By Kersley Fitzgerald

Death threats.

Death threats.

Okay, this isn't new to the world of fandom. Creators and writers and specialists in science fiction, fantasy, video games, RPGs*, and comics are somewhat used to it now (especially women). But when Steve Rogers (Captain America) was recently outed as a Hydra agent, a disabled former US Marine sent Marvel executives a missive explaining:
As a Former Active Duty US Marine and a Disabled Veteran, I want you to know that when I joined the Marines back in 95' [sic] I did so under a strict Code of Ethics. Truth, Honor and Justice. This Code was inspired by Steve Rogers. I knew I could never be the person he was, I just wasn't mentally built for it, but it gave me something to strive for. Yes, the Character of Stever [sic] Rogers AKA Captain America is a fictional one, but it is also one that emboydies [sic] what the Idea Human Being, not just American should strive to be. Steve Rogers never claimed to be perfect, but he tried his best every day to do the right thing no matter what.

... Fine, congradulations [sic], you have made the last 21 years of my life and the Code I lived by, the hardships I endured because I refused to sacrifice that Code MEANINGLESS.

... So, thanks to you two I will be throwing away my Moral Code, and become The Monster, that people feared I might become, that I myself feared I would become. I will use every resource at my disposal, every avenue that I can to locate and track you down. I WILL find you eventually, and I WILL kill you in the most painful way possible that I can think of...
Let's set aside the death threat because, as I mentioned, it's not uncommon in the industry. But a former Marine, now disabled veteran, based his life philosophy on a comic book character. And when a writer and a publishing company decided to drum up business by inferring that this character was, all along, a member of an evil organization, this former Marine throws out his code of ethics and threatens to commit murder.

Don't get me wrong. The news that Steve Rogers was Hydra had a major impact on the work efficiency at the GotQuestions offices for at least an afternoon. (#Don'tCare #TeamIronMan). Despite the fact that this is probably a red herring and/or a money-making decision. And that it's a comic book character.

But it got me thinking about how we find our identity. What "team" we join. How we pick the team we identify with the most, but then let that team identify us. We do it in so many different areas. How many people will vote for Republicans not because they believe in the candidates but because they are Republican? (Or Democrat.) How many people will hold fast to a ministry or a pastor or a church and dismiss allegations of abuse because they're afraid to admit they followed fallen leaders? That they bonded with an imperfect group?

Why do we have to hold so tightly to these fandoms, anyway? (And aligning with a ministry/church/teacher can be considered a fandom.) Why do we take such identity from fiction and games? I mean, as much as I'm a Seahawks fan, I won't even get a jersey with a player's name until he's retired for fear he'll pull a Brett Favre and go off the rails.

Paul dealt with this in Corinth. The church was dividing up, some saying they followed Paul, others Apollos or Peter, and yet others Jesus (1 Corinthians 1:12). And Paul had to constantly fight the battle between people identifying as Jewish Christians vs. Gentile Christians. In response, he made it pretty clear where he stood:
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28

Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. Colossians 3:11
So, Captain American and Hydra may be a somewhat frivolous example, and the retired Marine may be an extreme, but there are still questions we all have to ask: Where do we get our identity? What do we self-identify as? What is our defining characteristic? Our gender? Sexual orientation? Addiction? Denomination? Job?

Or do we, as believers, see ourselves as God sees us?

A child of God?

A member of the universal church?

A new creature?

A citizen of heaven?

Light, salt, witness, forgiven, regenerated?

Identifying as a Royals fan or a Browncoat or a Libertarian or a vegetarian is just a small way to label how we interact with the world. And we are made to name and categorize. But names and categories shouldn't be who we are or define our relationships with others. If identifying with the world takes up too much space in our souls — up to and including making Captain America the basis for our ethics — it's a sign we value this world too much.

* "Role-Playing Games"; not rocket-propelled grenades.

Image Credit: PDPics; untitled; Creative Commons

TagsBiblical-Truth  | Christian-Life  | Current-Issues

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Published 7-4-16