When I was in high school one of my religion teachers had us memorize this statement: “I am a unique child of God, full of potential.” When I became a religion teacher, I modified it slightly to, “I am a unique child of God, full of potential, and my life is hidden in Christ. (From Col. 3).”
I kept this going (and still use it) because, over the years, the sentiment expressed has enduring impact. The question of identity resonates at our core. Nonetheless, for many of us–nay, I would say all of us–there are times when we find “Who we are” to be a puzzle and a mystery. This statement does not emphasis Who we are, but Whose we are. We are part of God’s family; it is hard to fathom, but then we are told that our life is hidden. This comports with my experience of reality. One of the promises of Christianity is that when Christ is revealed, we will finally be revealed, too. Until then, it will always be mysterious. To others, and to ourselves. Always.
The cases of Rachel Dolezal, a white woman who ‘self-identifies’ as a black woman and Bruce Jenner, a man who ‘self-identifies’ as a woman, are only the latest manifestations of a war on our identity. Politically speaking, ‘identity’ has become an instrument of war. Dolezal and Jenner are casualties in that war, but then, so are the rest of us. We live in a society that tells us that identity matters so much that you can burn down all of reality in one’s quest to establish an ‘identity’ that gives one inner peace, but this permission was granted so that others could make political hay out of it, not out of concern for the confused individuals about on their quest.
Identity does matter. But so does reality.
The philosophies and ideologies which sponge off the question of ‘identity’ have no answer to the question because they are not grounded in reality. People flail about in search of who they are, and the best the identity-peddlers can give them are wisps and phantasms. After all, the identity-peddlers have no room in their inn for a God who bought and paid for humanity through his own death on a cross. What else can the peddlers offer? Genitalia. Skin color. Ethnicity. Union membership. And so on.
None of these satisfactorily answers the question of ‘who we are’ because humans are not penises. They are not vaginas. They are not skin. They are not descent. They are not brains. Humans are much, much more than this. You cannot inflame a tiny part of our human existence into the whole interpretative framework for our being and not expect mass confusion, delusion, and despair. But even an attempt to be more holistic (ie, taking into account both genitalia and skin color) would fail, because humans are more than our material parts. We are spiritual beings, built for greater things in a higher family. This is reality. And it is the very thing the identity-peddlers will never allow.
The identity-peddlers have a problem. They have done everything they can to fracture and split people from reality, and the result is a lot of broken people. They aim to fix the problem by telling the broken people that “they are alright just the way they are” or “they were born that way” and then they seek to silence, in increasingly tyrannical tones, anyone who calls attention to the brokenness. The idea is that if people don’t hear contrary viewpoints, they will rest serenely in their identity.
The identity-peddlers claim to have a high view of man, but in fact its the lowest view. They think that humans are mere animals, and like Pavlov’s dog, can be conditioned to have responses–including happy and content responses. Identity is a toy, or a component that can be tweaked by the conditioners at will. On this view, all is well so long as no one threatens to break the spell.
It is better to have people broken then to be honest with them about the true nature of reality. But reality always breaks in. People do not rest serenely in their identity, because their conception of it is a mere shadow of their true identity. My mere saying this risks waking up the restless sleepers: therefore, I must be destroyed.
There is no room in the Managed Society for people like myself, who tell other people that their identity, while important, will always be a mystery, and this itself testifies to the fact that they are more than their reproductive parts, or more than their skin color. This threatens the whole program.
People have historically drawn their identity through, first of all, their family. History is chock full of sad stories of people scarred dramatically because of their family–but this is not an argument against the family, it is an argument for striving to cultivate healthy families, so that the children will grow up healthy and whole. But you can’t re-engineer society when people are drawing their identity from their family, so the first thing to be targeted for destruction was the family.
Divorce on demand, for example, made it easier to dissolve marriages, and the children were left to have their interests protected by the State. Contrary to the insistence of the identity-peddlers, it was under their system that children became chattel. Instead of being ‘owned’ by the parents, they became ‘owned’ by the State. But Big Brother and Big Mother are wholly inadequate to the task of answering the big questions of life. Oh, they offer answers, but the answers offer no sustenance, and breed more questions and more unhappiness.
It’s like offering a Twinkie to a hungry man instead of a steak. You fed them. They may have even walked away feeling full. But they did not receive something that could truly sustain them in the long run. A person who lives on Twinkies alone will eventually get very sick. It is in the interest of the identity-peddlers to deny that the sickness has anything to do with the exclusive diet of Twinkies, because it is not only the case that all they have to offer are Twinkies, they own the Twinkie factory.
As society continues to be more fractured as people become increasingly separated from reality, in large part thanks to the peddlers, we’re going to see more and more strained ‘self-identifications.’ We will see more attempts to silence dissenters, in increasingly violent ways. For, there is a lot at stake. It is a throw-down between the World-that-Is versus the World-we-Want. The World-that-Is will win; it always does. But there are many people who are thoroughly invested in the World-we-Want, and they are less interested in the pain they are causing their fellow-man then they let on.
Changing the world or saving the earth is an end that can justify nearly any means, you see.
But for those who come across this post, I hope you’ll consider a different possibility. Your identity crisis is real and genuine. It is common to mankind. But maybe it is precisely because who you are is a mystery that maybe you should stop looking to the World for who you are, and instead ask another question: Whose are you?