What’s Your Identity

An idea that I cannot seem to shake, concerns itself with equating attraction with sexual identity, or even gender identity.  It’s common more today, so it seems, that if we find a person attractive, we potentially might be a certain kind of sexual person.  And with that comes a sexual label.   I’m this, that, or that other thing!  Go online and find the “How to know you’re really hetero or gay,” videos out there.  There are many of them!   What if we actually believed the hype on these sites?  If I equated my sexual identity with those I am attracted to or those I can picture myself having sex with, my life would be insane.

We are forever creatures that are looking to seek peace within ourselves aren’t we?  And we accomplish this peace by doing things that make us feel good, creating in us an identity through the things we do to, and for ourselves.  Identity is important to many of us.  The Christian is concerned with identity too.  But we realize that identity is one of faith.  We can never do enough that will bring us the peace we need.  Jesus alone has done what we could never do and in being what we could never be.  We trust that our identity is found in what He says about us, not from what we think about ourselves.

I was in the sixth grade when I pierced my left ear.  I think the next year I did my right.  Why?  I wanted to be something I was not at the time.  I was insecure and discontented with myself.  But in my mind, I saw myself as a heavy metal guitar player!  It’s what I looked up to, it’s what I liked, it’s what I wanted to be.  I pondered how cool it would be to be thin, thin enough to fit into tight leather pants!  I desired my hair to be long like a lady.  The earring too was an important part of the act.  Many of us young boys saw that looking like a girl could give us an identity that seemed so cool.  As with most Southern California kids, identity was everything.  So, as we grew up, we became part of groups and sub cultures.  Piercings were a part of creating an identity when I was a kid.  Later tattoos became a way for others to develop an identity.  Of course, these are still in full force today.  Why do people get tattoos, or piercings anyway?  It’s because we want to.  We see ourselves with it, and like it on us.  It is a part of our self-seeking.

Today I would like to propose that sex identity and gender identity are similar in today’s culture.  When I hear people talk about their sexual or gender identities it sounds so familiar to me, as trying to find ourselves.  Things were always done because of my feelings.  We forever are looking to feel better.  Is there something in us that compels us to do so?  Why are we so incomplete?  One of the reasons I enjoy old people is that there is no pretense with them.  No gel in their hair (if they have any).  Their eye for fashion is mostly gone and I don’t see many concerned about getting tattoos or piercings.  Do you?

Could the choosing of our sexual or gender identity be simply a graduation from tattoos and piercings?  It’s interesting to chat with Jr. High students about life.  They come out with some interesting things.  In today’s world of Youtuber’s and pop culture, they see sexual identity as important.  So important that they too are willing to go out on a limb and share their own sexual identity and gender online.  They’re much more comfortable revealing what they see as important just as their teen idols do.   “I’m bisexual, I’m homosexual, I’m heterosexual, I’m pan-sexual,” yet they do not fully know what those terms mean yet!  They just see themselves as fitting into a subculture to which they can be comforted and feel a part of something.  Isn’t this why we did what we did when growing up?  We think to ourselves, “this is who we are,” and in turn do things to conform.

With my fascination with metal music, it influenced me to conform to what it looked like at the time.  Can that work for sexual issues too?  In our world, sensuality is everywhere.  Not just sensuality, but sex too.  When we discuss porn today, it is hard not to see that porn is everywhere.  So many things in our world are invented to cause sexual arousal.  With the amount of pornography available on the web, many grow up watching hard core porn of many kinds and genres.  I would imagine within this sex saturated culture there would be a subculture within it as well.  And in turn, it would be another avenue to find an identity that makes us feel good.  Is this only a construction in an economic prospering place such as the United States of America?  I tend to wonder if in the remote parts of the world… “do they have people who make the identity claims that we see here?”  Is this sexual and gender identity universal?  Or is sexual identity and gender identity just a product of a bored culture that needs to find other ways to be satisfied and happy?

I sometimes think about what it would be like to take away all the technological amenities that we have today.  What would that be like?  Sometimes, on the TV I will watch a channel that shows a family that says, “the heck with it, we’re moving to the sticks of Idaho,” and go back to living like it was in the 1700’s!  Amazing and fascinating! But what if we all did that?  Would the same issues that we see today be present?  It makes me seriously think that today we have issues that are constructed due to many cultural and economic factors, which if removed, we might not have.

Without technology, then it would be vital to have children the old fashion way.  Homosexuality might not be seen as a growing accepted way.  Or monogamy might be looked down upon too.  As the more babies the better work crew you’ll have working the land!  Many things might be different in a different social cultural context.  Without TV or the internet, then we would not be inundated and influenced by a narcissistic philosophy that says, be like me and find yourself!  Instead, we might be focused more on our kids and their kids and their kids…  We would be interested in creating a life for our future descendants.  This today is quite lost.  I imagine we are living in a time that is like no other.  We are more selfish, so selfish, that we do not realize it.  Everything is concerned with us at the present moment.  And we actually are glad about it!

Does this intense looking through the narrow lens at ourselves result in a constant feeling of inadequacy and incompleteness, which moves us to try and find something else that will help us feel right?

Jesus offers us a path off of this roller-coaster of self-diagnosis by giving us a new identity which is in Him! I love how the New Living Translation puts it in Colossians 2:10, “So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.”

Isn’t that just beautiful! You and I can have a union with Jesus! Instead of trying to fit in, Jesus offers you and I friendship like no other! We can be complete (fulfilled) in Him!

“But as many as received him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:12).

This passage tells us that when we receive Jesus as our LORD, we receive a new identity! We are now children of God! What an awesome joy to know that I don’t have to find my identity in my feelings, or by what the latest pop culture trends. Jesus gives us a new identity as a part of His forever family!

We can be made new because we are now children of God. “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (2nd Corinthians 5:17).

I hope you think about Jesus today and choose to find your identity in Him instead of your culture.

Beau Ouellette

Founder of Running Light Ministries, Associate Pastor at Calvary Christian Fellowship of Tucson, AZ – beau@runninglight.org