Defining Identity

In my previous post I was telling you about a conversation I had with a lady who had friends and family who identified as gay, and she told me she wouldn’t go to any church that told them “that they couldn’t be themselves.”

Defining Identity

In the previous post we looked at how we discover morality. In this one I want us to think about defining identity.

Defining identity

She said that churches who condemn homosexual behaviour as sinful aren’t allowing her friends to be themselves.

I had a couple of issues with her statement.

Our identity shouldn’t be based on our desires

She equated her friends’ selfhood with their homosexual lifestyle – if they can’t live that life then they can’t be themselves. I told her I thought that was a very demeaning way to define someone’s identity.

If I am defined by my sexual desires then that is where my value lies and that is where my purpose is found. Little wonder then that people with that attitude are so sensitive to any criticism or condemnation of their behaviour. The slogan, “Hate the sin but love the sinner” doesn’t work with them because “the sin” is their identity. It’s not a part of their life; it is their life. So, from their point of view, you can’t hate that without hating them.

But, I told her, we are so much more than our sexual desires. We are image-bearers of God. That means that we have intrinsic worth – a coin has value because of the image of the sovereign on it, and we have value because God’s image is on us. It also means we have transcendent purpose – being made in God’s image means we are made to represent Him and to relate to Him.

That means then that, if my sexual desires can’t or shouldn’t be fulfilled, my worth does not diminish and the purpose of my life is not thwarted. If I have to say no to something because it isn’t in keeping with God’s will, that doesn’t sacrifice my identity, that is me living up to and into my identity.

Our identity isn’t based on our desires

I told her as well that no one defines themselves by their desires, because everyone recognises that we have desires that have to be refused and never acted on. And because we are made in God’s image, we can do that. We aren’t animals, at the mercy of our lusts. We can, and do, control our cravings.

So, given that we all suppress certain desires and express others, the question is, on what basis do we decide which to say no to and which to say yes to? And that brought us back to where we started – defining morality.

Calling on people to repent and submit to the Lordship of Christ isn’t stopping them from being themselves; it is the way they truly can be what God made them to be and do what God made them to do.