Identity and Contemporary Culture: The Problem with Not Using the Mirror
The problem with much of contemporary culture is that people are no longer spending any time reflecting on who they are. Many of the issues coursing through our countries stem from a lack of proper understanding about what God’s Word says about human identity.
Contemporary culture says, I define myself. I should decide how long my life should be. I decide which lives matter. I decide what my sexual identity is. I decide how to respond to the politics of the day. I decide what is best for my kids. I decide what I want from marriage. No one else and no objective norms should direct how I live my life.
Defining itself the way it pleases, culture allows itself to become unkempt and ugly.
By saying what it does, contemporary culture forgets that we need to see ourselves as God sees us. God says all life is valuable, and all lives are created in His image. His people are from every race. He made people male and female. He has appointed leaders in the land that we would live righteous and peaceable lives. Parents are responsible to guide and teach their children. Marriages are to be supporting, sacrificial, lifelong, monogamous relationships. God says there is truth, and a way to walk in the truth. By refusing to look into the mirror of God’s Word, culture is not only choosing to become disheveled, but is mocking the God who gave the mirror.
However, this cannot continue; neglecting God’s norms cannot bring blessing. It only results in contradiction and inconsistency. It makes no sense to weaken the value of the life of the unborn and elderly, and yet demand that no teen be bullied. It makes no sense to ask for respectful relations between races, and yet never work together. It makes no sense to desire sexual fulfillment, and yet leave a string of broken and abusive relationships in your wake. It makes no sense to pursue high quality healthcare and yet promote destructive lifestyles. It makes no sense to try to ask for foster and adoptive parents, and yet promote family structures that lead to family disintegration.
Avoiding the mirror of God’s Word only tells everybody else you don’t care about God’s Word. Yes, looking into the mirror will bring out sin. It will reveal the need for value changes, perspective changes, attitude changes, relational changes. But without looking into it, there will be a downward spiral. If things continue the way they are, apart from grace, there will be a total disintegration and descent into chaos.
What does much of contemporary culture then need? It needs to look into the mirror of God’s law and recognize the need for repentance. It needs to turn from wickedness and bow before the One who sees beyond the visible and straight into the hearts of everyone. It needs to find in Christ the forgiveness for all the past saying and forgetting. Contemporary culture also needs to find the mirror of righteous liberty and recognize the need for obedience to God’s Word.
Identity is not “plastic”: it is not to be shaped purely by social and cultural history and personal choice. It is to be based on the revelation God has given concerning how He made people. There will certainly be superficial social and cultural and personal differences, but our ultimate identity is not shaped by any of those differences or even by our religious upbringing; it is shaped by looking into the one good mirror and desiring to live accordingly. That one good mirror is God’s Word. As individuals and as a culture, we need to look into that mirror and submit to what it shows us. Let us, as Christians, not refuse to see who we really are. Let us not be those who look in the mirror and forget. Rather, let us look into the mirror and see God’s perfect law of liberty, and then gladly continue in it. May we know the full blessing of obedience to our Lord until the day when full transformation is complete.