When it comes to sex, teens are confronted daily with mixed signals from their peers.  ABC news reports:

There’s a greater dichotomy in teens’ personal aims for sexual relationships, and the perceived aims of those around them. Most teens, 72 percent, say they’re more interested in a committed sexual relationship with a steady partner than in casual sex with no attachments. But 58 percent think most other teens their age have the opposite interest — a preference for casual sex.

In addition, there is a lack of parental direction for many teens during these most difficult years.

There’s a broad disconnect between parents and teens on this issue. In an ABC News survey of adults, 90 percent of parents said they’ve spoken with their teenagers about sex. In this survey, only 49 percent of teens say that’s so. Clearly, whatever the parents thought was a conversation about sex, the kids didn’t hear it that way.

Add into the morass a growing level of identity fragmentation, which is outlined well by Jeff Buchanan.

We live in a culture addicted to identity labels. We seek to summarize everything essential about an individual in a word, phrase, or 140 characters. With every label and category there comes another level of segregated identity, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the realm of sexual identity.

One can look at the gay community and see the level of identity fragmentation represented in the use of acronyms such as LGBTQIA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, Intersex, Ally). The sexual identity label has become a method of reducing individuals to a micro narrative of sexual orientation. In man’s created need to transcend himself, this self-referencing label creates a personal crisis of identity and purpose.

In a culture filled with social pressure, identity fragmentation and a lack of parental guidance; teens have accepted the one value that dominates… “follow your heart.

In the Movies

“Remember kid, there’s heroes and there’s legends. Heroes get remembered but legends never die, follow your heart kid, and you’ll never go wrong.” — The Babe from the movie, “The Sandlot” (1993)
“If you follow your heart, if you listen to your gut, and if you extend your hand to help another, not for any agenda, but for the sake of humanity, you are going to find the truth.” — Erin in “Erin Brockovich” (2000)
“Just follow your heart. That’s what I do.” — Napoleon in “Napoleon Dynamite” (2004)

On TV

“He got down on one knee, and he said, “Tonya, will you not marry me? Because I know what’s in your heart. And I love you too much to make you unhappy. Be true to yourself Tonya. Follow your heart”” — The L Word, The (2004)
“Dear Confused- I wish I could tell you what to do, but, I can’t. All I can say is, follow your heart. It’ll tell you what’s right.”  — Lizzie in “Lizzie McGuire” (2001)
“And remember always follow your heart.” — Fran in “The Nanny” (1993)
“Often we’re comfortable in our present calling, but we know in our heart that God is leading us to something greater, but we’re afraid to make that move. Simply follow your heart! — John Eckhardt on the 700 Club TV broadcast

In Life

“You are already naked so there is no reason not to follow your heart… Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.  Dont be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people’s thinking.  Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition—they somehow already know what you want to become.  Everything else is secondary.” — Steve Jobs at Stanford commencement Speech (2005)
“All I can tell you really is if you get to the point where someone is telling you that you are not great or not good enough, just follow your heart and don’t let anybody crush your dream.”  — Patti LaBelle
“Listen to advice, but follow your heart.” — Conway Twitty

In Religious Books

“Speaking both to individual and organizational spiritual transformation, she highlights the importance of following one’s heart and daring to dream through a program of practicing gratitude, perseverance and seeking out spiritual guidance.” — Review for the book, “The Soul of a Leader: Finding Your Path to Success and Fulfillment” by Margaret Benefiel, Ph.D.
“”Follow Your Heart” is an inspiring approach to finding your inner self and the path that brings deep inner peace.” Review for the book, “Follow Your Heart: And Discover God’s Dream for You” by Judy Peterson

In Music

“Follow Your Heart (You got to Follow Your Heart)

Living for the day, forget about tomorrow

Follow Your Heart (You got to Follow Your Heart)

Any other way can only lead to sorrow

Don’t wait any longer

Follow Your Heart” Lyrics from  “Follow Your Heart” by Triumph

The Challenge

If children are left untrained, all sorts of evil will spring up in their hearts and lives. — Charles Spurgeon

For the disciple of Jesus Christ, our charge from God is to live in a way that is diametrically opposed to that of the dominant culture. The Scripture tells us:

The one who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but the one who walks in wisdom will escape. — Proverbs 28:26

So when the dominant message from society is, “follow your heart,” is it any wonder that when it comes to Gender Identity, people have become chameleon’s to the culture?

Dr. Joe Miller (aka JR) is a Professor of Applied Theology and Leadership & Dean of Online Learning at Southern California Seminary. In addition, he is a church planter and coach for emerging leaders. Dr. Miller has a diverse educational background and authored multiple books on church history, biblical theology, and Leadership. Joe and his wife Suzanne enjoy the sun and surf with their 3 sons in San Diego, CA.

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