Monday, July 27, 2015

Problems with identity. . .

Bruce Jenner insists he is and has always been a woman.  Rachel Dolezal insists that she identifies as a a black woman.  We seem, for the first time in history, to be facing a crisis of identity.  The burning question of our age seems to be "Who am I?"  The places you normally went to answer those questions (family, ancestry, the mirror, etc...) no longer are believed to provide reliable answers.  Therefore there is but one place left to go -- how do I feel.  Feelings are among the least reliable sources to answer the vexing questions we face as children, adolescents, teenagers, and adults.  In fact, I would posit that our feelings are the worst place for us to go to answer the weighty questions of life.

You do not have to be Bruce Jenner or Rachel Dolezal to be in this dilemma. Where do we go for answers to the questions that haunt us?  Conscience and moral values were once reliable voices to address the debate within our souls but now they take second place to our feelings.  Science was once considered reliable (and still is when its answers suit us) but as Rachel Dolezal has said there is no biological proof she is her parents' child.  Last time I checked science thought it was pretty good at DNA tests.  But even science can be discarded when it conflicts with feelings.

Feelings are a prison as much as a gift -- that is the fruit of the Fall and Adam and Eve's terrible legacy to us.  We cannot trust them and we cannot control them.  They lead us where we should not go and leave alone with our guilt and shame when darkness gives up its secrets to the light.  They prey upon our weakness and cast off the very restraint that is God's noble work in us.  They are temporary and volatile, burning hot until they consume us or others and then as cold as ice.  The wonderful gift that feelings were has been forever marred by sin and now we must listen to a more reliable voice in happiness and in sorrow -- the voice of the Spirit working through the Word.

There is no identity crisis.  What there remains is a vulnerability through our feelings to the things that can destroy us as easily as they can satisfy us.  Feelings are as much as quest as an answer -- and the endless pursuit of that which satisfies us and makes us feel good is the most fruitless journey a life can take.  The Caitlyn Jenners of this world and the Rachel Dolezals do not need time or understanding.  They need to be set free from the oppressive reign and rule of their feelings that cannot and will not be satisfied.  Identity is the gift God gave us in creating us and in redeeming us.  We know who we are.  We are His.  Not by our choice or desire but by His divine act of love in reaching into the abyss of our sinful wants and desires and loosening the chains of our endless pursuit of feelings that satisfy.  He died on the cross to end this death and rose to bestow on us eternal life.  And in baptism He killed what was already filled with death that He might make us alive with the life death can no longer touch.  When we begin to see how our identity flows from and is rooted in Christ, then we will know peace.  But until then, our feelings will rule our hearts and we will know everything but peace.

3 comments:

John J. Flanagan said...

I know many people have an identity problem, even some professing Christians, but I do not. I know who I am, a Pilgrim and a Stranger on the earth with a fixed time here. As a man, a husband, father, brother, I have often fell short, but I believe the promises of God. I am a sinner saved by grace, a child of God, and eventually I shall meet my Savior and the host of Heaven face to face.

Kirk Skeptic said...

What is euphemistically referred to as an "identity problem" is nothing but a delusion. Some delusions get you into psychiatric hospitals with court-ordered medication, while others - ie, those that are politically correct - get you lauded as a new American Hero(ine). There will be nutters until Christ returns, but there is nothing in Christian charity requiring one to enabled such behavior.

Dixie said...

Well said, Kirk. I have been in the most surreal conversations on this very thing...psychiatric disorders that are to be treated and ones that are allow to flourish because ....? Well, that is the troubling point for me. Cur alii non?