The homosexual shift in American culture has taken a confusing turn regarding identity. People today are increasingly asserting their “identity rights.” But this movement has major logical flaws. In the end, it comes crashing head first into the concept of God as Creator. Where do we find identity?
The main assumption behind the homosexual civil rights movement has been that we cannot choose our identity. Our sexual attractions are part of our DNA, and though they may change, we are powerless to change them. So position one has been “I can’t choose my identity, and therefore I have a (civil) right to live according to my desires.” Seems straightforward enough.
In recent days, however, the issue of gender identification has pragmatically resulted in the opposite viewpoint. We are a free society, and the argument is that people have the right to choose the gender (or even ethnicity?) with which they identify. We now have vocabulary words like transgender, which, according to the American Psychological Association is:
an umbrella term for persons whose gender identity, gender expression or behavior does not conform to that typically associated with the sex to which they were assigned at birth.
Therefore, we can choose our identity. So Bruce Jenner can become Caitlyn Jenner as a matter of freedom. What could be more American? Surprisingly, America has been less enthusiastic about embracing Rachel Dolezal’s right to identify with a different ethnicity, but this is shockingly inconsistent. Position two is logical: “I have the right to choose my identity.”
Put side by side, these two positions are mutually exclusive. Either we cannot choose our identity, or we can. Yet our culture is affirming both simultaneously. This requires us to redefine gender culturally rather than physiologically, and to insist that sexual attraction is different than gender identification.
Common sense dictates against both maneuvers. Even undergoing hormone therapy and sex change operations, the chromosomal makeup of a human can’t be changed. Gender is necessarily biological. Furthermore, gender and sexual attraction are integrally related. Part of diagnosing gender association is considering sexual desire. If someone cannot choose their sexual desires, but can choose which gender they identify with, they have a decision making matrix to work through: if you are a male attracted to males then you may choose to identify as a homosexual male or as a heterosexual female, physiology not withstanding. At this point we are pretty far down the rabbit hole. Either you can or cannot choose your identity.
The identity discussion in our culture has a noticeable gap: considering God as Creator. The Biblical narrative for humanity assumes that God, as our Creator, has determined our identity. Genesis 1:27 reveals,
So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
Note that gender, determined physiologically, is part of the foundational description of the creation of humanity. To assume the right to decide gender is to attempt to steal a prerogative that belongs to God, and it is therefore idolatry. On the other hand, to assert that God creates us with homosexual attraction misses the next part of the Biblical narrative: sin.
After sin entered the world, gender relationships within humanity were broken. This is made clear by God’s statement of consequence to Eve in Genesis 3:16,
Your desire shall be for your husband,
and he shall rule over you.
This may refer to sexual desire, or more likely to a redefinition of God’s design for roles within marriage, but either way sin has created gender problems. The modern American confusion regarding gender and sexuality is simply another symptom of the sin problem.
Ultimately, every human’s identity comes from God, including gender, ethnicity, DNA, etc. But every human’s identity is also broken because of sin. We need a solution. We need a new identity.
At this point the Bible offers a solution, and it is neither in justifying an identity broken by sin, nor in seeking to claim God’s right to establish identity. The Bible’s solution is to make individuals new in Christ, giving them a new identity. We read in 2 Corinthians 5:17,
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
This passage details Jesus’ reconciliation ministry- Jesus is making sinners new by paying for their sins and fundamentally changing them. This truth is also expressed in Galatians 3:28,
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
In Galatians Paul is primarily addressing ethnicity issues (Jew and Gentile). In Christ, neither ethnicity, nor social status, nor gender ultimately defines us. Rather, we are now a new creation in Christ. This doesn’t mean we aren’t still Jews or Greeks, or slaves or free, or male or female (consider Paul’s instructions to slaves and masters, or husbands and wives in Ephesians). It simply means that in Jesus we are now made new. We have a new identity as a follower of Jesus.
Fundamentally, we all need a new identity—not one that we create, but one that God has provided for us in Jesus. The phrase “new creation” is significant, because it assumes God is still our Creator. Life is far less perplexing when we follow the Creator’s design rather than try and re-design ourselves. Our identity crisis can be solved, but not by us. It is only in Christ that we are made new.