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Urloony

Is the Symbol of the Cross a Cultural or a Doctrinal Taboo?

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On 7/29/2020 at 11:35 PM, teddyaware said:

This made me chuckle... Become a Latter-Day Saint and worship in one of our temples and you’ll understand. I can say no more.

How arrogantly esoteric of you.

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1 hour ago, Bernard Gui said:

Perhaps we are looking for the Cross in the wrong places. Actually, it is explicit in our most sacred and intimate temple rites and prominent in our weekly sacramental hymnody. There is nothing to prevent someone from wearing a cross or displaying one in the home.

Yes, it's connection to the temple has been discussed.  I'm not sure what you're referencing with regard to the sacrament hymns.  Surely the cross is part of our theology, that's not the discussion.  If a member were to start wearing a cross to church regularly, it would not go unnoticed.  To be honest, I think it's even possible it might lead to eventual discussion with a church leader or the Bishop.  If my hypothetical situation is correct, what is it that prompts the questions about whether wearing a cross to church or even displaying one in your home is appropriate?  My contention is that it is primarily cultural bias beginning in the 50's with Pres. McKay and continuing into the 1970's with Pres. Hinkcley.  Some interpret their position of the cross as a doctrinal position.  Perhaps that is the case.  What do you think?

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20 minutes ago, Bernard Gui said:

I do not understand why not having crosses in our churches is a matter of any consequence.

One of the most universal symbols of Christianity is the cross.  I think that the cultural/doctrinal shift away from the cross as a symbol is based upon a limited interpretation of the symbol.  I think that that interpretation has formed a bias within our membership that has lead to limited understanding of the symbol, its history, and its array of different meanings.  I am not promoting the notion that the cross should be a symbol on display in our chapels, but rather discussing the reasons the shift away from the cross as a symbol occurred.  We are witnessing a similar cultural shift currently, as we move away from the Angel Moroni as a symbol of the church to the Christus.

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Posted (edited)
10 hours ago, Urloony said:

Yes, it's connection to the temple has been discussed.  I'm not sure what you're referencing with regard to the sacrament hymns.  Surely the cross is part of our theology, that's not the discussion.  If a member were to start wearing a cross to church regularly, it would not go unnoticed.  To be honest, I think it's even possible it might lead to eventual discussion with a church leader or the Bishop.  If my hypothetical situation is correct, what is it that prompts the questions about whether wearing a cross to church or even displaying one in your home is appropriate?  My contention is that it is primarily cultural bias beginning in the 50's with Pres. McKay and continuing into the 1970's with Pres. Hinkcley.  Some interpret their position of the cross as a doctrinal position.  Perhaps that is the case.  What do you think?

I think it is far more than just a connection with the temple. It’s the heart and soul of our most intimate and consequential covenant. What it represents is the very foundation of our exaltation and that is made explicit in the temple. It’s frequent presence in our hymns demonstrates our reverence and gratitude for it. We do not neglect it doctrinally.

I think other churches having crosses in their and on their buildings is fine. I think it’s absence in our architecture is inconsequential. I would not have a second thought if someone came to church wearing a cross or had one on a wall at home. That’s their business. If they thought it would cause a stir and their friends would murmur behind their backs, they could wear it close to their person like we do with our other sacred symbols...if it really is that important to them. If they just do it to make some sort of statement, I would wonder what would be the point. I’m opposed to tattoos including tattoos of crosses, but that is again up to the person. That also could be done discretely. I do not appreciate the gaudy bling crosses that some folks display. 
To me, not [Edit] wearing or displaying the cross is a “left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing, show me your faith by your works” kind of thing.

Edited by Bernard Gui
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22 minutes ago, Bernard Gui said:

And this aspect of his mission (death on the cross) was seen by Nephi in prophesy It was the way he would die....known 600 years before it happened.

 

That is the “gift and curse” of being a Prophet, knowing and seeing that which is wonderful, and awful. 

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Bernard Gui said:

I think it is far more than just a connection with the temple. It’s the heart and soul of our most intimate and consequential covenant. What it represents is the very foundation of our exaltation and that is made explicit in the temple. It’s frequent presence in our hymns demonstrates our reverence and gratitude for it. We do not neglect it doctrinally.

