What’s all this fuss about Self-Identifying?

I think the fuss started when the leader of the Spokane chapter of the NAACP stepped down after self-identifying as a black person. You can, indeed, should and must, self-identify your gender, and a pox on your house if you are only binary in this regard. You have to accept the full scope of identity captured in the acronym, while new to me as little as 3 years ago now rolls off the tongue, LGBTQ.  And why is there such a fuss over this? Pastors have been dealing with this for centuries.

People who never go to church, don’t belong to a church, avoid them like the plague, self-identify as Christians. It happened to Augustine. A Roman nobleman said he really was a Christian, and Augustine replied that he would never believe that unless he saw him in church.

Not me. I’ve let stand on my rolls the names of those who have never darkened the doors of the church since I have been the pastor. But they self-identify as members, and they are golden.

I am just so cotton-pickin’ flexible in this regard. People – usually visitors or family members of my members – say to me, “I go to” – or even “I am a member of” – such and such church, but I am a Lutheran at heart.” Here’s your sign. You have self-identified as Lutheran; ergo, you are one.

I’m convinced the rise of self-identifying in our society has to do with the selfie and by extension the technology that lets each of us be the god of our domain. We have a Facebook page complete with our wall. We have individual email addresses. We have self-designed screen names and identities.

Yes, the rise of the self-identifying craze, which is a descendant of finding your thing, or “bag” of the 70s which in-turn came from the identity crisis of the 60s, is certainly multiplied by technology, but this apple hasn’t fallen far from the Tree of the unknown fruit.

At the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, Eve and then Adam decided they could self-identify as gods. The very act of daring to self-identify as anything is to behave as God. For only He can say, “I am that I am.”  He must tell us who we are.

Unless He calls us saints we remain damned sinners. Unless He calls us sheep we remain goats. Unless He calls us “mine” we remain the Devil’s.

He calls us either male or female by virtue of creation. To be sure, in a fallen world there are some, very, very few, who have male and female parts. This is a medical problem not a self-identifying problem. Using a rare medical condition to shape our thinking and our society is as wise as using dwarfism or gigantism to do so.

Back to the real topic at hand. What’s all the fuss with self-identifying? It has been going on since the Fall. But you know what type of self-identifying the Lord reserves special woe for? Those who self-identify as prophets when He has not called them as such.

About Rev. Paul R. Harris

Ordained pastor of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod
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