Media, government leaders, and adults have all expressed a great deal of frustration with the young people’s lack of compliance to social distancing during the Coronavirus Crisis. States shut down their beaches after pictures surfaced of college-age spring-breakers flooding the coastline in full violation of social distancing recommendations. Government leaders, healthcare authorities, media outlets, and the President of the United States himself have warned and implored young people to obey the quarantine regulations, if not for themselves, then for the sake of the vulnerable. Many in the media have expressed outrage that many (if not most) young people have completely ignored the mandates.
My question for is this: why are you surprised by their defiance? After all, they are being faithful followers of the prevailing pop-religion, “You Do You,” fed to them frequently through various media and institutions. With all authenticity, they are being “true to themselves.” They embody the sacred maxim, YOLO – You Only Live Once.
“You Do You” combines radical individualism with moral relativism. This pop religion involves each person developing and dictating his or her own ethical framework with individual happiness comprising the highest aim. After the these individual determinations, “being true to yourself” constitutes the real measure of virtue.
To the extent that this incoherent moral system considers others, the primary rule involves supporting and enabling other people to be true to themselves. Whether that involves sexuality, gender, or other forms of self-expression, the primary responsibility of mankind and deepest promotion of human flourishing means affirming every person’s pursuit of authenticity. Intolerance — or not affirming another person’s self-engineered norms for ethics and self-expression — remains the carnal sin of the pop religion. You simply cannot resort to moral absolutes, whereby you tell a person what to do or suggest that their standards of self-expression may be harmful to themselves or society.
Now we have a healthcare crisis on our hands, which requires virtually every citizen to think collectively. Even if we are young and healthy, we all absolutely must quarantine. We have to put the needs of the elderly, the immunocompromised, the diabetics, and those with respiratory conditions above our personal freedoms and wants. We must die to a “me first” individualism and comply for the greater good. Lives are at stake.
Many young people, however, mainly those out from under parental supervision, just don’t seem to get it. They just don’t seem to care. They will not comply.
The Coronavirus Crisis creates an opportunity for our education on biblical ethics for our kids. Here are three steps I recommend taking:
(1) Point out the intellectual incoherence and pragmatic unworkability of moral relativism and “you do you” ethics.
We should never demean people; ideas, however, are fair game. Moral relativism is philosophically asinine and intellectually bankrupt. It sounds very appealing at the fleshly level, but objective reasoning demonstrates that moral relativism taken to its furthest extent ends in self-destruction, self-absorption, and anarchy.
Our resistance to ethical action reflects a lack of trust in authorities, namely God. When the now infamous spring-breaker said, “If I get corona, I get corona. At the end of the day, I’m not going to let it stop me from partying,” his statements reflected mistrust. The authorities are against me and my desire to have fun. All sin contains a belief that God is against us and is holding out on us.
We should show kids that God gave us his law because he loves us and wants the best for us. Furthermore, God not only desires the best for us as individuals, he desires the best for all of society. God desires shalom, flourishing, and wholeness for the whole world.
Let’s tell kids that our obedience to God’s law through the power of the Holy Spirit and out of faith in his grace are a part of something bigger: that obedience is part of God blessing and redeeming the world.
— Cameron Cole, Rooted Ministry, The Ethical Lesson for the Young in the Corona-Crisis, April 16, 2020