15 March 2009

Why I Wear A Cross, and Why It's NOT Your Business

But since I posted about it on Facebook and it became a HUGE controversy, I'm going to explain it to you.

To answer
JB's question: I wear my cross everyday. Except when I get a hankering to wear a pretty (girly) necklace. Which last night I did. I was wearing mostly black/gray and thought a red necklace would make the outfit look good. I took my cross off; it felt weird. That's that. This "everyday" clause includes Temple attendance. I know, I've just blown your minds. The Temple workers have never commented about it being inappropriate/wrong/or even asked for a reason. They simply don't notice/don't mind.

I want to address a link that was posted during the Great Cross Debate of ’09. The only thing it says is that the lives of the people are the symbol of our faith, not a cross, or anything else. Furthermore, nothing has ever been said banning the members of our faith from wearing a cross, or hanging one in our houses. They have only ever said, “it is not the symbol of our faith.” I quite agree. It is not the symbol of our faith, and it is not as a symbol of my faith that I wear it.

Some background on me:

I am the daughter of a convert. My father was raised as a Catholic. I have attended mass, numerous times. I stand with the others, and I recite the Lord’s Prayer, and answer the calls of the Priest in unison with the other parishioners. I do this proudly. I do this with love and respect for those I am worshiping with. I do not take part in the Communion. I am not a member of their faith and that would be disrespectful and inappropriate. I find nothing wrong with participating in the rituals when there. I just abstain from those rituals that are reserved for baptized members of the faith.

I have participated in Passover, I observe Lent, I celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, and many other non-LDS holidays. I find nothing wrong in this. There is nothing wrong in this. I am currently reading a book, purchased at Deseret Book, on the Tribe of Ephraim. I am a descendant of this tribe, and felt a desire to know more about my birthright. This is what I’ve learned about the blood line, it is a blood that:

· Seeks change, advancement, and progress.

· Loves liberty and is willing to sacrifice for freedom.

· Has been shed around the world to encourage liberty.

· Looks to the good and strives to make the world a better place.

· Works to bring light and knowledge to people who sit in darkness.

· Cares for the individual souls of men and women.

· Preserves the good of the past.

· Looks forward to what must be completed to insure the future.

· Cares what it will pass on to its posterity.

This is my heritage. Somewhere in this book it also mentions that those of the Tribe of Ephraim seek for truth in all forms. I seek truth in all forms.

I also want to take this time to note something from my Patriarchal Blessing. I do feel this is the right time, and forum for this to be said. It reads,

“I bless you that you may feel the spirit of Elijah come into your heart; that you may feel your heart turn to the fathers…and that you may seek to bless…the fathers…through the activities of your life.”
My fathers were Catholics. I honor them through wearing the cross. As my grandmother forgets her life, I honor it with the cross. I respect, love, and admire the faith that brought my family members together and gives them the courage, hope, and strength they need to sustain them through the times they currently face. Most of you do not know the struggles of my family, and it’s not your business. But their Catholic faith gets them through. I honor that.

Now, I want to finish addressing the Church’s actual stance on the cross. I will quote solely from President Gordon B. Hinckley’s talk, "The Symbol of Our Faith". He clarifies his comment that our lives should be the symbol of our faith which he explained to a minister. He says,

