Altar Egos

Jesus said to them, “…You can’t keep your true self hidden forever; before long you’ll be exposed. You can’t hide behind a religious mask forever; sooner or later the mask will slip and your true face will be known.” – Luke 12: 1-3

When I was in college, Halloween was our high holy day. For weeks my friends and I labored over obscure and arcane ideas (I once went as: “a figment of my imagination.” It required a lot of explaining). We trolled the thrift stores for props, dusted off rudimentary sewing and hot glue gunning skills to make our masterpieces.

Then, inevitably, at every party I went to, 80% of the men were dressed as women, and 80% of the women were dressed as streetwalkers, or naughty nurses.

If costumes are a chance to dip into our most deeply unexpressed selves, the self we wish we could give a little more play to, what did this turn of events say about the wearers? Perhaps simply: that toxic masculinity, and the puritanical double-standard for women, are both deeply confining and harmful roles to play (or maybe that all those humanities majors really wished they had gone to nursing school instead to learn some practical skills). 

God in Jesus has given us a person who wears no masks. Everywhere he goes–whether dining among tax collectors, arguing with high priests, playing with prostitutes or breakfasting on the beach with fisherfolk–he is completely Himself, fully integrated, substance and shadow.

If you were dressing up today (and maybe you are), what would you go as? And what would it say about the self you need to give a little more play to/acknowledge?


Unchangeable God, give us the courage to acknowledge our whole selves to ourselves: the sweet and salty, the good and evil, the sexy and straightlaced, the male and female and a little bit of each and none of the above–so that the truth about who we are may set us free. Amen.

About the Author
Molly Baskette is Senior Minister of the First Church of Berkeley, California, and the author of the best-selling Real Good Church and Standing Naked Before God.