Thursday, May 9, 2013

Should Church of God Members Wear Crosses?

From time to time, the question of wearing crosses comes up with some members in the Church of God. Should members of God's Church permit themselves to wear crosses?

We know we are not to use images of God in our worship to help us visualize what God might look like, as an "aid" to worship (Exodus 20:4-6). But one might argue, a cross does not have to have an image of Christ on it. It can just be a decorative cross, intended to look beautiful and decorative, but not intended to be an object of worship or an aid to worship.

Yet, a cross is a symbol. It represents something. Before you consider wearing a cross, you have to understand what it represents and why it represents it.

Consider the swastika, which was adopted by Adolf Hitler as a symbol of the Nazi party. Would you wear a swastika as a decoration? Probably not. Why? Even if you thought it is decorative, you would not likely display or wear it because you do not agree with what it represents. The Nazi swastika represents Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party that ruled Germany from 1933 to 1945 and brought horrific death, destruction, and misery to millions during World War II.

The swastika represents the Nazi party and all that it stands for. Why? How did it come to represent Nazism?

Adolf Hitler, as leader of the Nazi party, chose the swastika as a symbol of the Nazi party in its early years and kept it as a symbol as long as the Nazi party existed through all of World War II.

He used it as a symbol and displayed it everywhere until everyone in Germany, and in much of the world, recognized it as a symbol of the Nazi party.

In other words, it came to represent the Nazi party and Nazi thinking and way of life through common usage. Because the Nazis used it extensively, it came to represent them as a symbol, until everyone in Germany, whether in agreement with the Nazis or not, associated the swastika with the Nazis. When people saw the swastika, they thought, Nazi. It became an automatic association.

Likewise, through common usage, the cross has come to symbolize something, to represent something in the minds of people who see it. What does it represent? The cross represents traditional, mainstream Christianity, and all of its teachings. Not the Christianity of the Bible and the first century Church of God. But the Christianity of the Roman Catholic Church, the Greek Orthodox Church, and most Protestant churches.

It represents a religion, or collection of religions, that teach that God is a trinity, that man has an immortal soul, that those who live and die without being saved in this age will be tormented forever in hellfire, that Sunday is the day Christians should rest and assemble for worship, and many other errors.

You might think of a cross as decorative only. But others see it as a symbol. By wearing or displaying it, you declare your agreement with what it represents to most people who see it. If you wear it, you are voicing your agreement with what it represents: the traditional beliefs of the mainstream churches of this world.

Is that what you want?

If the cross had never been used as a symbol of the beliefs of the churches of this world, you might use it decoratively, just as you might use many geometric forms that do not symbolize or represent anything.

But that is not the case. The cross is a symbol just as the Nazi swastika is a symbol. Those images represent the beliefs and ways of life of those groups that have adopted those geometric forms to represent them and their beliefs.

We in the Church of God understand God's truth which He has given us, and we should not wear symbols of the beliefs, traditions, and practices that we know are false.

That is one reason (not necessarily the only reason) why we in the Church of God should not wear or display crosses.


Anonymous said...

The cross has from the beginning had so much evil associated with it that the fact that a person would even consider wearing one demonstrates willful ignorance.

In Israel and the Arab countries that symbol is so hated because of the atrocities committed by their bearers that even the plus sign is not a part of their math.

The ku klux klan, neo nazis, and the Mexican mafia all have the cross as a prominent symbol.

The cross is the mark of pain and suffering caused by evil doers, not a sign of Christianity. said...

Good points. Thank you. This is why I was careful to say that my reason why one should not wear a cross is not the only reasons.

Also, it does seem a little strange or inconsistant that traditional churches would choose as their symbol a representation of an instrument of torture and death that was used against the One they claim they love. It is as if they are celebrating Christ's suffering by celebrating the instrument of that suffering.

It would be as if someone used an image of Oswald's rifle as a symbol of John F. Kennedy's presidency. I don't think the Kennedys would appreciate that.

Anonymous said...

Author, you wrote: "...Also, it does seem a little strange or inconsistant that traditional churches would choose as their symbol a representation of an instrument of torture and death that was used against the One they claim they love. It is as if they are celebrating Christ's suffering by celebrating the instrument of that suffering..."

Those are very interesting comments and are very much in alignment with a sermon, titled "The Sign of Satan," which I heard back in 1998, over 14 years ago.

God has some sign(s)to identify his people, and since Satan is currently this world's god, why wouldn't he also have a sign as just another counterfeit of something of God? It is as though Satan, who was made without fear (Job 41:34), has the opportunity to mock God and that thing does just that:

"Upon earth there is not his like, who is made without fear."

You mentioned the cross as a "...symbol a representation of an instrument of torture and death..."

Yes, and one may just go visit the cemeteries and what does one see? Lots of crosses evident! The cross is on "building," perhaps representing his "houses of worship," although most can't "see" it at this time.

Hebrews 2:14 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;

And for any who may think God had anything to do with them horrible tornados, there is this:

15 And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

And yes, death is associated with tornados as well. God has no reason to use them on those to one day become His children. He knows they don't even have His Spirit; they can't obey Him at this time. They will later in accordance with His plan.

Anyway, those are just a few thoughts associating Satan, god of this present evil world, and death. Human beings are slain for one reason or another.

Also, God is life. Death entered into the picture for human beings only after Satan was introduced into the Garden of Eden and Satan was allowed to infest/infect the minds of both Adam and Eve.