm

    Mormons cannot have baptism or any church ordinance performed on them while wearing the cross. Is this not related to the Egyptian Ankh?

  47. Adri
    August 17, 2014 at 10:19 pm

    The idea of a cross does not bother me. In all honesty I think a lot of Mormons feel it is a symble of his death. I feel that is a reminder that he died for us so we can be forgiven for our sins. As a Mormon I think our religion likes to focus more on his resurrection than his death, which I think is wonderful. I would be happy to wear a cross of a braclet or a necklace as a reminder that he died for our sins.

  48. BD
    June 27, 2017 at 11:44 pm

    Yes, I would wear one, (or get a very, very small tattoo, don’t think I could stand the pain 😣). I probably would not display one in my home, or on the church. To me it is a very personal reminder, that should be considered sacred. If it is “flaunted” for lack of a better would, it could be seen as common place, like the Mona Lisa used as art and advertising.

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