In a world where the concept of identity has evolved and diversified, it is essential to explore the profound Christian perspective on identity through the Word of God, particularly in the context of Jesus Christ. Today individuals often grapple with diverse identities, including those related to gender and sexuality, which go beyond the male and female challenge of traditional understanding.
As the church, it is our responsibility to provide spiritual guidance and to help individuals discover their true identity, rooted in the Bible and the image of God. In Genesis 1:27, 28, we read, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth” (KJV). This biblical passage underscores the foundational truth that God created humanity in His image and called them to multiply and steward the earth. Today, however, various alternative identities and lifestyles have emerged that challenge this divine design. It is essential for the church to address these challenges and provide a biblical perspective. Many of our members are becoming confused because there is a growing acceptance of popular culture in our church rather than a dependence on the Scriptures.
The Battle for Identity
Satan, the fallen angel who aspired to be in the place of God, is central to the battle over identity. Isaiah 14:12-15 reveals his rebellious intentions, and it’s important to note that Satan, as an angel, was created higher than humans (Ps. 8:5).
His deep-seated resentment toward (among other things) humanity’s ability to procreate, as those who reflect God’s image, has driven him to seek the destruction of the “image of God” in humans. Already through the fall, aberrations in God’s design were introduced in nature. Christ died on the cross to restore all creation to God’s ideal.
From mothers and fathers to sisters and brothers, daughters and sons, any sexual behavior that deviates from the confines of intimacy between one man and one woman in a committed, lifelong marriage relationship distorts or misrepresents this precious image. This includes practices such as pornography, premarital sex, divorce, abortion, homosexuality, adultery, fornication, and licentiousness.
In the face of these challenges, the church must heed the wisdom found in the quote “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil.” The church cannot remain silent in hopes of providing stability and continuity, but must boldly proclaim the truth found in the Scriptures regarding God’s design for human identity and sexuality.
Fearfully and Wonderfully Made
Psalm 139 provides a profound insight into God’s intricate involvement in the creation of each individual. It declares, “For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well” (verses 13, 14). This passage reminds us that God is intimately involved in the formation of humans, shaping them with care and purpose.
The psalmist continues: “My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret” (verse 15). This verse emphasizes that nothing about our creation is hidden from God. He knows us intimately, even before we are born. He adds, “Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they were all written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them” (verse 16).
God has a plan and a purpose for each person, meticulously crafting them with love and intentionality. It’s as if God has a cookbook for all His created beings. On a specific page I was formulated: my eye color, hair color, my fingers and toes, even my sexual organs, right down to my DNA, which is found in every cell of my body. Despite what some Christians may assert with the notion that gender is left up to chance and not linked to biology, leading only to compounded confusion, I was not left to chance, and I wasn’t a mistake.
There are those who have experienced bullying related to their sexuality at the hands of friends and loved ones. Perhaps their parents wanted a child of the other sex; maybe they were rejected by the same-sex parent, or they received rejection from the same-sex children in school. Perhaps a combination of all these influences made them feel that they are inadequate or that they don’t measure up to the biological sex they were born into.
The psalmist marvels, in verses 17 and 18, at the depth of God’s thoughts, declaring, “How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand.” God’s thoughts and plans for each individual are too numerous to fathom, highlighting the value and uniqueness of every human life. God’s opinion of me is the one that matters! Instead of my relying on others to affirm or approve of me, I can go to my Creator and Redeemer and ask Him, “Who do You say I am?” And God is quick to remind me through His Word that before the earth was formed, He knew me, and that He was the one that knit my delicate parts together in my mother’s womb.
Addressing Identity Confusion
There are individuals who experience identity confusion and do not connect with their biological sex or gender. The Bible provides a path for addressing this confusion: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (verses 23, 24). This passage invites individuals to seek God’s guidance and wisdom in understanding and reconciling their identity. It emphasizes the role of an all-loving and powerful God in restoring “right thinking” as we submit to His divine plan.
Going beyond the notion of being “born this way,” we recognize that we are all “brought forth in iniquity” and born “in sin” (Ps. 51:5). Human nature is inherently flawed, and our identities can be influenced by a fallen world and its created identities and social constructs. Through faith in Jesus Christ, however, we have the opportunity to be transformed and renewed in our identity.
How does He do that? By beholding, we become changed.
A young woman began to believe she was a man. The voice in her head said that she shouldn’t have breasts and smooth skin, that she needed to have larger muscles and facial hair. She bought the ideology that a sex change was the answer. Then that voice inside her head began telling her that she would never be accepted and that no one would ever love her. The devil whispered to her that she should just kill herself. In desperation she called the only person that she thought would be there for her. It happened to be a Christian friend that lived several states away. Her friend paid for her ticket to come. Her friend didn’t judge her, but she prayed and also helped her to take care of her health and read the Word of God (Ps. 139).
Her very first prayer was “God, how do You see me?” The next thought that came to her mind after she uttered that prayer was of a woman with long hair and a long dress praising God. She quickly dismissed that thought. But as she continued reading and praying, she began to see God as loving, kind, and all-caring. She started to let her hair grow. And as it grew back, she began replacing the clothes in her wardrobe. Instead of men’s flannel shirts, and men’s shoes and jeans, she bought flowered prints and women’s articles.
The transformation was accomplished through Jesus Christ. She claimed the salvation He had already secured for her on the cross, and as she embraced His sacrifice for her it had a transforming effect. Had she gone through with the procedure to change her sex, mutilating her female reproductive system or removing her breasts, she would never have known the fullest aspect of her healing. She was blessed to get married and have two children that she delivered and nursed on her own, because she didn’t comply with what society and her mind told her she was.
Though the world proliferates alternative identities and lifestyles, the church has a crucial responsibility to provide the continuity in message, give truth to the flock, and to assist to restore individuals’ identity as intended by God at creation (Gen. 1:27, 28) and made possible again at the cross. Hebrews 12:2 says, “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” In Galatians 2:20 we read, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” The battle for identity is rooted in the spiritual realm, as Satan seeks to distort and destroy the “image of God” in every created being. Psalm 139 reminds us that God fearfully and wonderfully made each of us, with a plan for our identity and who He knew us to be. The church’s role is not to condemn, but to guide individuals toward discovering their true identity in Jesus. As Paul writes: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation [the rescue] for everyone who believes” (Rom. 1:16). Salvation is available for all, offering the opportunity to overcome hereditary and cultivated tendencies that are contrary to God’s design. Through faith and a relationship with Christ, we can find a satisfying and transformative identity that surpasses anything we could create for ourselves. In these times of identity crisis, the church must stand as a beacon of truth, love, and continuity in churches, schools, and homes, offering hope and redemption to those who seek their true identity in Jesus.