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What is the significance of a sideways cross?

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Question: "What is the significance of a sideways cross?"

There is a fashion trend today that involves a sideways cross, often worn on a necklace. The cross is the same shape as a “normal” Latin cross, except it is situated horizontally. Several celebrities have taken to wearing the sideways cross, which has added to its appeal.

As for what the sideways cross means, there are several theories. Many people consider the horizontal cross to be just another version of the upright cross—a symbol of Jesus Christ and Christianity. Others attach a more detailed meaning: the sideways cross becomes a symbol of Jesus’ finished work—having procured our salvation, He has laid His cross down—or it is a symbol of how we are to take up our cross and follow Jesus (Luke 9:23)—a cross carried over one’s shoulder would normally be in a horizontal position.

Some point out that the Nordic cross, found on the national flags of all Scandinavian countries, is sideways. In those cases, the cross is a representation of the Christianity those countries at one time embraced.

Other explanations are more humanistic. Some view the horizontal cross as a representation of the earth (as opposed to heaven) and the fact that this is where life is to be lived. A related view is that the sideways cross is a symbol of humanity, who lives in the realm between heaven and hell. Yet another view is antagonistic toward Christians—the sideways cross is a “fallen” cross, meaning that Christianity has failed and is no longer a powerful influence in the world.

And of course there are individuals who shrug off any attempt to infuse their jewelry with meaning. To them, any cross, sideways or not, is nothing more than a fashionable accessory. Wearing one, or having one tattooed, is nothing more than a statement of trendiness, modishness, and chic.

With so many diverse opinions on what the sideways cross means, it is impossible to know for sure why someone wears one, unless she expresses her mind on the matter. Different people have different notions, and their reasons for sporting a cross in a horizontal position will vary.

Is it good for a Christian to wear a sideways cross? There is nothing overtly sinful about it. And if it gives one opportunities to express faith in Christ, so much the better. The amount of confusion and ambiguity regarding the meaning of a sideways cross might give some Christians pause. As with anything we do, we should ask, “Does this bring glory to God?” (1 Corinthians 10:31). Does a sideways cross bring glory to God? It might, depending on who wears it and their motives for wearing it.

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Related Topics:

What is the meaning of an upside-down / inverted cross?

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