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JLeslie's avatar

How old were you when you learned Jesus was nailed to the cross?

Asked by JLeslie (48230 points ) December 20th, 2012

I don’t remember my exact age, but I remember being pretty horrified. It was too violent for my little mind, and I was not very very young. Maybe 7th grade? I heard it in passing, I was not raised Christian and my parents are not religious, so it was never discussed in my family.

I wondered when that is taught to children typically? They may know Jesus died on the cross, but when do they typically learn he was nailed? When did you learn it? Did it phase you?

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36 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

Psst. faze

marinelife's avatar

Very young. In Catholic churches (I am not Catholic), Jesus is actually depicted on the cross.

Pandora's avatar

I remember it was about second grade. We did communion in second grade and that is when you get told the whole story of Jesus life. From beginning to end.
I may have been told younger but I probably wasn’t able to fully comprehend the whole thing.
I mostly remember feeling sorry for him because he must’ve felt so lonely when everyone turned their back on him. I don’t think my mind really understood the actual physical agony. And by the time I was able to comprehend that I just was use to the idea of how horribly he was sacrifice. I don’t think I ever dwell on it. I don’t dwell on pain and suffering that I have no ability to change.

flutherother's avatar

I probably first heard this when I was around 7 or 8. It didn’t really faze me, like the rest of religious teaching I took it with a pinch of salt.

According to recent archaeological evidence crucifixion victims were tied rather than nailed to the cross.

tom_g's avatar

(Catholic) Very young. I’m guessing kindergarten or first grade. It didn’t bother me.

Aster's avatar

I can’t remember that far back. But I only felt sad; not horrified since there was a sort of Glory and gratitude attached at our church. It took many years of reading about crucifixions before it sunk in how painful it was. I was slightly disappointed, however, when I found out it was a common practice. I liked the thought that only Jesus had endured such a gruesome death. It made it seem extra special to me thinking he was the only one.

JLeslie's avatar

Damn, faze, too late to edit.

@marinelife On the cross I know, but were you always aware he was nailed?

@Aster I think a lot of people think he was the only one. That dying on the cross was somehow unique to Jesus, and that average men did not die that way.

SuperMouse's avatar

It feels like I have always known. I can still picture the giant crucifix hanging above the altar at my childhood church. The nails are pretty darn obvious there, as is the crown of thorns (the one in our church had lovely drips of blood flowing down Jesus’ face). I don’t remember being horrified of it, it was a rather matter of fact truth I just always knew.

KNOWITALL's avatar

Since I grew up in church, I can’t remember a specific age when I heard it, but by age 7 I was fully immersed in the doctrine of the church. I was more traumatized over the movie about revelations they showed us in church than the horrors inflicted on Jesus.

marinelife's avatar

@JLeslie As you can see from this image, they can be quite gory with nails and blood and all.

glacial's avatar

I remember reacting to the violence of the crown of thorns and the (post-death) spear in the side as a young child, probably because of the blood depicted. I think the idea of what having nails through one’s palms must feel like only struck me when I heard stories about the stigmata; I guess that would be in my early teens. I don’t think I ever thought about the pain from the person’s weight on those hand wounds until I watched episodes of Xena. :P

I don’t remember films that I would have watched as a young kid (say, Ben Hur on Saturday morning TV or whatever) making crucifiction out to be all that bad.

@Aster I felt the same way about discovering that crucifiction was common, or at least that it was not unique in this case. It really was promoted as a special thing among the religious people I grew up around. It was weirdly disappointing.

JLeslie's avatar

@marinelife Actually, I am learning from this Q that churches have it sometimes depicted with the nails and blood. Thanks for the info. Either I never noticed in the few churches I have been in, or the churches I was in did not show the detail. Not sure which.

KNOWITALL's avatar

Baptist & Assembly of God churches here don’t, but the Catholics do.

BhacSsylan's avatar

I was raised catholic, but I can’t recall exactly when that sunk in. I don’t remember it really striking me as horrofying until after I deconverted, and even now it’s more of a mental horror then physical, so I suppose it must have been young enough that I was used to it before I could really think about it.

Although, @Aster, it was somewhat unique (assuming the bible accounts are correct), because Romans would most usually tie the criminal to the cross, not nail them. So there is that.

zensky's avatar

What?! And no spoiler alert?!

bolwerk's avatar

For it to have its intended effect (fear), it needs to be introduced at a pretty young age.

Though luckily my parents both had a healthy atheism, we were still immersed in European religious iconography when I was growing up – mostly because our mother wanted to cultivate an aesthetic sense of some sort, which of course didn’t work very well. Oh well, nobody’s parents are perfect.

Kropotkin's avatar

My Catholic indoctrination and psychological abuse began when I was aged three, maybe near four. I went to a nursery school called St. Mary’s, which was next door to the church of the same name. On one of our first days there, we visited the church and saw a long haired guy nailed to a cross.

I don’t remember what was said, so I can only presume that they probably babbled on about how this was Jesus, the son of god, and that he had died for our sins, blah blah.

