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Why shouldn't we wear a cross as a sign of being a Christian?
Is there a Biblically sound reason not to?
Having a desire to let our light shine and to share our faith are positive goals! In order to answer this specific question, though, we must also consider the background of the cross, the New Testament record and Jesus' teaching about how to display our Christianity.
One of the first questions we might ask is, Who decided that the cross
was to be the sign of Christianity? This tradition of wearing a cross does
not come from the Bible or the practices of the New Testament Church. Though
there are at least seven different types of crosses, we are not even certain
that Jesus was crucified on a cross-like apparatus. Though crucifixion on a
cross was common at the time, the Bible allows that Jesus may have been put
to death on an upright pole (rendered "tree" in 1
his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead
to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.
A study of history shows that the cross symbol predates Christianity. According to author Ralph Woodrow, "Centuries before the Christian era, the cross was honored as a religious symbol by the people of Babylon. It is seen on their oldest monuments. Historians say that it was a symbol associated with Tammuz" ( Babylonian Mystery Religion , p. 51). From Babylon, the cross spread to other nations and was associated with paganism long before Jesus' crucifixion in A.D. 31.
Woodrow further explains, "It was not until Christianity began to be paganized that the cross came to be thought of as a Christian symbol. It was in 431 A.D. that crosses in churches and chambers were introduced, while the use of crosses on steeples did not come until about 586 A.D." (p. 50).
While most people today connect the cross with Christianity rather than
paganism, we must also ask if the cross is something to be worshipped or
honored. While the apostles preached "the cross [stauros]" as part
of the history of Christ's ministry for our sakes (1
 For Christ sent
me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest
the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.
Finally, consider what the Bible teaches about wearing any religious
symbol. Under the Old Covenant that God made with ancient Israel, God
instructed them to wear reminders of their faith upon their hands (Deuteronomy
thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as
frontlets between thine eyes.
During His New Testament ministry, Jesus taught His followers to display
their spirituality through their actions and deeds (Matthew
your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and
glorify your Father which is in heaven.
If you would like to learn more about the history of the cross and how this pagan symbol entered Christianity, read chapters 6 and 7 of Ralph Woodrow's book, Babylon Mystery Religion . These two chapters are respectively titled "Is the Cross a Christian Symbol?" and "Constantine and the Cross."
©2004 United Church of God, an International Association