Notes on Numbers 26-30

Numbers 26 once again numbers the sons over the age of 20 for each tribe. Thousands have been killed due to their incessant complaining, so the need to tally the remaining Israelites was necessary. The largest decrease is from the tribe of Simeon, which dropped from 59,300 to 22,200.

An issue of inheritance arose in Numbers 27 when a man who died in the wilderness had only daughters to pass his possessions down to, although the law said that sons were to inherit. The LORD told his people that if a man dies, his possessions pass to his sons. If he has no sons, then his daughters. If no daughters, then his brothers. If no brothers, then the next of kin.

Beginning in Numbers 27:15-23, Moses’ successor was named. Because of the issue of smiting the rock twice rather than speaking to it (Numbers 20), Moses lost his opportunity to enter the promised land. Joshua (from the same root word as Jesus) was anointed the new leader who would bring the Israelites to the land of milk and honey.

Numbers 28 and 29 are instructions for sacrificing during the 7 major feasts (see Notes on Leviticus 22-23). This is a bit of a rehashing, but a couple things stood out. The first is how many feasts and holidays occur in the seventh month. The Hebrew calendar is little bit off from ours due to the way they calculate the days of the month. The Feast of Tabernacles, for instance, is supposed to begin on the 15th day of the seventh month, but in 2017 it is on October 4th. (I have always found it strange that our 7th month is July, given the root “sept” means seven, which shows that September should be the 7th month).

Another interesting tidbit is the number of bullocks to be sacrificed during the Feast of Tabernacles begins with 13 (a traditionally unlucky number) and decreases by 1 each day of the feast so that on the 7th feast day, 7 (the number of perfection) are sacrificed. We have 7 bullocks on the 7th day of a feast that occurs in the 7th month.

Chapter 30 is another “sexist” chapter of the Bible. Basically, if a man makes a vow, he responsible for fulfilling it. If a woman makes a vow, the man must sign off on it immediately. His silence is a form of consent. A father must consent for his daughter, and a husband for his wife (even if divorced or widowed). If a man does not give consent, then the vow need not be honored by the woman. She is forgiven. However, if a man waits to nullify the vow, he must bear the punishment for breaking the vow.

The point that should be taken is that the home, although the dominion of a woman, is the ultimate responsibility of the man. One of the great social factors in the breakdown of the family that we see around the world, but especially in the West is that men are afraid to be the leaders of their own homes.

This is no excuse to abuse or manipulate wives and daughters. In fact, the opposite is true. Men are supposed to lead and protect their wives and daughters. Too many American men abdicate their responsibilities. They ignore what happens in their own homes, or they literally run away from them. Single motherhood is at an all-time high in the United States. About 83% of single-parents are mothers.  In a supposedly Christian nation (over 70% identify as Christian), the divorce rate (over 50% now) and children born without fathers (25% overall, but 72% in the black community) are insanely high.

All the statistics on deviance and criminality show that having both a father and mother is one of the single greatest predictors of deviant behavior in a child. The median income for a single mom is $26,000 compared to $84,000 for married couples. The poverty rate for single mothers is over 36% compared to 7.5% for married couples. A two-parent home allows a child more access to income, education, and healthcare. More importantly, is that the child can spend more time with a parent, which is the key to stopping deviant behavior. When a child feels ignored, they lash out.

71 percent of teachers and 90 percent of law enforcement officials state that the lack of parental supervision at home is a major factor that contributes to the violence in schools. Sixty-one percent of elementary students and 76 percent of secondary children agree with this assessment (Maginnis 1997, “Single-Parent Families Cause Juvenile Crime).

You can say that passages like this one that are throughout the Bible are sexist. However, there is absolutely no denying the vital role that fathers play in the lives of their children. Real life statistics in 2017 validate what Moses wrote in 1450 BC. Men need to take responsibility in the home.

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Notes on Leviticus 14-15

Leviticus 14 is a chapter of continued instruction on how to treat leprosy. In short, when in doubt, destroy everything that a leper touches. Even the stones of the person’s house are to be tossed out, and the entire home torn down if need be. Leprosy was no joke!

