A Tremendous Crisis
Our society has many issues afoot today, but perhaps one of the most important is the crisis of identity in our culture. We live in an age where men identify as women, women identify as men, some even go so far to identify as “otherkin” which references humans identifying as not entirely human, truly mind-blowing! Goodness, the very stated goal of transhumanism, is to become something that is “post-human” eventually. Clearly, we see an issue that people in our society have with basically understanding the reality that they are human beings.
Now, the calling for us as Christians is to give a robustly biblical answer to this issue, just like every other one. We want to drink deeply at the well of biblical theology then take the living water out into the society for the glory of God and the good of others. My issue is that I see many Christians, especially in my own age group, failing to be clear on the particular issue of human identity as defined by Scripture. Since we have seen there is an issue here, let’s now begin to dive into why we must give a faithful response, move to examine a biblical understanding of human identity, then hopefully tie it all up into a nice and neat package filled with deep comprehension.
Why We Must Be Faithful and Clear
As it pertains to human identity, many individuals take the position of not caring what others identify as so long as they do not believe it harms anyone. First of all, that response is truly incredibly naïve and uncaring. If a proper understanding of humanity is not present within a society, then that society will not function rightly in terms of how it treats individuals. Nazi Germany had a wicked understanding of humanity, believing it needed to be purified into the Aryan Race. To achieve this end, they murdered millions and millions of Jews as well as other innocent lives. America, and countless countries, fail to have a correct understanding of humanity, and so they allow babies to be murdered in the wombs of their mothers and children to have their bodies mutilated through “gender reassignment” surgical procedures. False understandings of humanity and human identity always lead to tragic results. Let me repeat, this always happens with zero exceptions!
Essentially, if you care about your fellow human beings, you should strive to want to see a robustly accurate (biblical) understanding of humanity being widespread. It is only the Christian view of humanity anchored in the Scripture which leads to human freedom grounded in Christ Himself. Those believing they can identify as something other than the gender God has given to them are entrapped in sinful lies. They need to be saved by the blood of Christ set free from their sin to walk in the paths of biblical truth. However, if you are not willing to call out false understandings of humanity for what they are, sinful and erroneous, then you will not be standing against these tides of evil as they come to ensnare human beings.
Ultimately, what I just listed are some of the impacts that will happen if we do not set forth an accurate understanding of humanity, namely human beings will suffer. Yet, the ultimate reason we must proclaim the truth about human beings, and everything else, is because God has commanded us to do so. In the Great Commission, we are told by Christ to teach the nations everything He has commanded (Matthew 28:18-20). Most certainly, there are clear commands as to who human beings are and how they are to function. What has God revealed in His Word on this issue? Let’s take a look at the Scripture together!
A Biblical Understanding of Human Identity
The reality that we are God’s creation lays the foundation for understanding human identity properly. Genesis 1:26-27 speaks to God’s creation of humanity clearly:
“Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” -Genesis 1:26-27
First of all, note that since we are actually the creation of God, then our identity is not left up for us to determine. The Creator determines the identity and purpose of His creation. In the case of humanity, God has made us in His image. Dr. Owen Strachan rightly states:
“The image, then, is not fundamentally a trait or attribute. Rather, humanity is made in the image of God. To see humanity is to see the likeness of God. The human race is a living testimony to its Creator. The lordly nature of the human race in all the creation owes to the race’s God-revealing status: man’s splendour is his likeness to God.” -Owen Strachan, Reenchanting Humanity, p. 30.
We, as human beings, are made to reflect the glory of our Creator. Not meaning that we are as glorious, infinitely holy, perfect, or completely knowledgeable like God. But, that we are to imitate Him patterning ourselves after His righteous ways seeking to think His thoughts after Him and take dominion of the earth as He has commanded us. Ephesians 5:1 simply says, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.” We are commanded as human beings to live as those seeking to be faithful ambassadors for the Creator, taking that which He has made using it unto His glory!
Another point which must be made is that not only is human identity dictated by God, but as a correlation, so is human dignity. Because we are made in His image, every human being has worth and the sanctity of life must be upheld. That is why Christians take actions like fighting abortion and holocaustic murders of every kind. It is why we will passionately fight against euthanasia, and any degrading of the value of human life. We view life as a sacred gift from God, who has determined the very penalty for the severe sinful act of murdering another human being is death (Genesis 9:6). Therefore, we are right to say that we must treat one another with dignity and respect as human beings made in God’s image.
You will also notice that God made humanity to consist of two genders, male and female, exclusively. God created Adam to be a man and Adam did not have the ability to choose to identify as Eve, nor did Eve have the power to identify as Adam. God made humanity male and female, each gender given two distinct roles by Him for His glory. At the end of the day, there is no ability to change genders. A man who thinks he is a woman in his mind needs spiritual help to come to a basic understanding of reality as created by God. He needs to be shown the truth of the biblical teaching, called to repentance in Christ, and encouraged to move forward in the identity God has given to him.
The Root of Our Cultural Problem With Identity
The foundational distinction between Christian anthropology and popular views of humanity in the culture today can be boiled down to the difference between believing identity is determined by God versus self. Carl Trueman notable states:
“Psychological man is also plastic person, a figure whose very psychological essence means that he can (or at least thinks he can) make and remake personal identity at will.” -Carl Trueman, The Rise and Triumph of The Modern Self, p. 164
We live in a society today which quite literally believes humanity is an evolved animal, not a magnificent creation. As such, the root problem around the mainstream false understandings of human identity stems from the belief that we are the gods of our own destiny and identity. The concept we can be whoever we want, charge into whatever future we choose, and make reality into whatever we decide is self-refuting. If I can change to literally be whatever or whoever I want, then who even am I? According to this idea, I might be Jared Lincks, a Christian man one minute, and then choose to be a different gender, then something altogether distinct than human. Human identity is entirely fluid under such a framework with no stability. Gender is not fixed, human worth is not irrevocable, and there is no such concept as basic human identity. All I am, according to the cultural view, is a clump of random and chaotic cells that can be changed into anything. That is why the culture is constantly changing, flip-flopping, and running into craziness, because they have rejected God, who is the only source of stability rooted deeply in His revealed truth.
The Bright Christian Hope
Such a view as this one prevalent in our culture is incredibly dark, driving people into the path of despair. However, the Christian view of humanity as created by God revealed in the Scripture gives us great hope. The reality is that we are not just random clumps of cells, but individual human beings made by God given dignity and worth. We are commanded to bow before our Creator, receiving the grace of salvation through faith in Christ moving forward to live passionately in every realm according to His commands. Human beings, according to Christianity, are given the grand purpose of bringing honor to the Holy One who has made them!
Therefore, brothers and sisters, let us go out declaring the truth about God and man to others. May we take this action to fulfill our calling for God’s sake. Let us see the depths of the lies those around us are ensnared in and take the bold step of proclaiming truth that by the sovereign grace of God they might be set free from the death trap of sin. I pray that we will be given clarity and courage to undertake this task together!