Rachel Dolezal was in the news a lot about a year ago. To refresh your memory, she was the head of the Spokane office of the NAACP. After six apparently highly productive months in that position, her parents came forward with her birth certificate and pointed out that Ms. Dolezal was born a white person. According to one article that I read, white with blond hair and blue eyes, no less. They were confused at her insistence that she is a black woman. Ms. Dolezal had to resign from her position in order to defuse the heated debate that surged around her. She insists to the present that she identifies as a black woman. In her eyes, she is black. Or, as she has termed it, “trans-black”. And it has cost her everything. She is unable to find any type of employment, teeters on the edge of homelessness and is living on food stamps. Who can doubt her sincerity? If I am asked to judge her by the culture in which I live, there is no basis to challenge that claim. If I am asked to judge her by the moral standards of my faith, then I must conclude that she is not black. Why the disparity? How can there be such a deep chasm between my culture and my faith? Easily. It all derives from the foundation on which each stands.
Rachel Dolezal prefers to see the world as she has decided it exists. For her, she has decided that she is black. She has arranged her internal picture of who she is based on that. She has worked for many years, probably many highly effective years, to battle racism. It is her life’s cause. It is how she ended up working for the NAACP. Her identification with being black is so strong that she is denying that she has a biological connection to the biological parents listed on her birth certificate because they are white and she insists that she is not. But in spite of all that, she was born white and lived as a white person for years. So the question is, which is more important, what we choose to believe about ourselves and our place in the world or the hard, cold facts even if they do not match our view of ourselves?
For Rachel Dolezal, the world has decided that the decision is out of her hands. In this case, the world says no to Ms. Dolezal’s view of herself. How she identifies internally and how that plays out in her life, interests, career and every other aspect of her life is judged as irrelevant in this case by the culture around us. In this case. In THIS case.
Ms. Dolezal’s situation is created by a culture that is inconsistent in how it treats people who choose to stray from the hard realities of the facts. And it doesn’t matter whether you are black or white because this aspect of our culture is color-blind in both the giving and receiving end. You are now asking what the heck I am talking about.
I am talking about Bruce Jenner.
Yes, Bruce Jenner. Not Caitlyn Jenner. Bruce Jenner. Because it doesn’t matter how much surgery is involved or how many medications, Bruce Jenner is still Bruce Jenner. Check his DNA. He’s a guy. So if Rachel Dolezal can’t be black, Bruce Jenner can’t be a woman.
The brutal facts are that no matter how Mr. Jenner sees himself, has seen himself and will see himself through the years to come, he is still Mr. Jenner. But Bruce Jenner is celebrated. He’s had expert makeup artists prep him for magazine covers. His doctor was interviewed after Mr. Jenner publicly thanked him for all his work. I heard there’s even a reality show in the works, which is ironic. A reality show that would be based on something totally lacking in reality. Because the reality here is not that Bruce Jenner is now a woman, the reality is that he is not.
Am I heartless? Intolerant? No, in spite of what you might choose to believe. It is not heartless or intolerant to point out that the Emperor has no clothes. It’s honest and honesty is no longer honored in my culture. Honesty is another value that is sacrificed on the altar of the god of self.
We insist that the world bow to our desires and our declaration of what is right for ourselves. We demand public acknowledgment that whatever we call right is right, even if it is only right in our eyes and insist that the world brand as intolerant anyone who points out that we cannot live in a world of our own construction when it is constructed on clouds and not the ground. In such a world there is no firm basis for a moral system since clouds cannot provide a foundation that will hold up anything with the weight of facts. In such a world, we can truly call black white and white black. Unless you are Rachel Dolezal. In such a world, Bruce Jenner can say without fear of contradiction that he is the new normal. In his world, he is and anyone who differs is not worth listening to or worse, vilified. But there is a problem. The Emperor is naked, people.
I follow Yeshua. I serve the God who is Truth. That’s Truth with a capital T. This is the God who demands that we look at ourselves and see ourselves for what we are. And we are a mess. It’s only a matter of degree. Some are worse and some better but all of us are a mess. Acknowledging that is where we start. His job is to clean us up. We can’t do it ourselves, and that’s why Yeshua had to come and make a way for us. But His foundation is firm. His authority will not shift with changes in opinion or morals. He does not subject himself to public opinion polls or referendums. With God there is right and there is wrong and the world stands firm on it.
So what does God see when He looks at Rachel Dolezal? Someone beautiful. Someone with a heart for the oppressed, which is a cause near and dear to His heart. Someone who will cross cultural barriers and race lines to identify with the people who matter the most to her. God loves Rachel Dolezal and it doesn’t matter to him what color she is. But he made Rachel Dolezal white, which makes the work she has done with her life even more noteworthy. And He sees someone who needs God to rescue her from being a mess, just like me and everyone else in His world.
And what does God see when He looks at Bruce Jenner? Someone beautiful. Someone He created with His own hands. A soul that made Him smile when He first thought of him before time began. He loves Bruce Jenner but he made Bruce Jenner a man, and a man is how He sees him and will see him for all time. And He sees someone who needs God to rescue him from being a mess, just like me and everyone else in His world.
The question we should be asking here is why Ms. Dolezal wants so desperately to be black that she will turn her back on her own ethnicity and, by all appearances, her own parents? What makes Bruce Jenner so unhappy about himself that he rejects his own gender? Why do we support one person’s choice and not the other? When we support the one choice are we supporting the person or simply enabling a reality that is not sustainable? Why are we so willing to build our lives on clouds and not the ground? But the biggest question, the question no one seems concerned with, the question which underlies all these other questions is this….What about God? When you leave the Truth out of the equation, then the equation will never balance. Finding the answers to life without the Truth is impossible. And then you end up all over the news with people chiming in with vitriol and rising decibel levels.
But eventually the truth and the Truth will insist on being recognized for what it is. And what is it? True. Some people will continue to avoid it to their dying breath. Others will see it when they are backed into a corner by it. Some will find it waiting around an unexpected corner. However they meet it, only those willing to see it will learn that the old Bible verse is true. You will know the Truth and He (the Truth) will set you free. Rachel Dolezal is not free in spite of how hard she works to free others. Bruce Jenner is not free no matter how many magazine covers he appears on. Someday, hopefully, they may see how un-free they truly are. For them, that will either be a liberating day or it will be the worst day of their lives. It all depends on whether they decide to remain building castles in the clouds or deciding to live on the ground with all of its inconvenient truths.
It’s a choice, people. If we keep this up, soon normal will be so abnormal that you won’t even recognize it. There won’t even be any standards by which to identify it. Soon all you will see are clouds. And the Emperor will still be naked.