Glitter Ash and the Spirit of the Age

This was a pretty shocking headline to read: “‘Glitter Ash Wednesday’ Hopes to Sparkle for LGBT Christians, Supporters.”

Lighten up, Ash Wednesday.

A New York-based advocacy group called Parity is asking Christians who favor LGBT equality — “queer positive Christians,” in their parlance — to show support by wearing “glitter ash” on their foreheads to mark Ash Wednesday on March 1.

Even though there have been massive shifts in our culture, it’s still a bit shocking that apparently nothing at all is sacred anymore. But this is another time we can step back and reflect from the Bible’s worldview rather than react to the specific issue.

What leads some to distort the ashes that are to remind us of our sin and need of a Redeemer as we enter Lent? Radical individualism. Since at least the 60s, our culture has preached that we are the centers of our own universe and our desires and satisfaction are holy, nothing else. Nothing should constrain us from pursuing our personal fulfillment as we see it. And let’s face it, while this is an obvious example of the spirit of the age, all of us are infected with individualism. Even those of us who hold a high view of Scripture and orthodox and historical teachings of the Bible view ourselves more as individuals than the Bible’s view of how we fit in the Body and in community under God.

We need to remember to explain to others who can’t conceive of why we would strive to be obedient to a very old, seemingly outdated book that an integral part of living as Christians is living under authority—God’s authority and His will as He’s revealed in the Bible. We aren’t free to live as we see fit or to update the Bible’s teachings. We are disciples who are following the One who created us for His purposes.

Os Guinness made the point in his recent book Impossible People that the idea of religious conscience is a foreign idea in our culture now because the very concept requires the existence of Truth and a moral standard higher than our individual consciences that we must follow, even when it costs us something, including our personal fulfillment.

To be faithful disciples of Jesus, we have to examine ourselves for tendencies to act out of individualism because it comes so naturally to us. And we need to explain to others that we live under authority and we seek to obey, so we cannot compromise on the Bible’s teachings.

The “glitter ash” isn’t the problem. It’s a symptom of the problem that is common to all of humanity—the same thing we all need to repent of: our desire to do things our own way rather than God’s.

Melinda Penner

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