Radical Individualism

On October 18 Andrew T.  Walker, Director of Policy Studies at the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention will speak in Cedarville University’s Chapel. I have just finished reading Andrew’s new book God and the Transgender Debate: What Does the Bible Actually Say About Gender Identity?.  The book helped me understand the issue more clearly and the gracious and compassionate spirit was welcome. I have also found a lecture from The Gospel Coalition’s 2017 National Conference in Indianapolis: Is This the End of Gender to be very helpful on the subject.

I would like to address a peripheral topic to which Walker alludes. In the second chapter of the book, Andrew discusses cultural changes that act as a foundation for the current debate on gender. One of the cultural changes he outlines is “radical individualism”. Walker says:

Individualism says everyone gets to write their own script. In many ways, this follows downstream from relativism. What an individual wills or wants is the highest good, and is wrong to tell someone that his or her choices or beliefs are wrong or immoral. An emphasis on the individual bearing individual rights has given rise to an understanding of the individual that is “liberated” from all forms of other duties. The greatest sin– in fact, the only sin– is judging someone else.

Long ago (and still today in many parts of the world), societies did not think in terms of individuals or individual rights. Instead, a focus on families, clans, and community with the dominant way that each person understood their existence. In such a society the question is not, “What is best for me?” or, “What makes me happy?” but, “What is best for my tribe?” and, “What makes my tribe most secure or honored?”

If this approach seems outdated or unimaginable to us, it shows how “Western” we are, without realizing it! If it seems unfair and restrictive, it shows how judgmental “nonjudgmental” people can be!

Of course, not all forms of individualism are bad. An emphasis on individualism and can and often does prioritize the dignity of each person. The fact that governments believe that citizens have rights that are inviolable is a good example of how individualism has been of great benefit. Radical individualism rest on this idea– but then it goes far further than that.

Walker’s comments on “radical individualism” come in a chapter where he discusses relativism, post-Christendom, the sexual revolution, and gnosticism– cultural changes which most Christians believe have been important in the United States’ cultural “drift”. Few Christians would disagree with his perspective on radical individualism. We are all members of a variety of separate communities. An indispensable element of our conformity into the image of Christ is the reconciliation of relationships with people around us. We must care about others enough to let them know when we believe “his or her choices or beliefs are wrong or immoral”. Further, I would argue that we must be very diligent in the United States to protect religious liberty and our free speech rights which are increasingly coming under attack.

However, let’s not believe that we can go back to some idyllic time in the past to emulate an ancient society as an improvement over Western culture. A properly understood individualism, that as Walker says, “prioritize[s] the dignity of each person”, is an indispensable element of Western culture. Whether or not “a focus on families, clans, and community” seems “unfair and restrictive” is primarily important to individual persons attempting to ascertain the effect of a cultural change on himself or herself–which might in itself be considered radically individualistic. What is much more important is the notion that if we could just somehow organize society away from a  focus on the individual to a larger community (clan/tribe) that the culture would somehow be better. This is a pipe dream. In Why Nations Fail: the Origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty, Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson provide a sweeping historical overview of the problems of attempting to organize societal institutions around a focus that is other than the individual. Exploitation of the masses by some elite group in both the government and the private sector is the invariable result. We might wish that people would choose what is the best for their tribe – but, they do not. They choose what is best for themselves, which means protecting what they have. The more powerful end up taking advantage of others to maintain their own status.

To avoid radical individualism, individual people must choose not to be selfish. Free people must freely choose “a focus on families, clans, and community”. These choices can best be encouraged as individual people are conformed into the image of Christ and their relationships with others are reconciled and restored. I do believe that this is the best and only hope for Western culture. These choices cannot be coerced by return to a better time, but must be freely chosen. Forsaking Western individualized values will not diminish individual selfishness. It is a culture based on western values that has unleashed the economic productivity that has helped diminish poverty across the globe. Turning our back on a properly understood individualism will slow the rate of wealth creation and make poverty alleviation more difficult. However, that is not the primary problem that comes from abandoning the bedrock of Western culture. The worst result of leaving western culture behind is a lack of “prioritize[ing] the dignity of each person”.

55 thoughts on “Radical Individualism”

  1. Must be a short book, considering that the Bible does not address the topic of transgender individuals.

    I have to assume that it is one of those books that conjures up “principles,” claims those man-made principles are “biblical,” and then concludes that being transgender is somehow a “sin” in God’s eyes.

