THE NUMBER ONE LIE THE WORLD TELLS OUR KIDS TODAY by Cameron Cole for Core Christianity
An important but challenging task for youth pastors and parents involves helping our children understand the messages of the world. However, given the pluralistic nature of contemporary society, one struggles to identify a cohesive ideology underpinning the values of the world.
The culmination of my best understanding of the ethic of today’s secular world has come from two unexpected sources: The ESPY Awards and Keeping Up with the Kardashians.
In July of 2015, the ESPY’s awarded Caitlyn Jenner (formerly known as Bruce Jenner) the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage for her transition from manhood to womanhood.
A few months later, I watched some of the struggles Kris Kardashian Jenner faced as a result of Jenner’s gender transition. She expressed feelings of grief, almost as if her ex-husband had died. As a step in mourning, she and her daughter, Kim, went through old clothes of Jenner’s to remember Bruce, the person who was lost, and to try to embrace Caitlyn, this new person Jenner had become.
In secular terms, here were two conflicting values. In making the change, Jenner was “true to himself” and showed (as ESPN would interpret the events) the courage to “follow his heart.” At the same time, Jenner’s choice had painful consequences for Kris and family, akin to those that one may experience if a spouse ran off with another partner. In this way, Jenner’s choice violated society’s high value for family loyalty.
When ESPN bestowed on Jenner the highest of all their awards, the message was clear: human autonomy and individualism stand above all other virtues in modern society.
The abortion industry and pro-choice movement thrive on these values. Human autonomy and individualism possess such ultimate importance, the termination of human life and the psychological harm done to women are secondary to the point that they barely enter the conversation.
At the risk of oversimplification, I think understanding the nature and danger of elevating human autonomy is a starting place for helping kids understand the modern worldview, which counters Christianity. Underneath the message of so many songs, the moral of so many movies, the principles of so many causes, and the promises of so many political campaigns stands an unequivocal appeal to individualism.
Understanding Human Autonomy and Individualism
We can boil down the morality and ethics of Western society into one cliché: be true to yourself. Out of this somewhat trite platitude unfolds these philosophical tenets: