So this morning I wrote about the need to focus more on God than on ourselves as a way to enrich and improve our lives. And then reading the news I came across one of the most stunning things I have ever read. From USAToday this past 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.
“This is a way for queer Christians and queer-positive persons of faith to say ‘We are here,’” said Marian Edmonds-Allen, Parity’s executive director. “It is also a way for other people to be a witness to that and be in solidarity with them.”
I want to be very clear about something – this is vastly and hugely wrong – but not because the particulars involved anything to do with sexuality. This is wrong because to co-opt Ash Wednesday for any purpose, including worthwhile advocacy, is to cheapen and rob Ash Wednesday services of what they are really about. This would be true if it were Cleveland Browns fans trying to tell us “We are here” just as much as it is for the particular community involved to do this. This is focusing on the self instead of on God.
For the uninitiated, Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent. Lent is the season in which Christians prepare themselves for Holy Week – the time when they celebrate the primal acts of Christ’s earthly ministry, His arrest, trial, crucifixion, and most importantly resurrection. We prepare ourselves to remember Christ’s sacrifice by making our own sacrifices mirroring Christ’s preparation for ministry in the deserts of ancient Israel. Our ritualistic efforts are to identify with Christ, not somehow establish our own identity. What is sacrificial about establishing our identity, regardless of what that identity is?
One of the bigger reasons Christianity struggles so with modernity is that modernity is all about “finding our identity” and Christianity is all about taking our identity from Christ – and nothing or no one else. The sacrilege in this effort has nothing whatsoever to do with those wishing to make a statement and everything to do with the idea of making a statement- when we are supposed to be listening to God. Is there nothing holy enough that we will just leave it alone?
I need to take my own advice and focus on God, not this. He’ll figure it out, because I sure can’t.