    Fifty years from now, when evangelicals realize that they were wrong, they will write new books saying that opposite. Kind of what they do now when it comes to racism. First they were for it, and now they are against it.

    I am glad that my alma mater has so far not invited that big tooth phony from Houston to speak. You know, the televangelist with the church that used to be an NBA arena that should be filled with needy people by now.

    1. There you go again… How many times now have you posted the false hasty generalization and non sequitur that is your third paragraph? Not that I’m surprised. Just another example of your trying to bring race into every discussion.

      1. I bring race in when it is relevant. In this case, it is relevant, as a proper and defensible analogy.

        I see you have no counter to what I am saying.

        My arguments stands.

      2. You do not get to decide whether I have a counter to your or not nor do you get to render a verdict on your own argument.

        And sorry, but race is not relevant to this discussion, at least not in the presumptuous way you invoked it.

        Your analogy fails in the following manner:
        1. Your statement on evangelicals and race is simply false. Yes, many Christians have changed their minds on race, but contrary to your assertion, it was not due to a decision that the Bible’s view on race was outmoded and not applicable. Rather, it was due to them realizing that they were wrong on what the Bible said about it. And how did this come about? Because there have always been Christians and evangelicals who understood what the Bible truly says about race and have always taken that stand. It was evangelical Christians such as William Wilberforce who led the great abolitionist movements that worked to end slavery and racism and their motivation was the correct belief that racism was anti-Biblical.
        2. This leads into your second mistake of using your first one to then make a hasty generalization about Christians, phrasing your comment to make it seem that evangelicals were once united on the side of racism and only recently turned against it. History simply does not back you up there and shows that, while division did exist, there have always been Christians who stood against racism and did so on theological grounds.
        3. Your third mistake is indeed a non sequitur. Even if one were to admit your comment regarding evangelicals and race was true, there is no evidence whatsoever to back up your claim that in fifty years the same thing will happen with evangelical Christians’ views on sexuality and gender.

        So, no, your analogy on race is neither proper nor defensible and adds nothing to the actual topic at hand.

  2. It is human nature for people to choose what they see as best for themselves rather than what is best for society. I am not surprised that having an opinion contrary to someone else’s – or judging somebody else for their actions or beliefs – is considered a capital sin in western culture today. I am not surprised that a sin against an individual is seen as the worst type of wrong one could commit.
    I don’t think this new focus on individualism will ever lessen either. In fact, it will only become more and more rampant in western society. Selfishness is one of the signs of the end times (read 2 Timothy 3:1-5), and radical individualism is rooted in selfishness. As time progresses, we will see more and more people choosing to be selfish, and thus, we will see this problem continue to grow only worse.

    1. Hi Andrew,
      Thanks for your comment. I agree with what you are saying. Short of a revival where Christians are moved to become obedient and active with respect to sanctification and where many people turn to God in repentance and faith, I do not hold much hope for Western civilization. We will continue our long moral decline and see the resultant cultural disintegration. But I don’t want to see believers thinking that we can return to some utopia where our culture is organized differently (socialist – some overriding communal ethic) and think the issue will be solved. Selfishness cannot be eradicated through a change in our socio– economic environment.

      1. Dr. Wheeler, I’m wondering if you could briefly provide a description of what you mean by “Western civilization” in this comment and “Western culture” in your main article. This is mainly in regard to my impression of the Reformation’s idea that the individual, not the organization, is not only the unit of activity and the unit of dignity, which you propose, but the locus of value analysis. In other words, did the culture of Medieval European Catholicism, with its clear emphasis on individual dignity and the individual’s freedom to act and pursue their own well-being, achieve the status of Western culture and civilization? I’m drawing on their early anti-slavery and pro-usury arguments, fairly unique at the time, as evidence of these elements of Western civilization. But the Reformation introduced the idea, so far as I know, not only that the individual was valuable, but that the individual should assess what the source of ultimate value is for himself or herself and act according to inner lights, not responding to and interpreting more authoritative community statements of what is right and good. Is this necessary for Western culture? If so, it seems as though the West necessarily contains the seed of its own dissipation in the modern individualism of gender preference. When individuals choose not to be selfish, do they do so because their reason and emotion convince them that selfishness is wrong, or because they accept an external standard which instructs them to that effect?