Leviticus 15 is a chapter I’ve wanted to tackle for a while. It is one of the most oft used passages (always taken out of context, of course) cited by anti-Christians because of how women are unclean when they are menstruating. This, once again, proves how sexist God is.

The truth is that, as I’ve mentioned in my “Notes on Leviticus 1-4” blood is unclean. Many diseases are spread through blood today, and it takes very little imagination to consider the impact of a bloodborne illness on a group of people who spent 40 years wandering through the wilderness, relying on supernatural manna falling from heaven and water from rocks, and did not have antibiotics.

So when a woman is menstruating, blood flows from her body. This makes her unclean for, wait for it, seven days. We all know how long a period lasts. Everything that she touches becomes unclean for health reasons, including men. It’s essentially a quarantine procedure. This is not a sexist thing, unless you consider the fact that only women have periods as sexist; it is for safety.

I think a seven day waiting period is pretty tame considering what the children of Israel had to do when someone contracted leprosy.

Another reason why the charge of misogyny arises is because the rest of the chapter is never addressed. Verses 19-28 deal exclusively with a bleeding woman. Verses 1-18 deal with men who have their own issues. No anti-Christian ever talks about that.

The first problem regarding men is “a running issue out of his flesh.” This is an infected discharge of some kind. Pus, blood, and spit are considered unclean. Just as with women, anyone or anything touched by an infected man is considered unclean. When he is finally free of the disease he must wait for seven days. The same as a woman.

The SECOND issue pertaining to men is purely sexual in nature. When a man ejaculates, he is unclean for the remainder of the day. The woman he lies with is also unclean for the day. The bed and sheets where it happened is unclean as well.

Furthermore, notice that Hebrews 13:4 says “Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.”

Therefore, we can see that the unclean ejaculation here in Leviticus is within unmarried, adulterous relationships. The Bible is telling us that sex outside of marriage is “unclean” and can lead to the spread of diseases. It appears that even the ancient children of Israel may have been dealing with sexually transmitted diseases (carried by pus, blood, and spit).

No, this chapter is not sexist. It is not calling women unclean. It is a scientific text dealing with stopping the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and bloodborne pathogens about 3500 years before Pasteur gave us germ theory and Fleming discovered penicillin.

Notes on Leviticus 11-13

Leviticus 11 is a list of animals that the children of Israel could and could not eat. It was actually a fairly extensive list. No camels, rabbits, shellfish, eels, snakes, insects, shrimp, ravens, owls, and many others. The one that hits home for me is no swine, because I am a filthy sausage and bacon eater. Thankfully, the Christian is told “For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer” (I Tim. 4:4-5).

Christians can eat bacon!

Leviticus 12 is one of the “controversial” chapters, because it deals with childbirth. After a woman gives birth to a male child, she is unclean for 40 days (7 days unclean, 33 more to be purified). After a female child, she is unclean for 80 days (14 unclean, 66 more to be purified). Therefore, God is sexist.

First of all, the issue here is with the blood. These are the days before penicillin, so blood diseases were life threatening. It was for safety reasons that someone who was bleeding (in this case, a mother) would be deemed unclean. It was literally a life or death solution, not a sexist one.

Second, anyone who has had a dealing with childbirth knows that a mother takes 4-5 weeks to heal. A 40-day minimum would be a valid timeframe for keeping someone who just lost a lot of blood away from others.

Finally, there arise some interesting issues with regard to the length of being unclean between boy and girl babies. Why would girls lead to periods of uncleanliness and purification be doubled?

I do not have a definitive answer. I have researched this, and there is a ton of speculation. However, the numerology depicted by the male child is interesting.

The number 40 should be familiar, and is typically associated with a test or trial. Noah was in the ark for 40 days and 40 nights, Moses spent 40 days and 40 nights getting the ten commandments (both times), Jesus fasted for 40 days in the wilderness where he was tempted by Satan, the Israelites spent 40 years wandering in the wilderness before coming to the Promised Land, and there are dozens more examples

The mother is unclean for 7 days. 7 is the number of perfection.

