One-Minute Answers by Stephen R. Gibson

Contents of One-Minute Answers

Why Don't the Saints Wear Crosses?

Question: If Latter-day Saints are Christians, why don't they have crosses on their churches or wear them as jewelry?
Latter-day Saints are among several Christian groups who do not have the cross as part of their regular service or on their buildings. This doesn't mean that their theology is not Christ-centered—it just isn't cross-centered. Latter-day Saints remember the blood shed for us on Calvary each Sunday as we partake of the Sacrament.

To us, the message of Christ far exceeds the idea that he was tortured and died in one of the most brutal, painful ways known to man—by hanging on a cross for hours. Our central message is that after Christ died on the cross, he was physically resurrected and overcame death, and that he lives today with a resurrected body of flesh and bones. Through his resurrection all mankind will be resurrected.

The cross, as a piece of jewelry has been heavily commercialized. In the Christian merchandising industry it's frequently referred to as "holy hardware." Wearing a cross is simply a custom that has never appealed to Latter-day Saints, who tend towards simplicity in dress and a lack of ostentation. To us the cross is merely the vehicle upon which our Lord and Savior died. If he had been hung, stoned, or stabbed, would his true followers venerate a noose, rock, or knife? We think not.

There is no scriptural evidence that the twelve Apostles or Christ put any emphasis on wearing the cross. Surely, we can't for a minute think that they weren't Christians, can we? Consider Mary, the mother of the son of God, or Mary Magdalene, both of whom witnessed the agony of the one they loved as he died on the cross. They were Christians, yet to them and other Christians and Jews, the cross was a highly distasteful symbol of the crucifixions that took literally thousands of lives. Does any thinking Christian suppose for a moment that Mary would wish to adorn herself with a cross? Yet surely she shouldn't be excluded from the ranks of Christians. When Christ comes again, will he be wearing a cross? We would think not. Would Our Father in Heaven likely have a special place in his heart for the cross, the instrument of torture for his Only Begotten son?

The cross is not the mediator between God and man. Christ Jesus is the mediator, our advocate with the Father. Some well-meaning Christians have illustrations that show the gap between man's sinful ways and God bridged by the cross. The symbolism would be more accurate if Christ himself were shown bridging the gap, not the weapon that took his life.

We also do not emphasize the cross in our worship because we teach that a large part of the Atonement of Christ occurred prior to Calvary. When in the Garden of Gethsemane, Our Savior bled from every pore as he bore the weight of the sins, grief and pain of all mankind (see Luke 22:44 and D & C 19:18).

A related accusation is that Latter-day Saints worship the Angel Moroni, since his likeness is found on temples and elsewhere. Logic breaks down in that argument, since those making those statements would not say they worship the cross, even though it is used the same way—as a symbol. The statue of Angel Moroni is "heralding" the everlasting gospel to every nation, tongue, and people (Rev. 14:6). Moroni was a man, then an angel, neither of which should be worshiped.

Organizations often seek symbols or logos which differentiate them from similar organizations. Latter-day Saint architecture has long utilized a single spire as a distinctive symbol on its chapels, which are clearly recognizable because of their design. To some Latter-day Saints, this spire represents the glory of Christ's rising from the dead and the hope it brings to all mankind. It also represents man's upward reach toward God. This is a fitting contrast to many other demoninational buildings with crosses, which focus on what Latter-day Saints regard as the sorrow and grief of our Saviour's death.