We couldnt avoid this issue any longer. Its about time we dealt with homosexual identity/behavior issue from a bibilcal perspective. Your feedback and critique is welcomed as we work this out with “fear and trembling”. An administrative note: this is somewhat lengthy.
Identity is defined as the essence of an individual. It is synonymous with our core being, therefore what we do extends primarily from who we are. The serious question in this matter is who are we? And how do we determine who we are? Is identity established by our own values or do we craft our values based on our identity? Is identity fluid translucent, affected by external circumstances or is identity fixed regardless of what we encounter in life –whether negative or positive?
Much of the current teachings in the church on identity (i.e. “find your purpose”) seem to be a mixture of scripture highly influenced by forms of existenialism and/or postmodernism. Existentialism is a philosophy “concerned with finding self and the meaning of life through free will, choice, and personal responsibility. The belief is that people are searching to find out who and what they are throughout life as they make choices based on their experiences, beliefs, and outlook. And personal choices become unique without the necessity of an objective form of truth. [source] Read why this is wrong for Christians to adopt this philosophy.
There is no doubt about it, that in scripture identity issues are addressed clearly but only in the spiritual context. The bible guides us into understanding who we are as children of God, saints, new creations, and yes even our sinful identities lived out in the flesh. The two are oftimes held in both contrast and comparison.
In this post I want to explore first of all identity and what it means by looking at Christ. Since he is the author and finisher of our faith, let us, as Hebrews 12 says, “consider him”.
The two most important questions a Christian should ask himself is (1) who am I? and (2) what should I be doing?
They should be asked in that order because I submit that if you do not know who you are, you will never do what you (being who you are) should do. Of course this “knowing” and “doing” can be discovered only in relationship with Christ, not through some program at the local junior college. Moreover, these two questions mirror the two most important questions about Jesus, the Christ. Both form a core doctrine of our faith insomuch as to not believe who Christ was and what he accomplished merits an automatic label of antichrist. Any teaching which alters the true identity and mission of Christ is to be completely rejected.
Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. 1 John 4:1 NIV
Identity is everything
According to Merriam-Webster’s, the word identity is “derived from Latin ident-idem , a contraction of idem et idem, which literally means, same and same.” Thus, this “same and same” is defined as “the distinguishing character or personality of an individual.” The very first temptations encountered by Jesus challenged his unique identity as the monogenes [only genetically birthed], the only begotten of the Father. He was unique,” or “incomparable” in his identity.
Jesus’ identity continued to be challenged by the powers of evil throughout his ministry. Just as the devil challenged Jesus in the desert as the “Son of God”, so in the course of his ministry the demons (or demon-possessed) confronted him (Mark 1:24).” By saying “what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth…I know who thou art, the Holy One of God” This was not a compliment from the demonic but rather a angry sneer at the power and authority Jesus had over them as the Holy One of God.
Today, in our society, we deal with our own set of challenges about who and what we are as individuals and more importantly, people redeemed by God. Statistics show that there is an explosion of identity based crimes: mistaken identity, fake identity and identity theft. Men and women are confused about their sexuality and their gender. People are confused about their color and their ethnicity. People are confused about their financial worth. In every sector of our world, there are clear markers of an identity crisis.
More than ever, it seems the question posed by Jesus to his disciples during his three year ministry is just as urgent and necessary to His contemporary disciples. “Who do men say that I am?” As it did then, the question still evokes great controversy. Yet, it is one we must collectively and individually answer beyond a shadow of a doubt. Simply put, the establishment of his identity was fundamental to divinely branding the mission of Jesus. If we cannot determine who Jesus is, then we can never come to believe that what he did was because of who he was. Jesus’ question has clear implications. To wit, identity parallels one’s mission.
Not only was identity verification applicable for Jesus, but for others who preceded him in the Biblical record. Even before his birth, the prophets had foretold his coming and in some cases, the very details of his life. Some of the prophecies concerning him are framed (much like a DNA sample) in such a way it would be impossible for anyone except Jesus to fulfill them.
We know that Jacob’s name was changed to reflect his new identity as a “prince of Israel” (Genesis 32: 27, 28). And God said to the prophet Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5) NIV. As a result of who he was, Jeremiah was charged by God to “uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.” In these examples, we see that identity preceeds mission. Perhaps if you are frustrated with what you are doing now, you have not yet truly discovered who you are.
But who and what did Jesus really claim to be? According to the synoptic Gospels, he made serveral controversial claims: he claimed that he was from above, he was the long awaited Messiah, he claimed equality with God, that access to God was exclusively through him, that he would rise from the dead, and that he was the “revelation” of God in the flesh.
One can only deduce that these very public claims were either true or false. If they weren’t true, or if He knowingly permitted people to make such claims on His behalf, then He would be a liar, a fraud and a false prophet. On this, his life would have been taken in just retribution for his “sins”. How ironic that he accepted the mission to die as a liar, fraud and false prophet to save those who condemned him although he was vigorously tried and found to be completely innocent.
Ultimately, it was the unapologetic verbalization of these claims which led the Pharisees to press Pilate for Jesus’ death. This my brothers and sisters was the fatal flaw in their religious positioning. They did not know who he was and consequently rejected him for what he did.
When we talk about identity you must understand that identity is rooted in truth. Its no wonder then that Pontius Pilate asked Jesus “What is truth? The Lord responded by saying that he himself was truth. Truth, was not a thing, truth was a person. It was truth the person who stood in the midst of a false trial. While Jesus remained silent to the accusations about his works, in contrast he quickly responded when questioned about his identity (Mark 14:60-62). He understood that he could not conceal who he was. To do so, would deny the very reason he was sent into the world.
That’s why when we introduce Jesus to those who don’t know him, they have a right to ask who is Jesus and why should I trust him? Why should I give my life to him and obey him? Knowing Christ is a much richer experience than knowing about him.
Finally, the obfuscation of one’s identity is a tactic in the arsenal of satan. It is the deceiver who attempts to hide his true nature, mission and identity. Like a criminal, he uses elaborate disguises and false promises to lure you into the death zone. This is why it is imperative that we combat the false picture of sexuality being endorsed and promoted by the gay christian movement. Like other satanic schemes, it is an attack on the personage of Christ which consequently distorts the mission of Christ.