The Sacrilege of ‘Glitter Ash Wednesday’

Some churches are apparently OK with a tasteless political statement on one of the holiest days of the year

by Katie Nations | Updated 21 Feb 2017 at 1:33 PM

Ash Wednesday traditionally begins the Easter Season. It is the first day of Lent, a day of reflection and fasting.

For 2,000 years, priests and faith leaders have used ashes to mark the foreheads of their congregations with the words, “From dust you came, and to dust you shall return.”

“From dust you came, and to dust you shall return.”

It is not a ceremony that should be made political. But now some churches will be using “Glitter Ash” to make a statement on behalf of the LGBT community. That’s right: Purple professional-grade glitter will be mixed with traditional palm-frond ashes and be used to wipe cross shapes as a sign of support.

Why, you ask? Because a New York-based advocacy group called Parity has asked Christians who favor LGBT equality  — “queer positive Christians,” in their terminology — to show support for this segment of the population by wearing “glitter ash” on their foreheads to mark Ash Wednesday, which this year is March 1.

Traditionally, Ash Wednesday ashes are made by burning the palm fronds that were used in the previous year’s Palm Sunday service to re-enact the day Jesus triumphantly entered Jerusalem. Some churches make their own ashes — while others buy them from church supply companies.

Ash Wednesday is a day to remember human mortality, our separation from God due to sin, and the hope offered by the sacrifice of Jesus. The use of ashes is symbolic of grief and humility. It is an outward sign of our internal shame. It is not an opportunity to flaunt personal opinions or points of view.

Related: How We Can Live as God’s People in Troubled Times

Would ashes mixed with red coloring and used to state support for President Donald Trump in place of red “Make America Great Again” hats be offensive? Of course. What about pink crosses for breast cancer awareness? On and on it goes. Why some or all of these may be valid causes, personal convictions, or worthy statements, they have no place infringing on the religious, sacred tradition that marks the beginning of Lent.

John 3:16 tells us, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” The Bible is clear: Jesus died for all the world — for every person who has lived or ever will live, regardless of their party, race, or sexuality. All have sinned, and all have the opportunity for salvation.

Related: The Lost Virtue of Humility

That’s what Ash Wednesday is all about. It’s about the need for a savior because of sin. It’s about the provision of the savior through Jesus Christ. It’s about His death, sacrifice, atonement, and resurrection.

A day with such holy meaning should not be trivialized or hijacked by a cultural or political agenda that seeks to take attention away from God and worship — and direct it toward a tiny segment of the population for that group’s own purposes.

Katie Nations, married for 15 years, is a working mother of three young children. She lives in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

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