Who Am I? Identity, Feelings, Science, Authority, Authenticity, Technology, and Courage.
For decades we’ve taught our children: “You can be anything you want to be.” We wanted them to dream, to aspire to great things, to overcome the challenges they’d face. What we didn’t realize was, not only would they take our advice, they’d apply it universally across all categories.
- I can be an NBA star … despite my parent’s average height of 5’5”.
- I can be the next Tiger Woods … despite not living near a golf course.
- I can be a runway model … though all my siblings are short and overweight.
- I can be the next Albert Einstein … though I’m pulling a B- in Algebra.
- I can be a woman … despite my XY chromosomes and male anatomy.
“You can be anything you want to be” was aspirational, but its misleading message has come home to roost. The kids believed us – but in ways we never intended.
They’ve decided – with the aid of advancing technology and an affirming, performative culture – that they can define their very sense of “self.” They can literally become that which their biology says they cannot become. They can switch genders.
The throne of External Authority and Science has been overthrown. A new King has been crowned: Feelings, Intuition, and our Inner Sense of Self. It’s like a fish jumping out of an aquarium, convinced it’s a mammal. Because of an inner intuition – “I ought to have fur, not scales!” – it will identify as a mammal and use modern technology to grow lungs. Nevermind the gills. To jump out of the tank is deemed courageous, not foolhardy; to remain immersed in the tank is the passive act of a coward. And who wants to be a coward?
Any person born with XY chromosomes and male anatomy … (hold on tight because this will be an authoritative statement that doesn’t care a lick about your feelings) … is a man. XX chromosomes, a woman. I didn’t say anything radical here. Except, in today’s world, I did. For some, I triggered their entire inner sense of self. How dare me!
Today, everyone is expected to define ‘self’ by their inner feelings. Why? “You can be anything you want to be.” There is no legitimate external authority. There is nothing I receive from outside of me that defines me; I am who I make myself out to be. Life is just raw materials – Legos® – from which I forge my identity according to my intuitions of myself.
So, if I feel to be a woman – though I currently inhabit the body of a man – it isn’t my feelings that are skewed, but my body. I must, therefore, surgically and therapeutically alter my body to come into conformity with my feelings. We used to recognize that feelings were out of alignment with bodily reality; now we say the body is out of alignment with true reality: our feelings. Nevermind that feelings might change at some future point.
Reality resides inside of me. It is not fixed by an External Authority.
Finally, this means courage is the decision to publicly live by my feelings. Who doesn’t want to appear courageous and thereby be affirmed/approved of? And so, we get every approval-starved celebrity declaring they’re a new letter in the LGBTQ+ salad of options. This is the new cultural expectation (zeitgeist): you are a coward until you look within and declare your true identity, your “authentic self.” And once you do, culture will lionize you for such a courageous act. Now, my fishy friend, go figure out that whole breathing thing.
But now, this is what the Lord says – he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine." Isaiah 43:1
PS Go buy Carl Trueman's book, Strange New World, and discover how we've arrived at this cultural moment.