I hate having tags attached to my shirts.
I cut them off.
They’re irritating, scratchy, pointless, uncomfortable, never lay right, always too long … you get the idea. I hate tags.
On the other side, I love tagless t-shirts. There the ones where the “tag” is inprinted on the shirt itself – saying what it needs to without the irritation. So, what brought this post on? Besides having just cut another tag from a favorite shirt, I was thinking today about labels: ones we want to wear, ones we hate to wear, and ones we are often forced to wear.
See, the way I feel about tags on shirts is the same way I feel about labels on people: they are unnecessary, and they often (if not always) leave an unpleasant feeling with the person they are attached to. Here is a sampling of what I mean:
Other labels appear as these:
Still other labels stick to us because of what we do or have done:
• “Child molester”
We are all victims of having labels and we are all guilty of labeling people – from friends to family to enemies. I think it is time to tear off the labels and be who we are regardless of people’s opinion. Even if labels (stigma’s) fall upon us, it is time to fully embrace whose we truly are: seeing ourselves in God’s Identity rather than other peoples.
Whenever I speak about my story, or when I talk with people who oppose my story, they are always quick to define me (label me). “So, Shawn, you’re not gay anymore, so are you … straight … bi-sexual … ex-gay … in the closet … confused?” Things really become weird when I simply say “Neither. I’m God’s son.” In responding like this, usually what follows is a conversation like this:
“Yeah, I know you’re a child of God. But are you still gay, ex-gay, what?”
“Neither. I’m simply a son of God.”
“Yeah, but that’s not what I’m asking. You have to be either gay or ex-gay; so which one is it?”
“Well you have to be one of those.”
The argument continues until either the other person gets frustrated and moves on or until I change the subject.
I am not gay. Nor am I an ex-gay. I refuse to be defined by those labels – or any other labels for that matter. If I have to be defined by one, or if I should choose to wear one, it will be this: God’s son. I do not refer to this as a label, though, rather my inborn identity. Scripture says that since the foundations of the world were laid, God imprinted His name on our DNA (Ephesians 1:4-6; 2 Timothy 1:9; Psalm 139:13-14). We are God’s children, built by His design, for His purpose and glory. We are nothing more or less than that. Regardless of what other labels people seem to put on us.
(So, whose label do you wear?)
In 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Paul gives some examples of those who do not necessarily measure up to God’s standards. Within the Corinthian church, you had people who were trying to live in their present state as a Christian, while also living in past sin. Correctly, Paul calls them out on it, reminding them that they are in fact a new creation now (verse 11, see also 2 Corinthians 5:17). No longer are they “Henry the idol worshipper” or “April the Lesbian” rather, through Christ, they have been given back their birthright name: God’s son Henry, God’s daughter April.
Paul reminds the church of Corinth, and the entire Body of Christ for that matter, that we are no longer slaves to the past because of what Christ did for us through His cross: we are justified with God, we are sanctified in God, and we are washed clean from the past of sin by the blood of Jesus Christ. Lest we forget Church, we are no longer our own for we have been bought at a price (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
Again, God has re-stamped His name upon our DNA – on our past, present, and future – claiming for the last time that we are His, and not the worlds. Now, we can choose to believe this and follow Him, or we can choose to reject it all – that is up to us. But what we cannot do is change the fact that we belong to God, that He loves us with a love like none other, that He died for us, and that He gives us all another chance to welcome Him as our eternal Father (Romans 8:37-39).
My challenge through this is to: tear off the labels that you and others have put on yourself; and replace it with a “label” that defines from the inside out for all of eternity.
My past is gone. Yes, I still have memories and temptations from it, but overall I can say from deep within that my past is G.O.N.E. I am not gay. I am not ex-gay. I am God’s son. I am a new creation that is washed, justified, sanctified, set apart, re-built … for God’s glory and purpose; and no one can ever tell me any differently.
(Whose label do you wear more: yours, the worlds, or Gods?)