n 1960, P.D. Eastman wrote a delightful children’s book, “Are You My Mother?” Perhaps you remember it as a child or you read it to your children or grandchildren. It’s the story of a baby bird who falls out of the nest and goes on a journey to find his mother. The baby bird encounters a kitten, hen, dog, and cow, among others, in search for his mother. Of course none of them are his mother. At one place the baby bird proclaims, “I did have a mother!” which motivates his journey to find her.
With apologies to Eastman and literature scholars, it makes me think of the journey to “find our identity.”
What I am wondering, is if the idea resonates with all of us looking for our identity.
Our Identity & Job Title
When we meet a person a common early questions is, “What do you do for a living?” We identify ourselves based on our profession as an attorney, surgeon, teacher, engineer, developer, money manager, salesman, etc. We may find good and decent self-respect in our profession. But are we our job title? Or are we nobly, a father, mother, husband, wife?
Beyond our jobs or relationships, our mindset has moved further to the point that our identity is up for grabs. At least, it is certainly up for debate, discussion and above all, tolerance. It is common to explain or defend our identity based on a sexual preference and the decisive: “I was born this way.”
Christians join in the discussion often accepting the fact that a person is born with a particular identity, and therefore no one can question or challenge a person’s self-defined identity.
But what does Scripture say about man’s identity?
Our Identity & Scripture
While it’s neutral to identify ourselves by our profession or family relationship this is not taught in Scripture. And while we celebrate open, transparent and “authentic” language (are there any taboos left?), where do we find a sexual preference or orientation anywhere linked to our identity?
Scripture says we were made in God’s image (Genesis 1:26-27). Unique to all creation, the man and woman are image bearers of God. Even after the fall, the image bearers are the ones for whom Christ will live, die, be buried and resurrected to forgive man and provide the right relationship with the God who created us.
So when a person says he / she is gay, transgendered…or identifies with any sexual preference, I often say technically, “Then I must say I was born a womanizer.”
Mind you, in God’s great kindness, I’ve been faithful to Cindy for 34 years and counting. With His Holy Spirit’s help and self-control, I’ve been faithful to my wife and my wife alone. I do not “act out” on a contorted, self-described “womanizer” as my identity.
And of course, where would we draw the line if / when a person claims their identity is a pedophile or rapist? After all, if we can choose or self-define our identity as “such-in-such” how can any moral value enter the open, transparent and authentic conversation to say, “That’s wrong?”
Simply put, our identity is either in Christ or not. We are either sinners in a right relationship with Christ, being conformed to His likeness or we are sinners not in relationship with Christ living the way we choose.
Realignment is a good thing. And realigning ourselves to the word of God, to be the man / woman God wants us to be, is the best identity we can have. After all, I’d rather be a forgiven redeemed sinner than trying to sort out my identity by the culture’s ever-changing definitions.