Dual Identity Crisis

Having white skin and blond hair creates complications if you carry a Latino ethnic identity. That's my situation. And I've been thinking a lot about it during this Christmas season.

People I work with continue to forget that I'm Latino as well as white. There's zero malice there. It's just a challenge for them. I get strange looks and pushback whenever I point to my heritage or Latino perspective. I struggle to explain to others the complex sense of otherness I feel when I spend a lot of time in an all white group.

I feel like the Latino facet of my ethnic identity is being slowly smothered. I wonder if Jesus ever felt the same way with his dual identity: fully God and fully human.

Theologians seem engaged in a near constant tug-of-war over Jesus' dual identity. Some emphasize his humanity; others his divinity. Both sides overstate their case. And this is not a new problem.

Early church history is riddled with conflicting perspectives on Jesus' identity. Arius refused to see Jesus as fully God. Marion refused to see him as fully human. Irenaeus and Ignatius and Athanasius and Tertullian and that crowd pushed back against both of those refusals until we ended up with something that looks like today's Christian orthodoxy.

I find this conflict over the identity of Christ to come as no surprise. People with dual identities know how hard it is to pin them down, to explain them, to communicate them in all their nuance. I can't describe my own identity; how can I expect someone else to explain the complexities that spring into this world as a result of my background?

Multiethnic people (and multiethnic churches) give us a context to embrace both the reality and the mystery of a Christ who is fully human and fully divine.

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