The male child is circumcised on the 8th day. This is not only a fulfillment of the Abrahamic covenant, but 8 is the number of rebirth; a representation of Christ.

The number 33 is typically associated with a promise. The 33rd time Noah’s name was used was when God promised not to destroy the Earth by a flood. The 33rd time Abraham’s name was used was when Isaac, the promised child, was born. Abraham was 99 (33 X 3) when this happened.

David reigned over Judah for 7 years, and 33 years over a united Israel.

33 was the age of Jesus Christ when he was crucified for our sins. Is it possible that the 33 day period of purification was a prophetic statement that represents the 33 years ending with purification by Christ’s death? Maybe I am reading too much into this. Maybe God put this here for us to find.

So why were these periods doubled for a female child? It could just be a way to differentiate between the two so the association with Christ would stand out. It could be a 40 day purification for the mother and 40 days for the daughter. Perhaps it represents two 40 day trials (see above), possibly because of an additional punishment against Eve. I honestly do not have a good answer.

Chapter 13 deals with leprosy. This, once again, is an interesting study. Leprosy represents the spots of sin on all mankind. The leopard, a spotted animal, was one of the Biblical symbols representing Nimrod. Jeremiah 13:23 says “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.”

Nimrod’s father, Cush, was Ethiopia. Nimrod, the Leopard. Fascinating stuff tucked neatly away in our King James Bibles, right?

Back to leprosy. Verse 46 says “All the days wherein the plague shall be in him he shall be defiled; he is unclean: he shall dwell alone; without the camp shall his habitation be.”

The sinner, regardless of social network, is inevitably alone. This is why so many of us always seem to be searching for something more. There is an absence in all people; a hole. Jesus Christ is the answer, and any of us who are saved understand the joy that comes from having a relationship with Christ. We no longer search. We are no longer alone.

The leper is separated from the Israelites just as the unsaved man is separated from Christ, “that at that time ye were without Christ. . .having no hope, and without God in the world” (Eph. 2:12).

Jesus Christ is the one who can cleanse us of our spots, thus allowing entry into the camp. We are washed white as snow (Isaiah 1:18).

Recall the lyrics of the song:

Lord, now indeed I find thy power and thine alone
Can change the leper’s spots and melt the heart of stone

‘Cause Jesus paid it all
All to him I owe
My sin had left this crimson stain, he washed it white as snow

A Masculine Manifesto

The patriarchy is alive and well. Men are the highest paid group in the United States. Over 95% of the Fortune 500 has a man as CEO, and most of the other executive positions are held by guys as well. The richest woman in the world, Liliane Bettencourt, is still only the 14th wealthiest person in the world, and only 11% of the world’s billionaires are women.

Men dominate the global economy.

There are only 15 women in the on the planet who are considered a “world leader.” That means only 7.6% of the world’s nations are led by a female.

Men dominate global leadership.

The U.S. Congress is over 90% men, our executive branch is led by men, 5 of the 8 (soon to be 6 of 9) members of the Supreme Court are men, and 45 of 50 states are led by men.

Men dominate American leadership.

Men are 4 times more likely to commit suicide. Men use a wider variety of drugs, and have higher overall rates of use of illicit drugs and alcohol. Males are close to 4 times more likely to be murdered, and more than 10 times more likely to be killed at work. Men die more often of stress related diseases (and non-stress related diseases as well). Men live an average of 7 fewer years than women. Men are more likely to fight and die in combat.

Men dominate being killed.

There are 1.47 MILLION men in prison compared to 111,000 women. Men comprise over 85% of military personnel, and almost 100% in combat. 52% of mental hospitals, and 97% of VA mental health clinics are filled with men.

Men dominate total institutions.

You see, while we keep hearing about the patriarchy, men are giving their lives for it. The ramifications of public social pressures to be the breadwinner lead men to work longer hours or take more dangerous jobs that pay more money. This causes stress related heart attacks or death by work related accidents.

