Identity: A Biblical Worldview of Yourself (Part 2: Biblical Teaching)

by Nov 18, 2021Culture, Piety, Theology, Worldview

I delivered the following sermon at Tri-County Bible Church in Madison, Ohio, pastored by my longtime, respected friend Joe Tyrpak. Watch or read. Or both. Or neither. It’s ok.

It’s a distinct honor to serve you today. I have known your pastor since I was 16 or 17 years old. He was a sophomore graphic design major when I was a freshman. And that same kind smile he has now he had then. There was a gravity to him, like he had somehow found the grown-up pills and taken three of them before I even knew they existed. And he and I followed similar paths: we both studied graphic design and then went on to seminary. In seminary we lived down the hall from each other; I watched him happily as he started dating Hannah, whom I’ve also known for a long time. And let me tell you one other thing about your pastor: during four years in a Christian college and lots more years of seminary, I heard a lot of student-led devotionals, mini-sermons. Most of them, including the ones I gave, were very much forgettable. But just a few were really rich and helpful. And Joe could always be counted upon to deliver that kind. I’ve learned a lot from Joe over the years, and I want to express my gratitude to him by sharing these things with the people to whom God has given Joe as a shepherd.

Your shepherd has invited me to address the topic of Identity: A Biblical Worldview of Yourself. And yet I spent a lot of Sunday school talking not about the Bible but about our culture’s view of identity. In a word: it is confused. It stands confidently on shifting sand, on thin ice, like a certain Snow Queen from a Disney movie, who sang, “Let it Go! Let it Go!” “No right, no wrong, no rules for me!” Queen Elsa of Arendelle doesn’t maintain this viewpoint throughout the movie, but she sure declares it with gusto in her famous song. And she has pipes.

Now, my family likes Frozen, for sure, despite “Let it Go.” But my all-time favorite movie is The Incredibles. I know I’m supposed to pick something more intellectually sophisticated as my favorite movie, and I know I’ve already talked too long about kid movies, but it cannot be helped. My notes are already typed up.

To me the Incredibles, a story of a family of superheroes, is rich in meaning. I started watching the Incredibles when it came out in 2003, when I was hopelessly single; now that I have a wife, two boys, and one girl, just like Mr. Incredible, the movie means much more to me. I’ve watched it like ten times.

As in ten million modern movies, over the course of the film Mr. Incredible is first inhibited from expressing his true identity and then liberated to be who he truly is. Dash, too, is eager to run as fast as he can, as he was clearly designed to do. In the sequel he says that his running “defines who I am.” Violet is far less self-confident in her abilities and therefore less eager to embrace the identity they give her. In her story arc she finally gains that confidence and, therefore, that identity.

But unlike 9 million modern movies, what Mr. Incredible finds when he’s liberated is not an individualistic identity, the casting off of all restraint, but something far better: he is now the leader of a loving family. He tells his family, “I almost missed it!” He finds freedom in meeting his obligations to his wife and children—and in not working alone, in letting his family instead join his work meeting his obligations to the world. It takes the gifts of the entire family to bring down the bad guys in the end: Dash’s speed, Violet’s force-field, Mom’s flexibility, Dad’s strength—even Jack Jack’s mad fire-demon-baby skills.

Unlike Dad, Mom (Elastigirl) willingly gave up her superhero identity for her family, so much so that her kids are surprised when she uses her powers. My favorite moment in the film—it gets me every time—is actually when Violet and Dash and their mom are falling through the sky from an exploded plane, and Elastigirl grabs her kids, turning her body into a parachute so they can float safely into the ocean below. Then Violet and Dash both gaze upwards at her with looks of wonder: Who is this person?

Young people—which means a lot of you—should feel the themes of this film especially keenly, because youth is often the time when some appropriate parental restraints are taken off, when your powers really start to manifest themselves, when you look at yourself and finally start getting some solid answers to the question, “Who is this person?” Adults always ask you when you’re a kid, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” And right now some of you are getting some solid ideas about what you might want to be.

