MAKING AN ISSUE OUT OF IDENTITY

Eric the 1/2 Troll left an interesting comment. Here is part of it.

While identity and race are not the same thing, discriminating based on identity is just as abhorrent as discriminating based on race.

What did Eric mean by “identity”? What happens when we ask someone about themselves? What do they say? Do they tell us:

  • What they do for a living.
  • Where they work and live.
  • What their hobbies are.
  • Who is in their family.
  • Their religion.
  • Their race.
  • Their sexual preference.

Do they answer our question? Do we actually learn who they are, or do they tell us what they are and what they do? Do we learn about the classification of an object or a person?

It is a curious thing, but it is very difficult for any of us to communicate who we are. Yet that seems to have been at least one man’s dream.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. — Martin Luther King, Jr. (quote from here)

Unfortunately, instead of realizing Dr. King’s dream, we seem to be splintering into feuding factions. Some would describe this phenomenon in its modern form as identity politics. In its article on the subject, Identity politicsWikipedia effortlessly provides 47 Examples of identity politics.

NOTE: Since I linked to it, Wikipedia Identity politics article dropped the list of identity groups. So here is a brief list from three different articles.

“blacks, Latinos, feminists, gays, and lesbians — and economic-interest groups, like unions” “single, working, and highly educated women”  — from here

“women, Chicanos/Latinos, lesbians, disabled people, and more” “Jewish women” “Muslim and Arab women” — from here

“Black person” “Native American person” “women” “Gay Liberation Front” “working-class people” “white male workers” — from here

The Standford Encyclopedia of Philosophy also provides an interesting (albeit lengthy and unnecessarily hard to understand) article, Identity Politics. That article provided this quote by Sonia Kruks:

What makes identity politics a significant departure from earlier, pre-identarian forms of the politics of recognition is its demand for recognition on the basis of the very grounds on which recognition has previously been denied: it is qua women, qua blacks, qua lesbians that groups demand recognition. The demand is not for inclusion within the fold of “universal humankind” on the basis of shared human attributes; nor is it for respect “in spite of” one’s differences. Rather, what is demanded is respect for oneself as different (2001, 85).

Essentially, identity politics function to garner respect for an aspect of what we are instead of who we are. Thus, identity politics primarily serves to highlight and magnify our differences.

How should a Christian regard identity politics? The Apostle Peter was a Jew. His first “identity” was that of a Jew, and he found that “identity” hard to give up. Here the Apostle Paul tells a story about Peter’s struggle.

Galatians 2:11-13 (New Living Translation)

But when Peter came to Antioch, I had to oppose him to his face, for what he did was very wrong. When he first arrived, he ate with the Gentile Christians, who were not circumcised. But afterward, when some friends of James came, Peter wouldn’t eat with the Gentiles anymore. He was afraid of criticism from these people who insisted on the necessity of circumcision. As a result, other Jewish Christians followed Peter’s hypocrisy, and even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. (continued here)

So what does Bible say about identity politics? Nothing specific, of course. However, it would seem the problem with “identity” is not new. What the Bible does say is that we should be concerned for the souls of individuals, not a soulless group “identity.” Our “identity” in this life is of little consequence, and that is something Peter already knew. So when Paul confronted Peter, he just reminded him Jesus did not die on the cross so Peter could be a Jew.

Note

This idea for this post sprang from a four-part series, REVIEWING THE ARGUMENTS AGAINST NORMALIZING HOMOSEXUALITY.

  • In Part 1 of REVIEWING THE ARGUMENTS AGAINST NORMALIZING HOMOSEXUALITY, we asked “Why Is Homosexual Sex An Issue?
  • Part 2 considered this question ”Should We Take What The “Experts” Have To Say About Homosexuality Seriously?”
  • Part 3 asked “What Does The Tolerance Of Homosexual Sex Involve?”
  • Part 4 reviewed specific issues, asking: “When Is Intolerance Of Homosexual Sex Appropriate?” 

