Can Rachel Dolezal choose her racial identity?
Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

{source}<iframe style=”float: Left; border: 1px solid #000000; background-color: #c0c0c0; padding: 2px; margin: 10px; -moz-border-radius: 3px; -khtml-border-radius: 3px; -webkit-border-radius: 3px; border-radius: 3px;” width=”400″ height=”225″ src=”″ frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>{/source}There is a new cultural debate.  The former NAACP leader, Rachel Dolezal, chose to live as a black woman for almost a decade.  She told a CBS news station, “Yes, I do consider myself to be black and that’s because … you know, that’s how I identify.”  Biologically, Rachel is the daughter of two Anglo parents.  Rachel resigned from her position with the NAACP this week stating that the conversation in the media, “has unexpectedly shifted internationally to my personal identity in the context of defining race and ethnicity.”  

Many in the media are questioning whether Rachel has the right to choose her racial identity, comparing her choice to the choice made by Bruce Jenner regarding his gender.  Interestingly, people used words like courageous and honest about Jenner’s choice and the terminology surrounding Dolezal’s choice is usually the opposite sentiment.

Is there a difference between transgender and transracial choices?  Does someone have the right to assume an identity, regardless of the biological truth about who they are?  Do some have that right, but not others?  Is there a Christian perspective that should be considered?

Bruce Jenner was born a male, married three different women, fathered three sons and three daughters.  Recently, however, he has chosen to live with a female identity and wants to be called, Caitlyn Jenner.  Science and biology would deny his ability to be defined as a female, but statistically the culture has voted he has the right to choose a female identity.

If Bruce has the right to deny biology, does Rachel have that same right?  Is one choice brave and “living personal truth” while the other is dishonest and living a lie?  Strange things happen when we try to redefine truth.  Truth cannot be redefined, or it isn’t truth at all.

For many years scientists have debated Christians on topics like evolution versus creation asserting that science defines what is truth.  Many of those same scientists have remained quiet on issues like abortion.  Science tells us that an unborn child has a beating heart, can sense and know his parents’ voices and can even smile.  The culture believes that people can be charged with homicide if they are responsible for the death of a pregnant woman’s child.  That same culture believes that the mother, however, has every right to abort that same child’s life.  Biology tells us it is a baby and the culture tells us we can choose whether to believe that or not.

What happens in a culture when people are given the freedom to consider truth as option or opinion?  I think the current news is providing a few answers to that question.  There seems to be increasing confusion in our world about where to turn for answers.  Should the scientists define truth?  Should the various opinions in the media be considered truth, even if contradictory?  Should each of us be allowed to define truth according to our feelings or opinions?  

Those of us who call ourselves Christians have not been given any of those options because we don’t need them.   We know what Paul meant when he told Timothy, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).  We agree with Peter’s words in 2 Peter 1:20-21: “Knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”   We trust Jesus’ words when he prayed for his disciples saying, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.”

There are new cultural debates and every Christian can either remain silent or speak God’s truth with love and grace.  I believe these debates provide us with the opportunity to be light in the darkness and speak truth to the confusion.  There is a reason the Bible calls those who are unsaved as “living in the darkness” and “lost.”  

Take a minute to remember the last time you were lost, disoriented, confused or afraid.  How did you feel when you found your way?  Jesus really is, “the way, the truth and the life.”   Who will you speak that truth to this week?

{jcomments lock}