Don’t Be Who You Are, Be Someone Better

There is a cultural phenomenon sweeping through our world today, and I think it can best be epitomized by a comment made by Taylor Swift in an interview discussing her hit music video “Shake it Off.” The comment was, “I wanted it to be—kind of—unapologetic about like, ‘you don’t like me for being who I am, watch me be who I am more.’” [1]

It’s the phenomenon of being who you are… unapologetically. Some female celebrities who have spearheaded this phenomenon are Jennifer Lawrence (known for her wacky behavior and outspoken nature on unhealthy body image), Taylor Swift (quoted above), Miley Cyrus (whose antics are well known). Many pop-stars fall into this mold. Justin Beiber is so used to steering into the skid that he decided to strip at a fashion show because he was being booed.[2] Talk about individuality!

It’s a philosophy that says, “I’m not going to let other people tell me who to be. I’m going to decide who I am.” The hilarious and ironic subtext of this proposal is that most decide to be who they are by being the opposite of what everyone tells them to be, which means that they are still allowing public opinion to determine their personality.

It’s also a philosophy that has been adopted by the homosexual community, the transgender community, and the feminist community. From the feminists we often hear ‘positive’ descriptions of women who live by this philosophy as strong, sassy, feisty, and independent. From the homosexual community we hear comments about being ‘born that way’ and the transgender community says that it’s wrong not to be true to ‘who you are on the inside.’

The problem with a philosophy like this is that it encourages people to look to themselves to determine right behavior. Unfortunately, the self is corrupt and wicked. Rene Descartes’ fatal idea ‘I think therefore I am,’ has encouraged humanity down through the ages to turn inward for the source of truth instead of turning to the author of truth, and we see the imports of such a philosophy lived out in our culture.

Pop stars hump on stage in the name of individuality. Chemicals are being spread through the streets in the name of freedom and control over one’s own body. The sexual revolution has caused a movement toward promiscuity that would be coma inducing to the nineteenth century. Porn stars are encouraged to speak out about the positive effects of the porn industry, and no one is the wiser. Some ex porn stars are quoted to say, “It is time that our society comes to grips with the fact that ‘normal’ people, women especially, enjoy perverse sex.” And encouraging people to defile themselves in the same way, with testimonials like, “I have a huge appetite for sex and self-exploration. I wanted to express my sexuality as a strong woman, to push my own boundaries and see which part of my psyche would take me to my next euphoric sexual experience. I wanted to do all of this in a sex-positive way.”[3]

All of this is in the name of the self. We promote the self as the standard for right and wrong and invite those who disagree to go to hell, never realizing the irony of such an invitation, or the company that our invitees will inevitably have.

All that to say something very simple: We are wrong.

 

In one sense, this philosophy may be a correct one to hold. Sometimes it is good to have a thick skin. We should not let hateful, slanderous, and evil speech from other people change our behavior. However, the important thing in the above statement is the phrase “hateful, slanderous, and evil.” By and large, correction of behavior is a good thing, and the source is usually one of love and a desire to see goodness prevail.

The point is this: We don’t determine what’s right and what’s wrong. We don’t determine morality. Morality is a standard independent of human thought. The standard for good and evil cannot be found in ourselves, or at least, it isn’t sourced there. If it’s found there, it was placed there by the creator. People who follow this philosophical phenomenon like to say that ‘they choose what’s right for them and ain’t nobody gonna tell them differently.’ But the moment they are wronged by another person on this same basis, they change their tune. Any time you meet a moral relativist, punch him in the face and key his car, because it will make you feel good, and who’s to say it’s “wrong”? Unfortunately, the moral relativists are simply wrong. Their philosophy is unlivable. We can’t live by what we think, or feel, is right, we have to try to live by what actually is right. The question is, how do we know what is right? What is the standard for morality? Where can this standard be found?

It can only be found in three places. 1) The character of God. 2) The person of Jesus Christ. 3) The Bible, which is the inerrant record of the first two.

It is a true fact that all people (with one exception) have an inherently (literally… it’s inherited) sinful nature and so cannot conform perfectly to the standard called ‘good’ by themselves. So what should we do? Should we cling more tightly to the screwed up self, becoming more resolved to sin until our dying day? By no means!

The correct course of action is to change the self. To trade in the old, dirty, beat-up, corrupted self for a new one. To daily renew our minds so that we may be able to prove what the will of God is. In essence, we need to do the opposite of what cultural philosophy tells us to do. We need to turn to somewhere other than ourselves to tell us how to live. We need to fall on our knees and repent, turn away from, deny, reject, what comes naturally to ourselves and follow Jesus Christ. That’s the solution.

Our culture is evidence that the other method doesn’t work. You don’t have to look very far to see that things are messed up, and we’ve been trying it the other way for a while now… Why not try it God’s way instead?

A word of caution, this cannot be done by your own will power. Trying to be good without turning to the source of good Himself, will result in white-washed-tomb-syndrome. It’s a terrible diagnosis. The kind of change I’m talking about can only come from the Holy Spirit. He is the one that will do the renewing of your mind.

A final word along this thought process: Don’t be who you are, be someone better than that. I don’t want to be “who I am,” I want to be who God says I am. Who I am sucks, and if I had to be him my whole life, I would be headed for disaster. God save us from ourselves and the urge to be ourselves unapologetically.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V29BjQKBGAw This is the interview and the comment was made at 3:19.

[2] http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/style-blog/wp/2014/09/10/justin-bieber-tries-to-win-over-fans-by-stripping-at-fashion-rocks-gets-loudly-booed/

[3] http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2340248/bio?ref_=nm_ov_bio_sm Both are quotes from Sasha Grey, a porn star turned main stream actress who is a vocal proponent of pornography consumption.

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