February 28, 2017
Glitter Ash Wednesday reminds us that one’s sexual identity need not be at odds with one’s Christian identity.
While I do firmly believe that the church has had some room to improve on ministering to the LGBTQ community, I feel like adding glitter to the ashes misses the meaning of Ash Wednesday and of Lent itself. Lent is a major season of self-denial and preparation leading up to the time of Christ's ultimate sacrifice on the cross. Christ died for our sins and for our identity. Everyone's identity. At our core, we are all sinful from birth (Psalm 51:5).
The intent of Christianity, specifically Ash Wednesday, was never to "reconciling two identities." whether LGBTQ or not. The idea of Christianity was to die to ourselves and our sinful natures and to have our identity be recreated and reformed in the image of God. Ashes, then, signify the death we all experience. There is extreme unity in the ashes as we will all one day return to ashes. From ashes we came and from ashes we will return.
There is unity in entering into our new identity rooted in the identity of Jesus Christ. Furthermore, there is no issue, struggle, or identity that we are unable to lay bare before Christ and forgiveness is always open. The arms of Christ are open for us to turn to him. It is His sacrifice that allows us to rise from the ashes of our own destruction and become truly alive by grace through faith.
Daniel C. Burton
You cannot repent and celebrate your sins at the same time. It renders the ritual meaningless. I pray that those LGBTs who are Christians will be given the grace to accept the way God made them and practice celibacy as they are called to do.
While I understand the desire to reach all with the gospel of grace in Jesus Christ, this is baffling. It seems to me that those who find their identity in Christ and choose to indicate such by wearing the ashen cross wouldn't be interested in blurring that identity. That is the hope found in Christ - my identity is in Him! Not in my sexuality, race, social status, or physical ability. It is no longer I who lives, but Christ lives in me. To encourage any Christian to cling to some other identity is to encourage them to have their hope in the same. That is not comforting and that is the opposite of what the Heidelberg Catechism is stating ("I give up anything
rather than go against God’s will in any way" - question 94).
I am glad that many of all who claim Christianity as their place to belong see Ash Wednesday as a somber reminder of God's grace found in Jesus suffering, dying and rising from the dead. I am curious though as to what exactly the LGBTQ Christian believes concerning Jesus and the real reason for Him coming into the world. I guess I mean that even us "hetero-sexual" sinners need to realize that our sin (and sin nature) is offensive to God and have need of His forgiveness, cleansing and desire to "sin no more." Is that the same for our LGBTQ Christian brothers and sisters?
I feel this post is not honest. I looked at your church's position on homosexuality as disordered and sinful. I'm a heterosexual Christian and do it believe that at all. All people are created in the image of God. I feel sorry and pray for anyone who thinks being who someone is genetically biologically created by God as defective. I will stick with my plain ashes but if this ritual makes an LGBTQA person feel more included well I think that's a good thing.
Jane, the fact is that we are all genetically biologically affected by sin. We are all defective due to sin and that is exactly why we need a Savior - His image in us has been horribly marred. We all have a bent toward sin. Regardless of how man defines it, sin is sin, whether it's pride, stealing, sexual sin, or whatever. If someone wants to affirm my sin - to make me feel like my sin is okay - they don't really love me. They are leaving me to wallow in a hopeless state.
The one thing I found myself yelling was, "It's not about you!" LBGT folks need to realize that not every event or, in this case, ritual, needs to affirm their sexuality. There is a time and place for their platform, this is not it!
Maybe we should have different ash mix materials, glitter or otherwise, to designate ash assisted solidarity with: gay, straight, every different race, each ethnicity, male, female, country of origin, illegal or legal status, age group, economic status, denominational or non-denominational tradition, political party, and, well, anything else where some within that group might what to use a Christian faith tradition to "carry" a political pitch for their group.
And hey, as long as we're doing that for Ash Wednesday ...
In Reply to Michael Sutherland (comment #30083)
So grateful to read this! It is time for clear messages from the church that LGBTQ people are beloved just as they are and that they are welcome at Jesus' table. Thank you for this declaration that being queer is not possession by a demonic force but rather an expression of God's diverse creation made from dust. We need you!
