I am currently reading a book by pastor, theologian and author, Kevin Deyoung, and stumbled across a fantastic quote on the plight and logical inconsistency of “staying true to yourself” and never conforming to an outward standard:
In our secular Western society the truly good person is the one who has learned to be true to himself. For example, Anna Quindlen (who has written for The New York Times and Newsweek), had this to say to a group of graduating seniors:
“Each of you is as different as your fingertips. Why should you march to any lockstep? Our love of lockstep is our greatest curse, the source of all that bedevils us. It is the source of homophobia, xenophobia, racism, sexism, terrorism, bigotry of every variety and hue, because it tells us that there is one right way to do things, to look, to behave, to feel, when the only right way is to feel your heart hammering inside of you and to listen to what its timpani is saying.”
It sure feels like Ms. Quindlen is giving my little internal timpani a lot of credit.What if your timpani is homophobic, xenophobic, racist, and sexist? Or can all vice simply be attributed to our love of lockstep – you know, all the bad people follow the crowd and all the good people do their own thing? And what if you follow Quindlen’s advice and reject her list of bigotries? Does that make you another lockstep loser? Can you listen to your timpani and the graduation speaker at the same time? I suppose it’s the central creed of postmodernism that you can march to the beat of your own drummer as long as it beats in time with mine.
But what if your bongo is out of step with the God of the universe? We’ve been told there is a good person in all of us. We’ve been shown in a thousand movies that the purpose of life is to find the real you. We’ve learned from countless television shows that the highest calling is to believe in yourself. The world most definitely insists on holiness. Don’t let anyone tell you it doesn’t. But the world’s holiness is not found in being true to God; it’s found in being true to yourself. And being true to yourself invariably means being true to someone else’s definition of tolerance and diversity.
– Kevin DeYoung, The Hole in our Holiness, pg. 36-37
Everyone has some sort of standard – it is foolish to wag the condescending finger at anyone who is striving to promote that standard, because in the very act you are saying they have violated one of your standards. To chop off the structure of absolute rights and wrongs, you cut away the very footing that has driven you to start hacking in the first place. If we say, “the only thing that is absolute is to follow what is in your heart,” we forfeit any right to say that ANYTHING is wrong. The Holocaust, sex slavery, rape, genocide, sexism, racism – aren’t these all the products of someone at some point following their heart?