Ashes to ashes. Glitter to... How to Grow through Giving Up, Part 3. The problem with glitter ash.

How to Grow through Giving Up, Part 3: Ashes to Ashes, Glitter to…

When I started my post on What is Ash Wednesday? for this six-week series for Lent, I Googled Ash Wednesday to verify the date.

The top result was the date.

Then Wikipedia.

Followed by an article from

I slid the cursor up to go back to my WordPress tab, but the next result caught my eye. The middle image under “Top stories” was a glittery rainbow cross and the bold, black, uppercase letters:


Wait, whaaaat?!?

Ashes to ashes, glitter to…

There were three featured headlines:

Some Churches To Offer “Glitter Ashes” On Ash Wednesday To Support LGBT Rights
Blog: Glitter Ash Wednesday?
LGBT-affirming churches to offer glitter ashes for Ash Wednesday

The clergywoman quoted in most things I read on the subject seemed reasonable in her advocacy of the unreasonable adaptation. Yes, some consider it a private thing, the ash wiped away after it is applied, but it is still appropriate to show support for the marginalized in an institution fraught with prejudice, narrow minds, and backward morality was the gist. She also put forth that the noticeable glitter ash gave members of the LGBT community the opportunity to demonstrate to the church at large that they were showing up and taking part.

On their terms.

MY faith, MY way... The problem with glitter ash. How to Grow through Giving Up, Part 3: Ashes to Ashes, Glitter to...

The ashes, whether wiped off before the recipient leaves the church or left on for the day, represent an understanding of our failure to live up to God’s holiness. Sorrow is an appropriate response to our sin. The ash of dried-out Palm-Sunday fronds symbolizes recipients’ sorrow over personal sin.

Glitter? Glitter is the opposite of sorrow. It’s celebratory. To be blunt, using it in the sacrament of Ash Wednesday is a celebration of sin.

This is where I may upset my liberal friends. Homosexual sex is a sin. No matter how much the couple loves each other, and whether or not you affirm the relationship with the term marriage.

Not all heterosexual sex is blessed, either.

All sex outside the covenant relationship of marriage between one man and one woman is sin, because it is in opposition to God’s ideal design.

Sex inside of marriage can also be sinful if there is coercion or force, or in various other circumstances. A marriage license isn’t a license to abuse.

The problem of glitter ash

Glitter ash reveals one of the biggest problems with sin. Sin is attractive because it appeals to our human instincts, then we dress it up to hide its dangers, especially when conscience is an issue. We make it shiny and distracting, to keep people’s eyes and hearts away from the seeming dullness of obedience to God’s commands and standards.

We throw away true freedom in our chase after false, hollow, exciting, sparkly bondage.

If we could see sin for what it truly is, if we could see its consequences as they are, we wouldn’t so easily embrace it.

I think the reason Jesus made it through His time on earth, fully man and fully God, without sin, is that while the man ran into the temptations we fall to, He knew what they cost. He fully lived the intimacy of the fellowship they hinder. He saw the big picture of the devastation they wreak. He knew the high cost of their penalty.

We don’t fully appreciate how traumatic it must have been for Adam and Eve to witness the sacrifice of the first animal, the first shedding of blood to cover sin – their sin. Many of us are repulsed by descriptions of Old Testament sacrifice. But the concept is not merely archaic or barbaric, it’s meant to be unsettling. God never says, It’s okay. You’re only human. We can overlook this. He loves us, but can’t accept, tolerate, or ignore sin.

In fact, according to the law of Moses, nearly everything was purified with blood. For without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness. Hebrews 9:22, NLT

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23, NLT

God provided the only acceptable eternal sacrifice to redeem us. As believers, our sin is covered.

We must remember the cost. We should run toward the freedom of setting aside our sin, not hide from grace and cling to our chains.

Who am I to say?

Melinda, you’re not gay, and you’re married, so who are you to judge anyone’s sex life because you think yours is the only kind that’s right?!?

Although I know God’s ideal for sex is between one man and one woman in the covenant relationship of marriage, I didn’t get it right. Even though I haven’t had sex with anyone besides my husband in years, I still don’t always get it right.

