Executioner's Chair & The Crucifixion: Should Christians Wear Crosses?
Are Crosses Christian?
I always thought that a cross was associated with Jesus, and therefore, Christians. In fact, on my right forearm, I have a tattoo of a cross that’s created with two large wooden stakes and some blood, all tied with a type of twine. When I received the cross, I thought this: “When I look at this cross, I will remember Jesus, I will remember his sacrifice, and I will remember the blood he shed so that I can be forgiven.” It was a type of personal reminder to myself, someone who has suffered and survived the hellish threshold of extreme depression and thoughts of doom and gloom that are too dark for many to fathom. The cross, for me, was a symbol of my faith – an outward representation of who I am. I wanted people to know that I wasn’t afraid of showing I loved Jesus…so I got a tattoo.
Tattoo Hate, Cross Hate, Too Much Hate
My husband loves me, but he doesn’t like tattoos. He’s a Christian too, but probably more on the ‘stricter’ side when it comes to how one should act, how one should represent themselves. Granted, he is almost 12 years older than me, and those are 12 years of experience and personal testimony I don’t yet have. Those are twelve years of knowledge and wisdom that I have yet to receive. However, he chose me because he must have found redeeming, great qualities about me, but he does abhor tattoos. We don’t really talk about my Christian tattoo, mostly because it represents two things he doesn’t believe in: crosses and tattoos. But this article isn’t about him, or his preferences. It’s about the cross tattoo, and I mention my husband’s reaction, but his reaction to crosses reflects the same sentiments of many who are presented with a cross. He associated crosses with demonic things, with blasphemy, and with something completely opposite of Jesus.
What Does the Cross Represent?
The cross is usually a symbol that reflects the suffering of Jesus, and the temporary defeat. However, it also depicts the salvation of Jesus, and his ultimate triumph. A cross, for many, is what identifies their faith. For many around the world, a cross is a symbol of salvation. The cross, for others, depicts fear. It depicts executions, persecution, and mockery. Around the fourth century, Emperor Constantine became a Christian, and then crucifixion itself, as a punishment, was abolished. From then on, the cross became a promotion of the symbol that represents the Son of God.
Executioner's Chair and Crucifixion
Ann Wrote, who was a historian and writer, mentioned that one shouldn't wear a cross as a piece of jewelry unless it has a deeply, personal significance other than a tool used to kill a man. She mentioned that in that case, you might as well wear an electric chair around your neck. According to her, in order for the wearing of a cross as jewelry to be tolerable, it has to mean a great deal because that cross, as a tool, bears the weight of cosmic significance.
Some people may feel that wearing or tattooing a cross is horrifying, due to the fact that Jesus was tortured upon it and abandoned to die. Crucifixion was the manner in which people were executed at that time. The cross was actually used for the two other men who died with Jesus that day (the two criminal bandits). The cross doesn't seem like it was especially designed and chosen just for Jesus. For some people, the cross reminds them of brutality, instead of hope. Maybe, in a way, it's a positive thing, as the image of the cross, and what happened, still has a certain power. It's probably a bad thing if people are desensitized to the cross, and feel nothing upon gazing at it. This is a strange question, but, what if Jesus were shot by a gun? (I feel terrible and blasphemous writing that!) But what would have been the universal image that we used to represent Jesus? Would it have been a gun? A bullet?
Crosses, Celebrities, and Fashion
Celebrities are uses crosses as a fashion. Of course, they are huge influencers when it comes to the fashion world. If we see perhaps Catherine Zeta Jones sporting a large crucifix, one might feel inclined to wear one as well. It may be more than just a fashion piece - it may very well be that they are using the cross as a talisman of sorts, to protect them from evil spirits or evil beings. In this case, the cross, aside from fashion, is a superstitious piece. Wearing a cross may be a form of piety, but more of a facade of piety - yet, we may see the wearer partying, participating in worldly videos or acts (excessive drinking, adultery, lewdness in general), and it leaves one feeling confused. It may even leave one feeling, sadly, vindicated, by allowing them to think, "Its okay to openly sin as long as I wear a cross".
Satanists, Demons, and Occultists...Oh, My!
A lot of Non-Christians, occultists, and Satanists wear crosses as well. Recently, I saw a video where a famous magician, Criss Angel, did some kind of séance or incantation while wearing a very large cross. This can seem shocking to many, and even disrespectful. Some sects, like those who practice Santeria, also use crosses within their practices. Many also, in order to mock Jesus, or reject him, wear the cross upside down. Sometimes the cross, in this manner, depicts that one is a rebel against politics or social power. IN movies such as Rosemary's Baby, upside down crosses give a very, dark creepy vibe and it's usually associated with activity from the demonic realm.
Why Do Some Catholics Wear an Upside Down Cross?
The upside down Catholic Cross is known as the Cross of Saint Peter. Catholic tradition dictates that Peter, an Apostle, was upside down when he was crucified. He wanted to be crucified in a way that was not as how Jesus die, as he did not feel worthy of a death like Jesus’s. In this case, Catholics use the cross that is upside down to show they are humble and unworthy. In the Gospel of John, there is an allusion to this:
Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you girded yourself and walked where you would; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go.” (This he said to show by what death he was to glorify God.) And after this he said to him, “Follow me” (Jn 21:18-19).
The stretching of the hands could have been a reference to crucifixion. Peter did die by crucifixion, but it's not known if he truly did ask for his cross to be upside down. Some accounts mention that he was beheaded in Rome and died a martyr as part of the Christian executions pushed by Roman emperor Nero. The upside down cross, to some, is used to show, therefore, unworthiness and humility in remembrance of Peter.
Does the Bible Mention the Cross?
Galatians 3:13 says this: "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: 'Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.'"
Deuteronomy 21: 22-23: If someone guilty of a capital offense is put to death and their body is exposed on a pole, 23 you must not leave the body hanging on the pole overnight. Be sure to bury it that same day, because anyone who is hung on a pole is under God’s curse. You must not desecrate the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance.
Mark 8:34: And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
1 Corinthians 1:18: For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
Galatians 2:20: I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Matthew 10:38: And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.
Hebrews 12:2 - Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Luke 14:27 - Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.
Colossians 2:14 - By canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.
Mark 15:30 - Save yourself, and come down from the cross!”
Galatians 6:12 - t is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh who would force you to be circumcised, and only in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ.
Ephesians 2:16 - And might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.
Mark 15:32 - Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe.” Those who were crucified with him also reviled him.
Galatians 5:11 - But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed.
And this following one is of particular interest:
1 Corinthians 1:17 - For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
The cross has power.
Personal Final Thoughts On The Cross
This cross, then, is meant to arouse certain feelings, emotions and thoughts. The cross continues to have a significant presence in its symbolism, as it had in the ancient days. For me, the cross builds a bridge between the violence of humanity, and the goodness that still exists. No matter how the cross is used, or presented, or worn, there's a certain kind of anxiety that the cross produces in almost everyone. The cross is something we have to be careful with, no matter how 'out there' and 'in your face' Hollywood or the media presents it. The cross has a reverence that seems to never fade away, and perhaps, never will.
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