“I hope he did not feel that I was smug or self-righteous in my response. Our position at first glance may seem a contradiction of our profession that Jesus Christ is the key figure of our faith. The official name of the Church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We worship Him as Lord and Savior. The Bible is our scripture. We believe that the prophets of the Old Testament who foretold the coming of the Messiah spoke under divine inspiration. We glory in the accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John setting forth the events of the birth, ministry, death, and Resurrection of the Son of God, the Only Begotten of the Father in the flesh. Like Paul of old, we are “not ashamed of the gospel of [Jesus] Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation” (Rom. 1:16). And like Peter, we affirm that Jesus Christ is the only name “given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).”
None of this is something I find fault with, or do not agree with. I whole-heartedly believe in the Church and our beliefs. He then says,
“In light of such declarations, in view of such testimony, well might many ask, as my minister friend in Arizona asked, if you profess a belief in Jesus Christ, why do you not use the symbol of His death, the cross of Calvary?
To which I must first reply that no member of this Church must ever forget the terrible price paid by our Redeemer, who gave His life that all men might live—the agony of Gethsemane, the bitter mockery of His trial, the vicious crown of thorns tearing at His flesh, the blood cry of the mob before Pilate, the lonely burden of His heavy walk along the way to Calvary, the terrifying pain as great nails pierced His hands and feet, the fevered torture of His body as He hung that tragic day, the Son of God crying out, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).”

He explains about the cross itself,

“This was the cross, the instrument of His torture, the terrible device designed to destroy the Man of Peace, the evil recompense for His miraculous work of healing the sick, of causing the blind to see, of raising the dead. This was the cross on which He hung and died on Golgotha’s lonely summit.
We cannot forget that. We must never forget it, for here our Savior, our Redeemer, the Son of God, gave Himself, a vicarious sacrifice for each of us."

The cross represents the death of Christ and the sorrow experienced by those close to Him. President Hinckley says,

“On Calvary He was the dying Jesus. From the tomb He emerged the Living Christ. The cross had been the bitter fruit of Judas’s betrayal, the summary of Peter’s denial. The empty tomb now became the testimony of His divinity, the assurance of eternal life, the answer to Job’s unanswered question: “If a man die, shall he live again?” (Job 14:14).
Having died, He might have been forgotten, or, at best, remembered as one of many great teachers whose lives are epitomized in a few lines in the books of history.
Now, having been resurrected, He became the Master of life. Now, with Isaiah, His disciples could sing with certain faith, “His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9:6).
Fulfilled were the expectant words of Job: “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:
"And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:
“Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me” (Job 19:25–27).
Well did Mary cry, “Rabboni; which is to say, Master” (John 20:16) when first she saw the risen Lord, for Master now He was in very deed, Master not only of life, but of death itself. Gone was the sting of death, broken the victory of the grave.
The fearful Peter was transformed. Even the doubtful Thomas declared in soberness and reverence and realism, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28). “Be not faithless, but believing” (John 20:27) were the unforgettable words of the Lord on that marvelous occasion.

And finally, President Hinckley’s take once more on our lives as a symbol of our faith,

“And so, 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).
As His followers, we cannot do a mean or shoddy or ungracious thing without tarnishing His image. Nor can we do a good and gracious and generous act without burnishing more brightly the symbol of Him whose name we have taken upon ourselves. And so our lives must become a meaningful expression, the symbol of our declaration of our testimony of the Living Christ, the Eternal Son of the Living God.
It is that simple, my brethren and sisters, and that profound and we’d better never forget it.

I don’t mean to offend anyone that posted on my thread. But I take great offense at people that write this off as "weird" or say I am "breaking a commandment" or try to say that I am somehow deviant from the Church. I am none of these. I just meant to clarify where I’m coming from. I wear it to remind me of my heritage. I wear it to keep me close to my family. I wear it because it’s a beautiful symbol of faith in Christ. I wear it for me. It is no different than wearing a CTR ring. End of story.

Back to the argument: Thanks to my aunt Kristie, my cousin Joseph, and my friend JB who all defended me and my right to wear my cross. To those that spoke against it, I hope this post has allowed you to have a better understanding of me. If not, then I hope that someday you will have the requisite open mind and an open heart that is needed to understand things that are different from you. My life is one that seeks truth in all its forms. I will be posting a Mezuzah on my door frame, I will have a Menorah, I will have a Buddha, I will have things from all faiths of the world in my home. My children will understand that there is Truth everywhere and we do NOT judge those that do not have our faith as lacking all Truth. Truth is everywhere, Truth is found in everything. My prayer is that one day, you will all realize that too.


