I don’t want to start smoking dope. I’ve never had much use for protest marches. And believe me, no one benefits from me trying to grow my hair long.
I promise you that.
But Bible-believing Christians find ourselves today having much in common with the counterculture, anti-war, dope-smoking hippie flower children of the 1960s – whether we like the thought or not. And at least at first glance, most probably don’t.
The hippies of that era, who came to prominence right around the time I was born, stood for a lot of things I would have opposed then and oppose today. Drugs? Promiscuous sex? Disrespect for just about everyone? I think I’ll pass.
But at the same time, you sort of have to hand it to them: They knew they were swimming against the culture, and not only did they not care, it was rather the point. The more the establishment demanded they conform to certain norms, they more determined they were to flout those norms. Whether it had to do with aesthetic things like hair and clothing, or more serious things like morality and patriotism, they were determined to challenge every orthodoxy and see what they could accomplish.
And if we’re to be honest, we’d have to say that they accomplished a lot. Mainstream music and film celebrated their values and their lifestyle. Political leaders identified with them. Even many churches compromised their teaching to appeal to the hippies and, eventually, their children and their grandchildren.
Over time, marijuana use became largely accepted in society, and almost everyone’s attitudes about sexuality became more permissive.
The truth is the hippies didn’t just challenge the prevailing culture. They defeated it. They took it over. Today’s culture is secular, libertine and irreverent. It is everything they wished it could some day become.
They won. And along the way, they had fun doing it. Granted, their eternal fate is far less appealing, but one of the reasons they’ve had success in this life is because they fought their battles with smiles on their faces – enjoying every second of it.
That presents an ironic object lesson for the Christian of today. We are now the counterculture. We are now the renegades. Loving Jesus in 2018 is what smoking dope was in 1968. Defending biblical marriage is the equivalent of going to Woodstock and banging nine strangers you met there. Refraining from drinking and drugs is now what tripping on LSD was then.
No one likes to lose, and there’s no joy attached to admitting we’ve been getting our clocks cleaned in the cultural battle for the past 50 years – basically my entire lifetime. And yet there’s a certain freedom that comes from having nothing left to lose.
The rebel who flouts the orthodoxy is the independent thinker, the questioner of authority. The outcast doesn’t have to worry about being cast out. It’s already happened. You might as well revel in it. If it’s already been decided you’re in noncompliance, there’s no need to trouble yourself with trying to comply.
I often hear Christians whine about anti-Christian persecution. They’re not wrong that the culture has marginalized us. They’re also not wrong that the political class is trying to find back-door ways to make the practice of our faith essentially illegal – not by banning it outright but by categorizing just about every real application of it as “hate” or “discrimination” or what-have-you. These are serious things.
But who can get behind a whiny rebel?
One of the reasons the counterculture hippies won is that they seemed fun. While their antagonists were wringing their hands at the impropriety of it all, they were laughing it up and having a good time. The guardians of what were the cultural norms seemed oh-so-serious about getting these hooligans off their lawn, and there was no question who the younger generation would side with.
I am talking about an attitude here. This is not about encouraging pastors to grow hair lips (you look like a moron, preacher), nor is it about trying to turn worship into a U2 concert. And it’s certainly not about compromising the truth of the Gospel so we’ll appear cool, or nonjudgmental, man.
We have the truth. We have the power of Christ. We have eternity as our destiny. We should live like people who know these things are in our back pockets, and can’t be snatched away. And as such, we should thoroughly enjoy our lives and God’s blessings (not the fleshly ones . . . know the difference, friends) while standing for the truth and the light every day of our lives.
Rebellion against God leads to death. Rebellion against the modern-day culture should be one heck of a lot of fun. I’m in, and I have no intention of hunching my shoulders and saying “oh deary me” because the deceivers are doing what we should all expect them to do.
God is good. He’s equipped us for this. Christians, we are now the counterculture. Let’s milk it for all it’s worth.