Much of what follows is excerpted from various books on Mormon theology. These are not my thoughts. I simply thought them interesting and worth sharing here.
The “Latin” or “Passion” cross, now the primary symbol of Christianity, was not shown in Christian art until six centuries after Christ. But long before the Christian era it was a pagan religious symbol throughout Europe and western Asia. Early Christians even repudiated the cross because it was pagan. A church father of the 3rd century, Minucius Felix, indignantly denied that Christians worshipped the cross: “You it is, ye Pagans, who are the most likely people to adore wooden crosses . . . for what else are your ensigns, flags, and standards, but crosses gilt and beautiful. Your victorious trophies not only represent a simple cross, but a cross with a man on it.”
From a very ancient times, an effigy of a man hanging on a cross was set up in fields to protect the crops. The modern scarecrow is a survival of the sacrificial magic, representing the sacred king whose blood was supposed to fertilize the earth. He was never abandoned, even though every farmer knew that no scarecrow ever really scared a crow.
The cross was also a male symbol of the phallic Tree of Life; therefore it often appeared in conjunction with the female-genital circle or oval, to signify the sacred marriage. Male cross and female orb composed the Egyptian “amulet Nefer,” or amulet of blessedness, a charm of sexual harmony.
The so-called Celtic cross, with the crossing of the arms encircled by a ring, was another lingam-yoni sign of sexual union, known to the Hindus as Kiakra. Some old Celtic crosses still in existence show obvious phallic elements, even to a realistic meatus at the cross’s tip. Crosses signified a god’s love-death even in pre-Columbian art of the western hemisphere, which showed the Savior carrying his cross, an image very similar to the Christian one.
No one knows exactly when the cross became associated with Christianity. Early images of Jesus represented him no on a cross but in the guise of the Osirian or Hermetic “Good Shepherd,” carrying a lamb. Later, many different kinds of crosses were used as Christian symbols. They included the Greek cross of equal arms, the X-shaped St. Andrew’s cross, the swastika, the Gnostic Maltese cross, the solar cross or Cross of Wotan, and the ansated cross, a development of the Egyptian ank, also found as the Cross of Venus.
Greeks said this cross was “common to the worship of Christ and Sarapis.” The Goddess Isis is shown on the Isiac Table with the cross in one hand, a lotus seed-vessel in the other, signifying male and female genitalia. As her consort, the god Sarapis was incarnate in Ptolemy. The words “Ptolemy the Savior” were followed by a cross on the Darmietta Stone. Pious Christian scholar once tried to pretend that this phrase was really a prophecy of the future Christ.
Male genitals are still called “the tree of life” by the Arabs, and a cross was one of the oldest diagrammatic images of male genitals. Among Christians there was at least some recognition of the cross’s phallic significance. An ancient crucifix at Sancreed in Cornwall was a spear set upright in a holy vase (the uterine vessel with two testicle-like scrolls appended to its shaft. The cross entering the labyrinth was one of the oldest symbols of the lingam-yoni in the west, dating back to early Neolithic times. Spiral “feminine” labyrinths penetrated by a cross occur in prehistoric rock carvings from Crete, at Tintagel in Cornwall, Wier Island in Finland, and Chartres Cathedral.
The LDS Beliefs
Among the Assyrians, Persians, Phoenicians of Carthage, Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans, the cross was an instrument of execution. From earliest times the eventual crucifixion and death of our Lord upon the cross was revealed to holy prophets. The gospel authors detail may of the events and circumstances incident thereto. And after his resurrection, our Lord said that the very reason he came into the world was to fulfill the will of the Father in being lifted up upon the cross.
Because of its association with our Lord, the cross has come to have symbolic meanings for those who profess belief in his atoning blood. Paul properly used the cross of Christ to identify to the mind the whole doctrine of the atonement, reconciliation, and redemption.
In succeeding centuries, the churches which came into being through an intermingling of pagan concepts with the true apostolic Christianity developed the practice of using symbolic crosses in the architecture of their buildings and as jewelry attached to the robes of their priests. Frequently this practice of dwelling on the personal death struggle of our Lord has caused theses churches to put sculptured representations of Christ on their crosses, these forming so-called crucifixes. All this is inharmonious with the spirit of worship and reverence that should attend a true Christian’s remembrance of our Lord’s sufferings and death. In fact, the revealed symbolism to bring these things to the attention of true worshipers is found in the ordinance of the sacrament.
Bible History concerning Solomon and the cross
The scripture says, “For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father [who, with all his faults, resisted every taint of idolatry]. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. And Solomon did evil in the sight of the Lord, and went not fully after the Lord, as did David his father”. (1 Kings 11:4-6)
There were two characteristics of heathen worship which made them far more abominable than simply bowing down to images of wood and stone. One was the use of erotic fertility rites in which drunkenness and acts of immorality were utilized as sacramental offerings by the heathen worshiper. The other was the slaughtering of human beings, particularly children and virgins, as forms of sacrifice. Only when these facts are understood will the Bible reader comprehend the vehemence with which the Lord and his prophets denounced “the groves,” the phallic symbols and all other aspects of heathen worship associated with idolatry.
However, Solomon’s sin appears to have been the building of heathen temples where these rites could be practices rather than actually participating in them himself. And he appears to have built these heathen centers in response to the teasing and conniving of his idolatrous wives. The seriousness of his offense is spelled out in the following scripture, “Then did Solomon build a high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem [the Mount of Olives] and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon. And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods.”
The founding fathers of the Church fought for over 500 years to keep this pagan symbol out of the church. The early Christians were tortured and killed for their beliefs. One by one, the Apostles were killed. Because of the persecution, surviving Apostles could not meet to chose and ordain men to replace those who were dead. The perfect organization of the Church no longer existed, and confusion resulted. But as the Roman pagans took over and reorganize the Church this symbol was transferred from the pagan church to the Christian Church and then the great apostasy from the True Church began. Then pagan beliefs dominated the thinking of those called Christians. The Roman emperor adopted this false Christianity as the state religion. The Roman emperor chose the leaders of the church and uses the same titles as the true Church of Christ. Church officers were given honor and wealth. Bishops and archbishops fought among themselves to gain more power. There were no Apostles or other priesthood leaders with power from God, and there were no spiritual gifts.
The prophet Isaiah had foreseen this condition, prophesying, “The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants there of; because they have transgress the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant” (Isaiah 24:5). It was the Church of Jesus Christ no longer; it was a church of men. Even the name had been changed.
My Comments: As can be seen from the above quotes, the cross was never intended to be a symbol to be worship or to be used as an article to identify one as a Christian. This was a pagan symbol created in the minds of non-believers of God of Israel by Satan himself from the beginning to be used in the sacrificial murder of the innocent and/or to promote sexual rites. This is the reason that we do not use the cross in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
Good work, George.