      2. Hi Stanley – good to talk to you. Let me try to give my opinions on your questions:

        “But the Reformation introduced the idea, so far as I know, not only that the individual was valuable, but that the individual should assess what the source of ultimate value is for himself or herself and act according to inner lights, not responding to and interpreting more authoritative community statements of what is right and good. Is this necessary for Western culture?” Yes, I believe it is. But that does not mean that the individual person must determine the ultimate truth for himself or herself. The individual person can certainly take cues from and advice from and learn from a larger and broader social group. What we cannot have the individual being forced to submit to the larger group. We need to be able to be free to say no.

        “If so, it seems as though the West necessarily contains the seed of its own dissipation in the modern individualism of gender preference.” I do not necessarily think so. I think the West has sown the seeds of his own dissipation by rejecting God and assuming that there is no reality beyond the physical universe. Transgenderism is a result of that worldview perspective, but I do not believe that in and of itself the movement will crush western culture.

        “When individuals choose not to be selfish, do they do so because their reason and emotion convince them that selfishness is wrong, or because they accept an external standard which instructs them to that effect?” Of course, each individual decision is very complex. I would tend to think there is a connection between external standard and the individual’s reason and emotion. So, I would not believe this is an either or situation.

      3. Thanks for your feedback Dr. Wheeler! I hadn’t thought about the materialist worldview element that you drew out.

  3. I think it’s a testament to the genius of God in that Christianity blends individualism so well into a larger goal. Of course, we have the kingdom of God as the ultimate goal, and our actions are bent towards bringing him glory. That, of course, is a goal or objective that is focused on something above the individual. However, in order to accomplish this, God uses individuals as the base units to move His plan forward. We could argue that he uses the institution of the church to accomplish this, but the church is, by definition, comprised of individuals and greatly concerned with individuals. Christianity is highly personal in its applicability, yet it serves a grander purpose all the same. What a great God we serve.

    1. Yes, I agree that is perhaps ironic that the greatest progress humanity has made in the creation of wealth and reduction of poverty has been with a system that It’s based on the rights of the individual. But for the system to work, people in Western civilization must behave morally. Adam Smith (a Diest) believed that people were essentially very self interested, but would behave more morally than their self interested inclinations in a free society. In a Christian society believers need to be in the process of being sanctified and becoming more conformed to the image of Christ. That is the foundation of our social structure.

  4. In many ways, the only real solution to our culture’s radical individualism would seem to be our culture all coming to Christ. Unfortunately, that won’t happen until the Lord returns.

  5. If God is the creator, then God is responsible for creating the verifiable facts of gender.

    The notion that males are males and females are females is not supported by biology.

    I don’t have time to go into the all of the details regarding X and Y chromosones, testosterone, androgen, and estrogen, and all of the exceptions to the notion.

    But I DO have one question to those who are unfortunately bigoted against transsexuals, going as far as to consider an act of radical individualism: Did God create hermaphrodites?

    That is it.

    1. So you are a biology expert now, huh? Is there any topic on which you do not consider yourself an authority?

      Whether God created hermaphrodites or not is beside the point. If he designed certain animals that way, then he designed certain animals that way. But when it comes to Humans, Jesus Christ himself said that God created “male and female”.

      But I do have one question for you (and those like you) who are unfortunately so quick to sling terms like racism and bigotry around? Even if you are 100% confident you are right, how do you think that insulting those with divergent views will get you anywhere in trying to convince them otherwise? If you want to have a chance at convincing evangelical Christians that their millennia old beliefs on sexuality need amended, you will not get there by insulting them.

  6. It seems to be an all too common issue in our fallen world that, in society’s quest to improve, things are taken too far and end up creating harm as well as good. The historical progress and evolution of the feminist movement is another good example of this. However, I agree wholeheartedly with your comment that throwing out current Western values is not the answer. Throwing the baby (the individual dignity of each person) out with the bathwater (radical individualism) would not solve anything.

  7. Thorin, you are confirming my OWN POINT.

    I guess I should say, thanks.

    Christians in the past thought that they were on the RIGHT and BIBLICAL side when it came to race and slavery. The Bible specifically discusses slavery and never once condemns it. As described in the Bible, slavery was an acceptable institution. Those arguments and others were used by slavery apologists, many of whom were ordained ministers in what we would call Bible-believing churches.

