Saturday, June 16, 2012

Mormons Before the 1950s: Crosses OK?

I found many old vintage photographs that I had never seen before in my mother's endless amount of stuff.
One picture in particular (and reproduced here) was dated 1946 and showed her entire family -- the Ray and Lida Rigby Family from Grace, Idaho.
What caught my eye the most was that my future Aunt Maurine, in the lower right of the picture, is wearing a large cross.
This confirms what I had already suspected: Mormons wearing crosses before the 1950s was OK and not frowned upon.
It was the 1950s when apparently both wearing crosses and having facial hair began to be shunned in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
(We're talking church policy here, not necessarily doctrine, in both practices.)
Wearing a cross in the LDS Church today is practically viewed as evil. Church leaders, and in some stakes even just an ordinary church member, having facial hair today is frowned on.
However, realize that it wasn't always that way for both practices.
Realize that a cross symbol is NOT evil. It is mentioned a lot in the Bible as a symbol of the Saints.
Now, it wouldn't be my symbol of choice. If I could create it, I'd personally choose to wear an empty sepulchre (tomb), instead of a cross, to celebrate the resurrection and an empty grave, instead of just the death of Jesus Christ.
I doubt Joseph Smith ever saw a cross on a church in his day, as Protestant churches didn't adopt the cross as a symbol until the decades after his death. Initially, Protestant churches viewed the cross as purely Catholic, something they wanted to stay away from.

-President Joseph Fielding Smith discussed crosses and LDS Church members in the March 1961 Improvement Era (forerunner to today's Ensign Magazine).
"Because our Savior died on the cross, the wearing of crosses is to most Latter-day Saints in very poor taste and inconsistent to our worship," President Smith wrote.
Later in the article he stated: "We may be definitely sure that if our Lord had been killed with a dagger or with a sword, it would have been very strange indeed if religious people of this day would have graced such a weapon by wearing it and adorning it because it was by such a means that our Lord was put to death."
President Smith stressed having a humble, contrite spirit and a sincere prayer of gratitude is a far better means of worship for our Savior's sacrifice and atonement that to adorn the cross.
He also said Church member do not question the sincerity of other religions who wear crosses, but it is simply a custom that does not appeal to LDS Church members.
-That's especially true because LDS Doctrine teaches that by far the most suffering of Christ took place in the Garden of Gethsemane and NOT on the cross, since the Garden is where the Savior took upon himself the sins of the world.

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