During a Sunday school lesson, a child learned about how God created Adam and Eve.
The boy listened intently as the teacher explained Eve was created from Adam’s ribs.
Later that week, the boy’s mother saw him lying down on the floor with a pained expression.
"What's wrong?" the mother asked.
He replied, "Mom, my side hurts — I think I’m getting a wife."
One day a teacher asked her kindergarten students to use the word "beans" in a sentence.
"My father grows beans in his garden," said one girl.
"My mother cooks beans in her chili," said a boy.
A third student spoke up, "We are all human beans."
We Are All Human Beans
Do you like being labeled?
By labeling a person as some-thing, we exclude the other parts that make them special.
Labels often become shorthand for whether another person is "acceptable" or not; whether they share my views or not; whether I should like them or not. ("What? She's a felon? She must be a terrible person," said Javert.)
But it is hard sometimes to not label others (or ourselves). After all, we all have multiple identities:
Sexual identity Gender identity Ethnic and racial identity Religious identity National identity Political identity Socio-economic identity Family identity etc.
How would you rank that list? Which identity is preeminent? Which should we highlight? Which "identity" do we value most?
Independent But Not Neutral
Personally, I don't really "identify" politically because no political party represents my values. But I am an American because I live in Utah.
And lest anyone think that Independents are political moderates, that's not the case.
The BYU Kennedy Center conducted a study of those who "identify" as Independents. And guess what? Independents are generally more extreme in their views than either political party. Why? Because Independents who are conservative think the Republican party is not conservative enough; and the same thing goes for liberals: they think the Democratic Party is too moderate.
Do Identities Matter?
Sometimes we complain about "identity politics." Identity politics is to objectify a person based on what we perceive as their dominant identity.
But identity groupings allow us to form communities much more efficiently than we could without them.
Birds of a feather flock together.
But the more important question is, Do identities matter to God, who
maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust?
Does God Care?
Does God care what nationality we are? What race we are? What sexual orientation we are?
1. National and Ethnic Identity
In the Great Commission, Jesus sent his disciples out into the world to preach to all nations (what percentage is 'all?').
No nation left behind!
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
While our ethnic and national identities contribute to who we are, they shouldn't contribute to division among the body of believers when God Himself is "no respecter of persons," as Peter taught (Acts 10:34).
In fact, the apostle Paul preached:
God hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth . . . and the bounds of their habitation.
The issue is how to celebrate diversity without creating division.
2. Racial Identity
If God appointed the times and bounds of our habitation here on earth, that means He sent us here with a particular racial identity that we cannot change.
The prophet Jeremiah asked, "Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots?" (Jeremiah 13:23).
So we cannot use race as a means to divide one another, because, as Nephi taught:
The Lord esteemeth all flesh in one.
(1 Nephi 17:35)
That was a pretty bold statement for a young man to make in 600 B.C.
(I guess Nephi was ahead of his times. Are we?)
3. Sexual and Gender Identity
Why do we create division based upon sexual and gender identity when we worship a Man (Christ) who experienced all our sin and suffering ― both male and female ― and who referred to Himself as a "hen" (3 Nephi 10:4) and his role as our mother (Isaiah 49:15)?
In Blaire Ostler's book, Queer Mormon Theology, she points out that in his atonement, Christ transcended sex and gender by being in all and through all.
Think about that.
What sort of "identity" does Christ have after he experienced the lived-experiences of all people?
Or, as Nephi so beautifully put it:
Christ inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God.
(2 Nephi 26:33)
So if Christ doesn't "deny" any who come unto Him . . .