9 May 2013

Thoughts on Christian Identity: You Are Not Your Own

cross3In my previous post I looked at how a true understanding of the human person is important to Christian Identity.

Ethicists of every stripe agree that identity, how a group or individual defines itself, is fundamental to their moral formation. A frequent summary of the logic of Paul’s ethics is the maxim ‘become what you are’. Ciampa & Rosner, 1 Corinthians, p.158

In 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 Paul teaches Christian Identity.

Flee immorality. Every other sin that a person commits is outside the body, but the immoral person sins against their own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.

Fundamental to Christian Identity is the idea that we belong to God. Modern thought emphasises the complete freedom of the human person. Freedom is important, but a true understanding of human freedom must recognise that it is often illusory and has limits. Western capitalism and democracy are built on freedom of choice. But are humans truly masters of their own destiny? Are we free to do as we please?  The scriptures tell us that human beings are ‘slaves to sin’. We cannot free ourselves from our condition of moral compromise and inability to act consistently in righteous ways that benefit ourselves and others. We are destructive and self-destructive. The reason for our lack of freedom is that we are fundamentally alienated from God our Creator.

The Christian finds freedom in being reconciled to the Creator. Christians are redeemed, bought back by God. Therefore, we are not our own, we have been bought with a price. This is the same idea as is found in 1 Peter 1:18-19:

…you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your ancestors, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.

This fact of Christian Identity ought to give us pause for thought. It’s not just a truth to be confined to the ‘theological’ category to be dug up and reflected on every once in a blue moon. You are not your own when your married work colleague is flirting with you. You are not your own when you’re choosing your holiday. You are not your own when you’re caught up in that dispute that flairs up at work.  You are not your own when you’re choosing coffee in the supermarket.

I preached on Christian Identity the Sunday after the factory collapse in Bangladesh that highlighted again the oppression that enables rich Westerners to buy cheap clothes, rich Westerners who have ‘freedom of choice’. You are not your own, when you’re in the queue for the till in Primark. We are not our own. Jesus Christ did not give his life for us so that we could partition off a part of our lives as beyond his jurisdiction, using a body-soul, sacred-secular dualism to justify it.