Pastor of Church in ‘Gay Mecca’ Speaks about Identity
Dave Lomas is pastor of Reality San Francisco, a congregation located near the Castro District, a neighborhood often referred to as America's "gay mecca." When he speaks about identity and desire, people listen. That's exactly what Lomas has done in his most recent book, "The Truest Thing about You: Identity, Desire, and Why it All Matters." In it, he argues that many labels comprise a person's identity--parent, introvert, victim, student, single. While these are all true monikers that describe someone, he encourages people to ask a deeper and somewhat provocative question: "What does God think is the truest thing about you?" Here, Dave and I discuss identity, self-worth, and how his ideas relate to the people in his community with various sexual orientations.
RNS: Your book is built around this idea about the truest thing about you. What is that, and why does it matter?
DL: What I try to show in the book is that the truest thing about you is as simple as it is profound. We are all humans created in the image of God. If that's the case, we don't make our identity; we receive it. But what does that look like? And what happens when our identity gets terribly messed up? The promise of Jesus is a restoration of our true and given identity, but too often we operate out of what we think is truest about us, like pain, loss, failure, body image. Those things may be true, but they are not truest. That's what I hope this book helps people see.
RNS: But is there really harm in allowing our identities to be formed around other possibilities, such as “student” or “entrepreneur” or “extrovert”?
DL: The problem is that we’re mistaking parts for the whole, and we’re getting a distorted picture of who we are. We may know intellectually that we are more than what we do, for example, or who we're attracted to, and none of us want to be defined so narrowly. The problem is that many of us function as if being an "extrovert" was the truest thing about us. When the extrovert can't find friends, she questions her entire identity. When the entrepreneur can't create, he loses his sense of self. We are more than these things, and we know it, but we’ve got to start believing it.