I will grant any amount of significance to the symbolic presence of the cross within the temple.  I concur completely as to its depth of meaning within the temple and the accompanying covenants.  This is beside the point. 

2 hours ago, Bernard Gui said:

To me, wearing or displaying the cross is a “left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing, show me your faith by your works” kind of thing.

Now we come to it.  I think this is the sentiment of some members within the church, that I think points in part, to the cultural influence on our church's non-use of the symbol of the cross (I'm speaking to the physical manifestation of the emblem common in mainstream Christianity, not its symbolic use in the temple or sacrament hymns).   The perceived hypocrisy of the wearer being of concern here. 

2 hours ago, Bernard Gui said:

If they thought it would cause a stir and their friends would murmur behind their backs, they could wear it close to their person like we do with our other sacred symbols...if it really is that important to them.

Again, this shows judgement, by attempting to deduce the purpose of one wearing a cross to perhaps gain attention for wearing something that is considered taboo.  This is still skirting the issue as to why one might have these feelings toward another member.  Is the reason it's not displayed because it's considered a sacred symbol?  The commentary on why we don't display the cross has not suggested that it is because it is a sacred symbol.  Rather, it has been suggested that because it represents Christ's suffering, which should not be the focus for Latter-Day Saints, as the reason it is not displayed.    

Edited by Urloony

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Posted (edited)
16 hours ago, Urloony said:

I will grant any amount of significance to the symbolic presence of the cross within the temple.  I concur completely as to its depth of meaning within the temple and the accompanying covenants.  This is beside the point. 
 

You asked what I thought. That’s what I think. To me it’s entirely the point. We can disagree.

Quote

Now we come to it.  I think this is the sentiment of some members within the church, that I think points in part, to the cultural influence on our churches non-use of the symbol of the cross (I'm speaking to the physical manifestation of the emblem common in mainstream Christianity, not its symbolic use in the temple or sacrament hymns).   The perceived hypocrisy of the wearer being of concern here. 

Again, this shows judgement, by attempting to deduce the purpose of one wearing a cross to perhaps gain attention for wearing something that is considered taboo.  This is still skirting to the issue as to why one might have these feelings toward another member.  Is the reason it's not displayed because it's considered a sacred symbol?  The commentary on why we don't display the cross has not suggested that it is because it is a sacred symbol.  Rather, it has been suggested that because it represents Christ's suffering, which should not be the focus for Latter-Day Saints, as the reason it is not displayed.    

I grew up in a community of Catholics, my dad was a Catholic before joining  the Church when I was 12, and I served a mission in Central America. Some of the religious wall art in homes was gruesome to my eyes, but it was sacred to the folks who had it. I respect that, but I would not put it on my wall.

I have many wonderful Protestant friends who wear crosses. I have performed in many non-LDS churches. Crosses galore. IMO, it’s a wonderful tradition. I respect the way other churches worship and configure their buildings. It’s their business, not mine. I have no reason to adopt their way. If our Church says to put crosses on all our buildings, by all means do it. I do not see how it would make any difference. If the YM and YW are given ward medallions with crosses, fine. For myself, bearing the emblems of my covenants the way I do is sufficient for my needs. 

I don't agree that shows judgment. I have no desire to figure out why someone wears a cross nor do I look for ways to judge them if they do. If a Latter-day Saint wants to wear a cross, please do. Knowing my feelings, if someone does it just to get a rise out of me, then that would be disrespectful to me and the Lord. For my taste, bling crosses are unnecessarily over the top. I’m sure wonderful people choose to wear them. I wouldn’t.

I have not seen any good reason why we should change. Why not start a new trend of tasteful depictions in art, architecture, and jewelry  of an empty tomb with a rock rolled away from the entrance. Many people have died on crosses. Only One came out from a tomb. That would better reflect my feelings.

To be honest, I do not understand why it is an issue. With or without a cross, I'm still a Christian, I still take covenants weekly to remember Christ and keep his commandments, I accept him as my Lord and Savior, I bear testimony of him, I still try to behave in the manner he has asked us to behave. I don't see how putting a cross on a steeple or around my neck would change any of that. I do not say these things to diminish the cross in any way. 