While women may dominate the service economy now, they also dominate our universities. This means that the “good jobs” of the future that typically go to those with higher education will be filled with women. The calls for women to be wealthy CEOs are rising, but the calls for women to take sole responsibility as the breadwinner are not so prevalent. When a woman fails, she is told how strong and brave she is for even trying. When a man fails, his role as a leader, breadwinner, father, husband, and man is challenged by both other men and the women that expect him to live up to social standards.

The response when a man cannot fulfill this traditionally historical role is to take to substance abuse or a collapse in mental health; possibly even suicide.

Moreover, the media ignores any sort of abuse that men and boys may suffer. 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused. This is very similar to the 1 in 5 statistic for women that is touted by every social justice warrior and public university in this country. Do you hear about men?

Men wear masks to cover our insecurities. When we laugh around others, we may be feeling the most pain. We act toughest when we are the most vulnerable. Men are less likely to have any sort of emotional outlet. When a woman faces a problem, she can call up a dozen friends and pour out her feelings. Men who do this are almost immediately checked and told to “man up,” so we put our masks back on.

Bottling up emotions leads to violent outbursts (over 90% of our prisoners are men – more than half of those are for violent offences). Men are taught at a young age that the only acceptable emotions are anger and aggression. All others are shunned.

Is it no wonder that men are having more difficult times committing to one woman and understanding what love and compassion are?

If a man enjoys art, opera, or poetry, he is labeled as feminine and called a “fag” by his macho friends. Our generations forget that some of the greatest men in history were artists or enjoyed going to plays and musicals. Men are supposed to like women, guns, sports, and cars. All else results in the return of his “man card.” George Washington and Thomas Jefferson studied philosophy while wearing powdered wigs and tights. Abraham Lincoln was shot while watching live theater. If only they were “real men,” right?

In the name of “equality,” our young boys are finding out that they are no longer allowed to buy lunch or open doors for the opposite sex. Having any sort of intellectual conversation has now been deemed “mansplaining” and this notion of patriarchy – which is not felt equally by all men – has become a staple meme in the feminist movement.

Men can be bullied, but men cannot be victims.

We also tend to forget that not all men are CEOs of major corporations. Men in poverty are the most at risk for suicide, criminal behavior, job related deaths, and substance abuse; though CEOs are the ones having early heart attacks and stress related diseases.

What I propose is a radical solution. We should teach men that it is okay to show a full range of emotions. We should teach men that failing is sometimes necessary, and bravery is overcoming adversity, not avoiding it. We should teach men that they are human, they are loved, and they are free to enjoy football or ballet.

 

The model of true masculinity is Jesus Christ. God became a man who did get angry at times. However, Christ traveled from region to region helping the poor and downtrodden. Jesus respected all women, especially his mother. He was charitable, giving, caring, and loving. He showed a wide range of emotions and avoided any temptation that would have tarnished his character in any way. He stood against the political and religious powers of his day with brazen courage. He spoke truth to power with insurmountable wisdom. He was consistent in all things. He wore no mask.

And neither should we.

 

Taking God for Granted

Think of all the things we take for granted in life.
The concepts of white privilege and patriarchy are that white males have certain historical advantages that they never actually think about. Things are becoming more egalitarian, for sure. However, Western civilization has been, for better or worse, a product of straight white men exploiting others.
Don’t believe me? When we identify colleagues or even friends, we often clarify the race of minorities, but not whites. You do not hear things like “famous male inventor Thomas Edison…” or “the straight, white Founding Fathers like Jefferson and Madison.” On the other hand, we do that for racial minorities, homosexuals, and women.

In other words, heterosexual and white are default categories. The all-encompassing term to describe all of humanity is “mankind.” Consider the term “straight,” which is the opposed of crooked, which has the negative connotation of deviance. These are taken for granted assumptions typically made by straight, white, men and are often challenged by those who violate one or more of those categories. The reaction from those in the majority is shock and denial of their privileges.

This happens when we take these concepts for granted, and Christians have been doing the same thing with doctrine. From everything from Bible translations to baptism, the modern American Christian has been fattened with privileges that go all-too-often ignored.

