Is it wrong to wear a cross?

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Question: Is wearing a cross wrong and idolatry? Where did we get this symbol of Jesus' crucifixion?

Answer: The Greek word stauros, Strong's Concordance Number #4716, is often translated as the word cross in Bibles such as the KJV. When we think about the word, it usually conjures up an image of a "T" or "t" shaped object.

The real definition of the word, however, reveals a different shape than what many think. Strong's defines stauros not as an instrument of punishment shaped like a cross but one that looks like a stake or pole. Thayer's Greek Lexicon also defines the word as an upright stake.

The instrument of torture on which Jesus died was not shaped like a cross as many people believe. It was simply a stake on which the victim was hung by nailing both of their hands over their head.

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People killed on a stake also had their feet impaled so that they not only suffered more pain but also were unable to move. This caused suffocation if the victim did not die from other afflictions.

Amazingly, the representation of the crucifixion through a cross originated well before Jesus was born!

Various pagan cross symbols
Different cross symbols used by pagans

In certain cultures, what we call a cross was referred to as a Tau and represented a female. Because of this symbolism, it was used by several pagan religions to represent their female goddesses such as Venus or Astarte.

Christianity was first introduced to the cross symbol through Constantine the Great in 313 A. D. The famous reference work "The Two Babylons" states that Catholics believed the symbol was some great charm and that they adored it as much as God himself!

"The cross is looked upon as the grand charm, as the great refuge in every season of danger, in every hour of temptation as the infallible preservative from all the powers of darkness" (Two Babylons by Alexander Hislop, Chapter V, Section VI).

The Tau or cross of paganism has nothing to do with Jesus or Christianity. We are cautioned in the Ten Commandments to not make idols, which are things that we create in order to worship them like a god or "help" us worship the true God. Such representations dilute, or otherwise pollute, worship that rightfully belongs to the Eternal (Exodus 20:4).

In conclusion, a person who uses the Tau to represent Jesus or God, even those who wear one as a cross, would be coming dangerously close to idolatry. Although it may remind some people of the Lord taking away our sins, it is the wrong instrument that caused His death. It would be more appropriate to hate the cross, which is a symbol of the torture the Romans put our Savior through, than venerating it.

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