The cat’s out of the bag — or is it? Monday I wrote about everyone’s deep dark secret of individual identity, essentially calling the whole thing a socially constructed sham. Without backtracking on that, I’d like to make some distinctions about what I see as what constitutes perceived “whoness” and how it interacts with the more important “whatness” of a human being. So on with the next hypothesis.
This post will contain two sections.
1. The “whatness,” or what we can call the soul, of a human being is made up of what a human needs to survive and the purpose of a human being. So, the necessary conditions and the overall purpose of humanity. No big deal… we’re just talking about the meaning of life, right? The purpose of humanity as far as I’ve learned is to be loved by God and to love others because God loves them.
Sounds warm and fuzzy, right? Well, think about this. Are human beings necessary? If you believe in a God, does this God NEED human beings for anything? I can’t fathom any concept of an objectively existing God where that would be the case. Humans are therefore not created out of necessity, but of will. We are a product of God’s altruistic love. We have our worth and very existence only from God’s love. Furthermore, God is Love. Therefore, as we know, we were made in the image of God.
Going back to what I said earlier — “the necessary conditions and the overall purpose of humanity” constitute humanity. One of those necessary conditions, if we believe in a God, is God’s love. If we are Christians and observe the crucifixion, we believe that love is self-giving to the extreme. So now that I’ve clarified it, I can call the substance of a human being the sum total of a human being’s necessary conditions. (P.S.: Taking it a step further, I can call any affront to those necessary conditions an affront to God’s loving will and reason that action to be objectively immoral.) There are also necessary conditions to effectively accept God’s love and thereby love humanity such as reason, philosophy, scripture, and religion. Therefore, we can derive that freedom of speech and religion are as basic of human rights as food and water.
For now, I’ll make the claim that this is all that makes up the human being.
2. The perceived “whoness” of the human being is made entirely of the human person in action. This is when the human soul interacts with a “state of being.” A state of being in reality refers to the nature of the circumstances surrounding and interacting with the soul, not the actual identity of the human person. “Whoness” is what the “whatness” verbs and/or what verbs the whatness. It’s the situation.
2 Corinthians 12:9 “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
a. Psychological situations. Some people have brain chemistry issues, hardwired differences in thought patterns or attention spans, as well as different exterior environments than others. Yes, I am calling brain chemistry environmental. It’s an environment that moves with the body as the soul interacts with it. We identify people based on psychological characteristics. This, however, is really a socially constructed identity useful for identifying the situation of a particular individual and matching the situation to a name. What is more telling, however, is our ability to overcome our own weakness to do good when provided a channel of grace.
1 Corinthians 4:7 “For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?”
b. Talent situations. Some people have more talents than others. At any given time these can include skills, intelligence, looks, etc. Some people are frequently inspired. Others, seldom so. This can be the result of merit or otherwise freely given by God in another manner. Either way, the talent itself and situation necessary for it to be actualized speaks about the Creator rather than a particular individual, aside from any good will present in cultivating it for good purposes. This latter exception is where the human person willfully chooses to be in line with the “whatness” of a human being by accepting this manifestation of God’s freely given love. And, yet again, the “whatness” itself points to God. God does not love us because we are great, but we are great because He loves us. Further, since we are made in the image, to an extent you can apply the same thing to human love for x, y, or z. Got pets?
Luke 10:38-42 “Jesus entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him. She had a sister named Mary who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak. Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.’ The Lord said to her in reply, ‘Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.’”
c. Love situations. And no, I don’t just mean romantic love. The above gospel passage from this past Sunday illustrates the usefulness of realizing the situations of others in mutual understanding of good will. Since people have different inclinations, their perceptions, comforts, and pleasures may deviate. Our situation, or “verbing” throughout each breath of our existence, makes us sensate beings. We may be inclined to do things for others in loving them that allows them to know God’s love through us. We love and wish to be loved in different ways. Knowing the particular desires one has themselves, as well as the desires of the other, is useful to sharing in these things with one another. They can help relationships to function better for God’s purposes. Humans are of course highly motivated by their desires, which is why money tends to be so useful.
However, desires can change over time and typically are not stable. Even where they have been stable, we should not base our true identity on them. And, to take it a step further and presume that love for another should depend on these things undermines the true nature of love itself. When I say I’m a coffee drinker, or powerlifter, or video gamer, all it means is that I’m inclined to enjoy these things. Will I like all of these things tomorrow? Who knows. There is no true identity crisis if I happen not to like them. However, if I decided to take any of those desires too seriously by assuming them inculcated into my identity then my purposes would begin to aim at one of these lesser ends rather than the end inherent in the human soul. Losing them would thereby create a crisis of identity. All of the utility in understanding love situations is involved in “verbing,” which is how we know these situations are not inherent within our identities.
We have no idea what our situations fully are, since we’re not omniscient. But that’s not a problem. God will reveal to us in due time our situations and how well we’ve done with them when he judges our souls by the good we have done or failed to do — our real identities.