    Much later, Christians realized that this approach was wrong. The Bible that once was used to defend racism and slavery was and is now being used to condemn those.

    What changed? The Bible? No. The minds of Christians? Yes.

    Positions that were once socially acceptable became less so. Kind of a positive form of cultural relativism.

    I say that in the future, Christians will look back to the 2010’s with disgust, and condemn Christian hostility to transsexuals as wrong and as anti-biblical. I give it thirty years.

    Indeed, some Christians living today who condemn transsexuals will live to regret their bigotry. Hope that is not you.

    1. Nowhere do I confirm ANY of your points. Only in your conceited mind perhaps, or in whatever way your mind twists my words.

      You have been repudiated time and again on the Bible and race. Insisting on using a subset of Christians who minds were wrong and have now changed to right to support your perverted logic on the history of Christianity and race further proves your insulting hasty generalizations.

    2. Jeff, If you are accusing people who believe transsexualism is a sin of bigotry, then you also are condemning God Himself because He Himself established gender identity as male and female. (Genesis 1 and 2)

      If ‘Christians’ look back on the 2010’s with disgust then they will be conforming to worldly pressures and not to God’s Word. I, for one, will not sacrifice my beliefs to please the PC world. That would be sin in my opinion.

      Racism is definitely condemned in the Bible. The Bible never called slavery an acceptable institution either. It gave values for those in those relationships to have toward the other that fundamentally undermine slavery.

      Once again you lose Mr Adams.

      1. Bigotry always loses.

        God is not a bigot. But people are. And unfortunately, many are Christians.

        The facts of biology are a part of God’s creation, and the facts of biology make it clear that the dichotomy between male and female for many people is not all that simple.

        You are putting your own human interpretation of the Bible as akin to God’s own words. You are guilty of idolatry.

        Have a nice holiday.

      2. He knows his own Bible very well. Because he chooses to interpret it differently than you makes him no more guilty of idolatry than you are.

        When Jesus Christ clearly says that God created them “male and female”, what other interpretation do you think there can be. Those ARE God’s own words.

        If anyone on this blog consistently puts their own words akin to God’s own words, it is you.

  8. “Whether God created hermaphrodites or not is beside the point. If he designed certain animals that way, then he designed certain animals that way. But when it comes to Humans, Jesus Christ himself said that God created “male and female”.

    Thorin, now you are just embarrassing yourself. Bigotry is a sign of an irrational mind. I see it all the time here in the deep South.

    Regardless of what YOU think (your own man-made, human, and fallible interpretation)about what the Bible means about mankind being created “male and female, there ARE humans who are hermaphrodites. Estimates vary, but I have heard around 1 out of every 1,500 or so births.

    Now, did God create them too, or did God only create those with clear gender identities at birth?

    This is a serious question. If you want to be bigoted, fine, but at least have the courage to answer a very simple question.

    1. I fear you are confusing the conscious choice of one rejecting their physical birth gender (transgender) with the exceedingly rare occurrences of sexual development disorders (intersex). The word “hermaphrodite” to describe those people who suffer from sexual development disorders is really not scientifically accurate. Scientifically, hermaphrodite denotes an organism that can fully function in either reproductive role. There has been no such case of any Human possessing the capability to function as either male or a female. They either function as male, female, or in some of those cases of development disorders, are sterile.

      The original topic of this discussion deals with transgender persons, not those unfortunate few who suffer from sexual development disorders.

      But the fact that there are people who suffer from such genetic issues does not invalidate the concept of “males are males and females are females”.

      As for race, I cannot force you to admit the truth. I have cited before at least one verse that specifically condemns slave traders (without which you cannot have slavery) but you willfully ignore it for the reason I can only assume is that you do not want to lose what appears to you the perfect anti-evangelical bludgeon. But really it is quite perplexing that you have decided that those who used the Bible to support racism interpreted it correctly and those who used it to oppose racism interpreted it wrong. You are right that the Bible never changed. You are wrong about what it never changed on.

      1. The very existence of hermaphrodites contradicts the position that God established gender identity as one of two options, male or female.

        Your position is groundless. If you are bigoted against those with a differing gender identity, you are simply a bigot. You should repent and turn away from your sin.

