Did Your Cultural or Religious Upbringing Dictate Your Identity?

looking into microscopeCan a relatively neutral source cause a false identity to form?

It’s not the source that’s the problem; it all depends on what we do with that influence.

We all absorb the culture and traditions of our surroundings, whether we want to or not. The constant exposure to these things make them part of our lives. We often grow up thinking that this is the only way things are done, until we are exposed to alternatives.

This can easily be true for people in small towns where everyone knows everyone else and the population is pretty homogenous. That may be why there is such a culture shock when a person from such a background goes to a larger community for school or work. The adjustment can be tough, especially if she is now alone in her values, traditions, etc. A strong and emotionally healthy individual will eventually be able to sort through the differences and keep the best ones while discarding the not-so-good from both cultures.girl with long hair

We also might pick up a false identity from our religious background. For example, if you were raised in a very conservative Christian group, you may have been taught that it’s a sin for women to cut their hair and long hair becomes an identity. (This is taken from I Corinthians 11:15.) Like most religious issues that are not central to the gospel, it is a cultural reference.

Paul was writing to a group of believers who wondered about Jewish versus Greek traditions and which ones they should honor.

Along those lines, someone from a strict and legalistic denomination might learn that God is angry and judgmental instead of being Love incarnate. The resulting false identity would usually be that “I am unworthy of anything but judgment and condemnation”.the judge's gavel

Someone from a very liberal denomination might be taught that God loves everybody and doesn’t really care how you live. This view negates the gospel of justice tempered with mercy. A false identity from this could be one of “I am a special princess and nobody can put any limits on me or my behavior”.

A true identity comes from God and shows humility, which is the honest appraisal of yourself (neither higher nor lower) according to what your Creator says.

This is where we want to live.


this is part 3 of a series on identity

Part 1| Who Do You Think You Are?

Part 2| Did Your Parents Dictate Your Identity?

Part 3| Did Your Cultural or Religious Upbringing Dictate Your Identity?

Part 4|Is Your Identity Tied to Family History?

Part 5| Is Your True Identity Submerged by Your Important Life Roles?

Part 6| Is a Career Becoming Your Identity?

Part 7|Calling, Role, or Identity? Ways to Know the Difference

Part 8| Lies Cause the Strongest False Identities

Part 9| Speak the Truth to Your Identity


all illustrations courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net