Dale Appleby

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Finding myself. Narrowing down or relating out?

A recent report told of the removal of gender categories in Australia's major music awards “in order to make the competition more inclusive...”

“There will be no Best Male Artist or Best Female Artist categories at the ARIAs this November, organisers said.  Instead, an award for Best Artist will replace the two...”

"The time for separating artists based on gendered categories that exclude non-binary artists altogether has passed," according to Annabelle Herd, chief executive of ARIA.

This change is in line with a significant movement in the western world to do with gender identity. Part of the change has been in the way people are taught to understand themselves. A major part of this change has been a move away from material and biological ways of identifying oneself, towards an inner psychological understandng of the self.

So whereas once people were identified as male or female based on their physical and biological make up, now the trend is for identities to be based on inner feelings.

This change is not just a matter of material/biology versus feelings and psychology. It is also about how we find out who we are. The trend to look inside and recognise how we feel, is a search in the opposite direction to traditional ways.

In the past people looked outside themselves for their identity. It was affirmed by family, friends and the wider society. That of course is part of the objection of the culture-changers. But it is in line with the common understanding that humans are social animals. We live and grow in societies. We are not private self-providing individuals..

We are created for relationship. Especially we are created for relationship with our Creator. And who we are is understood in relation both to God and to his purposes for humankind.

Noel Pearson in an essay puts forward the idea of “layered identities”. He does so in the context of Australian aboriginal people seeking a rightful place in the Constitution and society of Australia. All of us have different ways of identifying ourselves: as someone’s parent, child, spouse, teacher, student, or as a mamber of an ethnic group, or nation, or even as a sport fan die-hard. Some of these identities are more important to us than others. But all of them involve us relating outside ourselves.

The Bible helps us understand that our chief identity is found in our relation to the Lord Jesus.

So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith,  for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Gal 3.26-28

That seems like a good basis for an inclusive, undivided society.




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