      2. Except that, as I pointed out, true human hermaphrodites do not exist. Even in intersex persons, there is typically clear indications of whether the person is more male or female. Intersex people, however, are born this way as a result of genetic deficiencies. Genetic deficiencies (of any kind) in humans are the result of sin and the curse and all humans, if they develop normally as they should, are either male or female. Genetic disorders would not have come about absent sin and so God’s original intent of male and female stands.

        The question of how to treat these individuals who had no say in their condition is entirely separate from the issue of transgenderism, as I pointed out. Their physical condition is not their fault and they deserve all the love they can get as they work through it.

        As far as transgenderism is concerned, I do not view those who have made a willful decision to turn away from their physical gender any different from any other sinner (including myself) and all sin in some manner is the result of individualism. To me, that willful decision of a male or female saying they really are, or want to be, the opposite gender is to me the same as saying “God messed up”. I sincerely believe that such an attitude is sinful. That does not mean I am bigoted against them.

        Calling out sin is not bigotry and therefore is not something to be repented. Insisting that Christians can only fully accept and love the person if they also accept their sin, as you appear to be attempting to do, is the truly groundless position.

  9. I think this also applies to various economic and political philosophies when addressing the selfishness of man. Western Civilization did not invent selfishness as it is human nature to be selfish. People will not suddenly be unselfish. We are individualistic by nature and that will not change until Christ returns. This is why socialism and communism are ineffective economic strategies long term. If people do not get to keep the fruits of their labor, they have no incentive to work which means nothing will be produced and the economy will die. The greed of man and the desire to keep most if not all of what they produce kills these economic philosophies.

  10. I love this, thank you for posting. I totally agree with the idea that our society is so focused on the individual in recent years. Our world is very much about whatever makes you feel happy and if you even state your opinion which is contrary to their beliefs, you will get ridiculed for it. As a follower of God, I just have to continue to tell myself that I have to tell people (in a loving way) what they need to hear, not what they want to hear. With the backlash you so easily cab receive for holding firm to what the bible says, it isn’t always easy, but I have peace through Christ to proclaim the truth, no matter what the implications are.

  11. Western culture is individualistic and the Eastern collectivist culture is seen as being better, as the more Christian approach. However, Christianity has both individual and social aspects. God has provided each individual with salvation through His son Jesus Christ and we each develop our own personal relationship with God. Together, Christians form the body of Christ and are called to be unified and love one another (Ephesians 4). The second greatest commandment is “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31). Both aspects are important in the Christian life and we must take an approach that demonstrates both.

  12. Of course as we move closer to end days, it is inevitable that things within society will continue to grow more tense and confused. With this is mind, it comes at no surprise that society has continued to grow more and more focused on the individual in recent years. Everything nowadays tends to revolve around an individuals own pursuit of happiness and satisfaction. On the other end of the spectrum however, we as believers are called to live a life beyond ourselves. Our ultimate pursuit should be aligned with the kingdom of heaven and Gods glory, contrary to the self invested focus discussed before. Although in saying that, God does uses us as individuals to unfold His plans. And additionally, individualism is not totally bad; reason being that some degree of self care is also important. All in all, a great article that provoked some great thought.

  13. Thank you for posting this article, because this is becoming a really big deal today. You are totally right that the solution for individual people is to stop being so selfish and have “a focus on families, clans, and community.” I think that is something that we could all do better with, especially since we are all fallen sinners like everyone else. Not only can we as Christians work on being less selfish, but we can also work on being more gracious and compassionate with those who don’t make the best decisions in their lives.

  14. From the individualist doing what they want to do is the right thing and getting “ahead” in life is the only thing that should matter. Also only doing things that please yourself is what an individualist strives for and the only sin they face is judging others for how they live there lives. This should be the polar opposite of how Christians live there life. Christians should live to serve others instead of serving themselves. In the passage it spoke on how years ago individualism wasn’t as common but I would argue that it is no more common now than in the past. Even back in the times of the bible people and nations did as they pleased going against God. Now I believe much like the nations of Sodom and Gomorrah we are turning to our own sexual and sinful desires.

  15. I do believe that people are so focused on themselves instead of others around them. People have been selfish since the fall of man in Genesis. The solution is for everyone to put others first, however we are all sinners and that is easier said than done. Another part of this is, I believe that some Christians have just accepted the sin that is around them. Many don’t want to be branded as “haters” so instead they just let others live in sin instead of reaching out to them to lead them to Christ. They might still think that the sin is wrong but they just accept it and move on. That is why I believe that it is imperative that we as Christians don’t sit by and let others live in sin. We need to reach out to them and love them with the love of Christ.

  16. I believe that some Christians have just accepted the sin that is around them. Many don’t want to be branded as “haters” so instead they just let others live in sin instead of reaching out to them to lead them to Christ. They might still think that the sin is wrong but they just accept it and move on. That is why I believe that it is imperative that we as Christians don’t sit by and let others live in sin. We need to reach out to them and love them with the love of Christ.

    1. I agree. Christians should not let other Christians live in sin. In particular, Christians should not let other Christians just remain bigoted against people whom God has created as God has. They should speak up, even if it means getting mocked and criticized, on blogs such as this.

      1. “In particular, Christians should not let other Christians just remain bigoted against people whom God has created as God has.”

        True. Unfortunately, you continue to conflate “people whom God has created as God has” with those who “reject the way God created them”. The former group of people do indeed deserve our understanding and love, the latter group also deserve our love and as Christians we would not be showing them that love if we remained silent and let them continue in sin. No different that a parent would not really be loving their child if they chose not to point out bad behavior. The act of doing so is not bigotry by any means whatsoever.

  17. People automatically think of themselves first. Even the most selfless person thinks of themselves before everyone else. For a society of people to decide to put all of their efforts towards the good of the society or the community as a whole, these people are only setting themselves up for failure. This is not to say that individuals have no devotion or loyalty to their community, whether local or national, but they will automatically consider the personal cost before the communal cost. It is best to assume that individual people consider themselves and then others and their community as a whole. Most people have devotion to both themselves and to the community and/or country. One cannot assume either extreme, even though there are extreme cases of both.

  18. Regardless of how individual each person wants to be, we still have community identity found in Christ, that is so often neglected. That is our “tribe” that we serve, working in the body of Christ. The quicker that we realize this, the more unified we will be, and these controversial discussions won’t need to happen. In the mean time, since that is unlikely to change, we should work to serve our body of believers as much as possible, and put aside individual desires to grow God’s kingdom, and nourish the people in it.

  19. I agree that the idea of individualism has definitely been taken too far and misinterpreted. Individualism has had a really big role in American culture and government, but in the way it’s currently interpreted, it is more harmful than helpful. I don’t think it’s really a new or shocking thing though; selfishness has always been an issue in this country and in the whole world. It shows itself in different ways, and we might not be used to seeing it in this specific form, but it’s always been there because human nature hasn’t changed.

  20. I really liked your point about the need for reconciliation in our relationships with those around us and our responsibility to CARE about others enough to let them know how we disagree with them. Through witnessing countless arguments over different social media platforms and taking part in some in years past, I have observed that many times, these arguments, that may or may not have begun with good intentions, devolve into insults and bitterness between participating parties. Often, both parties end up making arguments with the sole purpose of proving the other wrong, knowing that neither one of them will change their viewpoint. Having arguments like this is fruitless because of the lack of a caring relationship between parties. Instead of respectful and productive conversations with people who disagree with us, I think that it has become much easier to simply harden our hearts against them and begin to view them as opponents to be crushed rather than someone who is lost that we should love and invest our time in.

  21. I agree with most everything that is said in this article. One of my favorite points that is made is in the first few paragraphs when the article states, ” We must care about others enough to let them know when we believe his or her choices or beliefs are wrong or immoral.” This speaks volumes to many of the problems I have personally witnessed in these past few years. Whenever someone has a different view that I don’t agree with, many times the individualistic answer I hear to a question I ask is, “You have your view, I have mine.” On certain topics it may not be worth pursuing, but wrong or immoral topics need to be addressed. If we as Christians truly do love the lost in this world, then we need to challenge their immoral beliefs not out of hate, but of love.

  22. I think that “Western” culture could benefit by learning from “Eastern” cultures in regards to some aspects of collectivism (and vice versa). Individualism in the US has no doubt reached selfish points–only being concerned with one’s own wants and not others’. I agree that people should focus on “family, clans, and communities,” as there is benefit from looking out for others’ interests as well as working together to come to better solutions, and I believe that this is best achieved by looking to Christ–at His image and at how He loved and cared for others.

