The definition of personhood is an extremely heated debate within the Western culture and especially within the United States. Ranging from issues of abortion to animals, the definition of personhood has great implications on how humans live their lives. In preparing for this blog post I came across a sermon by John Piper titled, "Christian Identity and Christian Destiny". This sermon really challenged me on what it means to have your identity in Christ and how it relates to defining personhood.
To begin we ask, "What is personhood?"
As Christians, we agree that the definition of personhood does include a material and legal aspect but we also believe in an immaterial aspect of personhood. This immaterial aspect is called the soul or spirit. and comes with the belief that an immaterial being, God, gives purpose and life to all of creation. The secular and scientific world does not care about the immaterial aspet of person because science is the study of the natural world. Leaving out the immaterial aspect of what it means to be human is a grave mistake and I believe that history proves my point through the results of slavery, the holocaust, and forced sterilization.
So how does this apply to Christian counseling?
Earlier in this post I asked, "What defines personhood?" I think a better question to ask is, "Who defines your personhood?"
Do you rely on scientists to define your personhood because you have a brain, heart, and mind that functions? Do you rely on a group of people calling themselves the government to declare with their power that you have personhood? The problem with relying on humans to define personhood is that people are sinful and broken. Their power, reasoning, and ability to give you personhood and meaning is limited. Just ask the victims of the Holocaust and slavery. People defined personhood can be taken away but God defined personhood is everlasting.
As Christians we must realize that our personhood, meaning, and identity as humans is ultimately from God. God created us in His image for His purpose and for His glory. When we are working with clients that are feeling oppressed and worthless we must remind them that nothing can separate them from who they are in God. The government might take away their personhood and enslave them but it cannot take away their identity in Christ. Parents may oppress their children and make them feeling worthless but those children are loved by an Almighty God who wants to give meaning and purpose to their lives. Everyone as some point experiences pain from another person that makes them feel less human and not important. It is in these moments that Christians can rely on their identity in Christ but non-believers can only look to subjective definitions of personhood.
How does this apply to me?
The point I want to make is that as Christian counselors we must show clients that establishing an strong identity in God is the only way to establish true meaning in life and the only way to establish a lasting definition of personhood. As Christians our identity in Christ cannot be separated from our personhood. Because of this I must look into my own life and investigate how I define my personhood and my life's meaning. I am sure there are things in my life which try to give my life meaning and purpose which do not honor God. I must trust and believe God's definition of what gives my life meaning and how He defines my personhood.