Edited by Bernard Gui
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On 7/30/2020 at 7:29 PM, Urloony said:

That's interesting.  Even as a convert, I never wore the cross on my person.  We would make crosses out of palm branches at Easter which is a typical tradition among many Protestant churches.   

From a historical LDS standpoint the cross was prominently worn by many 19th century saints.  The cross as a symbol of Christianity existed prior to the 4th century and is present as early as the 2nd century AD.  

Hi.

Just a minor point, but I have seen Catholics make those crosses out of palm leaves on Palm Sunday, a feat of geometrical know how and engineering beyond my capabilities.

I wasn't aware that it was a Protestant practice. Now I will make a point of telling my fellow Catholics that they should not do it any more because the Protestants do, 😉.

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On 8/1/2020 at 1:16 PM, Urloony said:

Yes, it's connection to the temple has been discussed.  I'm not sure what you're referencing with regard to the sacrament hymns.  Surely the cross is part of our theology, that's not the discussion.  If a member were to start wearing a cross to church regularly, it would not go unnoticed.  To be honest, I think it's even possible it might lead to eventual discussion with a church leader or the Bishop.  If my hypothetical situation is correct, what is it that prompts the questions about whether wearing a cross to church or even displaying one in your home is appropriate?  My contention is that it is primarily cultural bias beginning in the 50's with Pres. McKay and continuing into the 1970's with Pres. Hinkcley.  Some interpret their position of the cross as a doctrinal position.  Perhaps that is the case.  What do you think?

I know many members who wear a cross and it has never been a matter of discussion. It is not common because it is not part of our religious culture. Since there is nothing in our doctrine against displaying a cross, there is no reason why a Bishop would need to have any concern. 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Freedom said:

I know many members who wear a cross and it has never been a matter of discussion. It is not common because it is not part of our religious culture. Since there is nothing in our doctrine against displaying a cross, there is no reason why a Bishop would need to have any concern. 

Michael Reed used to frequent this board and he wrote an entire book tracing the change in acceptance of the cross in Mormon culture, as well as this blog post.  Yet another evidence of the Joseph Fielding Smith/McConkie theological family influence

http://www.withoutend.org/banishing-cross-emergence-mormon-taboo/

Quote

My recently published book, Banishing the Cross: The Emergence of a Mormon Taboo (John Whitmer Books, 2012) traces the development of LDS attitudes toward the symbol, and shows that the cross aversion in Mormon culture actually began as a means to disassociate the Church from Catholicism.  The book includes many 19th century photos of the cross being worn as jewelry, stitched it into quilts, framed and hung on walls, incorporated in funeral floral arrangements, etc.  Perhaps most interesting of all, I explore in detail the LDS Church’s 1916 Ensign Peak cross monument proposal—a proposal to the Salt Lake City Council that had stirred great controversy within and outside the Church

I am sure you can find the threads on this board if you search for them- it has been extensively written about on this board

Edited by mfbukowski
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That's at least one more change for President Nelson to make imo. :) 

Free the cross from banishment along with letting the world know we ARE THE Church of Jesus Christ!

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On 8/1/2020 at 10:01 AM, TheTanakas said:

The book is written from an LDS perspective about symbols used in our temple.

I realize that, I have the book myself. But I was asking for the reason you referenced it. 

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On 7/29/2020 at 10:03 PM, Urloony said:

The cross, like many symbols throughout Christianity, has a variety of interpretations.  For Catholics, Christ on the cross may symbolize his suffering and death.  For Protestants, the empty cross is a symbol of His resurrection and eternal life.  As modern Latter-Day Saints, the symbol of the cross is absent from all aspects of our worship.  Some members may have experienced that sense of uneasiness when a new investigator visits the ward whering a cross to church and the member begins to wonder when the missionaries will have that discussion with the potential new member.  President Hinckley once stated "But for us, the cross is the symbol of the dying Christ, while our message is a declaration of the living Christ."  However, historically crosses were worn by many members of the church including many of Brigham Young's wives and daughters.  The foot print of the Hawaiian and Cardston temples are crosses.  Is the symbol of the cross truly for us a symbol of death and suffering similar to Catholics or can it be a symbol of resurrection and eternal life as the Protestants?   

