Why is there so much identification confusion today? It is not that it is something new. These issues have been around throughout history. They are however, new in their prominence in American Culture. In reality we all have some level of identification confusion. We all wrestle with identity questions. Why was I born male or female? Why am I ugly and not pretty? Why did my parents not want me? Why did my parents get a divorce? Why do people not like me? These are just a few identity questions that many wrestle with. But today, the identification confusion has gone more public specifically around gender identification. The same-sex marriage and transgender issues are being addressed by politicians as civil rights issues. I believe this is very dangerous territory and should be left to the medical and church communities to discuss since these are such critical issues for our society and world. Here are a couple important facts that Mark Yarhouse, professor of psychology at Regent University makes. (CT, June 8th, 2015, Understanding the Transgender Phenomenon)
While on the topic of homosexuality, let me clarify that gender dysphoria and transgender issues are not about having sex or attraction to the same sex; they are about an experiential mismatch between one’s psychology and one’s biology. People often confuse the two, likely due to transgender being a part of the larger lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) discussion.
What happens to children when their gender identity conflict continues into adulthood? Psychiatrist Richard Carroll proposes that they face four outcomes: (1) live in accordance with one’s biological sex and gender role; (2) engage in cross-gender behavior intermittently; (3) adopt a cross-gender role through sex reassignment surgery; or (4) unresolved (the clinician has lost contact with the person and doesn’t know what happened).
Few studies have shown that therapy successfully helps an adult with gender dysphoria resolve with their biological sex. This may be one reason professionals generally support some cross-gender identification in therapy.
So, how should the Church be responding to all of this identification confusion? We need to not get caught up in all the legislation and social media. We need to focus on the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which has the power to bring about transformation and freedom to be who God created us to be. Many come to faith but never lay hold of this freedom and experience the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. David Devenish writes,
From the start, as soon as we become followers of Jesus Christ we find that we are new people. It is not just that certain things have changed, like maybe we now go to church on Sundays, or we read the Bible and pray regularly. Plenty of people do those things without having necessarily made a personal commitment to follow Jesus. Salvation is not presented in that way in the Bible. Instead, what we are told is that we become entirely new people…Many people are surprised to find out what God has done in them after they have made a commitment to Christ.
This process of becoming free from identification confusion is technically called sanctification. It is the process of partnering with the Holy Spirit to rid our lives of the lies, ties and strongholds that keep us bound in identification confusion. The devil is known as the father of all lies. We all have to be set free from wrong thinking about ourselves and about God. Soul-ties occur in our lives when we unite emotionally and or physically with someone outside God’s design. And strongholds are lies and ties that have not been dealt with and where the enemy has put us into bondage. The Good News of the Gospel is that Jesus came to set the captives free from every lie, tie or stronghold. We can see the beautiful freedom that Mary Magdalene, the woman at the well, Zacchaeus, the demoniac and many others experienced as they experienced the power of the Gospel.
Here is a basic process that every believer should go through and every Church should offer in some form so that people can truly experience freedom from identification confusion:
Saving Faith – new life and freedom begin with meeting Jesus as Savior and Lord
Water Baptism – the public act of obedience of what has happened inside the heart
Spirit Baptism – the filling and empowerment of the Holy Spirit
Local Church Family – where we experience Grace, Growth and Greater Things
Renew Our Mind – the process whereby we learn to wield the Word of God as the Sword of the Spirit to bring alive the fruit of the Spirit and the new life Christ has for us
Identify Lies, Ties and Strongholds – the process whereby we take an inventory of our old life and renounce lies and ties and tear down strongholds
Healing Prayer – the ministry where we allow mature believers in our church to minister to us through intercessory prayer to gain greater breakthrough and freedom
Deliverance Ministry – the ministry in the local church where mature believers set people free from oppression, strongholds and addictions through prayer and use of the spiritual gifts of faith, healing, discerning spirits, words of knowledge and wisdom and prophesy.
These are the gifts and processes that Jesus has given His Church to utilize to bring people into freedom from identification confusion. These ministries are needed now more than every in our country. It is time for the Church to stop whining about how our country is falling apart and start loving those who are oppressed and confused with the powerful life changing Gospel of Jesus Christ. We are to welcome everyone into the Church, the Body of Christ, but we are to only affirm what we find in God’s Word. We are to model the compassion and gentleness of Christ as He ministered to people. We do this by learning to operate under the power of the Holy Spirit to set people free from identification confusion into the freedom of who God created them to be.