It was a Wednesday afternoon, 3 weeks ago, when Ms. K walked into our classroom and probed this question to the class: ‘Who are you?’
There were many answers from my classmates. Some answered, ‘I am a human being’, some said, ‘I am made up of many things such as my hobbies or likes and dislikes’, while others said their name and nationality. I was trying my best to pay attention but I was getting bored by the second. Classes right after recess and straight before lunch are always tough (yawn).
But soon enough, one of my friends declared that she was a girl. When my teacher heard this statement, her response caught my full attention. She said, “Are you very sure about that? If you want to be something else - you can change that, right? You can be whatever you want to be, can’t you?” That class marked the beginning of my philosophy course for the year.
THE WORLD BEYOND THE BUBBLE
I believe I used to live in a ‘safety bubble’ intentionally created by my parents. Being born in Asia, receiving my child baptism when I wasn’t even aware of it, playing with my Sunday School friends on weekends, and going to a religious school on weekdays put me in this so-called ‘bubble’ that wrapped me around ‘safely’.
I am certain all of you had your own safety bubble created by your parents in one form or another when you were younger. But do you realise that the more we grow, the more exposure we inevitably will face from this contaminated fallen world? We can’t hide in our safety bubble forever.
False teachings, wrong philosophies, worldly ideologies are filling up our society.
The scheming enemy is out there placing its snares in so many different forms and ways to deceive and destroy us. It comes from the books we read, the movies we watch, the songs we listen to, the activities we do, and even from our classrooms! Like very tiny hazardous particles in the air, we inhale into our lungs every time we breathe, often didn’t realise they exist as we can’t see them and they don’t really make us sick instantly.
We are now living in a ‘post-modern’ era that has actually started since the late 20th century. In this culture, people are skeptics and claim that there is NO absolute truth. Everything is relative, and questionable. They consequently tend to be self-referential and epistemological (episteme - knowledge and logos - reason/justification). Combine this with the post-Christian time we live in right now, where the culture is increasingly becoming more secular, it is a bizarre situation to face at once. Just last week, Rev. Agus warned us that philosophical matters or ideologies that involve the way of life and morals are much more evil than any physical harm.
The conflict between science and Christianity started in the 16th century, following the battle about equality and human rights that has once again been put into the limelight recently. Even though God is the one who created science, and that science would not exist without Him, modern-day scientists have been coming up with theories that go against Scripture. Their theories contradict with God’s purpose of creating science - which is to know more about Him and his creations.
God created everything vs Big Bang Theory/Evolution
“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1-ESV)
The first sentence in the Bible starts the whole story about how our universe was created. God is the one who created EVERYTHING and before anything was made, God already existed. If you’ve been raised in a Christian family and have been going to church since young, you would already know this full well and (I hope) believe this truth wholeheartedly. However, the world around us rejects this truth and instead places its trust in theories of science. There are many theories about our existence and how the world came to be. The most common ones are the ‘Big Bang Theory’, which explains how the universe started as a single dot then expanded to its current size, and the ‘Charles Darwin theory’ of human evolution which suggests that humans originated from apelike ancestors.
God created male and female vs LGBTQ+
‘So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.’ (Genesis 1:27-ESV)
This issue I see around the school is concerning. Some girls decided to come in a shirt and pants instead of dress uniform, diversity lunchtime clubs are created to open a ‘safe space’ for students to express themselves, and mufti days to celebrate diversity. Gender fluidity may be the worst and most common lie in our society that goes against the Bible in many different ways.
Genesis 1:27 explains how in the beginning, God had already made us MALE and FEMALE. He did this according to His plan and he created male and female to be unified through the bonds of marriage and to reproduce. However, in this ‘post-modern’ world, humans have turned against God’s intention and introduced the concept of LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) which encourages same-sex attractions as well as gender transformations. In this era, experiencing a feeling of attraction to someone of the same gender or ‘changing’ your gender is supported. There even emerges the ‘Q+’ section of LGBT, which is the genderqueer, people who think they fit into neither gender or ‘have their own gender’.
