Talk 2 – What’s in a Name

When the four young men entered the Kings College, their names were changed.  Their names – Daniel (God is my judge), Hananiah (the Lord shows grace), Mishael (who is like God) and Azariah (God helps), revealed their identities as sons of the God of Abraham.  But Babylon couldn’t tolerate the uniqueness of Yahweh, and therefore changed their names.  The intention was that they would be identified as sons of Babylon.

In our day, issues of life, identity and gender are no longer theoretical, but affect our children.  What it means to be human has been re-defined.  Western culture has de-valued the body by obsession with practices to reach some unrealistic ideals of physical beauty.  “The veneration of the air-brushed, media-produced body conceals a hatred of real bodies.”[1]

In a post-truth culture, reality isn’t what it used to be – we are now in a world of our own construction.  Expressive individualism is the understanding that each person realises their own humanity.  Its salvation song is ‘to self-identify’ – name yourself. In the recent work of Professor Carl Trueman, a Christian theologian, the ‘Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self’, says that cultural amnesia, expressive individualism, and the road to sexual revolution, has led to sexual identity being the dominant theme of western culture.

Gender and sexuality have become the basis for an entire worldview, the source of ultimate meaning and healing, a means of redemption.  An inadequate, impaired, or distorted sexuality will cause mental and emotional disorders.  According to this worldview, sex is a human pleasure which is to be experienced if a person is to be whole.  Instead of being an expression of relationship, it has become a meaning in itself. A Biblical moral framework is seen as the root of evil and free sexual expression is the path to redemption.

The story of cultural Marxism has also infiltrated our culture, with the intent to destroy the Biblical understanding of family and sexuality.  Being a human person is no longer viewed as having a God-given design but is a social construct.  The authentic self is no longer connected to the body.  The real person resides in their feelings and mind and will.  Jessica Savana, a trans-sexual model, and actor, created a video entitled “I am Not My Body.”[2]

The dilemma for our children is that “we do not know what we want and yet we are responsible for what we are.”[3]  As teachers, we must recognise that this is a crushing script for students to live by because their longings are contradictory and constantly changing.  Being master of your destiny results in anxiety and hopelessness. Following our “disordered loves” is a blind search for the source of satisfaction that can’t be identified. C.S. Lewis described this as “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in the world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I’m made for another world” [4]

How can we as teachers help explore their identity that is a gift from God, not an achievement? We must recognise that our story is radically counter-cultural. Human design is about personhood, that includes being part of the earth from which we were created.  The Bethlehem bombshell was the incarnation where God the Son took on a physical body.  His physical resurrection is the splendid affirmation of creation.  God will finally restore His people with resurrected bodies firmly planted in a renewed physical creation. Our bodies matter to God.

How can we unfold this story through our teaching and learning?

Here is an example of a science lesson entitled “A Glimpse of our own Instruction Book”.

Dr Francis Collins joined the University of Michigan in 1984 as a professor in human genetics.  In 1993 he was appointed director of the National Centre for Human Genome Research.  In this role, he oversaw the group that successfully carried out the human genome project.  In June 2000 he made the announcement that it was humbling for him and awe-inspiring to realise that they have caught the first glimpse of our own instruction book, previously only known to God.

The biological world is full of information. DNA is a complex molecule with information encoded to build molecules called proteins.  The human genome, the genetic code in each human cell, contains 23 DNA molecules containing from 500,000 to 2.5 million nucleotide pairs. Each nucleotide contains adenine, thymine, guanine and cytosine.  The order of these bases determines DNA’s instructions, or genetic code.  Human DNA has around 3 billion pieces of information about a whole person.

At a conference held at Johns Hopkins University on the theme ‘What does it mean to be Human’, Dr Francis Collins, the co-director of the Human Genome Project, made his presentation.  He showed two pictures on the screen.  The first one was the rose window from York Minister Cathedral in York, England.  The beautiful design in magnificent colours was like a great jigsaw puzzle, with each piece perfectly in place.  Skilled craftsmen spent many hours fashioning each tiny piece of glass to be fitted meticulously together.  Dr Collins then unveiled the second picture, alongside the first, which was more complex and beautiful than the first.  There was a pin-drop silence, as he explained that we were looking at a cross-section of human DNA.  As the audience gazed in wonder at the patterns made by more than 3 billion bits of information in that one strand, Dr Collins responded that he knew no other way to end his presentation than to sing to the Creator God a hymn in worship.

May the Lord direct us as we lead our students to embrace the reality that each one is “fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Psalm 139: 14) Let us inspire them with a higher view of sexuality and gender by reconnecting their identity with their body, that in Christ they can experience wholeness and healing.

“He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out.” (John 10: 3)

Grace and Peace
The TEC Team


[1] Nancy R Pearcy, Love Thy Body: Answering Hard Questions About Life and Sexuality, (Grand Rapids, USA: Baker Book House 2018), 32.

[2] Ibid., 31.

[3] Jean-Paul Sartre, Quotes About Existentialism, n.d. A-Z Quotes.https//

[4] CS Lewis, Mere Christianity, (London, UK: Geoffrey Bles, 1952), 120.