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Identity in Christ, Not in Demographics

Galatians 3:28 is an excerpt out of a letter that Paul writes to Galatia calling for unity and imploring them to find camaraderie in their faith in Christ’s death and resurrection: “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

This call for brotherhood is especially poignant in light of the past few years which have seemed to sharply divide the United States of America over some of the very lines that Paul names in Galatians: religion, enslavement, and sex.

In the age of social justice movements, it has become increasingly clear that there are many individuals who are pushing the notion that the sum total of a person’s value can be reduced to accidents of their circumstances: race, ethnicity, sex, ability, nationality, economic status, etc.

This framework is based on the idea that there are inherent power struggles between demographics (especially intersectional demographics) and that there are always oppressors and oppressees. For a prime example of this ideology, consider this quotation from a Time article on the subject: ‘think of an LGBT African-American woman and a heterosexual white woman who are both working class. They “do not experience the same levels of discrimination, even when they are working within the same structures that may locate them as poor.’” [1]

Since claiming an oppressed identity has become a form of social currency, it has become important that the identity that one adopts be “justified” to those who would question it. This is the controversy at the center of the Hilaria Baldwin scandal that has taken up far too many headlines in recent weeks. It is alleged that Baldwin, a Boston-born yoga instructor and wife of Alec Baldwin, fabricated a Spanish/Latina identity, including faking an accent, to capitalize on special social benefits afforded to members of this “oppressed” class that were meant to even in the odds in their favor. [2]

Baldwin has defended herself by saying that she spent time in both Spain and Boston as a child and that she called Spain “home” because her parents now live there. This has done nothing but generate ire of those who describe themselves as “actual Latinos.” [3]

This kind of anger is derived from one key problem: a crisis of identity. People at large no longer have a strong sense of who they are and what they mean without splitting their sense of self into a multitude of demographic groups.

This has led to clashes and disunity, even within the Church. This conflict has become so great that a group of Christians felt called to publish a “Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel” to deal with their concerns that social justice activism runs the risk of becoming heretical. [4]

Although there are certainly people on both sides of this issue who have good intentions, the fact of the matter is that dissecting a person based on arbitrary demographics has an inherent bad tendency to make people more prone to discarding the unifying identity of “Christian.”

This is a dangerous outcome that must be guarded against. Our duty is to advance the Kingdom of God, not a special interest group. In Ephesians 2:10 we are reminded that “…we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

To pursue this calling, we cannot allow ourselves to devolve into squabbles over who is and is not a member of an “oppressed class.” The slaves which Paul called to brotherhood were certainly being called to unity, even though they were certainly oppressed. That is not to say that Paul called them to accept wanton abuse but, rather, to say that they should find their sense of self in the Lord and Body of Christ, not in their slavehood.

Our identity is and should always be foremost defined by being members of the kingdom of God.

Foundations of Truth hereby waives all claim of copyright (economic and moral) in this work and immediately places it in the public domain; it may be used, published, edited, and distributed in any manner whatsoever without any attribution or notice to Foundations of Truth.

[1] Arica L. Coleman, “What's Intersectionality? Let These Scholars Explain the Theory and Its History,”Time (March 29, 2019), https://time.com/5560575/intersectionality-theory/

[2] “Alec Baldwin and wife Hillary 'Hilaria' Baldwin 'very upset' that her alleged Spanish heritage is 'being questioned',” Daily Mail UK (January 5, 2021), https://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-9116255/Alec-Baldwin-wife-Hillary-Hilaria-Baldwin-upset-heritage-questioned.html

[3] Susanne Ramírez de Arellano, “Hilaria Baldwin's Spanish cosplay shows which Hispanic stereotypes white people are cool with,” NBC (January 1, 2020), https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/hilaria-baldwin-s-spanish-cosplay-shows-which-hispanic-stereotypes-white-ncna1252630

[4] “The Statement on Social Justice & the Gospel.,” SJ&G (September 2018), https://statementonsocialjustice.com/

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Foundations of Truth hereby waive all claim of copyright (economic and moral) in this work and immediately places it in the public domain; it may be used, published, edited, and distributed in any manner whatsoever without any attribution or notice to Foundations of Truth.