The culture’s view of identity…
The cover of the March 16, 2017 issue of TIME magazine caught my eye. It touched on a topic that is getting a lot of attention in our current cultural climate. You may have seen the article. It is titled: “BEYOND HE or SHE.” Here are a couple of excerpts that capture the essence of the article…
“TIME interviewed dozens of people around the U.S. about their attitudes toward sexuality and gender, from San Francisco to small-town Missouri. Many said they believe that both sexuality and gender are less like a toggle between this-or-that and more like a spectrum that allows for many – even endless – permutations of identity. Some of those young people identified as straight, others as gay, still others as genderqueer, gender fluid, asexual, gender nonconforming and queer. Several said they use the pronoun they rather than he or she to refer to themselves.
“This variety of identities is something that people are seeing reflected in the culture at large. Facebook, with its 1 billion users, has about 60 options for users’ gender…Young people “are …saying ‘Your terms, what you’re trying to do, does not reflect my reality or the reality of my friends.'” (according to Ritch Savin-Williams, a professor emeritus of psychology at Cornell University). Young people (are embracing) a vast array of identities…”
The obvious question is… where is all this leading us?
Already, we are seeing tremendous societal pressures to be all-inclusive, and all-accepting, of everyone… except those who accept clear-cut identity standards (as established by our divine Creator). The problem is that “all-inclusive and all accepting” sounds good… it seems right… like something that everyone should agree about. I am reminded: “There is a way that seems right to a man… but its end is the way to death.” (Proverbs 14:12)
It is the fluid nature of modern moral thinking that becomes the problem. Defining what is okay, and what is acceptable, shifts with every new thought process or philosophy. And if there are no accepted standards to judge a new way of thinking, there is no way to determine what is truly good or right, for a society or culture. If everything is okay… then nothing is ever wrong.
We talked a few weeks ago about defining “darkness.” We concluded that it is not just about evil or wrong things – darkness is also about chaos and confusion. When a culture loses its ability to properly define morality – that culture is destined for nothing but chaos and confusion. And that darkness can be overwhelming.
The most disturbing thing about the article is not that people are confused about how to “identify” themselves – it is about the fact that a whole generation of our young people are embracing a new “reality” with “a vast array of identities.” We are making confusion… virtuous. It is… right. It is something to be valued and protected.
Is there any hope for our millennials? Sure there is. It is the same hope that has been the Light of the world for centuries now. It is the Light of God’s love that draws people to truth – and the need to discover their true identity. As Christians, our task is never to condemn (or curse) the darkness, but to live as Jesus did – as One Who refused to condemn, but always gently, and lovingly, guided people to truth.
Prayer focus: God, help me to consistently be the Light of Your love to all I meet.