Our Christian Founding Fathers were persecuted and murdered for their Faith. The history of the Church is filled with meeting in secret locations under penalty of death from their governments, which still occurs in many countries. What do we, as Americans, do? We use our Christian colleges as an excuse to challenge and “correct” the Bible that our brothers and sisters and the Middle-East are being beheaded over. While we bicker about whether we should wear suits or have drums in a worship setting, Christians around the world are being crucified or burned alive.

We need not fear being used as gladiatorial fodder in the Colosseum of Rome, so we find minor things over which to quibble.

Almost 80% of Americans identify as Christian, but the average weekly church attendance for a believer in this country is 1.7 services per month. Attendance is not low because Uncle Sam is waiting to bust in our doors and imprison those inside, but because to 22% of American churchgoers, watching football has become a priority. Rather than being thrust into the arena to face lions, we can watch others combat live on television. We take our churches for granted, because we have churches to go to.

American Christians have taken church attendance for granted, but have also taken prayer and daily time in Scripture for granted. We can tell you anything you want about what our favorite actors are up to, but nothing about Solomon’s life. We can quote Tom Brady’s QB rating in the 2004 playoffs, but can’t quote a verse other than John 3:16. We have time to text, not call, but text our best friends with every detail of our daily lives, but spend no time having a conversation with our Heavenly Father.

I cannot tell you the number of fellow church members and Church members who gleefully post party pictures on social media with faces distorted by drunken frivolity; forgetting that we are called to be pictures of Christ to our unsaved friends and families. How can a drug addict be helped by someone who is right next to them shooting up? How might an alcoholic have a life change while we sit at the bar sharing shots? With no thought of the repercussions, we indulge in the very same behaviors as those who are lost. How will they ever be found when we throw the map in the garbage?

We do these things because we CAN do these things. We do them because we CHOOSE to do them. We put God’s will behind our own ambitions because we ignore the manifestation of His grace in our lives. We no longer count our blessings, because our insatiable thirst for humanistic pursuits has us spoiled and privileged.

No one is perfect. We have all sinned and come short of the glory of God. The difference is that the heroes of the Bible felt regret when they fell from grace. King David never fully recovered from his tryst with Bathsheba. Peter spent the rest of his life trying to make up for his denial of Christ before the crucifixion. Will we do the same, or will we continue to take our privilege for granted?

Check your privilege. It is there, and we must acknowledge its existence. The only way we will be effective at bringing others to Christ is if we throw away our hedonistic lifestyles and BE LIKE CHRIST. If you sin, it’s okay. Jesus’ blood covers Christians for all eternity. However, we must all try to avoid the temptation to flaunt our sin to everyone in our social networks.

Becoming a Christian is an easy decision for most privileged Americans. LIVING like a Christian is incredibly difficult. The first decision is personal, while the second affects the lives of all those around us. Remember who you represent. You are a child of the King of Kings. You are privileged, whether you want to admit it or not. Time is running out for our loved ones who have yet to accept Christ. Do them a favor and dare to be different. Be a rebel. We are already experiencing a revolution, so be revolutionary. Stop taking God for Granted.

The Privileged Pilgrim’s Progress

The subject of “privilege” for straight, white, Christian males is once again rearing its ugly head. Whenever this topic arises, those who are accused of privilege insist that they are not, while those who are doing the accusing refuse to see their own culpability in the structural problems that face the downtrodden in our American society.

I am one who is accused of privilege, but I implore the reader to focus on the message rather than the messenger. I have tried to be objective, though I admit that I come into this issue with biases.

When you account for education, social class, gender, race, etc. the “gap” is incredibly small. A white boy who grew up in the same social class, went to the same school, and got the same grades as a black boy has an equal chance of social mobility.

Historically, whites have absolutely had a leg up. However, post 1965 Civil Rights America, the argument must change. All things are not equal in 2017 (a mere 50 years, mind you), and there are some inherent challenges that older (say, 25-40) blacks face that whites may not. However, there are fewer and fewer excuses for those who are college age now. This is where you’ll point to the “opportunities” and “systemic” issues, and that is where things get a bit more complex. The statistics are not promising.

