I have a friend who is a member of another religion and who asked me why we don’t wear crosses or have crosses on our buildings. Why don’t we?
We do not use the cross as a symbol on our chapels, temples, or on our scriptures or in jewelry.
President Gordon B. Hinckley explained the reason in a talk delivered in general conference. He told about talking to a Protestant minister following a temple open house. The minister had asked why there were no crosses anywhere if we say we believe in Jesus Christ. President Hinckley answered, “‘I do not wish to give offense to any of my Christian brethren who use the cross on the steeples of their cathedrals and at the altars of their chapels, who wear it on their vestments, and imprint it on their books and other literature. But for us, the cross is the symbol of the dying Christ, while our message is a declaration of the living Christ.’
“He then asked, ‘If you do not use the cross, what is the symbol of your religion?’
“I replied that the lives of our people must become the only meaningful expression of our faith and, in fact, therefore, the symbol of our worship” (“The Symbol of Christ,” New Era, Apr. 1990, p. 4).
President Hinckley further explained, “On Calvary he was the dying Jesus. From the tomb he emerged the living Christ. … Because our Savior lives, we do not use the symbol of his death as the symbol of our faith. But what shall we use? No sign, no work of art, no representation of form is adequate to express the glory and the wonder of the Living Christ. He told us what that symbol should be when he said, ‘If ye love me, keep my commandments’ (John 14:15)” (pp. 6, 7).
Even though we do not believe in using the cross as a symbol in our Church, we do not criticize others for wearing or using the cross in their religions. We should understand that the cross is significant and sacred to them. In fact, the 11th article of faith says, “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.”
We focus on the great atonement of our Savior, his sacrifice for us that makes eternal life possible. We think of his life and sacrifice every Sunday during the sacrament. Our testimonies become the precious things that we bear, along with our obedience, to show we are true followers of Christ.
Even though crosses help us to think of Jesus Christ, they tend to remind us of his death. The Savior is alive and here to help us and guides his church as a resurrected person. We love Jesus Christ as much as other Christians do, but we must remember that he died so we could live again. John 11:25 says, “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.”
N. Stewart Randall, 20 St. Lambert, Quebec, Canada
The cross is a symbol of death. We like to remember the living Christ. If you read in the Bible, Christ wasn’t the only one who was killed on a cross. That was a common punishment during those times. It was what happened after his crucifixion that was the most important. He overcame death and was resurrected.
Alicia Manwill, 17 West Jordan, Utah
Even though the scriptures say we should carry our cross, to me this doesn’t mean we should use symbolic crosses on our buildings or wear crosses. It means to bring to mind the whole doctrine of the atonement, reconciliation, and redemption and to deny ourselves all ungodliness and every worldly lust and keep the commandments.
Julius Francis Musa’, 19 Freetown, Sierra Leone
As Latter-day Saints, we reflect upon the atonement he made as we partake of the sacrament each Sunday, but we think of him as he is now—the living Christ.
Camille Nugent, 16 St. Catherine, Jamaica
Our church believes that Christ’s crucifixion was an important part of the atonement, but we believe that a more important part was when he suffered for our sins in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Cameron A. Bohn Oxford, Indiana
We had an investigator ask us where all of the crosses were. I told him, people usually wear the cross or have one where they can see it regularly to remind them of the Savior and all he has done for us. But we try to use our thoughts, words, and deeds to remind us of the Savior and try to be like him in all that we do. In the words of the scriptures, “Have ye received his image in your countenances?” (Alma 5:14). This is how we should remind ourselves of Christ, by keeping his commandments.
Elder Kyle Bruce Benson Oklahoma Tulsa Mission
We believe in worshiping the living Savior and his entire atonement, not just one piece of it. During the sacrament, try to remember what he did for you, not only on the cross but also in the Garden of Gethsemane and his resurrection from the tomb.
Mario Pinoli, 16 Fort Bragg, California