The 60s Philosophy’s Effect on Relationships

It Is Still with Us

I continue to make the point that the 60s philosophy continues with us today. Though hippies morphed into yuppies, trading their psychedelic Volkswagen vans for Mercedes and their communes for corporate offices, congressional seats, and the White House, the same philosophical orientation persists. Only now instead of being anti-establishment they have become the establishment, and now that they are in control instead of advocating for free speech, they enforce silencing those with different opinions through political correctness and even more forceful means. The recent move by the FCC to put monitors in newsrooms constitutes just the latest example of their hypocrisy. The point is that the 60s philosophy continues with us, now as the dominant force in shaping our culture.

The 60s Philosophy and Relationships

How well does the 60s philosophy work as a basis for relationships? We can easily guess the answer as we reflect on one of the cornerstones of the 60s culture, “I have a right to do my own thing.”

Imagine how that tenet would work as a marriage vow? It has sort of a romantic ring, don’t you think? The fact is that this assertion is antithetical to agape love, which entails relinquishing one’s rights for the benefit of another. Therefore, this 60s mantra in essence asserts the right not to be loving. It might be framed in the terms, “I maintain the prerogative to live selfishly.” Now there’s real relationship builder for you.

The Impact on Marriage

In light of the nature of the 60s philosophy with its demand to do one’s own thing, it is not surprising that with the implementation of this philosophy came skyrocketing divorce rates. Nor is it surprising that many couples opt for cohabitation rather than marriage, which minimizes demands, leaving participants with the right to do their thing.

Another approach to wedding one’s right to do his or her own thing with marriage is that advocated by Carl Rogers. He suggested “open marriage,” which left a marriage partners with the right to sexual relations with people outside the relationship.

Marriage, designed to be the most intimate, encompassing, and enduring human relationship reveals that the 60s philosophy is death on relationships.

Other Relationships

We also see this deadly impact on relationships in other areas of our society. Perhaps the next most visible one is found in the relationship between the government and the people.

A recent poll revealed a congressional approval rating of 9%. That statistic is astounding in itself. But it is especially telling when we consider that all of the members of the House of Representatives and one third of the Senate had been voted in just a year before that poll was taken. This outcome suggests that those elected ignore the will of the people immediately upon taking office, asserting their right to do their own thing, which in large measure entails buying votes and campaign contributions with our money.

We find the same breakdown in our educational institutions and other relationally-based dimensions of society. Unfortunately, many churches reflect similar relational stresses, especially between pastors and their congregations and boards.

The Church’s Contribution to Relational Chaos

In effect evangelical community conveys the same message of one’s right to do his own thing, only filtered through the theory of psychologist Carl Rogers. Rogers taught that unconditional acceptance produced emotional, behavioral, and relational health. Evangelicals became infiltrated with this concept, teaching that God accepts us unconditionally and that we should accept one another unconditionally. Many evangelical counselors teach that the ideal marriage relationship entails two people accepting each other unconditionally.

Unconditional acceptance in essence assigns the individual with the right to do his own thing, since accepting a person unconditionally means that we are okay with his doing his own thing. Likewise, unconditional self-acceptance, taught both by Rogers and evangelicals, means that I’m okay with me regardless of how I live. Therefore, I am free to do my own thing because I’m okay with it and others, including God, are as well. The result is that evangelical relationships are experiencing the same chaos as secular ones.

The Solution

As noted above, the antithesis of asserting one’s right to do his thing is agape love. Consequently, the cure for this societal disease resides in megadoses of agape, the teaching of self-denial and living for others. An aspect of that teaching must be that when I am unloving it is not okay with God or the church or others with whom I have a relationship, and it shouldn’t be okay with me either. Evangelicals who internalize that message will be capable of establishing good relationships.

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