  23. This article is interesting because I have not really thought of the change from village mentality to individual mentality. This shift has created problems such as the transgender issue. It was interesting to look back in history and really track how this shift in ideals has happened. When one worries only about one’s self, then they can quickly lose the morals of their group and quickly do things that would not previously be seen as appropriate.

  24. I think we’ve seen this shift to individualism because it’s easier that way. The last paragraph says that people must choose not to be selfish, but it’s easier to be selfish and easier to put ourselves first. It’s simply part of our sinful nature. Because of that, I don’t see individualism ever being eradicated, because we will always have the tendency to put ourselves first.

  25. Individualism is still based on a person’s worldview, or underlying believes. A huge part of individualism is having respect for yourself and making your own decisions; however, as christians who aim to live like Jesus we need to make decisions that put the good of others before our own. Our individual decisions should be made after prayer and considering what would glorify God in each circumstance.

    I had never considered, prior to this articular, that cultural changes such as transgender people could be a result of a shift to radical individualism in western culture.

  26. I always find it interesting that the western world was more individualist while the eastern world is more community based.

  27. It is evident that the Western world puts a great emphasis on individualism, which can be correlated to selfishness. It is also true that as Christians we must be in the world, but not of the world. In turn, we must differentiate ourselves by becoming more selfless as a means of showing compassion towards others.

  28. We most definitely live in a society that cares more about itself than the people that are around us. It is hard to imagine a time when people did care about the society as a whole more than what they can do as an individual. Selfishness is a sin that is continuing to grow and continuing to become more accepted and it is a hard time to be in. I enjoyed the action step that was in the last paragraph talking about how we need to actively choose to think for others instead of ourselves in order to combat the rampant individualism.

  29. It is very interesting how much of an individualistic society it is we have grown into. I found the quote from “Radical Individualism” interesting about how much of society would find the very idea of an individual “living for one’s tribe” outdated or even unfair. This really opened my eyes to how far our culture’s worldview has shifted. With that being said I really appreciate your approach by recognizing both the good and negative aspects of individualism. The fact that we are given individual rights in the United States is an incredible blessing that all should be thankful for. Overall I think it is important to recognize that any potential issue with individualism comes from trying to find satisfaction in something other than Christ; in this case, it is oneself. As believers, I believe that it is most important to live out our hope in Christ around everyone whom we are with. Whether they have hope in themselves, family or any other aspect of life, none will compare to Christ.

  30. I’m really glad you posted this article. I believe individualism and materialism to be one of society’s largest problems in the world today, and will be one of the serious downfalls this country faces. With individualism comes the conscience or subconscious thought that the person wants what is best for them and not what is best for the rest of the world/country/community. This is something that all of us can work on… looking at the world and our own lives through Christ-like eyes and caring just as much for our neighbor as we do ourselves.
    As for the transgender issue, I pray that I can make sense of everything that is developing over this huge debate between evangelicals and the left. I’m not sure what the right stance is to take on this issue at this point in time, only that everything I’ve been taught through Christ tells me to hate the sin and not the sinner, and to welcome people with open arms regardless of race, sexuality, or their own sins.

  31. Love this post and the quote by walker on radical individualism is such an accurate description of our world today. I’ve never really known anything else, and it makes me realize I have a very selfish way of thinking. And people in general think its all about them and what makes them happy. We should all try to consider others more and I think happiness will naturally come from that

  32. I agree with you all the way. I’ve definitely noticed that people care more about themselves than anyone else around them. However I sadly doubt that we will see a downturn from individualism. As you said people must choose not to be selfish. I just do not see that happening, as much as I would like to. I do share the same hope though.

  33. “We must care about others enough to let them know when we believe “his or her choices or beliefs are wrong or immoral”.”

    I like how you said this. We should tell the people we care about when their choices are immoral to what we believe. Yes they may not agree but that doesn’t mean we should ignore what they are doing. If we care about someone then we should try to help them and in that share the gospel with them!

  34. Everything in this world is always a balance. Even though fruits and vegetables are good for you, you can’t eat too many. Even though exercise is good for you, if you do too much then you’ll get sick. Same with rest and too much rest.

    Individuals have rights and that’s a good thing. Give individuals too many rights, and they’ll abuse them and distort society. Put a focus on groups, not the individual, and only the most powerful benefit while everyone else suffers.

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