Searching for one’s identity has become the struggle of our generation.
R ecently two people have been in the media spotlight over their choices to identify themselves in fundamentally different ways from that of which they were born. Our society’s response reveals a conflicted inconsistency towards the question of “Who Am I?”
Rachel Dolezal, identified as a black woman as the former head of the Spokane NAACP. Dolezal was married to a black man and has a degree in African-American studies from a historically black university. Last week her parents revealed that her biological ancestry is entirely European; that it wasn’t until her teenage years, after her parents adopted four black children, that Rachel chose to identify herself as black.
The reaction to Dolezal’s misleading self-identification as a black woman has been mixed; some of it gracious, as in the case of local pastor Edrin Williams who raises good questions about how we deal with racial identification in America. Some of the more critical responses to Dolezal adopting a new racial identity have been harsh.
Is one’s race really a choice? How about one’s gender? The high profile case of Caitlyn (formerly Bruce) Jenner recently transitioning from a male to a female body raises more of these questions about our ability to choose our identity.
Mark Yarhouse, a Christian psychologist at Regent University, defines gender dysphoria in Christianity Today as a “deep and abiding discomfort over the incongruence between one’s biological sex and one’s psychological and emotional experience of gender.”
Their attempt to re-create their own identities reveals a burning question many in our society struggle with: Who Am I?
For Caitlyn Jenner and Rachel Dolezal to assume different identities than that of their biological nature shows a deep conflict with their born identities. Their attempt to re-create their own identities reveals a burning question many in our society struggle with: Who Am I?A s Christians we understand the starting point for answering “Who am I?” begins with the creation story. In it, we learn that we are created in the image of God, and that God created us with gender so that male and female uniquely reflect certain characteristics of God. Because every human is created in the image of God with intrinsic value and worth, regardless of gender or race, our identity comes from God.
Our identity comes from God… We find our wholeness and completion in Christ.
Jacob wrestled with God to resolve his sense of identity, and ultimately God conferred upon him a new identity, naming him Israel.
In the New Testament Christians are taught to find our identity in Christ. We are children of God, God’s created handiwork. We find our wholeness and completion in Christ (Col. 2:10).
When we are unsure of our identity we experience great distress. We need to wrestle with God individually like Jacob did to fully understand who we are. Our hope is to experience our struggle for identity in private like Jacob did, and receive God’s blessing at the end of it. But for some of God’s children that struggle is public and often painful.
Let us help people meet and become intimately familiar with God – the One who
created them – to find the ultimate answer to their burning question: Who am I?
As more and more people in our generation struggle with fundamental questions about their identity, let us help people meet and become intimately familiar with God – the One who created them – to find the ultimate answer to their burning question: Who am I?