by Dale Reeves
Years ago, when I was writing curriculum at Standard Publishing for teenage youth groups, I composed the lyrics for a rap song called, “Who R U?” I’ll spare you all the lyrics, but in that song, I talked about the confusion that many teenagers were experiencing in terms of their identity. I had seen so many teens “acting out” because of their desire to fit in with a particular group. Parents in our youth ministry would often say to me, “My son [or daughter] is doing things that are not like them at all. I don’t understand why this behavior is happening all of a sudden.” I would take a step back, take a deep breath, and then gently point out that it probably hadn’t just happened, “all of a sudden.” It occurred over time because they were struggling with their own identity and were willing to do whatever necessary to try to be popular and/or find their niche in high school.
Guess what? Young adults today are still struggling with the same thing, trying to express themselves and discover who they are . . . except in today’s culture there are many more examples in front of them telling them to go against the grain of the accepted norms in their family. They look around in their schools, on social media, in their communities, and in their country and see so many teens struggling with their identity.
According to the New York Post, one in four high school students today identify as homosexual, bisexual, or are currently questioning their sexuality. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s annual report, nearly 12% of the more than 17,000 students who were surveyed consider themselves bisexual, just over 3% were either gay or lesbian, and 9% marked “other,” which could include those who identify as pansexual or asexual or have “questioned” their sexuality. To see the full report from the New York Post, click here.
The number of LGBTQ people continues to rise every year. A Gallup poll released in February 2023 revealed that 7.2% of adult Americans are “something other than heterosexual,” the highest concentration of which belonged to Gen Z. And, yet, nearly 70% OF LGBTQ young adults “experience persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness,” with more than half dealing with poor mental health. In multiple reports, these young adults are more likely to experience “substance abuse, sexual violence, bullying, and suicidal thoughts and behaviors.”
Terms and Pronouns Matter
In case you missed this in high school English class, pronouns are even more important these days. Many people today are struggling with what nouns to use when describing themselves. Someone who used to be referred to as “he/him” for years suddenly becomes “she/her” or “they/them,” as they go through a gender transition. And so, the confusion continues for this person and those who know this person. Terms matter too. For instance, “gender identity” is one’s internal sense of self and gender, whether that is man, woman, neither, or both. Unlike gender expression, gender identity is not outwardly visible to others. Gender identity usually aligns with the sex assigned by God at birth, but for transgender people, gender identity differs in varying degrees from the sex assigned at birth. “Nonbinary” is a term that can be used by individuals who do not describe themselves or their genders as fitting into the categories of man or woman. “Agender” is an adjective that can describe a person who does not identify as any gender.
“Gender dysphoria” refers to the psychological distress that results from an incongruence between one’s sex assigned at birth and one’s gender identity. Not all trans people experience dysphoria, and those who do may experience it at varying levels of intensity. And, just because someone has “transitioned” does not automatically mean that their sexual orientation (physical, romantic, and emotional attraction to members of the same and/or other genders) has changed. But, perhaps their sexual orientation has changed. You really can’t assume anything these days.
[info taken from here.]
Whether or not we understand all the circumstances that have gone into someone changing their gender identity or sexual orientation, the most important thing to remember is that every individual is created in God’s image, and is pursued by God’s extravagant love for them—no matter what they think their identity is.
What God Says
Even if someone is not struggling with their gender identity, you still might hear them say, “I need to find myself!” Some people base their identity on their family of origin; some base it on what they do; and some base it on what they feel. But as our senior minister, Brad Wilson, stated this past Sunday at church,
“Difference makers are not confused. They have an identity; they know whose they are, and they know who they are!”
If you missed the teaching this past Sunday, you can check it out here.
God’s Holy Word is completely trustworthy and true. In several thousand years, the truths of God’s Word have not changed. Even in the midst of our dramatically changing culture, God doesn’t need to adjust his opinions for our own benefit. The Bible is 100% inspired by God’s Holy Spirit for all times, for all people, in all places! The Bible does not need to be rewritten for our society today. As someone challenged this generation,
“Stop trying to change Scripture when it’s written to change you!’
Here’s what God has to say about your identity today:
“For you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.
‘Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God’s people. Once you received no mercy; now you have received God’s mercy’” (1 Peter 2:9, 10, NLT).
“For the Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life” (Job 33:4, NLT).
“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well” (Psalm 139:14, ESV).
“But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12, NLT).
“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:17, NLT).
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! (1 John 3:1, NIV).
As I shared at a memorial service this past Tuesday night, “God knows all of us, inside and out—better than we know ourselves. He knows why we were created the way we were, and what his plans are for each of us.” Don’t miss out on who God created you to be. Embrace all he has planned for you and take what he’s given you and use it for the good of others and the glory of God.