Rachel Dolezal and the Futility of Racial Self-Identification

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Unless you’ve been living under a rock the past couple of weeks you’ve no doubt heard of Rachel Dolezal, the now-former president of the Spokane, Washington branch of the NAACP.

Dolezal recently resigned from that position after it was revealed that she is, in fact, Caucasian, though she has for years claimed to be black.

Subsequent to her resignation, however, Dolezal has since doubled-down on her racial declaration and reiterated that she, in fact, does “identify“, whatever that means, as black.

That Rachel Dolezal would claim to “identify” as a race other than that to which she was born is bad enough. As a Christian, however, what is of greater concern to me is that a society which is already so deeply steeped in relativism will ultimately settle for accepting Dolezal’s wild assertion as reality, despite the empirical evidence to the contrary, because at the heart of a relativistic society is the collective denial of the concept of absolute truth.

As such, Dolezal’s claim is not actually a lie, but is merely her “truth”, and that should settle the matter.

It was Joseph Goebbels, Nazi propaganda minister under Adolf Hitler, who famously (or infamously depending on how you look at it), said, “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”

Unfortunately, Goebbels was right.

But in considering this assertion further, the logical question becomes: How did Goebbels know this to be true? Did he speak from his own experience or some objective point of reference?

Regardless, whether he realized it or not, I think Goebbels was probably quite the theologian. In fact, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he knew the Bible better than many of us do today.

You see, the truth is that since the Garden of Eden mankind has been susceptible to believing lies. The irony with Rachel Dolezal, however, is that the first lie ever to be told a human being is that we could be someone we are not.

The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:4-5

The thing about lies is that when one is initially told, it’s actually told not once but twice.

First, there is the lie that is told to you by someone else, but when you believe that lie you’re also lying to yourself that the lie you were told is actually the truth.

So, then, there is the lie you are told as well as the lie you tell to yourself.

Case in point, the serpent lied to Eve and, subsequently, Eve lied to herself by believing the lie told to her by the serpent. That formula then repeated itself in that Eve then lied to her husband Adam who, like Eve, also believed it. It is a lie that is still wreaking havoc on mankind to this day. Hence, our refusal to accept the notion of absolute truth as established by God’s objective standard of what truth is.

What is going on now with Rachel Dolezal is no different from what happened with Eve thousands of years ago.

The same serpent that planted in the mind of Eve the lie that she would be (not “could be”) like God, is the same serpent who has apparently convinced Rachel Dolezal that she actually is (not “might be”) black.

And, like Eve, Dolezal is trying to convince the rest of us to believe that lie as well.

But the relativist will say, “What’s the big deal anyway? After all, it’s her life and she can live it any way she wants. Who are you to judge?”

True. It is her life. That is, insofar as Rachel Dolezal’s “life” is defined in terms of being an adult female who is free to make her own decisions.

However, in saying it is her life, that is not to say that Dolezal is autonomously responsible for her existence. She is not. None of us are. Which means each of us is accountable to Someone other than ourselves for our presence on this earth, and that Someone is none other than God Himself.

“The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.”Job 33:4

“The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things…”Acts 17:24-25

From a theological standpoint, the years-long deception Rachel Dolezal has propagated interests me because I’m curious to know what void exists within her, particularly spiritually, that she feels would be filled by “identifying” as one race over another.

That said, in Dolezal’s defense I will say that she isn’t the only person who seems to find at least some degree of self-worth in their racial or ethnic identity. In fact, I am puzzled by people who seem to crave such worldly validation, especially when you consider that none of us – not a single one of us – had anything at all to do with what race, ethnicity or nationality we are.

“…and He made from one man every nation [race, ethnicity] of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation.”Acts 17:26

With this reality in mind, my question to Rachel Dolezal is this: “Of what eternal value is it that you “identify” as black? If the race on your birth certificate could be changed to read “black” (or “African-American”) instead of “white” (or “Caucasian”), of what benefit would that be to you when you die and you meet your Creator face-to-face?”

Indeed, I would ask those same questions of anyone who seems to be as fixated as Dolezal on ascribing intrinsic value to his or her racial or ethnic identity, an attribute which they themselves had absolutely nothing to do with possessing, regardless what that identity might be.

You see, what Rachel Dolezal, and countless others, aren’t grasping is that our identity has already been established. In fact, it was established prior to our ever being born.

Each of us has been created in the imago Dei – in the image of God – but not only are we created in His image, we are also created in accordance with His sovereign intention.

In other words, it is no accident that you and I possess the attributes and characteristics we do. God was in complete control when He created us the way He did.

The LORD said to him [Moses], “What has made man’s mouth? Or who makes him mute or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the LORD?”Exodus 4:11

You see, my friend, our sense of worth is to be found in the God who created us not in what He created as.

It is in God alone that our identity is to be found and it is in Him alone that we are to be completely satisfied and contented, not in any superficial or aesthetic characteristic that is of no real eternal value.

Because, in the end, when all is said and done we will all, with all our vain hyphenated monikers and labels, return to dust. Not African-American dust. Not Hispanic-American dust. Not Asian-American dust. Just…dust.

And when that time comes, the only thing that will matter is not the darkness of your skin but the darkness of your heart.

Think about it.

Humbly in Christ,

Darrell

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