Now, thankfully, I’m not going to preach to you from the Incredibles, because though it is a wonderful movie, it has no authority to answer questions of identity. It’s just director Brad Bird’s opinions. I happen to think he has some good opinions, but my opinion of his opinions is just one more very limited human opinion.

I am going to give you answers to basic questions about identity from the only person who has the authority to answer them, the authority to tell you who you are: God himself. I’m going to preach to you, of course, from God’s word, from the Bible. And I’ve got a thesis: a biblical worldview of identity means conforming yourself to your true nature rather than trying to conform nature to yourself. As one writer said, “My self is given to me far more than it is formed by me. Man, Scripture says, cannot add a[n inch] to his [height].” We cannot stand any higher than God has made us to stand.

Turn if you would to Genesis chapter 1.

Genesis 1

For a Christian, the answer to “Who is this person?” absolutely must have a foundation in Scripture. You know, it’s the person who made us who best knows who we are, and what we’re for.

I’m going to keep this super simple, because Genesis does. I’ve got three points about your identity, all drawn from one key paragraph in the first chapter of the Bible.

  1. You are like God and you’re supposed to be like God.
  2. You are blessed to fill and rule God’s world.
  3. You are male or female, and that is very good.

God in this chapter has been creating the world:

  • Day 1: Light
  • Day 2: Atmosphere / Firmament
  • Day 3: Dry ground & plants
  • Day 4: Sun, moon & stars
  • Day 5: Birds & sea creatures
  • Day 6: Land animals & now humans

Let’s just read Genesis 1:26–28.

Then 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.”

Now three points drawn from this extremely important, foundational paragraph.

1. You are like God and you’re supposed to be like God.

A few weeks ago I was at an outdoor wedding held at a beautiful camp in the mountains up near the Canadian border in Washington state. My wife and I got to sing a duet in the wedding; it was very enjoyable. The parents of the bride paid for us to have a room in a bunkhouse. That meant, however, bathrooms and shower rooms shared with other families. Which made me feel like I had to rush to get ready. Which made me fail to do more than glance at myself in the mirror. Which made me forget to button my collar on my shirt. This normally wouldn’t be a big deal, but that morning I was planning to record a video. I didn’t realize until I watched the 10-minute video later that I had forgotten to button my collar. I looked like the thing I was when your pastor first met me: a dork.

A mirror represents ourselves to ourselves. It shows us who we are. And a mirror is actually a good picture of what we ourselves are. We were created to mirror God.

In the Ten Commandments, God actually prohibited making images of himself. But that’s exactly what he did when he made you. Only he can do such a thing.

In this passage, God the Father speaks to the Son and Spirit, the other members of the Trinity, and says, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.”

The truth is, you are like God in many ways whether you want to be or not. And what is God like, if all you know is this creation story? Well, he’s a creator. And lo and behold, you have the capacity to create like he does. He speaks. And lo and behold, you can speak and write, even if your spelling isn’t as good as God’s. And I’ll mention more about this later, but throughout Genesis 1, God evaluates his own creative work. At the end of every day, he beholds his work and declares it “good.”

In verses 3, 10, 12, 18, 21, and 25—that’s five times—he declares his creation good. And look down at verse 31, after God creates man and finishes his creation:

And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

You who were made in God’s image also, like him, evaluate things and love what you regard to be good.

No other beings on this planet can do what you can do, because you are made like God and they are not. Everybody on the planet is made in God’s image, from the holiest saint to the wickedest criminal to the toddler with Down Syndrome to the elderly person with dementia.

But I didn’t just say you are like God. I also said you’re supposed to be like God. There’s another sense in which God’s image is also a norm you’re supposed to meet.