Dustin & Erin said...

First, I'm sorry that you felt the need to explain something that is your business and your business alone. Second, I also have a cross... not a necklace, but a wall-hanging cross. And, until fairly recently (within the past few years) it always hung on my wall. I myself am a convert from the Catholic religion, and I now own the cross that laid on my brother's casket after he died. So, yep. I will hang it. And I'm okay with that. And its nobody else's business. And, if anyone ever makes a face or a comment about it, I calmly explain to them how I like to hang it upside down on Christmas and Easter. That usually shuts them right up. :)

The Dancing Newt said...

Ah Noel, I didn't know you were from Catholic stock too... or maybe I did and had just forgotten. I feel a special kinship with you. At my grandmother's funeral a couple weeks ago, my parents went up and received the host, even though they hadn't done so for twenty years. That simple gesture elicited a surprisingly powerful response within me, bringing burning tears to my eyes, making me feel deeply rooted and connected to my family and forefathers in a way like never before. Can't really describe it.

I like your attitude towards truth to be found all around us, where "the world" is not something to be feared or guarded against but something to embrace with open arms.

<3 <3 <3

Amy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Amy said...

Thanks Noel. I think people forget that the cross isn't wrong as a symbol to wear or keep in our homes. It may not be the symbol of our faith, but the little CTR ring shield certainly isn't either. A wedding ring isn't a symbol of the LDS faith, yet I wear it for many of the same reasons you wear your cross - though it's a worldly tradition!

My parents were married in a Catholic ceremony, and they christened my brother and me. My daughters will be blessed in my christening dress because it is meaningful to me that my parents wanted to start my life with some kind of worship.

We honor our parents by connecting to their past the way they do. It's a way to respect their lives and the path from where they were to where they are. I think it says a lot about you that you're willing to face people's ignorant comments because your respect for what got you where you are is more powerful for any shame others might make you feel.

(Reposted b/c of grammatical error.)

NAlton said...

Erin-Yes, I remember from when you lived with Cynthia. :) I believe that it is your right to have it up. Keep it up.

Katie-I have witnessed/felt similar things. Going to Mass with my grandparents is something I treasure. Seeing their faith and the happiness and light it brings to them always makes me feel as you felt.

Amy-I think you're hilarious...deleting a post for a typo. I wouldn't have judged. ;) Clearly. Can I be there for the blessings? What a great thing for your children and for you.

Catholicism is a big part of all of us. Even those that claim pioneer ancestry need to stop and take a look at where they actually came from. No one's past started *truly* with Mormon stock.

Thanks for your comments.

Sarah said...

Hey Noel, Honestly, I feel horrible that you had to explain yourself. However, I think that it was a beautiful blog post, and that many people could benefit from reading it. I like finding open-minded people in a world of prejudice.

Jon W. said...

I thought I would interject my viewpoint on this topic.

First a little back story on me. I was born and raised Baptist, and currently attend a non-denominational church called "The Pursuit" in Boise, ID. I was married to an LDS lady for the better part of 10 years before she decided she didn't want to be a part of the relationship anymore. I believe this gives me insight into the LDS beliefs that not a lot of non-Mormons have. Obviously I have my own opinions on what Mormons believe; however, I plan to stay close to the subject matter that was brought up since that is the only thing being discussed.

As for Noel’s decision to wear a cross, it’s her decision and hers alone. I’m sure if it was in violation of anything the LDS church taught, she wouldn’t, but as most have pointed out, and I will affirm from what I know, there is nothing that states it isn’t allowed. Noel isn’t somebody that takes her beliefs or the direction of her church leadership lightly. We’ve had many discussions about our respective beliefs and I’ve found her to have nothing but the utmost respect for the tenets of her faith and the people that lead and guide her church.

