Monday, December 9, 2013

The Difference Between A Cross And A Memorial

First of all, this is not a post about religion.  While it may have some religious references in it, as you read it, you will understand that I am not making this out to be a religious debate.  I am not going to sit here and take one side over the other, but rather I am just simply stating what I believe should not be going on between a certain group of people and I want to clarify why I am saying it.  Once again, this is not a religious debate.

A young man is driving home to see his family on a weekend getaway.  He hadn't seen his family in a while so he thought it would be nice to see them.  His trip was to be short as he had to get back to work first thing Monday morning.  He hadn't gotten much sleep and was tired on his way home. He was already behind on his schedule because he wanted to spend every possible minute with his family as he could.  On his way home, he became more and more tired.  He was so tired that on his way home he fell asleep at the wheel.  His car started to drift off the road and suddenly swerved and his a pillar of a bridge and in an instant the young man lie dead.

Saddened by their sons death, the family decides to erect a cross in honer of their son and in the place that he died.  Within a few days of the cross being erected, a group of adversaries opposed the erecting of the cross based on the idea that the family is raising this cross, not in honor of their son, rather on the idea that they want to promote religion.

While the above story is fiction and something I just made up, there are tons of stories just like this all across the nation.  What I want to do is try and distinguish the difference between the two types of crosses that are out there because they are very different.

If you want to get technical, there are three types of crosses in this world today.  The first is a cross used in executions.  Yes, there are still countries today that use crucifixion as a form as capital punishment just like there are countries that still stone people to death.  Second is a cross that is found in churches all across the world.  While these crosses stand for the execution of Jesus Christ, it has a different meaning for the church.  A cross in a church means that the cross is the way to their salvation.  Jesus Christ died on the cross and took away all of mankind's sin away on that cross.  Churches understand that Jesus was crucified on a cross but rather most christians see that cross as a representation of salvation not of death.  This is why some people wear crosses as jewelry.  The third represents death.  Not the death as in executions, but the death of a loved one or the death of a partner such as a police station may have crosses that represent fallen officers.  I want to focus on the last two types of crosses.  Like I said before, these two types of crosses are very different.  I'll make this as brief as I can.

When I drive past a church and that church has a cross on the outside of it, I think of Jesus Christ.  I think that this church believes in Jesus and that he died on the cross as the way to pay for our sins.  This church believes in the cross in that manner.  This is the first type of cross.  It's the one that represents Jesus Christ.  Now, if I am driving down a highway and I see a cross on the side of the road, I, in no way think about Jesus.  I don't turn to my wife and say, "Look, Jesus was right there!"  That's not at all what I think.  In reality, I think that someone died there.  That's the second type of cross.  It's the one that represents death.

There are several ways that people express death or rather several objects that represent it.  One is the cross as we have already discussed.  Some people use flowers.  Some people use stuffed animals.  Another is the wreath.  A wreath is used during Christmas time to symbolize the holiday spirit or holiday cheer.  However, a wreath can also be used to symbolized death.  I have personally seen wreaths on the side of highways to symbolize the death of a loved one. As with the cross, when I do see one, I don't think that Santa was there.  I don't think about Christmas.  I think about death and that someone died there.  Every year the President of the United States presents a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier!  In fact, this is called the wreath ceremony.  Arlington National Cemetery also uses wreaths from time to time.  These wreaths are in no way representing Christmas, but rather the death of a soldier or government official.

In the same way that a wreaths used to describe death instead of Christmas, the same holds true for a cross that represents death instead of Jesus.  Like I said, there are two very different types of crosses. What bothers me is when adversaries cry foul when a cross is erected over the death of a loved one and say that the cross was in fact erected not over the death of a loved one, but rather the spreading of religion.  That's so bogus.  Why would a group do such a thing?  They are only hurting the family of the one who died!  Common sense tells us that these crosses are erected for the dead, not for Jesus.

So that's my issue.  Let's use a little bit more common sense when trying to debate why crosses are really erected.  I think that it's honorable that a cross is erected in honor of those who have died, especially when law enforcement agencies do it.  Remember that not every cross erected represents Jesus.  There are two different types of crosses.  Let's just keep that in mind in the future!

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