Our Identity, part 1
15th of January
God has created us as human beings in His image. (1.Gen.1:27) He created us as man and woman. Since God has created us, He knows more about us than any doctor or psychologist.
I have studied some psychology and some of it has been useful and interesting, but the Holy Spirit has taught me more than I have learned through books. He was there when you and I were created. In psychology I was taught that it was important to develop a strong ego that was in balance between the superego and the id. Id represents our impulses and superego our conscience and morals. I agree in the fact that we need balance between the three parts of our personality, but disagree with some of the theories around it. When we look at the factors that influence the making of our identity, the psychologists and I agree that both culture and environment influence the development of our identity.
It is quite decisive where we are born. Culture is inherited down through generations. How I see myself and those around me, are partly dependant on where I grow up. What kind of values that are important to me, are partly dependant on which country I come from. My religion is partly dependant on my country and my family. Our behavior differs from country to country. My eating habits and interests are also ruled by my background. I see this more and more since I travel more now than before.
I am born in Norway and have lived most of my life there. I have not experienced to be suppressed as a woman even if the wages could have been more equal between the sexes. I have been taught to think for myself and to take responsibility for my own life. I have learned to pay attention to others. I have been allowed to have my own opinion and I grew up in a democratic country. Values such as respect for the individual and tolerance were important. I was taught to love my own country, but also to have great understanding for people from other countries. After living in Sweden for 5-6 years, I realize how much my country has influenced my identity. I identify with my own country in a very different way than a Swede would do. I get very emotional on the 17th of May, our Day of Freedom. I express my own opinion more and puts more question-marks to decisions that are made “over my head” . I also believe that I isolate myself less. The Swedes are used to collective thinking. It seems to be a contradiction that he also isolates himself from others. He takes his family and closes the door to new people. The law of Equalitiy or “Janteloven” as it is called in Scandinavia says that you must not think that you are better than anybody else. Besides that, they have a word called “lagom”. That means that it must not be too much or too little of anything. You will naturally find many exceptions from the rule and I love my Swedish friends.
I have lived for over a year in India. This is a huge country and the differences are great, dependant on the place and your religion. The difference between rich and poor is enormous and a rich Indian thinks about himself completely different than a poor. India is built on a caste system. A Hindu has to accept life as it is and cannot strive for something better. They hit their children frequently in India. This is partly done to educate the child, but also used in schools to keep peace and order. These things are brought from one generation to another. A woman is rejected from the time of birth since the hospital does not congratulate the parents if they have a girl, but makes a great fuss over a boy. The fact that one is rejected and the other one accepted influences the identity of the two sexes.
What do we do as Christians? Do we identify with our culture or with our religion? Are we Christians alike all over the world? I naturally do not think of our looks. I can assure you that we Christians are not alike. The culture can actually be stronger than our faith. In India lying is quite accepted. They often call it a “white lie” and even Christians think that it is acceptable to lie if they can obtain some benefits. It is part of our system they say. Parents arrange the partner and the wedding for their children according to Indian tradition. The woman is supposed to leave her family and live with her husband and his family. When I quote those places in the Bible where it is written that the man should leave his family and stay with his wife, they often get angry. They identify with their tradition more than the Word of God. There are exceptions. Some Christians defend yoga and say that it is a nice exercise and will not admit that it is part of occultism. I as a Norwegian can not identify with our trolls and old mythology. WHERE DO WE DRAW A LINE BETWEEN CULTURE AND CHISTIANITY? Many mistakes have been made by missionaries through the ages. They might have tried to impose their own way of living on the people. These traditions might have nothing to do with the Bible. My identity is in the Word of God. The Bible does not tell me if I should dress in sari or long pants. It does not say anything about eating meat-balls with rice or potatoes. I say categorically: ALL TRADITIONS THAT ARE NOT IN OPPOSITION TO THE WORD OF GOD, CAN BE KEPT. THOSE AGAINST THE WORD, ONE HAS TO DISSOCIATE ONESELF FROM.
I love India and Indians and I come with examples from this culture since I am familiar with the country. When I am in India, I dress like them, eat their food and sleep wherever a bed is given. I do not enter their temples and bow before other gods. I tell newly saved to denounce the old idols. I am willing to stand together with them in the fight. I HAVE MADE IT CLEAR THAT CULTURE IS AN IMPORTANT FACTOR IN FORMING OUR IDENTITY. We as Christians should have our identity in JESUS and THE WORD. Culture could otherwise become an idol.
Our family makes a great impact on our identity. The mother is the most important person in the life of a baby. That contact is crucial for the security of the baby and for the child’s identity later in life. The child is formed in the womb of the mother and this time is also important for the child. I have prayed for people that had wounds dating back to that particular time of his or her life. Is the child wanted? Is the mother happy or is she in a crisis of her life? These things affect the baby. I have heard about parents who are singing for the child when it is inside the womb and nice songs are important then and afterwards. When a child is close to the body of an adult and is patted, the baby creates a good feeling about its own body. When this is done frequently, love and security are built up in the child. Children that are not touched much, can become sick and insecure. Is the child loved by his parents or is the child an extra burden? If it is a burden, the child can feel that nobody loves me and rejection can become part of the child’s identity when it grows up. Rejection is a root problem in the society to-day.
Does the child have both parents? That can play a role in forming the sex-identity. Boys who grow up with a mother, a female pre-school-teacher and a female teacher in school, do not get many men to identify with. I know of churches, using some of the men as reserve-daddies. I like that. I also think that the girls need a daddy-figure who sees and acknowledge them. They are going to have a husband one day. A CHILD’S IDENTITY IS DEPENDANT ON CONTACT WITH BOTH SEXES. Jesus takes the small children in His arms and He says:
LET THE SMALL CHILDREN COME TO ME, DO NOT FORBID THEM; FOR OF SUCH IS THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!