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Is Wearing a Cross Idolatry?


Crosses are a way for people to express their faith publicly and outwardly in the form of jewelry. But is wearing a cross idolatry? The Bible is clear on this topic and the answer may surprise you.

Is Wearing a Cross Idolatry?

The idea that a cross may be idolatrous to wear is rooted in old testament passages of the Bible. But is it actually idolatry to wear a gold cross? Here is wisdom from the Word of God. Opponents to cross wearing first and foremost point to the 10 Commandments, particularly

Exodus 20-3-5:

3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:

5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;

Some Christians or opponents of wearing crosses point to Exodus 20:4 in particular, which forbids the creation of graven images. A cross is a graven image, they say. But is it? One key and very significant factor is glaringly left out of this argument against wearing crosses. Notice that the end of verse 4 has a colon, “:”—in other words, the thought being conveyed is not yet complete and the sentence is not over. The colon in this sentence tells us that the Bible is about to define what is intended by a prohibition against graven images.

The prohibition is defined in Exodus 20:5: “Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God …” The prohibition isn’t against crosses or graven images in and of themselves. The prohibition is against actual idoltary and worship of graven images, such as idols that were formed in the image and likeness of false golds, overlain with gold or silver and then worshipped as gods. This is why verse 3 starts this concept with: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” The Biblical prohibition is not against jewelry or making crosses or even statues for that matter, but rather for making literal ideals that pagans worshipped.

What Are Graven Images?

As we compare other Bible verses and do a word study on “Graven Images”, there are many other passages that define what a graven image is.

Leviticus 26:1: “Ye shall make you no idols nor graven image, neither rear you up a standing image, neither shall ye set up any image of stone in your land, to bow down unto it: for I am the LORD your God.” Again, the prohibition is against making images to bow down and worship, i.e. idols.

Habakkuk 2:18: “What profiteth the graven image that the maker thereof hath graven it; the molten image, and a teacher of lies, that the maker of his work trusteth therein, to make dumb idols?” The prophet Habakkuk defines graven images as “dumb idols”.

Isaiah 44:10: “Who hath formed a god, or molten a graven image that is profitable for nothing?” The prophet Isaiah also denotes a graven image as a “god” that has been formed.

Crosses and statues, for that matter, have not been formed for the purpose of worship, but rather as a way for Christians to have an outward expression of their faith—whether for the purpose of honoring God or as a tool of evangelism or simply because one loves God and wants a reminder of their personal faith which they wear close to their heart.

Crosses Used in Idolatry

Now, there are some instances in which cross emblems and statues can become idolatrous if it becomes the object of worship, rather than God. False religion has always twisted what is good for their own means and ends. Something innocent like designing or wearing cross jewelry can become idolatrous if used improperly or for the purpose of worship or as a false relic or any ill-conceived idea that is not rooted in God.

So ask yourself, why are you buying or wearing a gold or silver cross pendant? Is it your “lucky charm”? Do you feel that you will be protected by the object of the Cross itself? This is not idolatry, per se, but more in the arena of superstition.

Wearing a Cross is not a sin, if you have the right motivation and purpose. Some people wear crosses as conversation starters to share the Gospel or as a simple reminder to themselves to stay Christ-centered in their daily walk with Him. That is acceptable and honorable before God. So ask yourself, what is your reason for wearing a cross? Is wearing a cross idolatry? Simply put, it largely depends on your intention and motivation.

The Bible says in Romans 14:22: “Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth.”

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