Blacks are more likely to live in poor neighborhoods with bad schools, but whites who also live in those neighborhoods have about the same opportunity and often end up with the same level of social mobility.

Furthermore, if you want to talk total raw numbers, there are more whites in poverty, abusing illicit substances, on food stamps, living on the streets, and in prison than blacks. More white people are killed by police than blacks. The difference is that rates are higher for blacks.

That being said, the problem with statistical analysis (and this is coming from a statistician), is that numbers do not give you the “why”. Yes, rates of crime, poverty, etc. are worse for blacks, but why? Is it possible that these issues can be resolved by younger generations?

I would argue (and so would many researchers) that the biggest “privilege” that white people seem to have is in their family structure. This is not about skin pigmentation, but a deeper cultural problem.

Single parent households are the biggest predictor of juvenile delinquency and blacks are disproportionately raised in single parent homes. Over 60% of black families are single-parent. The next highest is white at around 25%. This is a staggering discrepancy.

If you want to know why there is inequality, it’s not some systemic social problem like access to education or jobs, its in the destruction of the African-American nuclear family. If you want to point to the incarceration of black males as a reason why there are so many single parent households, I would argue that it is this systemic issue in the black family that perpetuates this cycle.

There are many theories of deviance that point to most deviant behavior are learned by being passed down by peers and older family members. For instance, when an urban black male begins to academically outperform those around him, he is quickly shamed for it. He is called an “Uncle Tom” and is accused of “acting white” or “sucking up to the man.” Prominent sociologist Elijah Anderson said as much in his seminal work, Code of the Street (1999). This same phenomenon occurs in the corporate workplace as Anderson addresses in The Cosmopolitan Canopy (2011).

He writes of two black men who work for the same company.
One is ethnocentric and “plays the game” of white corporate America. He does enough to be respected for his work, but has not risen past middle management. His white co-workers offered to include him in social activities ranging from going to the bar to dinner at their homes. He always declined, and now they no longer invite him. He is bitter, distrusts white people, and is jealous of his more successful black co-workers.

The second man started in the company five years after the first. However, his full assimilation into the corporate culture allowed for a meteoric rise in the company which he now serves as Vice President. The other black people in the company think of him as a “sellout” or “Uncle Tom.”

This is reminiscent of the street. A very large portion of the urban African American population is ethnocentric. They outright refuse to assimilate into the larger culture. By their own design, they create counter-cultural music and use counter-cultural slang. To conform to “white” society—otherwise known as society—is to no longer remain black. Educated, articulate black men are now “white” in the eyes of the streets.

So there is a problem of assimilation. This is not about skin color, mind you. On the contrary. According to research, black immigrants from Jamaica and Africa have a high rate of assimilation to the broader American culture compared to some other groups. They learn English, they dress appropriately, and speak in a way that better represents the ideal American. Black immigrants detest the African American culture as being lazy and ignorant. These immigrants also find themselves in much better socioeconomic situations than blacks born in America (Foner 1997; Morawska 2014; Waters 1994). If American success was about skin color, these immigrants would be in the same situation as native blacks. They are not, because they understand the value of assimilation.

I believe that the research shows that if young blacks who are coming up right now would fully embrace assimilation into the larger American culture, and work harder to maintain their parental responsibilities and partnerships, their children would flourish.

And when it comes to the “patriarchy” or “male privilege”, binge drinking, alcoholism, substance abuse, suicide, being sexually assaulted as a child, and stress related diseases leading to death are all much higher in males.

Males are more likely to drop dead at a younger age from disease or suicide than females. This has always been a factor since Emile Durkheim’s study of suicide back in the late 1800s, and continues today.

And, of course, the gender pay gap myth has been thoroughly debunked over and over and over again by anyone with half a brain. Not to mention that the majority of college graduates are female, so in a few years that majority of the educated workforce will be female. You could show that most of the Fortune 500 companies are run by men, but those are old jobs that were held in a time when they may have been privilege, but for our generation and those going forward, the rise of female college education should put a pause on the argument of contemporary patriarchy.

