Galatians 3:26 for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. 27 As many of you as were baptised into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.
I do believe that it has been the systematic failure of Christendom to adequately model this scripture that has in part led to the fractalising of our cultures along identity lines today. Oofftt!
After all, it isn’t like we have only just received this mandate. We have known the high regard our Lord has for mutuality, dignity, and equality but yet our societal structures have always favoured the human tendency for defining who is out rather than in. The accumulation of resource and power. We are human, forgive us Lord. Will that prayer and plea be up to the task when we are called to stand? The rise in marginalised group empowerment movements is perhaps the corrective we need in culture? Maybe. If things are to change, if climate is to be tackled, if resources are to be better distributed. But, let us not believe that any identity politics has any claim over us than does the prior claim of Jesus.
There are countless other expressions of a movement toward identity-tribalism. Some have been around a while; others are cropping up seemingly every day! Sports tribalism, religious, music, fashion, ideological conviction, political orientation, sexual orientation. We see it too when an identity is bound up tightly with a person’s status as a victim, or part of any marginalised group. It is the attribution of currency or value to any particular grouping for the purposes of elevation, status and possibly preference.
Of course, I am not ignorant that for the better part of the last 2000 years in western style cultures the dominant power group has been white and male but then we too (speaking as a male, pale, and somewhat stale individual) can and do claim our own victim or oppressed status. Logic tells us that the top tier holds a select number of seats, not everyone gets one, not even if you are white and male. White young males from low socio-economic groups have long been disproportionately represented in dangerous and life shortening jobs, alienation from the job market, under-performing academic attainment, suicide, addiction, cannon fodder for armies and peacekeeping forces, massive life-expectancy shortfall when compared to women, pawns of the powerful, etc etc.
I am no social scientist so I don’t actually know if any of what I claim above is true according to verifiable data but I am sure someone thinks so. And so, If the last part of the above paragraph caused any reaction inside of you at all, solidarity or rage, then I hope my next point comes with a degree of intended force: identity driven power-plays do not enhance solidarity across identity lines nor exemplify the commonwealth of ‘every tribe and nation’ under the banner of Christ. Identity driven agendas focus on vain distinctiveness and ‘power’ (or lack) the end of which is not unifying but divisive, fractalising, and corrosive.
As I write, I have in mind people who see themselves as Christian and claim Him as their Lord and Saviour. So then; before I am male, or white, or British, I am Christ’s. Before one is gay, straight, bi-sexual, or non-binary, you are His. Before anything else, even before you are a victim or part of a persecuted minority suffering the oppressive weight of the patriarchy, your life is hid with Christ. Before you are Scottish, you are His.
We belong to Christ Jesus and we identified ourselves with the full truth of this when in baptism we died to self, identified with Him in death, arose from the waters a new creation in Him and in the power of the resurrection we move forward on the journey of discipleship.
Christ is the greater part by far, all of our differences are miniscule in comparison. We are bound, as brothers and sisters in Christ. Let us focus on that a whole lot more and try always to be more like the people he has called us to be. For the sake of the Kingdom, as a beacon to the world, for unity in the body, and for the gospel.
In Jesus’ name.
And all the people said:
‘that’s all alright for you to say, you’re white, male, and..’