25 thoughts on “MAKING AN ISSUE OUT OF IDENTITY

  1. Tom, you wrote:

    “Consider your own words. By opposing use the government the government for social engineering, I am guilty of the sin ideological purity? Let and let live is now excessive ideological purity? ”

    Your own words once again betray your apparent inconsistency. On the one hand, you berate “social engineering”, but what is the us of legal coersion to limit same sex contracts to marry if it is not using “social engineering” to promote your own point of view, your own subjective morality, upon others?

    Of course both sides use “social engineering” to promote their own ideal of “utopia”, but, in your case, it is your scheme of a “Christian Nation”, in other words a brave new world Christian Utopia. If limiting others’ ability to legally contract to marry, although it causes no rational harm to you, is not just trying to “run other peoples lives” solely because you “disapprove”, then what logically is it?

    Both conservatives and liberals seek to impose their ideology upon individuals and society as a whole through the mechanism of legal coercion. It’s just that when you do it, you call it upholding your interpretation of God’s law, of your admitedly subjective view of moral absolutes, but when liberals do the same thing for different reasons, you call it “social engineering”. Logically, it is doing exactly the same thing – you’re both being the same exact “busy bodies” that you accuse each other of being.

    On the other hand, the formula that I have tried to explain (basically the same formula that the Court uses) is contingent upon, neither your religious denomination’s utopian dream of a “Christian Nation” nor some liberal’s altruistic utilitarian style utopian dream of “maximum social happiness”. It is instead based upon the rational balancing test of whether or not the positive social benefit derived from the sovereign act of legal coercion outweighs the negative harmful imposition upon individual liberty. And if the individual liberty imposed upon is a recognized “fundamental right”, then we should give that soveriegn coersion “strict scrutiny” such that the proven social good must “substantially” outweigh the harmful imposition upon the right.

    For example, the need to protect the security of the entire nation far outweighs the legal sovereign coercion upon the individual who is taxed to pay for it. Conversely, there was infinitesimal evidence of social benefit to maintaining anti-misogynist laws in the south (although they used to like to say that it would harm the mixed race children) such as to attempt to outweigh the legal coercion imposed against those individuals exercising their fundamental right to marry, and, because marriage is a recognized “fundamental human right”, when “strict scrutiny” was applied and substantial evidence was required, the scales were extremely lopsided in favor of the right and against the instance of legal coersion.

    Set aside your notions that you are somehow the one victimized by gays in all this and tell me how can you not see the inconsistency of your position? It is right in front of your face. It is in your every argument. I know that Supreme Court’s balancing test may not fulfill your obsession for a moral absolute answer to every minute question of human existence, but the formula is logical and it is consistent.

    I know that you will have to descend from your Mount Olympus and face that fact that yours and God’s mind are not always one, but this is the same sort of logical, though not infallible, cost/benefit analysis that we humans use in every other rational decision, whether it is economics or it is engineering. Although the objectives of this rational analysis can’t be perfection or “utopia”, the analysis does practically work to maintain the constantly changing and imperfect balance between the goals of social good and individual rights that every democracy, by definition, universally seeks. In other words, it is our imperfect efforts in the elegance and the application of the “process”, not the perfection of our “ideology” that essentially defines us as a democracy.

    On the other hand, if you want one ideology’s deterministic concept of “moral absolutes” to be the basis of government, then something akin to a dictatorship of the proletariat or some totalitarian theocracy, not a democracy, must be your logical alternative.

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  2. Tony — Well, I suppose I cannot completely ignore what you said here.

    What you see does depends upon where you stand. Even though I intended nothing of the sort, you took what I said and converted it to an argument for moral relativism.

    Where is the flaw in your observation? I did not argue that I know the absolute truth of everything. Only God does. Humility requires that I dedicate my life to the One who does know the absolute truth. What does He command? He commanded us to love Him and each other. He did not command us to create a Utopia or try to run each other’s lives. There is really nothing nice about dominating other people.

    Consider your own words. By opposing use the government the government for social engineering, I am guilty of the sin ideological purity? Let and let live is now excessive ideological purity? Does putting the label of bigot on someone make you right?

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