Some unflattering honesty… Monogamy and purity are hard for me. The level of vulnerability necessary for a successful marriage horrifies me at times. A pattern of physical gratification apart from emotional commitment while I was single makes consistently wholehearted fidelity difficult. I’m still learning to feel valuable apart from whether or not men find me attractive. Living in my head is easier than doing the hard work of real relationships with those around me.

Just because I’m a married heterosexual doesn’t mean I don’t struggle to submit my sexuality to God and fully live my identity in Him.

But, yes, I do believe the only truly healthy sex, and the only sex of which God approves, is between a husband and wife. I am a wife, and I have a husband, so you could say I do have that going for me. If may seem unfair for someone who can have sex under the “right” conditions to imply that others shouldn’t have sex. But no one said that life in Christ doesn’t involve sacrifice of things we want, even cherish.

If you want the perspective of three people who are same-sex attracted, but accept, honor, value, and advocate a traditional Biblical perspective on sex and marriage, check out these wonderful posts:

When You Don’t Want to Tell by Laurie Krieg
Same-Sex Attraction and Me by Tammy Perlmutter
Q&A with Sam Allberry: Same-Sex Attraction, Synod Remarks, and Why The Gospel Is Truly Good News For All
Holy Saturday for Gay Christians by Wesley Hill

It’s not about my opinion and wants. It’s not about your opinion and wants.

A Biblical perspective on sex

One man and one woman, in a covenant relationship of marriage. Not that the Bible is full of examples of God’s ideal. In fact, there are far more examples of relationships outside of this, along with many of their drawbacks and consequences.

For Christians who believe we can’t apply Old Testament laws on purity and sexuality to 21st century sex lives, we need to also remember that homosexual sex was also considered sin in the New Testament, despite its acceptance by the surrounding culture. Yes, there are movements in Scripture that reveal God’s intent for His people’s perspective on and approach to various things to mature, but acceptance of homosexual practice isn’t one of them.

For a more in-depth look at why I believe the movement of Scripture indicates God’s desire for the abolition of slavery and women in positions of spiritual authority, but does not reveal an acceptance of homosexual sex acts, check out Slaves, Women, and Homosexuals: Exploring the Hermeneutics of Cultural Analysis by William J. Webb.

Self-Denial Doesn’t Wear Glitter

The opposite of Lent’s self-denial is self-indulgence. We see much more of the second in the world. A company producing glitter ash and marketing it to churches that practice Ash Wednesday is just one more example.

The more I think about Lent this year, the more I know we need reminders to consider in what areas our preferences, whims, and desires are more important to us than God’s commands and others’ welfare.

God's commands and others' welfare are more important than my preferences, whims and desires. Click To Tweet

Our sin never affects just us. Even when we believe “no one gets hurt,” our choices affect others.

Giving up sex for Lent?

Glitter ash or no, submitting our sexuality to God isn’t just a Lenten season thing. It’s a commitment, with a life-long, daily follow-through. As I mentioned earlier in this series, now is always the best time to stop doing something that dishonors God, and Lent is an opportunity to consider what those things are and give them up.

Are you in an unmarried, sexual relationship? Caught up in the lie of casual sex? Indulging in lustful thoughts and fantasy? Pornography? Whether it’s same-sex or opposite-sex, sin is sin.

Here’s something else to give up now and forever: Minimizing yourself to your sexuality or status as L or G or B or T or Q orYou’re more than that.

It’s not the church’s job to affirm an individual’s sexuality, but each person’s humanity as God does. Sexuality is a small part of our humanity in the awesome fullness in which God created each of us. Inherent, biological, genetic, learned, predisposed… our identity isn’t as narrow as the LGBT lobby says it is. Society doesn’t need to accept an unscientific perspective on gender to value all its members.

We can only be all we were born to be, all we are created to be, in Christ.

We can only be all we were born to be, all we are created to be, in Christ. Click To Tweet

If you’re married, and you decide to abstain from sex during Lent as an opportunity to grow in your relationship with God and in Christlikeness, it must be a mutual decision. Lent isn’t about denying your spouse, it’s about denying yourself.

So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free. John 8:36, NLT

"So if the Son sets you free..." Submitting our sexuality to Christ and finding our identity in Him

So if the Son sets you free... Submitting our sexuality to God, and finding our identity in Him. Click To Tweet

Check out the rest of the How to Grow through Giving Up series HERE.

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