People who study the Bible carefully, as I have for many years, have struggled a little bit to explain precisely what it means to be made in the image of God. The passage doesn’t really explain. I think the first impression a new reader of this passage is probably left with is that humans look like God. “Image” and “likeness” are visual words. But the way the rest of the Bible uses this concept, it can’t just mean we are physically similar to God. God is a spirit, in any case; he isn’t fundamentally physical. And the Bible talks about how Christians are “conformed to the image of God’s Son.” The image, then, is something that you can reflect more or less of. You can be in more or less conformity to it. And if you know even a little bit of the story of Genesis, you probably know about the first time humans failed to live up to God’s image. It’s when Adam and Eve ate of the fruit of the tree God had forbidden them to eat from, on pain of death. The serpent promised them, “You will not die.” But God was right, and only moments later death came into the world and has stayed to this day.

To this day, then, you can be a good mirror of God’s character or a bad one, a whole one or a cracked one. Sin, of course, is what cracks the mirror and distorts the divine image. But you can never get rid of it; you can’t destroy the mirror, make yourself into something other than an imager of God. No matter how many darts you throw at someone’s picture, it’s still their picture. No matter how much you do to look and act like the serpent, you can’t erase God’s image stamped on you.

This is the most fundamental fact about you, the foundation of your identity. You are an image-bearer. You are like God—and you’re supposed to be like God. You are supposed to reflect his image like a mirror to anyone watching in the world.

If your identity is, most fundamentally, a gift from God and not something you create, then you can do what one pastor I respect says, and you can “Loosen the links between your ideas and your identity.” People in our highly polarized country act like if someone disagrees with them, they are being attacked personally. People are so invested in their political identities that they form tribes, especially on the internet, and they start to act as if their politics are more fundamental to who they are than is what the Bible says is true of them. People get massively angry at others when they feel their political tribe is threatened. They lash out with even physical violence. I’ve seen people online be unbelievably nasty over the differences between Macs and PCs. I’ve seen teenagers despair over not being one of the cool kids.

But if your ultimate identity is secure in God, you can chill. If you are a Christian who knows Christ and knows he’s made in the image of God, you can talk like Paul does. Paul basically says in his letter to the Corinthians:

I don’t care if I’m judged by you or by any human court; I don’t even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. (1 Cor. 4:3–4)

If the most popular story about our world is true, then there is no God to give us identities tied to him, and we’re stuck creating our own. Many, perhaps most, of us will be failures of one kind or another at various portions of our lives. Sometimes we won’t represent God well. But if God is our ultimate source of identity, then, in the end, only his evaluation of us matters.

A lot of people like to make a god in their own image. But a biblical worldview of yourself means you recognize that that is completely backwards.

Before I get to the second point about human identity in Genesis 1:26–28, I need to say a brief word about that big word “worldview.” I’ve done a lot of writing on this topic in Bible textbooks, especially a big one for eleventh graders and a brand new one for sixth graders that my own son is reading right now—and, he tells me, enjoying, which I’m very grateful for. “Worldview” isn’t a Bible word, just useful one. It helps describe something that I believe is true about the world, a truth that the Bible in its deepest structures reflects. The major ingredient of every worldview—the Christian one, the Western secular one, the Buddhist one, the Islamic one, the communist one—is “a big story,” sometimes called a “metanarrative.” And no, this is not named after the new name of Facebook’s parent company. A “metanarrative” is the big story every worldview tells about the world.

For example, there was a Big Bang, don’t ask why, and like kajillions of years passed and slowly, don’t ask why, inanimate matter became life and began evolving. And here we are! But bad news: in the end, we don’t all go off riding into the sunset, because even the sun itself will burn up. Sorry. The end.

That’s the prevailing secular metanarrative.

I won’t take time to get into all the major metanarratives available, but there’s a limited number. I’ll just focus on one, the biblical one, the story our creator tells about us and our world. And I’ve just told you some of the key details of the first two parts of the story. I and many other students of the Bible like to summarize that story in three words: Creation, Fall, Redemption. God created this world with man and woman in his image; they fell into sin, dragging all of creation under the curse of death; Christ through his perfect life and innocent self-sacrificial death pays for human sin and defeats death, but it’s maybe only the third quarter, we don’t know, and though there’s no way death can win before Christ comes back to fully restore God’s creation, it can gain a lot of yardage and do a lot of damage before that time. That’s the Bible’s story.

