As a result of house bill HR-2 (sometimes called the bathroom bill), much media coverage has been given to the subject of gender and especially to those who have determined that they are not the gender that they were biologically born as. Within all this media coverage, there has been a term that has surfaced and often used that should leave people that have enough intellect to be responsible for themselves to scratch their head in wonder. That term is “identify as”. In the realm of gender, it is used in the case of a person who was biologically born one gender, but they have determined in their mind that they should be another gender. Concerning the bathroom issue, it is deemed that it should be legal, and socially acceptable for a person of one biological gender to use the bathroom specified for the other gender, so long as they believe deep down inside that they are that other gender. For instance, a male that “identifies as” a female could use the “ladies” room. However, the term has also been used in realms other than gender. Rachel Dolezal served as president of the Spokan chapter of the NAACP for some time. She had passed herself off as being black, when she is in fact Caucasian. When the truth became known, she stated that it was true that she was born Caucasian, but that she “identified as” black. It is not our purpose in this article to discuss racism, bigotry, prejudices or gender issues. Our focus here is on the very concept of someone “identifying as” something that is different than reality. It is true that there are certain things that we control from within and thus they are what we make them to be. Happiness and contentment are a couple examples of such. However, most things are what they are no matter what one thinks. This is simple “reality”. Bruce Jenner was born a male and in reality, he still is. He may well have taken drugs to enhance feminine qualities in his body and he could even have surgery to remove certain male genitalia from his body, but he is still and would still be a male. He can change his name to Caitlyn, wear “sexy” female clothing and makeup, and “identify as” a female, but he is still a male. Rachel Dolezal can use various means to keep her skin looking dark and her hair in a certain style so that she appears to others to be black, but in reality, she is still a Caucasian. One can walk around claiming to be, and even absolutely convinced within their mind that they are the president of the United States of America, but unless they have been elected by the people and sworn into the office, the reality is they are not the president of the United States of America. The noted killer, Charles Manson, may well have thought he was (identified as) Jesus Christ, but in reality, he was not. It would seem obvious to any that are even half intelligent that when what one “identifies as” is in contradiction to “reality”, then what one “identifies as” is not true.
Though the term “identifies as” is not used in the realm of Christianity (that I know of), many that certainly should be intelligent enough to know better, make the same mistake concerning their religious state. They are in effect “identifying as” something they are not. In other words, there are many people walking about “identifying as” Christians who are in reality not Christians. One can put on the clothing of a Christian (so to speak), in other words they can call themselves Christians, tell people they believe in Jesus Christ, publicly pray and even be a part of a church, meeting regularly with them, but that does not make one a Christian in reality. That is no different than putting on the clothing of one of a different gender and claiming you are that gender. So, what is the reality of what a Christian is? The word “Christian” is used only three times in the Bible. Most references to those who became God’s children use the words, saints, brethren or disciples. Isaiah had prophesied that when the Gentiles were added in, God would give his children a new name (Isaiah 62:2). When Peter took the gospel to the house of Cornelius, gentiles were added in (Acts 10 – 11). It was then that the first use of the name Christian is found. Luke records, “…And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch” (Acts 11:26). When one considers the word, “disciples” they will glean much in understanding the reality of what a Christian is. A disciple is one who follows the teachings of someone. Thus, to be a disciple of Christ, which is what a Christian is, one must be a follower of the gospel of Christ, or in other words, obedient to the words of Christ (John 12:48; Heb. 5:9). It is not just that one believes within themselves that Jesus Christ is the son of God and that they are therefore a Christian. That is “identifying as” rather than what “reality is”. Calling oneself a Christian does not make one a Christian. Jesus Himself said, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:21-23). It would seem that Jesus understood that “identifying as” and “reality is” are not the same thing.
Robert Oliver is pastor of The Church of Christ and a long-time columnist for The Sampson Independent. Send any questions or comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org.