Jenner Redux: A Primer On Self-Identity

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This will be my final comments on the ever saddening Bruce Jenner story. But my comments are not made about Jenner’s experience, but rather his claim, among other transgenders, that they self-identify as the opposite sex.

Where does one get his or her identify from, anyway? Jenner’s claim is that he’s essentially gotten his identity about how he feels and then claims that he has a woman’s brain in a male body.

In fact, I’d like to suggest that this is not the root place from where we get our identity. Let’s call this our identifier. There are many identifiers in our lives. These include, but are not limited to: marital status, reproduction, career, education, societal status, relationships, etc.

The problem with these identifiers is that they are all transient. If God has designed us, then certainly there must be a root from which our identifiers spring, identifiers that our permanent and can guide us for the entirety of our lives. I think there are four basics from which Christians get their identifiers:

(1) The Cultural Mandate
(2) The Great Commission
(3) Our Identity In Christ
(4) Our Fellowship

All of our identifiers can be defined under the umbrella of these basic four. Even identifiers of sin (homosexuality, transgenderism, fornication, criminality, etc.) can be understood through the violation or misapplication of these four basics. If we misunderstand any part of these four basics, or ignore them, then our self-identity will be skewed or we will manifest our misapplication into outright rebellion—sin.

To keep these comments short, I will only comment on the first core identifier, the Cultural Mandate.

The Cultural Mandate is the source of our identity, not only for Christians, but for all human beings, without exception. It tells us who we are, what we are made to do, and what our purpose is. Of the four basics, the Cultural Mandate applies to every person regardless of worldview, country, culture, or religion. The Cultural Mandate is universal for all people, for all time, forever. So, for the uninitiated, what is the Cultural Mandate?

The Cultural Mandate is found in the Bible’s book of Genesis. “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. And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth'” (Genesis 1:26-28).

Let’s break down the Cultural Mandate into its parts and explore how it imparts to us our identity. The parts are:

Human beings are in God’s image
Be fruitful and multiply
Fill the earth and subdue it
Dominion over all living things

The first, most important identifier in the Cultural Mandate is the statement that we are made in God’s image. This puts man in the most lofty of positions above all else that is created. If you’ve ever felt like a loser (and who hasn’t), this identifier is for you. If you’ve ever felt unimportant or worthless (and who hasn’t), this identifier is for you.

Jesus said that not a single sparrow falls to the ground without the Father knowing about it. How much more valuable, Jesus taught, are you than a sparrow?

The second identifier is to be fruitful and multiply. Naturally, we can’t help but think of human reproduction in this statement, and that is true. But I believe that this description is actually broader than having children. We produce many things with our lives, more than just children. We learn and expand our influence, help others in their needs, grow in relationships and in our careers. We produce things that are made for human advancement and enjoyment.

The third identifier to fill the earth and subdue means to spread humanity across the face of the earth and to bring the earth under the controlling influence of that humanity. This includes everything from mowing the lawn to redirecting rivers and acquiring natural resources from the earth to augment and magnify our lives.

Lastly, we are given dominion over all things. This does not mean abuse, this means management, stewardship, care. No other creature has control over all things as man does. This means everything from controlling wildlife populations to taking your dog for a walk.

If we don’t have a proper perspective of ourselves in God’s eyes and understand his purposes, then we are living without the identity that he desires for us to have. That is rebellion. That is sin. And that’s what Jesus died and rose again to fix.

Take some time to discover the intricacies of the Cultural Mandate and you will discover exactly who and what you are meant to be.

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