And it’s not just a story, like something cutesy you tell your kids at night. It’s the story, it’s the history and the future of our world as told by the only one who could know, God himself.

That’s basically what I mean when I call my two talks this morning “Identity: A Biblical Worldview of Yourself.” I’m asking the Bible to tell me: who is this person I call me? Who is this person you call you? And God’s word, the Bible, answers mainly by telling the story of how and why God made us.

2. You are blessed to fill and rule God’s world.

Look carefully at Genesis 1:28. Count the commands with me:

  1. Be fruitful.
  2. Multiply.
  3. Replenish the earth (that just means “fill”). In 1611, “replenish” didn’t mean fill something back up again, like a jug of water that’s been emptied. This word has changed meaning over time. It just means “fill.”
  4. Subdue the earth.
  5. Have dominion.

I’d kind of make this four commands, because “be fruitful” and “multiply” are saying the same thing.

But wait a minute. Are these really commands? Look again at the way the verse is phrased.

And God blessed them, and God said to them: Be fruitful, and multiply, etc.

These commands are blessings and commands at the same time. Just like “Have a nice day” (from my wife as I leave for work in the morning) is, technically, grammatically, an imperative—but “semantically” it is actually serving as a kind of blessing or even prayer. Just as it would be odd when my wife when says “Have a nice day!” for me to respond, “I don’t have to obey you!,” so it is strange when humans today push back against and refuse the blessings of the Creation Mandate. The more we push back, the more their character as mandates arises. We should run purposefully against the grain of God’s original blessings to mankind—as, for example, with married couples who self-consciously choose to have no children because they don’t want the hassle. But the fact that these imperative verbs are given in a blessing explains why so many non-Christian people who have no knowledge of God whatsoever still end up multiplying, filling the earth, subduing it, and having dominion over it. God’s blessing applies to all humanity, whether they know it or not.

God’s basic marching orders for the planet include telling us all to have children. He doesn’t specify how many. I have three, and their mother, my lovely wife Laura, is feeding them Jack in the Box for me in my absence.

I will say that the rest of the Bible clarifies that God does call some Christians to singleness, and singles are not second-class citizens. Paul says in the New Testament that singles, like him, can dedicate themselves in a special way to serving the Lord. But that is an exception to the general rule. In our day people often act as if there is no norm so that those who don’t meet that norm don’t feel excluded; and I get the impulse there, and I sympathize with it. But we can’t back off this norm that the Bible boldly states: most people are supposed to get married like Adam and Eve, be fruitful, and multiply so that humanity can spread out over the entire surface of the planet, minus Antarctica and probably Canada, because both of those places are too cold for humans. I live near the Canadian border, and our best scientists are still unsure how anyone survives up there. Just kidding—you can live in Canada if you want. If you want to freeze.

I like to kid Canadians, because they’re so polite they just laugh a big Canadian laugh. But actually I’m perfectly serious in saying that the things they do to survive in the frozen north are amazing. Those people have subdued the earth, made it fit for human habitation. And they have taken dominion over it, pressing it toward its ideal and maximizing its usefulness for mankind. That does not mean they destroy it. Far from it. Preserving the beauty of national parks is part of the task of subduing and having dominion, I am confident.

What these next commands—subdue and have dominion—mean is all the good jobs that exist.

It is important that we have preachers and missionaries and Bible scholars. Somebody has to write articles for my magazine, Bible Study Magazine. Somebody has to pastor churches. But you are not a second-class citizen in God’s kingdom if you work in construction, or serve your neighbors as a nurse, or as a stay-at-home mom, or as an English teacher, or as an artist or a musician or a thousand other things the world needs.