Again, when you account for race, social class, gender, education, family unit, etc., the “privilege” gap vanishes.

Thus, this is not an issue of privilege. This is no longer the 1900s when there were certainly advantages to being born a straight, white, Christian male. Going forward, this argument will only become more and more archaic.

Learn more by checking out some of the resources I cited in this article:

https://www.ncjrs.gov/App/Publications/abstract.aspx?ID=167327

http://dc.etsu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3380&context=etd

http://datacenter.kidscount.org/data/tables/107-children-in-single-parent-families-by#detailed/1/any/false/573,869,36,868,867/10,11,9,12,1,185,13/432,431

http://therepresentationproject.org/film/the-mask-you-live-in/

Foner, Nancy. 1997. “The Immigrant Family: Cultural Legacies and Cultural Changes.” The International Migration Review. 31(4): 961–974.

Morawska, Ewa. 2014. “Immigrant Transnationalism and Assimilation: A Variety of Combinations and the Analytic Strategy it Suggests.” Toward Assimilation and Citizenship: Immigrants in Liberal Nation-States. Palgrave Macmillan UK. pp. 133-176.

Waters, Mary C. 1994. “Ethnic and Racial Identities of Second-Generation Black Immigrants in New York City.” International Migration Review. 795-820

The Triune Self

My name is Alex Simmons, but what does that really mean? Who am “I”? I am a Christian, a husband, the father of four lovely girls, a sociologist, a drummer, a UNLV graduate student, and a UNLV employee. These are roles and statuses, but is that all I am; the sum of roles and statuses? I was not always a UNLV graduate student, and I hopefully will not always be. As this status changes, will I cease to be me? Of course not. That’s silly.

Perhaps I am what you see. I am the physical body. Then again, what would happen if a part of me was removed? Our soldiers go overseas and wage war for us, but they often sacrifice their limbs. Does that mean that they return home and are no longer themselves? They may be damaged, but they are still them.

Perhaps I am not what you see on the outside, but I exist inside the body. The brain is the computer center of the central nervous system. It operates everything ranging to pain sensation to breathing regulation. However, there are times when the brain is physically damaged. Are football players who receive concussions no longer themselves? There are some of us that suffer from chemical imbalances in the brain. When an anti-depressant is prescribed, the patient becomes “the medicated self.” They need drugs to feel whole, but are they whole if they need a substance to make them that way? Moreover, the brain is made up of cells that are shed and leave the body when we sneeze. Does that mean that whenever I have a runny nose “I” leave the body? Absolutely not.

Rather than my roles and statuses or the physical self, I am the metaphysical mind? Closer, but no. Rene Descartes famously said, “Cogito ergo sum” – I think, therefore I am. Our thoughts manifest as ideas and memories and are expressed through creativity. However, cognitive impairments occur all the time. Mental illness takes part of our mind from us. Dementia also impairs cognitive function. If we are no longer able to recall memories, are we still our “self”?

Furthermore, the mind is not physical, but could “you” exist without a body? Photographs are representations of us, but they are not us. We put our souls on paper when we write. Our images and social media posts become “the digital self,” a term that postmodern researches use to describe a digital representation of the “self.” Yet our photographs, manuscripts, and social media posts can be deleted. If they are destroyed, or even hacked, do we also cease to exist? No.

Rather than roles, statuses, the physical or metaphysical representations of me, I believe that I am the triune self. I am comprised of a body, soul, and spirit – like the Holy Trinity (Father, Son, Holy Ghost). These three parts are all one, but I am not all in one. If a piece is cut off, I am still me. The digital self is still me. I can change roles and statuses and still be me. Before I was born into a physical body, I had no “self,” but the triune me exists now and forever. The triune self is eternal. My body dies, but soul and spirit live forever. The Bible shows us that we will get a new body in Heaven, thus reuniting the triune self.

Who am I? I am me. All of me, and I always will be.