How Youth Like Me Learn Expressive Individualism

Jaquelle Crowe | January 4, 2017

Kids today are growing up in a compulsively connected world. Information is incessant, smartphones are ubiquitous, and with a click or a tap young people have 24/7 access to a never-ending digital conversation.

Of course, such connectivity comes at a cost. Much of this information is pumped out by an agenda-driven media with a message of their own—a message that sounds good, nice even, but is inherently poisonous. It is becoming louder, stronger, and constant. And young people are drinking it in.

This is the message of expressive individualism—the belief, Tim Keller explains, that “identity comes through self-expression, through discovering one’s most authentic desires and being free to be one’s authentic self.”

This is the follow-your-heart, believe-in-yourself, chase-your-dreams, Disney-Hallmark-MTV gospel. It is the catechism of our culture. It is what our youth are learning. You are the creator of your identity. You are free—even obligated—to be whomever or whatever makes you feel good, no matter what anyone says.

Cultural vs. Biblical Catechism 

Expressive individualism is steadily becoming pervasive. It bleeds through everything—movies, music, books, news reports, private conversations. Think of Hollywood for the most obvious example. Moana, Disney’s latest animated family flick, has been getting rave reviews for its stunning graphics and gorgeous soundtrack. But Christians have also noted…

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