My kids when they were little used to have this book, What Do People Do All Day? by Richard Scarry. Every page was full of detail showing off different jobs people can have. Actually, Scarry drew animals. It was so perfect. I loved it, except I secretly skipped pages sometimes because it was late and the kids needed to go to bed and I didn’t want to read every single word on every single page the way my kids always expected. There are just too many good jobs in this world, jobs where you get to take charge of one little part of the earth and help make it useful for your neighbor. Scarry drew page after page after page, and he still didn’t run out.

I feel I must sayin again: to have dominion doesn’t mean to dominate, to crush, to pulverize. It means to use whatever authority and power and ability you have to make the world a more ideal place. And when you teach English or wipe a toddler’s nose or write an actuarial report for an insurance agency, you can say, “I was blessed to subdue the earth and have dominion over it!”

If you’re going to serve your neighbor by subduing some part of the earth and having dominion over it, you’re going to have to learn the rules of God’s created world. Insurance agents have to know math and can’t violate the math rules God made. Even moms have to learn to watch what kinds of activities make toddler’s get colds. You have to conform yourself to the way God made the world rather than trying to make your own rules in your own world.

This topic is very, very deep—very rich. I can only give you a hint here, because I want to move on to the third truth this passage:

3. You are male or female, and that is very good.

Do you have younger siblings? You know how they like to blurt out stuff, right? And sometimes they actually tell us blunt truths we need to hear. Like this super funny online video I saw where a middle-aged woman asked her husband while he’s sitting eating something, “Would you love me if I was fat?” He says right away, “Of course,” but then a little voice can be heard saying, “But Mom, you already are fat!” You see the man nearly spit out his food, and the video is over. Thank you, children.

Or the time years ago when one of my own kids was in the shopping cart at the grocery store and we came up in line behind a young woman who was very clearly dressed like a boy. Short, boyish hair. Backwards cap. Boyish shorts, boyish T-shirt. And my three-year-old blurted out, so loudly that this young woman couldn’t miss it, “Dad, that boy looks like a girl!”

Out of the mouths of babes. Sometimes children cut through adult silliness. Kids don’t know everything; but they know beyond a shadow of a doubt what lots of adults have worked hard to persuade themselves isn’t true: there’s boys, and there’s girls. Those are the only available options. When a progressive elementary school in New York City proclaimed that all bathrooms could be used by either sex, little girls avoided going potty all day long so they wouldn’t have to encounter boys in their bathroom—and the kids ultimately went back to having boys rooms and girls rooms, no matter what the adults said. This is an absolutely true story; when I heard it it broke my heart.

We live in a world in which the precious gifts of masculinity and femininity are not treated like gifts at all.

I recently read a lengthy book that started with a simple question: how did we get to the place in North America and Europe in which it isn’t self-evidently absurd to everyone for someone to say, “I’m a woman trapped in a man’s body”? The author showed the step-by-step process by which this idea, once considered crazy, has become mainstream.

But at each step in this progression, all people had to do was read page 1 of their Bibles and page 1 of their bodies, and they would see the truth. You are male or you are female, and each is very good. Just look at what God says about his creation, including male and female, at the end of the process. Look at Gen 1:31. “God saw all that he had made, and behold, it was very good.”

But here’s the thing: without reading page 1 of your Bibles, you can’t know for sure what page 1 of your body means. If there’s no God giving us our sexual identities, male and female, as respective gifts, then it doesn’t matter what my private parts look like, I can do with my body whatever makes me happy at the moment. No right, no wrong, no rules for me. You do you; let me do me. My body doesn’t have norms or rules if I’m not created. If I’m an evolutionary accident, I can maybe just start the path of evolution off in my own chosen direction.

If there’s no God giving us marching orders to be fruitful and multiply, then the sexual part of life can be for pleasure only, if I want it to be. That is the world we have right now, a brave new world. And that idea has caused incredible hurt and heartache, because humans were designed for sexual pleasure; God invented sex; but sex was not created to work outside a committed marriage.

