“I’m a Democrat.” “I’m a Republican.” “I’m straight.” “I’m gay.” “I’m a runner.” “I’m a swimmer.” “I’m smart.” “I’m pretty.”
“I am a new creation in Christ Jesus.”
The last statement, I hope, stands alone.
In the Sunday New York Times Magazine, Benoit Denizet-Lewis reports on a growing trend among middle-school students of announcing their sexual identities. Denizet-Lewis, himself a gay man, finds himself interviewing young teenagers who are proclaiming themselves gay, straight, and bisexual with remarkable confidence. He writes, “The effect was initially surreal to me, and before long I heard myself blurt out, ‘But you’re so young!'” (Coming Out in Middle School). There are obvious concerns with kids as young as ten declaring their sexual identities, but as Christians, there is a more disturbing underlying issue raised by this report.
Our identity as human beings is not based in our sexual preferences, nor in our political affiliations, nor in our athletic accomplishments. Our identity is bestowed upon us, as human beings created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). Furthermore, as Christians, our identity is an identity in Christ, not in our human accomplishments, desires, or abilities. Paul writes, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17) . He also exhorts the Galatians to get past their various self-defining identities and understand that Christ has come to break through barriers: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).
We live in an increasingly sexualized world, a world in which people increasingly seek to self-identify. My hope and prayer, for middle-schoolers on up, is that we would identify ourselves as belonging to God, as adopted sons and daughters, as women and men “in Christ Jesus.” All the rest is secondary.