In the Presbyterian Church in Canada's ongoing discussion about human sexuality I have heard the same question again and again: Do sexual minorities place their sexual identity before their identity in Christ?
It is, I think, a valid question.
It is a question that we all should be asking, and not just in relation to our sexuality. Just consider the following:
- Does my identity as a mother or father eclipse my identity as a follower of Jesus?
- Does my identity as a quilter or woodworker overshadow my identity as a worshipper of God?
- Does my identity as doctor, baker, or candlestick-maker outshine my identity as a disciple of Christ?
In his article for the Atlantic, "Workism is Making Americans Miserable", writer Derek Thompson notes the emergence of a new Gospel competing for our hearts and minds. A new Gospel known as 'workism' "is the belief that work is not only necessary to economic production, but also the centerpiece of one’s identity and life’s purpose; and the belief that any policy to promote human welfare must always encourage more work. Thompson speaks of it as "a kind of religion, promising identity, transcendence, and community."
Thompson's research notes that certain demographics of people (largely wealthier and well-educated) are working more as a free choice and that this decision is connected to work's promise of spiritual and emotional fulfillment. The author despairs that "Our jobs were never meant to shoulder the burdens of a faith, and they are buckling under the weight."
As Christians we should know this...
And yet I have witnessed colleagues who seem obsessed with their own productivity, and seem more comfortable at the office than at home. Of all the idols that our culture provides, my temperament encourages me in this direction.
It would seem that in a world with many secondary identities battling to overtake our identity in Christ we must constantly remind ourselves and continually proclaim to others that Christ is the only worthy center of our lives. As another writer has noted "true religion is about surrendering our false identities to God and letting God transform us into new beings, into our true selves." (Jill Johnson "What is workism?")