The cross is used in many Christian churches as a symbol of the Savior's death and Resurrection and as a sincere expression of faith. As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we also remember with reverence the suffering of the Savior. But because the Savior lives, we do not use the symbol of His death as the symbol of our faith.
Our lives must be the expression of our faith. When we are baptized and confirmed, we covenant to take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ. The way we live our lives should demonstrate our love for the Savior and His work.
The only members of the Church who wear the symbol of the cross are Latter-day Saint chaplains, who wear it on their military uniforms to show that they are Christian chaplains.
In the article “The Symbol of Our Faith,” (Ensign, Apr 2005) Gordon B. Hinckley spoke of a conversation he had with a Protestant minister. Through the course of this conversation he said…
“I do not wish to give offense to any of my Christian colleagues who use the cross on the steeples of their cathedrals and at the altars of their chapels, who wear it on their vestments, and imprint it on their books and other literature. But for us, the cross is the symbol of the dying Christ, while our message is a declaration of the Living Christ.”
He then asked: “If you do not use the cross, what is the symbol of your religion?”
I replied that the lives of our people must become the most meaningful expression of our faith and, in fact, therefore, the symbol of our worship.
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.”
So, Mormons believe that the cross is a symbol of Christ’s death and they believe that the focus should be on the resurrection. What is interesting is that Hinckley apparently was not well versed on his own website or their view on the topic has been changed since the official statement claims that Christian churches look at the cross as a symbol of both the death and resurrection which appears to take away his justification for not using it. Hinckley and other LDS members seem to have defined the cross for those who actually use it as an emblem of their faith instead of letting them define for themselves what it represents.
For Mormons to say that it is only a symbol of the “dying Christ” is a pretty short sighted and shallow way of looking at it. In my time studying about Christianity, I have learned that Christians think so much more of it then just the Savior’s death. To them it is about His sacrifice for our sins which was completed on the cross when Jesus said “It is finished.” It is about the victory over Satan and the ability to be cleansed by the blood Christ shed. It also marked the end of the need for blood sacrifice under the Law of Moses, bringing to an end such things.
To me, without the cross and what happened there, the resurrection would not matter so to ignore the cross to celebrate the resurrection is looking beyond the mark. It is like watching the end of a movie but missing how you got there and what makes it such a powerful conclusion to the story.
Many see the cross as the ultimate sign of love, a pure love that is so immense and complex that it could only come from God. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
I am always surprised to see the reaction of the Mormons I come in contact with when they see the cross necklace my wife wears. They act so shocked that she would even think of wearing such a thing. Any Mormon that judges someone for wearing a cross or other religious symbol needs to look in the mirror at night. You wear a religious symbol every day when you put on your temple garments as a reminder of your beliefs and commitments. The cross serves a similar purpose for those that choose to use it.
I will leave you with one last passage from the Bible that talks about the importance of the cross.
1 Cor 1:17-18 (KJV)
17 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. 18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. 18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.