I also have a different view concerning the opinion that the cross is a symbol of suffering and death and therefore should not be something to dwell on. To me, there are 3 points of view, two of them, the LDS and Catholic, have been covered here already. I’ve never been a fan of the Catholic crucifix, for the simple reason that it still shows Jesus on the cross, suffering, bleeding, and half dead. While this was THE pivotal moment in Christian history, I would rather remember that He is not in that state anymore.
When I look at a “protestant” cross with no Jesus hanging on it, it is a reminder to me that though Jesus did suffer and die on that cross, He isn’t there anymore. He’s not subject to an imperfect body that can be tortured and killed anymore. I like to remember that the cross is empty. I like to remember that Jesus beat death that day on the cross. It wasn’t done until He died, and He died on the cross. Therefore, for me, and many of my non-Mormon, non-catholic Christian friends, the cross isn’t a symbol of torture and death; it is a symbol of ultimate victory.

Now this isn’t to say that we elevate the symbol of the cross above the deity of God. Far from it actually. Just because this is a symbol that is known worldwide for being associated with the Christian church as a whole, it is just that, a symbol. To elevate it beyond such would be akin to building a golden calf. We don’t worship the cross; we use it as a symbol for the reasons outlined in the previous paragraph, and by doing so, make ourselves identifiable throughout the world.

The interesting thing to me is that the LDS have something that I would consider to be similar to the cross in its association. I had to verify this with Noel, but I was fairly certain that there was a statue of the angle Moroni on every LDS temple. She confirmed this, with the exception of the temples that have to meet certain building codes. Now if the argument is that the cross is a symbol of non-LDS Christianity, I could certainly press the issue that the statue is the symbol of the LDS religion. However, that would be just as incorrect as the assumption about the cross. The statue of Moroni adorns your temples for the same reasons the cross adorns my church buildings, etc. It’s not to glorify that particular symbol, but rather to serve as a reminder when it is seen of an important occurrence in whatever belief system you hold to.

While I could go on and on about things like this, just ask Noel, I will end on this note. There are many issues in every religion that can be debated fiercely but should not divide people who hold to the same beliefs. The example of Noels cross is a good one. While some LDS people think that you should not wear one, some think it’s perfectly fine. Their reasons are their own and as long as their decision doesn’t violate any of the church’s standing tenets, it shouldn’t be a big deal.

Cynthia said...

You rock...you are my favorite sister. I to wear my cross everyday, I do not take it off unless to wear a different necklace. While pregnant last year, I could not wear my CTR ring and added it to the chain that holds my cross - fortunately I never got anything but positive comments. I wear the cross for one grandmother and the CTR ring for the other. No one ever needs to question my sister for her decision and I stand by her as does my family. And I would like to thank Jon for his comments - they were spot on. Thank you all for being such good friends to my sister and supporting her. I am done rambling now.

Sara said...

Wow. :) Aren't we Mormons such a great non-judgmental group? ;)

I'm fine with anyone who doesn't feel comfortable wearing a cross. No problem. I understand.

I also respect and value Noel's choosing to wear one. I love that it is honoring her family and where she came from.

When we were roommates, I of course questioned why she wore one - just out of curiosity - but once she explained, I understood and even agree with her choice.

The quote that is used to show that we shouldn't wear crosses never says we shouldn't. It simply explains WHY you won't see crosses everywhere in the LDS faith. That's a question that anyone from a different religion would logically ask upon visiting our church.

Everyone should respect what others believe. Noel, if you were doing something blatantly bad that would jeopardize your eternal happiness, I would let you know. :D Lovingly, of course. This is NOT one of those things, at all.

Noel actually has an amazing maturity and understanding of the gospel, and this post proves that. I wish we all could understand that All churches have some truth. We just have been extremely blessed to have found the whole truth.

It is one of the saddest things in the world when members of the LDS church become prideful of what we have. It is not at all how disciples of Christ should act.

I should stop. :) I could keep going for a long time, but I won't.