With all the recent headlines of people thinking, acting, posing, dressing or wanting to be someone or something they are not, I began wondering “is this a modern phenomenon or a historical one”.
As I looked into it I found, for the most part, people posing as other than who they are, was associated with less than noble purposes. Probably the word imposter fits best for most situations historically.
There are countless examples of both men and women infiltrating “the enemy” as imposters or spies to hopefully gain advantage for their tribe or country. This practice included dressing, acting, speaking and otherwise taking on many of the unique attributes of the people they were attempting to deceive. Many similar occurrences have also happened to learn trade or manufacturing secrets over the centuries.
With only the rarest of exceptions, the concept, for example, of a guy or a girl “identifying” as the opposite sex is a modern day phenomenon. Cross dressing on the other hand, according to Wikipedia, “has been used for purposes of disguise, comfort, and as a literary trope in modern times and throughout history. It does not indicate transgender identity”.
But this has not been the case with some more modern “identifying” personalities who have graced the headlines of our news outlets. Women have been identifying as men, Caucasians identifying as blacks or Native Americans, men identifying as women etc. etc. One has to ask if there is a line that cannot be crossed in the human effort to be something they are not?
Let’s be clear, there is a difference in identifying “with” and identifying “as”. I can certainly identify with a dogs life…
….but that doesn’t give me fleas or cause me to start licking myself in awkward places.
I can put on a wet suit, scuba gear and dive down to 100’….
.…but that doesn’t give me gills or make it appropriate to eat me with wasabi and soy sauce.
And I can even shave my head in an effort to identify as bald….
.…but alas I will still have to shave my head the next day or wear some head covering in an attempt to maintain the rouse.
Identifying as a rich person doesn’t give me the right to steal any more than identifying as a military veteran would make me anything but a pathetic liar – we have even coined a phrase for this type of deception: Stolen Valor.
Senator Elizabeth Warren can do the rain dance all she wants, but that doesn’t make her Native American. And just because Rachel Dolezal has”2 (half) black sons” and has “experienced what it means to live blackness” and doesn’t “want to be limited by the biological identity thrust upon her” – these things in no way, shape or form (to include her fake tan and weave) make her black. But, interestingly, the deception did get her special treatment and scholarships reserved for black people when she went to college. And there-in reveals the likely motive and slots her in with all other common imposters. And just this week she has also claimed to also be bi-sexual to which I don’t think I will even comment.
Similarly the UFC fighter Fallon Fox (born Boyd Burton) has done about as much as a guy can do to become a female looking person on the outside, but his record at waxing the floor with the UFC women fighters he/she now competes against reveals his true identity as the naturally stronger male he actually still is. If it’s not politically correct to suggest men are genetically pre-disposed to be stronger than a female of similar size – I’ll just let sports records speak for themselves.
And speaking of sports records, the Olympic records of Bruce Jenner, now ….. (sorry, I just can bring myself to say it), are under consideration as women’s records. How can this even be fair? I doubt it will actually happen, but with all the upside down stuff going on today who knows.
We have adolescent and testosterone driven little boys claiming to be transgender which would allow them to join girls’ sports and go into the girl’s bathrooms and showers. Brilliant!!! Once again suggesting the obvious ignoble motive involved.
There are a couple of examples which distinguish themselves as worthy deceptions. I recount the story of Corrie Ten Booms nephew Peter Van Woerden of The Hiding Place who did dress as a girl as he rode his bike in Holland during WWII to get food and messages for the Jews his family was hiding from the Germans. Yes he had and ulterior motive for doing so – but I think we can all agree that is one of the rare cases in which the imposter’s motive was truly noble. And then in 1948 when Golda Meir (a Jewish leader in Israel) disguised herself as a Muslim woman in order to cross into Trans-Jordan to meet with King Abdullah in an effort to prevent war, I also view this deception as for noble purposes.
In the biblical story of Ruth the Moabite, she does actually identify as Jewish saying “your people will become my people and your God my God”. But let’s be clear here as to what Ruth was saying. She was not saying she was now Hebrew (the race), but rather that she was choosing to follow the God and customs of the Jewish religion. A Christian correlation would be a salvation experience in which a secular person chooses to become a believer in and follower of Jesus.
But in general it would seem an increasing number of people are buying into the humanistic concept presented at the end of The Da Vinci Code. In this FICTIONAL movie when Sophie is asking Tom Hank’s character if he thinks she is indeed the direct descendent of Jesus he says “the only thing that matters is what you believe”. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if it were only that simple? Did I mention it’s a FICTIONAL movie? If this were true, I could simply believe myself rich, handsome and Jewish and life would be grand (well 1 out of 3 isn’t bad – you figure it out).
We do a tremendous disservice to anyone who is identifying “as” someone or something else when we either ignore it or encourage it. Even as recently as just a couple of weeks ago (June 2, 2015) Dr. Paul R. McHugh, the former psychiatrist-in-chief for Johns Hopkins Hospital and its current Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry, said that transgenderism is a “mental disorder”. I suspect this diagnosis will soon be amended as the same was the case for homosexuality just a few years back.
To encourage delusions is harmful. All you have to do is remember some of the old American Idol tryouts. A girl or guy would start singing (if you can call it that) and be so tone deaf the judges could barely keep from laughing. As they are being denied an opportunity to continue in the competition many of them would say something like “but my parents have always told me I sing like an angel”. Then the parents would be interviewed after the denial and would be angry at the “stupid judges” who can’t tell a good singer from a bad one. A society, parents or friends who encourage deceptive thinking are pointing people away from the help they so desperately need and setting them up for much pain and suffering down the road. They have become enablers of the deception, basically helping them live a lie and by default christening it to be some false form of truth.
And now comes the hard part, I must ask what we (the church) can/must do in the face of all this errant identifying. On a practical note probably not much outside of our immediate sphere of influence where we must graciously and lovingly be honest and truthful to our kids, friends, family and co-workers. Most will probably hate us even more as we do this. But in the heavenlies we are at liberty to battle feverishly on behalf of holiness and the only real truth which is identifying with our crucified and glorified Jesus and live out our lives as Christ lives in us (Gal. 2:20).
And to be frank, this is why belief in Christ cannot be simply some club or fraternity we frequent in our discretionary time. Jesus didn’t claim that He was identifying “with” God but rather “as” God. He claimed He was in fact the Christ and that He and God are one in the same. So either we are following a delusional ego maniac or in fact the ordained Son, co-heir and eternal Lord of the Universe. I believe the latter, which commands my devotion, my life and my heart and that is a destiny, inheritance and identity I can truly embrace.