One of the areas of theological and cultural thinking that I’m most interested in, and aware of pitfalls in, is that of human identity. So often, in the secular West and elsewhere influenced by it, we often conflate identity with sexual or gender identity. And whilst I might have some chunky recommendations for books in this space, I was delighted to work with Andrew Bunt on this short, readable introductory book, Finding Your Best Identity.
The title has a bold claim – but it felt right in the light of, among other Bible verses, John 10:10, where Jesus says ‘The thief comes to steal and destroy,I have come that you might have life, and have it to the full’. I think many cultural and other forces are engaged in a great theft of life, joy, hope and identity from many of us – in a myriad of ways. Andrew Bunt has a fascinating story – aspects of which he shares in this little book – but ultimately he writes out of a new identity, an identity he’s found in Jesus.
David Bennett, author of the excellent A War of Loves puts it really well in his foreword:
‘In Finding Your Best Identity, Andrew shares brilliantly about the experience and truth behind being Christian and navigating questions of LGBTQI+ experience. He employs his gifts not just as a disciple of Jesus, but as a caring pastor and incisive teacher. Knowing Andrew myself has been a profound blessing, and in these pages you will discover the same. Andrew demonstrates that Jesus calls us to a way of deep sacrifice which leads through the grief and mystery of suffering into the awesome joy and glory of Jesus’ resurrection. From this root, he distinguishes between a healthy, life-giving identity and an identity from the wrong, wayward root. Showing how not just to integrate but also to submit our human identities to Christ, Andrew also unpicks the false duality between the harmful erasure of sexual or gender identity and its total rulership over our lives. He invites us into the integration Jesus’ presence provides in our lives, saving us from idols and reductionism, and the polarity of Christian faith and gay or trans identity that has been so harmful to religious LGBTQI+ people.‘
Finding Your Best Identity is out in paperback and ebook on the 17th of November 2022 – do buy it from a local bookshop, or otherwise you can get it online from anywhere in the world via the IVP website. Savvy readers may recognise a family resemblence to Ed Shaw’s Purposeful Sexuality.