Some countries around the world have already supported this movement and even legalized it. The country I live in, Australia, legalized the LGBTQ+ movement and same-sex marriage in 2017. Since then, there has been a spike in the number of people, among which are also teenagers, who have identified themselves as gay or transgender. Statistics show as of 2020, 4.6% of teenagers in Australia identified themselves as being gay (The Australian’s Women's Weekly).
God created men and women to be equal, but different vs feminism
“Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.’” (Genesis 2:18-ESV)
God created Adam and thought it was not good for him to be alone. So He created Eve, a woman, as a helper for Adam. Both men and women have their unique strengths and weaknesses, perfectly planned by God to complement one another. They are made different, but equal, with neither gender dominating over the other.
Unfortunately, because men fell into sin, not fulfilling their calling and abusing their position, the problem of gender inequality came about. More and more, women are being looked down upon and not given the same opportunities as men are. They have also become more susceptible to violence and rapings, and soon a community of women grouped together to embark on the journey of feminism. Being as sinful as the men, this movement became a battle between the two genders, with women trying to prove themselves better than men, rather than to seek biblical equality.
We are unworthy of His grace vs newly defined human rights
“One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who is able to resist his will?” But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God?“Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’” Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?” (Romans 9:19-21-NIV)
No man is worthy to deserve God’s great grace, His never-ending mercies, and His ultimate salvation. It is wrong to think we have anything in us that is excellent or entitled to this treatment. Only those who have seen God’s goodness and glory will realise that we are nothing. Of course, it does not mean that we are not granted basic ‘human rights’, but it means that we should not have radical thoughts of freedom in the name of human rights. God is our potter and we are the clay, what right do we have to go against God’s design for us and choose our own description of identity?
HOW CAN TEENS WIN THE BATTLE
Teens are often labeled as ignorant and self-centered human beings. The biological explanation for this behavior is due to our developing brain (ie. brain under constructions). We are still lacking awareness, thus often misjudge the seriousness of the situations and our abilities to handle them. Ignorance, however, is not bliss and very dangerous in this current era we live in now.
A book that I’ve recently been reading - Teen Brain by David Gillespie states that our brains grow both in volume and maturity, starting from the third week of gestation and finishes when we are around 25 years of age. In our early childhood years, our brain is only starting to navigate spatial orientation, coordination, attention speech, and languages. In the teenage years, the brain then finishes impulse control, decision-making, and social skills; the crucial stage where we form the foundations of skills used for later in life.
Coincidently it is also the stage when we are trying to find our real identity. In this time span, the things around us will have the most impact on our brains, shaping the majority of our values, morals, and beliefs. They will influence how we make our life choices that will shape our future. Hence why it is vital for us to be certain not to get polluted by the world's crooked ideologies that will falsely dictate us.
We need to live with eternity in view. We need to think of the consequences of every choice we make. We need to make that right choice and avoid any evil temptations at all costs. No one can make that choice for you. Only your faith, your prayer, and your determination to be obedient to God can guide you to make the right choice. Equip yourself with the TRUTH of the Word of God. Hold tight and get dependent on it. Let it crush your heart and change your life to enable you to be who God has created you to be (your identity) and to fulfill your purpose according to His will.
“Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” (Proverbs 16:3-ESV)
As the culture of the world feeds us with wrong philosophy and ideology about who we are, remember that no matter how true it looks or sounds, as long as it doesn’t align with the Scripture then we ought to believe it is a lie. The word of God is the ultimate truth and should form the basis of our ideology and identity.
So the next time I get the ‘WHO ARE YOU’ question, my answer will be:
I am a daughter of God, fearfully and wonderfully made by Him. I am shaped by His own hands from dust and breathed the breath of life. I am made in the image of God, with a purpose that is to glorify Him. I am also a sinful human that goes against my Creator, but because of His love, He redeemed me through Jesus Christ’s death on the cross.