Friday, March 23, 2012

They'll Know We are Christians


I note that several online Orthodox Christians are all up in arms about the UK's current proposal to "ban" the wearing of a cross in the workplace. (Actually, I think the proposal is not to ban it, but rather to allow employers the right to ban it if they wish. But I could be wrong, I haven't paid much attention to it).

Even some normally reasonable and level-headed Orthodox Christians here in the U.S. - and not the U.K. - have taken this as some sort of a personal affront and are all upset about it, calling for all of their Christian friends to wear a cross which is visible to the public on this day or that day in a move of solidarity with cross-wearing Christians in the UK.

I have at least a couple of thoughts about this.

First, since when does an employer not have the right to set guidelines on what their employees can or can't wear at work? (Several Orthodox Christians might be surprised to learn that many Orthodox churches have expectations about what's appropriate to wear for church, too! Click on the link to "Sunday dress.") It seems to me that employers have always had that right, and that employees have the right to either take a job or not take it if it doesn't suit them for whatever reason - or to leave a job if it stops suiting them for whatever reason. But to sue a company because you can't wear a cross at work seems ridiculous.

Second, it is not wearing a necklace with a cross on it which makes one a Christian. It is not even wearing a necklace with a cross on it that most clearly identifies us as Christians.

I know several cross-wearing Christians whose words and deeds are sometimes not at all recognizable as "Christian." Heck, often I am such a Christian myself! And that's why (as I've said before), though I do wear a cross, I wear it under my clothing where it is not visible to the rest of the world. I don't wear it like some sort of a hello-my-name-is sticker to tell the world that I am a Christian. I wear it where I can feel it to remind myself that I am a Christian, and pray that it affects what I say -or write- and what I do. (Conversely, I know lots of folks who aren't even Christian at all - and so don't wear a cross - but who are more Christlike than many Christians.)

It isn't a piece of jewelry that identifies us to others as Christians. It's what's in our hearts and the love we show to others (all others, including those most difficult to love) which is the best witness to our faith.

I was talking to a wise woman at church on Wednesday evening at the potluck after presanctified liturgy and she mentioned that with church, too often people focus so hard on inconsequential things that they completely miss the really important things. She's right - and I think that applies here, too.

So today, on one of those "solidarity" days, I'm leaving my cross inside my shirt, which, for me, is where it belongs.