The Old Rugged Cross
What is sacred to you? What is offensive? And does it matter who says it or how it is said? These are questions designed to examine values about race and what constitutes insulting behavior. Let’s start with The Old Rugged Cross.
I played the piano at my Sunday school. We frequently sang a song called The Old Rugged Cross. The lyrics I want to focus on were:
On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
The emblem of suff’ring and shame;
And I love that old cross…
Why would anyone love an emblem of suffering and shame?
The cross and crucifixion were considered very shameful in ancient times. Roman citizens were not crucified. In the Roman world, crucifixion was a punishment handed out to the lowest, most reviled criminals. Only slaves, foreign captives and those non Romans convicted of crimes against the state (as in the case of Jesus) suffered crucifixion as a capital punishment.
I was taught (in Bible study) that, generally, Christianity first adopted the cross (and/or the fish) as a way of recognizing friends and like minded believers. Christianity also adopted the cross as an emblem of defiance. And finally Christianity adopted the cross as a reminder of the nature of sacrifice (there’s a lot more to it but let’s leave it there for now).
Now I ask you, “Have you ever heard of someone who follows The Old Rugged Cross feeling insulted by being called a Christian?” I suppose if it was said with enough venom and vitriol it could be an insult, “You sanctimonious Christians!” Perhaps it isn’t the word itself but how you say it and how you mean it that makes it an insult.
[Warning: This next section contains actual, unedited and uncensored quotes of children and may be offensive to some readers.
Please proceed with caution and an open mind.]