Ask a Mormon Woman: What is the symbol of the Mormon faith?

Aug 7, 2009 by

Question:
If Mormons are Christians, why don’t they use the cross as a symbol of their faith?

Answer:
by Brenda*

President Gordon B. Hinckley answered this very question in the April, 2005 issue of the Ensign. He relates the following.

“Following the renovation of the Mesa Arizona Temple some years ago, clergy of other religions were invited to tour it on the first day of the open house period. Hundreds responded. In speaking to them, I said we would be pleased to answer any queries they might have. Among these was one from a Protestant minister.

Said he: “I’ve been all through this building, this temple which carries on its face the name of Jesus Christ, but nowhere have I seen any representation of the cross, the symbol of Christianity. I have noted your buildings elsewhere and likewise find an absence of the cross. Why is this when you say you believe in Jesus Christ?”

I responded: “I do not wish to give offense to any of my Christian colleagues who use the cross on the steeples of their cathedrals and at the altars of their chapels, who wear it on their vestments, and imprint it on their books and other literature. But for us, the cross is the symbol of the dying Christ, while our message is a declaration of the Living Christ.”

“If you do not use the cross, what is the symbol of your religion?”

I replied that the lives of our people must become the most meaningful expression of our faith and, in fact, therefore, the symbol of our worship.”

When I read this article in the Ensign, President Hinckley’s answer to the question of the symbol of our religion hit me so profoundly. The symbol of our religion is the lives of our members. What a responsibility! I have pondered this article for several years and have tried to live up to this standard. I ask myself “If someone inspected my habits, my home, my life would they see my devotion to Christ?” I hope so, but after reading this article I have also seen many examples of discipleship to Jesus Christ in the lives of the members around me.

Prior to working on this website I had wanted to start a blog that highlighted the women of my ward (congregation). I wanted to interview a woman each week in my ward to show through words and pictures her devotion to Jesus Christ. I thought, “If I could just show the world these women, their goodness, and their faith they would know that we love the Lord, that we are Christians.” The Lord has answered my prayer by helping me find this venue to highlight not just the women in my ward, but Mormon Women from around the world.

I have lived in the same congregation all of my life. The women of my ward have been my tutors in discipleship. I have watched them intently and have seen their wet eyes and bowed heads as they partook of the sacrament. I have watched them make and serve hundreds of meals for the sick or afflicted. I have seen my friend continue to serve in her callings and community service projects while battling breast cancer. I have seen friends come to the aid of a mother whose daughter fell into a coma and did not return with full capacity –they served this daughter daughter by providing weekly cooking lessons, movie dates, and dinner appointments for over 30 years. These activities not only nourished the life of the daughter, but also brought needed relief to the parents who are still providing full time care to their daughter even though they are well their 70’s. The women of my ward taught my Primary and Youth classes, taught me early morning seminary classes and threw my bridal and baby showers. They showed their love for me with their time and talents. Their hands have cradled me, fed me, wiped my tears, wrote me letters of encouragement and hugged me.

Jesus Christ taught,

“By this shall man know, ye are my disciples if ye have love one to another.”

and

“If ye love me, keep my commandments.”

The women in my ward have done their best to teach me to love and to keep the commandments. We are all imperfect, including myself and the women of my congregation. But, I have heard their voices and seen their actions and I know my Savior better because they acted as He would act, loved as He would love. To me, there could have been no greater symbol of their devotion to Jesus Christ than their very lives.

To read President Hinckley’s entire article on this topic please read, “The Symbol of Our Faith.” by Gordon B. Hinckley.

*Please note: The answers in “Ask a Mormon Woman” reflect the thoughts and perspectives of the administrators at Mormon Women. Although we strive to have our content consistent with the Church’s doctrine and teachings, we do not speak officially for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. For official information about or from the Church, please visit www.mormon.org or www.lds.org.

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4 Comments

  1. I remember staying the night at a friend’s house (who was not a member of our church) who asked me that very question. I was puzzled then and asked my dad when I got home. His explanation was nearly identical to President Hinckley’s. I have often thought about the Living Christ and what he would have us do to represent him.
    I love the scripture you quoted: “By this shall man know, ye are my disciples if ye have love one to another.”
    It’s as though Christ wanted to address the symbol of our faith, too.

    Thanks for sharing this and reminding me to be ever watchful of my contribution.

  2. I love your insights on this. A poignant reminder!

  3. Michelle

    I appreciated this piece, Brenda. It’s a reminder of our responsibility to bear the Savior’s name and try to be like Him. And I could share story after story as you have here. There are so many ways in which the people around me have helped carry my burdens, have been instruments in God’s hands for good, have lifted my spirit through words of faith and truth.

    Even as we are imperfect — and we ARE imperfect — I see time and time again that when people are earnestly striving to be true to their faith, there is more good than not. As I look at my whole experience, including some bad experiences, the net result is overwhelmingly good.

    There is, for me, an addendum to this — that even for all the good, the Church and its truthfulness ultimately transcends the humans who are members of it. So for any (whether a member of our faith or not) who have had negative experiences with individuals in the Church, I hope you won’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

    At the times when someone has done something that has been hurtful, I remind myself that I’m here because of the truths we are taught and the convictions I have of them. For all that we hope we as a people can be a symbol of our faith, sometimes individuals will falter and fail in that charge. But that doesn’t change the core of the message, and that is my true anchor.

  4. Thanks — what a great post!

    I can’t imagine being in the same congregation my whole life, we’ve moved around so much. How great it would be to witness how lives change and faith is strengthened over the years.

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