Paper Idea: Youth Identity Development in Reflection of the Silent Text

This is something I’m messing with for my Liberation Theology course. With Canonical Gospels that omit developmental stages in the human life of Jesus Christ, is the Church prepared for questions of identity development among young people? So much of the rhetoric that is used in most theologies puts Christ as the paradigmatic human experience, yet we only experience Christ’s humanity as fully formed and adult. (Some people roughly posit this as about ages 30 – 33.) I’m going to take the stance that the deafening silence in our texts has allowed for Church leaders to argue that Christ’s fully formed identity is the only acceptable one, instead of the more complex and multi-vocal view of ideal humanity that might result if we saw Jesus go through the normal identity establishing changes and experiments. I’m particularly looking at sexual identity here, as I read a very strong need for a theological answer to the really tragic tales of so many GLBT teens that are exiles in their own land, thrown out of their houses, and disowned by their communities. This has real world implications of depression, poverty, drug use, suicide, and pretty much all the horrible things that result when one human is devalued by another.

Given all this, can Church come up with an anthropology that allows for developmental process and diverse adult identity that seems to echo the truth of Christ? Do we think that understanding human development in the man Jesus Christ would diminish or take away from the identity of the second person of the Trinity, or would this thought simply serve to deepen our understanding of God’s loving gift in the incarnation? (Guess what I think.) How do we reinforce that God’s love is present and active in all as they strive to determine who they are and how they fit into creation? etc. etc.

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