Sorry if this is a repeat but I don't want to read 4 pages to see if this was mentioned.

Banishing the Cross-The Emergence of a Mormon Taboo by Michael Reed is excellent.

Or for a much shorter version he has done many podcasts or you can check out his website.  http://www.withoutend.org/banishing-cross-emergence-mormon-taboo/

Personally, I believe the Church's firm rejection of the cross (David O McKay era) was due to a personal issue/preference which has turned into a cultural taboo which is often conflated with doctrine.

IMO- it's a self-inflicted wound for the church IF it wants to be a part of the broader body of Christ.

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Posted (edited)

i see any symbol someone wears as a symbol of something that person wearing it supports or approves of, so I see someone wearing a cross as someone who supports or approves of the cross.

I do not support or approve of a cross, especially not the cross our Savior was hanged on by people who wanted to kill him, so I don't wear a cross and I think wearing a cross is one of the most un-Christian things a person can do.

Edited by Ahab

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2 hours ago, HappyJackWagon said:

Sorry if this is a repeat but I don't want to read 4 pages to see if this was mentioned.

Banishing the Cross-The Emergence of a Mormon Taboo by Michael Reed is excellent.

Or for a much shorter version he has done many podcasts or you can check out his website.  http://www.withoutend.org/banishing-cross-emergence-mormon-taboo/

Personally, I believe the Church's firm rejection of the cross (David O McKay era) was due to a personal issue/preference which has turned into a cultural taboo which is often conflated with doctrine.

IMO- it's a self-inflicted wound for the church IF it wants to be a part of the broader body of Christ.

Wow, this is excellent.  This article encapsulates exactly what I've been suspecting.  I plan to pick up his book, as I'm curious to examine more of the historic details.  It's not surprising to read of the actions of the missionaries or the attitudes of some LDS members toward those of other faiths who recognize the cross as a symbol to be worn.  The many aspects of LDS "cultural theology" are not to be underestimated in their threat to our relationships with those of other faiths.

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8 minutes ago, Urloony said:

Wow, this is excellent.  This article encapsulates exactly what I've been suspecting.  I plan to pick up his book, as I'm curious to examine more of the historic details.  It's not surprising to read of the actions of the missionaries or the attitudes of some LDS members toward those of other faiths who recognize the cross as a symbol to be worn.  The many aspects of LDS "cultural theology" are not to be underestimated in their threat to our relationships with those of other faiths.

It depends on what the symbol is used to symbolize, I suppose.  Or what one thinks the symbol symbolizes.  The cross where Jesus was hung by people who wanted to kill him?  A symbol of his suffering and death?

I would much rather think of him living, and continuing to live.  Do you know of any symbol I could wear to symbolize his life, rather than his death?

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55 minutes ago, Ahab said:

It depends on what the symbol is used to symbolize, I suppose.  Or what one thinks the symbol symbolizes.  The cross where Jesus was hung by people who wanted to kill him?  A symbol of his suffering and death?

I would much rather think of him living, and continuing to live.  Do you know of any symbol I could wear to symbolize his life, rather than his death?

It's all in the way you choose to view it. Looking at the cross as a symbol of death is a choice. The empty cross can just as easily represent His resurrection and the gift of the atonement. It's totally up to us if we want to view it negatively or positively. Having said that, it has been treated negatively in the church for a long time so it can be hard to overcome that. But I've seen some changes in the past few years. I have a very TBM friend who wears the cross daily. I asked her about it last week and she told me that she had attended a Time Out For Women where the speaker discussed how meaningful it was to her personally. That seemed to give my friend permission to also wear it. That is a positive development IMO.

 

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3 hours ago, Ahab said:

i see any symbol someone wears as a symbol of something that person wearing it supports or approves of, so I see someone wearing a cross as someone who supports or approves of the cross.

I do not support or approve of a cross, especially not the cross our Savior was hanged on by people who wanted to kill him, so I don't wear a cross and I think wearing a cross is one of the most un-Christian things a person can do.