Reconciliation between queer folks and the church that rejected them is exactly what coming to terms with our sin is about. Glitter in ashes is a reparation, a bridge, and a celebration. We are reminded of our mortality and finality on Ash Wednesday- we are also reminded that God is the grace and the glitter woven in to our impermanence. Glitter ashes are appropriate in some church communities, particularly those committed to reconciliation with LGBTQ folks.
I have to agree with Michael Sutherland's comment above that this smacks more of propaganda than of piety.
Adding glitter to the ashes also seems like a contradiction of the service's rationale in two ways. First, the imposition of ashes is such a powerful symbol because it speaks to the great equalization that takes place in death. People are reminded on Ash Wendesday that it doesn't matter whether we are black or white, male or female, 'straight' or 'gay', rich or poor, we are equally all under the sentence of death and in need of God's mercy and forgiveness. Adding glitter to the ashes obscures that message.
Second, I also wonder how adding glitter to the ashes makes sense when viewed against the backdrop of ecumenical solidarity. The imposition of ashes is one right where Christians express their solidarity with others across denominational lines and within their own denomination. Many churches view Ash Wednesday especially as an opportunity express solidarity with Catholics (another greatly persecuted group in Anglo-American history). By some churches adding glitter to the ashes the service no longer works as a symbol of solidarity, but rather as a symbol of defiance toward certain church bodies, like the Roman Catholic Church or the Christian Reformed Church in North America. Which bring us back to the adding of glitter seeming more like propaganda than piety.
Emma, I agree entirely that LGBTQ-welcoming or even -centric churches -- ones that explicitly make the reconciliation between Christianity and queer folks a central part of their (the churches') identities -- could find this ritual healing. It could be a call to the wholeness and unity to which Christians are called. Welcoming people--all people--into recognition of our shared mortality and grace is a good thing. I think it's important not to dismiss this idea out of hand.
In Reply to Mary (comment #30076)
I do not find it strange to repent, on one hand, and to celebrate God's goodness on the other hand — God's goodness seen our receiving forgiveness. The end of Ash Wednesday is the resurrection.
Mary specifically objected to "celebrat[ing] your sins", not "celebrat[ing] God's goodness". The article makes it fairly clear that glitter is a "queer-positive" symbol, which is clearly not a descriptor meant to indicate a belief that homosexuality practice is sinful. God's goodness is not expressed in our sinful desires. It is the juxtaposition of repentance from sin and celebration of sin that Mary was commenting on. I think we can all agree that celebrating God's goodness (grace) is never inappropriate, but the rub is in how we define that grace.
I find the concluding editor’s note to be lacking in candor. In everyday vernacular and as used in this article, the phrases “LGBTQ-affirming” and “queer-positive” are unambiguous in their support for the normalization of homosexual practice and same-sex union. To pretend otherwise is to be purposely obtuse. The article talks about “encouraging churches that are LGBTQ-affirming to use ‘glitter ashes.’” In context, this is clearly not the same as the editor’s characterization of churches who have “called [LGBTQ] members to celibacy.” It is inescapable that the thrust of this article is contrary to denominational teaching.
Wow...this is a powerful article. It reminds me of the story of Lot...where the men of the town felt it was their right to demand sexual relations with the two angels who had come to town. There is a total disconnect with the reality that God made us.....and He is the Boss. The CRC's 1973 position paper on homosexuality draws a clear distinction between loving and accepting the person and indulging the sin. Today, as this article very succinctly points out, calling homosexuality a sin.....or a handicap......is politically very incorrect. To drive home that point......we put glitter in the ashes.
I think that this is a great way for Christians to show that they support the LGBTQ movement. It lets them know that they can feel safe and loved, belonging to Christ's family. I believe that it is important to show our support to those that are LGBTQ because a vast number of Americans are starting to come forth as not straight, which means that more and more Christians are now out as LGBTQ. I strongly disagree with Mary's post. God does not condemn acts of love between same sex participants. If they are truly in love and have the kind of relationship Jesus tells us to have with our spouses, then it can't be wrong. In fact it is another affirment of Christs love, they are performing a sacred act in the throes of love, which can never be wrong.
“Even grace does not give common sense, a little of which would settle many controversies and heresies in the Church of Christ.” - David Dickson, The Elder and His Work
Promoting "glitter ashes" is like saying we should start drawing round triangles. The two are mutually exclusive.
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