I was reminded of a very funny stand-up routine by the late, Dave Allen, which is his take on this very same question.

ucme's avatar

I knew he was “well hung”, but as for the method, the bible said he was innocent & I naturally thought he’d been screwed…not nailed.

cookieman's avatar

Very young. Three or four maybe. Growing up Italian Catholic, we were surrounded by crucifixion imagery not only at church (as @marinelife mentioned), but at home. My aunt had a six-foot tall, painted, wooden sculpture of Jesus on the cross in her house – with real nails.

Every Easter, we would watch one of the “passion of the Christ” style movies they would play on one of the UHF stations. Many of those were pretty graphic for a kid.

Then, in elementary school, there were the sick jokes:

“What does INRI stand for above Jesus’ head on the cross?” – “I’m Nailed Right In.”

“Why couldn’t Jesus play hockey?” – “He keeps getting nailed to the boards.”

JLeslie's avatar

@Kropotkin Thanks for the link. Funny.

KNOWITALL's avatar

Okay, I’m going to stop following now so I don’t get upset at your humor/ rudeness. Peace out.

JLeslie's avatar

I wonder would a parent be ok with their young child watching a movie with a man having a nail driven through his limbs? Except for Jesus? Basically a torture scene? I understand at the very young age of or about 5 when kids learn about Jesus being nailed to the cross they may not really understand the pain and suffering or identify with it, I accept that. However, I think most parents would see that as very violent for such a young child, but they make exception when it comes to the story of Jesus being their Lord and Savior.

cookieman's avatar

@JLeslie: Good point. My family had no problem letting me watch these movies at Easter, which depicted whippings, the thorn crown pressed into Jesus’ head, lots of blood and bruising, and finally, nails being driven into his hands and feet — but I couldn’t go see an ‘R’-rated movie until I was fifteen.

bolwerk's avatar

It shouldn’t bother Americans, since it has violence but no sex.

Symbeline's avatar

I don’t quite recall, but my first recollection of it was from this like seventeen hour long movie called Jesus of Nazareth. I think I was like four or five. I’m pretty sure I heard about the crucifixion before, because when I saw the movie (which they played a part of every evening for Easter week) I wasn’t surprised when seeing the crucifixion near the end. Plus my mom took me to church on Sundays, so obviously I may have heard it there, frankly I don’t remember.
My mom also had the book for the movie, with stillshots.

submariner's avatar

I’m Catholic. In addition to the crucifix, it is depicted in the Stations of the Cross, which every Catholic church has, although some churches built after 1962 have more abstract images. I’m pretty sure I knew by second grade at the latest, but it may not have sunk in until I saw it depicted in movies like Jesus of Nazareth (thanks, Symbeline, I was trying to remember that title) or The Greatest Story Ever Told. I do remember being troubled by it and wondering why they didn’t just tie him as they did with the two thieves.

My earliest memory of church is my Irish grandmother whispering to me that we had to be quiet so as not to “wake the baby Jesus”, who she said was sleeping behind the screen at the back of the altar. I was probably 3 or 4 at the time.

mazingerz88's avatar

@Symbeline Greatest movie ever made about Jesus. With Franco Ziffereli at the helm, how can it miss-? Rober Powell’s performance-? Perfect-! And the music, wow. Just wow. I could watch it right now and end up kneeling and crying and cursing myself for turning agnostic from being Roman Catholic.

Can’t remember exactly when I learned Jesus was nailed to the cross. But I remember that day in elementary kneeling in a church, looking up at that huge cross with Jesus on it and wondering, who is this man really-? 20 years later, I’m an agnostic.

Seek's avatar

I was born into a Catholic family. I don’t remember not knowing.

But that’s not at all surprising. My bedtime stories were The Hobbit and Gunga Din. Death has never been a hidden issue.

glacial's avatar

Yeah, I probably spent more time as a young child poring over old Grimm’s Fairy Tales, which are probably much gorier overall.

dxs's avatar

ever since i can remember Jesus.

Symbeline's avatar

@mazingerz88 Hell yeah braw. That movie came on once a year on Easter and I always watched it. It’s a damn good piece of work. Sure as hell beats that piece of crap by Mel Gibson. I apologize to folks of Passion of the Christ in advance, but I completely abhor that movie haha

Blondesjon's avatar

I had a pot-luck Methodist upbringing so I don’t remember not knowing.

wundayatta's avatar

I had a very conservative atheist upbringing. My parents did not believe in subjecting their kids to violent images like that. Still, I have no memory of it ever being taught to me. I think I thought it was a barbaric practice of the age; not something we would do now, except, of course, we have our own current barbaric practices.

Humans are no different now than then, I think, despite Jesus and the Catholic Church. We are just as barbaric as we ever were. Or perhaps not. I think there are fewer wars. Fewer people are being put to death per capita these days, I think.

livelaughlove21's avatar

Not sure, but I remember that watching that scene in The Passion of Christ was pretty horrifying to me even though I was already aware of it. Gory stuff.

I’m not particularly religious, but that movie made me tear up. And so does that song “Mary Did You Know”. Strange.

zensky's avatar

As a Jew, again, I apologize.

flutherother's avatar

I blame the Romans. A very cruel people.

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