Identity is how individuals actualize themselves into reality. Sociologist argue how people gain there identity, if it is a basis of nature or nurture. Nature is based off of DNA (essentially “born that way”); whereas, nurture is based off of upbringing and societal pressures. Of course this is an oversimplification, but the divide between the two sides is erasing as more and more studies seem to lean that both have an impact on people’s behavior.
Even then, philosophically speaking, one has to decide if an individual’s identity is determined or chosen. Two which multiple sides have argued for both at different points when it seemed more beneficial for them. For example, the LGBTQ community has argued their sexual identity was determined by nature. The Critical Race Theorist argue their racial identity is determined by nurture. Arminians argue their religious identity is chosen by self. Hyper-Calvinists argue their religious identity was determined by God.
People operate with complex identities on a hierarchical structure. Identities are worldview anchors, or ultimate allegiances, core beliefs which shape the way an individual believes, desires, wills, behaves, dresses, and interacts with others. People have complex identities (sometimes can be conflicting) and operate on the basis of how they prioritize these identities. Identities can include nationality, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexuality, vocation, et. al. Christians can identify in a multiplicity of ways in regard to ethnicity, nationality. Christians usually argue from the Bible that gender and ethnicity is determined by birth. Most rational people argue nationality and ethnicity is determined by nature as well. For example most in our society frowned at Rachel Dolezal, who born as a white woman, identified as black. And anyone born as an American can identify as a German all he wants, but it won’t gain him citizenship in Germany.
My argument here is that our beliefs, nature, nurture, and desires flow into forming our identities and how we prioritize them. And the priority of our identities then flows out into our behaviors. (Not to say we can have behaviors that are inconsistent with our identities, e.g. a Christian can sin, but that by and large our behaviors are based in our complex priorities identities). Complex prioritized identities is certainly a mouth full, but hopefully the concept makes sense.
For a Christian their highest identity is in Jesus. Therefore, all other identities fall into line behind that supreme identity. Their self-identification in ethnicity, politics, gender, sexuality, nationality, wealth class all must conform to their ultimate allegiance in Jesus Christ. Therefore, the example of Christ must be applied to our other identities as well.
If I identify as a male, it is in the meekness and humility of Christ. If I identify as white, it must be conformed to Christ’s law. If I ever come to believe that my identity as a male or of being white becomes more important than my identity in Christ, not only will my behavior become sinful, but my other identities become idols placed in the way of Christ. I will boast in my other identities more than Christ, and this is a danger for the church. Partiality begins in idolatrous prioritization of identities.