Wearing the cross is a fairly universal symbol people wear to say "I'm a Christian". Are you opposed to that message? ;) 

Back about 5 years ago when I first started paying attention to the issue of the cross I bought myself a cross lapel pin and wore it to church. The reaction I received from members was a mix of incredulity, anger, and embarrassment. I was shocked by the negativity of the response. In fact, I didn't have anyone say anything positive about it. Keep in mind, it was just a small lapel pin but people seemed to zero in on that pretty quick. It was as if they felt I was attacking them personally for not wearing a cross. I think many had been conditioned through lessons, leaders sharing opinions, sermons etc, to have a negative reaction and so they had a visceral reaction to me wearing it. I found that EXTREMELY sad and unfortunate.

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Just now, MiserereNobis said:

Really? Like in the top 5 of the most un-Christian things a person can do?

Let's make a list.

Murder, adultery, defrauding workers, wearing a cross, torturing prisoners

Is that about right?

Not to mention it used to be displayed in funerals etc.

I guess all of us are condemned then

☠️

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Posted (edited)
12 minutes ago, HappyJackWagon said:

Wearing the cross is a fairly universal symbol people wear to say "I'm a Christian". Are you opposed to that message? ;) 

Back about 5 years ago when I first started paying attention to the issue of the cross I bought myself a cross lapel pin and wore it to church. The reaction I received from members was a mix of incredulity, anger, and embarrassment. I was shocked by the negativity of the response. In fact, I didn't have anyone say anything positive about it. Keep in mind, it was just a small lapel pin but people seemed to zero in on that pretty quick. It was as if they felt I was attacking them personally for not wearing a cross. I think many had been conditioned through lessons, leaders sharing opinions, sermons etc, to have a negative reaction and so they had a visceral reaction to me wearing it. I found that EXTREMELY sad and unfortunate.

I think a lot of Christians just don't think much about what the cross actually symbolizes, which is actually a symbol of death or how some people are put to death.  Like a hangman's noose symbolizes that form of death or execution.

A fish is a much better symbol of a Christian to most other Christians, I think.  Something like this:  

image.png.ae68af58cd78b814b7e0721bfd1387bc.png

 

 

 

Edited by Ahab
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7 minutes ago, MiserereNobis said:

Really? Like in the top 5 of the most un-Christian things a person can do?

Let's make a list.

Murder, adultery, defrauding workers, wearing a cross, torturing prisoners

Is that about right?

I don't know how high on the list exactly but yes I do think a symbol that symbolizes a person's approval for Christ's death or how he was put to death ranks up there pretty high as a very un-Christian thing to express approval for.

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1 minute ago, Ahab said:

I think a lot of Christians just don't think much about what the cross actually symbolizes, which is actually a symbol of death or how some people are put to death.

Actually, I believe the truth is that you don't think much about what the cross symbolizes to Christians and Christianity, then foist off your ignorance onto us by telling us that we don't think about it. The symbol of the cross is absolutely pervasive in Catholicism and has been written about, thought about, preached about, and etched into our religious rites. Not so with you. We have spent much more time thinking about the cross than you have. If you want to learn what we think about it, try doing a little research instead of attributing your interpretation onto us.

I mean, that's what you ask non-LDS to do, right? To not tell you what you believe or what you think or how ignorant you are, but instead to research out what you actually think and believe? Grant us the common courtesy of doing the same.

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1 minute ago, Ahab said:

yes I do think a symbol that symbolizes a person's approval for Christ's death

On one hand: 🙄

On the other hand: I am beyond grateful that Christ offered Himself up for us, that He suffered and, yes, died for us. Without His death, we would all be lost.

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Posted (edited)
8 minutes ago, MiserereNobis said:

On one hand: 🙄

On the other hand: I am beyond grateful that Christ offered Himself up for us, that He suffered and, yes, died for us. Without His death, we would all be lost.

It is his life that saved and saves us.  He died/was killed/murdered by being hung on a cross by people who wanted to kill him.  And if I had been there in the town square of Jerusalem, on that day, I would not have assented to his death.

Edited by Ahab

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