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. It was highly likely a stake where victims were hung on it by nailing their hands over their head.
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.
The use of a cross to perform a crucifixion originated well before Jesus was born!
In certain cultures, what we call a cross was referred to as a Tau that symbolized females. 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 this 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 like it was God!
"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 of paganism has nothing to do with Jesus or Christianity. We are warned in the Ten Commandments against idolatry, which is creating things in order to worship them or using them as an "aid" in worshipping 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 dying for our sins, it was not the device that hastened his death. It would be more appropriate to hate the symbol, which represents the torture the Romans put our Savior through, than venerating it.