I want to demonstrate this to you very quickly. Turn to Matthew 19. I’m only going to have you to turn to one other passage in the Bible during this sermon, and then we’ll go back to Genesis 1. But I need you to see that the way I’m using Genesis 1 is something I didn’t invent.

And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

Jesus did not treat Adam and Eve as fictional archetypes or religious legends. And he didn’t just tell their story because it’s something that happened. It’s when he was asked about sexual sin, the sin of divorce, that he told the story of Adam and Eve. And he appealed to that story as normative, as providing a rule. God made them male and female, therefore certain things follow—and the main thing is that the one-flesh union we call marriage is a union God makes. He glues the couple together, and no one is supposed to unglue them. Genesis tells a story that, according to Jesus, really matters. It provides the original blueprint for the way today’s relationships between men and women are supposed to go.

Turn back to Genesis 1, please. There is so much to say about this topic from Scripture. So much rich teaching of the Bible; I urge all of you to study hard what the Bible says about men and women. I have based my life on it, and I am so grateful for these truths; they make my life so happy. I’ll limit my comments here to teasing out a few threads from Genesis 1. If indeed God declared his creation “very good,” then being male is “very good.” And being female is “very good.” Obviously, there is ultimate equality between the two; that is, both are made in God’s image; both are given the commands to fill the earth, subdue it, and have dominion over it. The Bible will say later that man is not independent of woman, nor woman of man. The sexes need each other.

But each also has unique glories. It feels almost offensive to say it today, but the Bible says it: “The glory of young men is their strength” (Proverbs 20:29). Two evolutionary biologists wrote a paper in which they report that the average man has greater upper-body strength than 99.9% of women. Pick 2,000 people over six feet tall at random from the population, and only two of them will be women (see Alastair Roberts). I play every week a sport that men and women can play together: ultimate frisbee. I enjoy playing with women, no question. I’ve played with some awesome female players. But there is an undeniable difference in speed and jumping ability between men and women. I can see it instantly as I walk up to the frisbee field, before I can really make out the faces distinctly.

So when our culture tells itself stories over and over in which slender, attractive young women beat up multiple burly men—and there are countless movies in which this happens—it’s like we’re being told that the only way a woman can have glory is by being physically strong like a man. How are slender women supposed to feel after seeing this? “Empowered,” our culture says. But is that how they actually feel, when they know they could never do what those actresses pretended to do? These movies together tell a lie about the way God made the world. There are some physically powerful women who could beat me in a fight; I’m not denying that. But exceptions don’t prove the overwhelming rule: men and women are equal in God’s sight but have different strengths, different glories.

What if we told ourselves heroic stories of women who show distinctive feminine glories? Florence Nightengale was a true hero, a battlefield nurse who was physically brave but whose glory was found in her nurture and care—feminine virtues?

Every time you say anything about men and women today you have to qualify it and hedge it a thousand times. I’m not saying men can’t be nurses! But the one male nurse I’ve known the best, a beast of a guy who was a major weightlifter, told me that a major thing the hospital needed him for was lifting heavy patients. He was not effeminate; he was masculine.

Young ladies, let me speak to you: I tell my wife all the time that what attracted me to her, above all, was that she was a lady. I love having a truly feminine wife. And she’s not some parody of femininity, some boy toy or some pretty pink princess. She’s a hard worker, a successful flower farmer. But in all of it she’s a lady. After all these years I cannot really put my finger on exactly what it is that makes her so perfectly feminine; she has a mystique. Is it her walk, her motions, her voice, her gentleness, her love for flowers, her tenacity as a mom, her support and help to me…? I just know that I’m glad she didn’t listen to voices in our culture that were telling her that men and women are interchangeable. Girls: work to discover, with your Bible and with the help of your own mother or some other Christian lady, what a lady is. And conform yourself to it.

Young men, let me speak to you: work to discover, with your Bible and with the help of your father and pastor if you can, what a man is. And conform yourself to it.

