The Prevalence of Self-Identity

December 2, 2022

toddler looking at believe in yourself graffiti

Recently my sister (a school-teacher) expressed her dismay to the rising number of teenagers (and pre-teens) who would express their self identity. She talks about a student who came up to her and said that "she was trans [gender]." When asked how it was known, the student's response was "I don't know, I just feel like it." My sister suspects though, that her student's idea came from the apparent proliferation of social media stars - Instagram-Tiktok influencers - who express similar statements. One cannot deny the plausibility, that such mediums have a real and pervasive effect on how the young generation views this world, and of their own self.

Of course, this latest 'transgender craze' is not the first and only instance of the expression of self-identity. Countless men and women no longer identify by their birth sex, but by their sexual preference. Notions of coming out of the closet statements like "I am gay," "I am a lesbian," "I am non-binary," speaks to how sexual behavior has been given authority in defining the "self."

Has our sexual desire been the authority for our identity throughout time? Of course not. Such developments have only occured in the past two centuries of our history. Carl Trueman, in his book, The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self and Strange New World, traces how we have come from having our identity determined external of us, to having it determined through our inner feelings.1 He traces how the ideas of Jean Jacque Rousseau have permeated society at large through the arts and literature, and how ideas by Marx, Nietzche, and Freud on oppression, morality as construct, and sexual identity contributed to politicize sexual behavior, rendering it as an identity that is oppressed by the construct on morality of our society.

This is why those belonging to a Judeo-Christian heritage will find it increasingly difficulty to argue rationally from a moral perspective as to why sexual identity is a myth. It has, according to Carl Trueman, become the social imaginary of our time, the intuitive understanding of the self of the western world. Increasingly, due to the globalization of the West, the East, even the Philippines, would soon have these ideas pervade the social imaginary.

An example of this is the rise of the acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community as well as the demonization of the "fundamentalists" and conservatives who prevent laws such as the SOGIE bill to be passed. An article was recently published by Rappler, an online media organization in the Philippines, at the opinion column, presenting Congressman Benny Abante as demonic and hateful.2 Congressman Abante recently proposed a house bill in the congress that seeks to guarantee religious freedom for heterosexuals to freely express ideas and statements that are in the Old Testament that describes "homosexuality is a sin." The author of the article condemned the action of Abante as spreading hate towards the LGBTQ+ Community, and is not reflective of what a Christian should be. He calls Abante a fundamentalist, echoing what the west has described its conservatives who express concern for the LGBT agenda. The author also expresses that Christianity has progressed to the point that there are multiple views of the issue of homosexuality which does not need to end as describing it as a sin.

The mere presence of the article being published in a media platform is indicative of the trend that is growing in the Philippines, namely, that identity is now being recognized according to sexual feelings. Any expressions to the contrary carries the risk of being labeled as hateful and a fundamentalist. The question is, is identifying based on our sexual preference or inclination a true proposition? If not, what is the cause of the prevalence of this myth? If this is a myth and is believed and becomes intuitive, what consequences will this bring to individuals, churches, and society?

1 For more information, see Carl Trueman's The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self and Strange New World: How Thinkers and Activists Redefined Identity and Sparked the Sexual Revolution.

2 Rappler article:

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