Thursday, May 11, 2023

May 11--Purity vs. Holiness

The story of human intimacy is one of constantly allowing ourselves to see those we love most deeply in a new, more fractured light. Look hard. Risk that. 
--Cheryl Strayed

    Richard Rohr's "Daily Meditation" from May 10 is titled "Purity is Not Holiness." He offers these words from pastor and public theologian Nadia Bolz-Weber describing how emphasizing “purity” leads us away from holiness:
Our purity systems, even those established with the best of intentions, do not make us holy. They only create insiders and outsiders. They are mechanisms for delivering our drug of choice: self-righteousness, as juice from the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil runs down our chins. And these purity systems affect far more than our relationship to sex and booze: they show up in political ideology, in the way people shame each other on social media, in the way we obsess about “eating clean.” Purity most often leads to pride or to despair, not holiness. Because holiness is about union with, and purity is about separation from….

To connect to the holy is to access the deepest, juiciest part of our spirits. Perhaps this is why we set up so many boundaries, protections, and rules around both sex and religion…. But when the boundaries, protections, and rules become more important than the sacred thing they are intended to protect, casualties ensue.

But no matter how much we strive for purity in our minds, bodies, spirits, or ideologies, purity is not the same as holiness. It’s just easier to define what is pure than what is holy, so we pretend they are interchangeable.
    I am a casualty of modern-day religion. I've experienced the glaring self-righteousness of those seeking purity. It's not pretty. An outstanding example is the current separation in the United Methodist Church over LGBTQ--one side seeking purity, the other holiness. 
    I'll take holiness.
Grass shadows on the sidewalk...
Every step we take is on holy ground.

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