If you are not a follower of Jesus, this all may sound either totally foreign to you or strangely attractive, like finding your true home. If what Genesis 1 says about you and me as created beings, as male and female, just resonates with you: dig in. You’ll find that following Jesus is the only thing that really makes sense of our world, because only our creator really knows the rules he used to structure creation.

But if you don’t follow Jesus, and all this is foreign—and maybe not just foreign but even possibly offensive, especially the male-female stuff, then I’d only encourage you to recognize what’s going on here. You are telling yourself a different story about your origins, nature, and purpose than the Bible tells. I don’t know you, though I’d love to know you, but I can guess: almost certainly, that story you’re telling yourself about the world is the one that you’ve picked up from the prevailing winds in American culture. You have a worldview, even if you don’t think you do—for the same reason that fish don’t know they’re in water. Is your story really better than the one God tells? Is that even possible? And not to put too fine a point on it, but I ask out of love for you: how’s that story working out for you? I sort of suspect you wouldn’t be here if the story the world out there tells about reality was fully satisfying to you. The sexual freedom that our culture began giving to itself especially in the late 1960s has created untold pain, and I don’t think it’s done. Perhaps, again, our creator knows best how to give us good lives.

Don’t let our culture erase what you know at some level in your conscience, that you are male or female and that that is very good. Don’t deny the truth you knew as a little child. God created male and female equally as image bearers but with differing gifts and strengths—and differing glories.


In the Incredibles, the key narrative transition moment in Violet’s story arc comes as she stands outside the cave on the island where the bad guy lives. She has just tearfully confessed to her mother that she doesn’t think she can do this superhero stuff. Her forcefield efforts on the plane failed and nearly got them all killed. Her mom tells her, “Don’t worry. lf the time comes, you’ll know what to do. It’s in your blood.” And then Elastigirl takes off to find Mr. Incredible—who’s either in trouble or he’s going to be. Violet stands there outside the cave thinking. She’s got to choose whether she will conform to her nature and embrace the responsibilities that come with it, including—at that moment—protecting her annoying little brother.

The normally retiring and wilting Violet suddenly stands tall and puts on her superhero mask. She chooses to conform her will to her nature. The call of the Bible is for you to do the same. You are created. Your identity is a gift from God, not a creation of your own. It is a gift he means for you to give back to him by living a life of obedience. It is a gift he means for you to give to others by living a life of love as the Bible teaches.

Step outside the cave, stand up, and be who God says you are. Accept the fact that you were made to be like God and to represent him; you were blessed to fill the planet and rule some portion of it; you were made as one of only two options in an irreducible binary—male or female, and whichever kind you are, you’re probably going to marry the other kind. That’s kind of how the filling the earth and multiplying happens.

All this is, to me, exciting. This passage of the Bible answers deep questions I have about who and what I am. If this is not exciting to you but repulsive, I call you to repent and admit that the person who best knows who you really are is the one who made you.

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Review: Abigail Favale on the Genesis of Gender

The Genesis of Gender: A Christian Theory by Abigail Rine Favale My rating: 4 of 5 stars Really excellent. Fascinating personal story: So-called “Christian feminism” is, too often, secular feminism with a light Jesus glaze on top, a cherry-picked biblical garnish....

Interview Book Review

Interview Book Review

Digital Liturgies: Rediscovering Christian Wisdom in an Online Age by Samuel JamesMy rating: 4 of 5 stars Insightful. My “review” this time will consist of the questions I wrote up for an interview I’m doing with the author: My guest today on Logos Live is the only...

A Few Quotes from The Genesis of Gender by Abigail Favale

The Genesis of Gender: A Christian Theory by Abigail Rine Favale My rating: 4 of 5 stars Well written, provocatively helpful—provocative because she was schooled in evangelicalism (which makes her like me) and in feminist theory (which makes her not like me)—and is...

Answering a Question about Political Philosophy

A friend asked me for my thinking—and my reading recommendations—on Christian political philosophy. I was pretty frank and open. I don't hold myself up as a master of the topic. I welcome input from others here. What should I read? What should my friend read? My...

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