The Peace of ‘67

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, July 19, 2017 0 comments

by David Odegard

Scott McKenzie advised the nation that “If you’re going to San Francisco, be sure to wear flowers in your hair.” This advice captured the mood of the early Haight-Ashbury scene were the hippies had everything they wanted: sex, drugs, rock and roll, communism, and local tolerance. It was the idea that people could define what love, happiness, and peace meant for themselves that was so attractive. It was the rejection of Christianity and the adoption of these redefined values that fueled American culture for decades.

That Summer of Love in 1967 came tantalizingly close to achieving some sort of cohesive community. Young people came from all over the nation to join in with the hippies. Fresh-faced college kids and high school drop-outs showed up in the tens of thousands, ready for sex and drugs. Certainly for some, that is what it was about. But the philosophy behind the Haight-Ashbury experience was not about drugs, it was about self-exploration through LSD and other substances. The community really was trying to find love, happiness, and peace. “There was a whole generation with a new explanation.”

This explanation was entirely contrary to deep tradition of Christianity. Think of this: While Moses was on the mountaintop getting the Ten Commandments, the Israelites developed their own Haight-Ashbury community. They grew impatient that it was taking Moses so long to return and they asked Aaron to make them an idol of gold, a calf.

The day after it was finished was to be a day of festival. They made animal sacrifices and then began to party, hard. “Afterward they sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play” (Exodus 32:6). This Hebrew word used for play there (tsachaq) has the connotation of sex play or gross sexual immorality. This was a drunken orgy on an enormous scale. There were approximately 2 million Hebrews wandering. How many participated? You can get the idea without me going into an inordinate amount of detail. It was so gross that God told Moses while he was still on the mountain that He was going to just destroy them. Moses interceded and God relented. Nevertheless, the Israelites had totally defiled themselves.

Christians (and many others) know that when habits of sexuality are loosened, it does not result in a multiplication of love and unity; rather, it produces hatred and betrayal, jealousy and fighting. The Israelite community would not have lasted long in that desert trying to be a free-love community. They would soon have bludgeoned themselves into oblivion.

The summer of 1967 was about as close to free love, peace, and drug-fueled euphoric happiness that the hippies ever got, yet the mood on Haight-Ashbury had already began to change, as it always does, from freedom to exploitation.

By the time some of the innocent-eyed, hitchhiking runaways arrived later that year and in 1968, Haight-Ashbury was already a hard drug scene. The flowers were replaced by needles and the fresh-faced girls found it didn’t really matter if they wore flowers in their hair or not - it was probably going to be pulled. The hippies had the conclusion of their social experiment, but they refused to learn the lesson. They have since tried to conduct this experiment with better results, but the results are always the same. Alas, they won’t give up until everyone is dead.

St. Augustine would have made a good hippie had he lived 1600 years later. Nevertheless, he was a rich young man being educated at college in rhetoric. He tried to fill the void with everything. He confesses the influence of immorality had on him: “Nevertheless, O hellish flood, the sons of men are thrown into you with fees paid, so that they may learn these fables… acted out publicly in the forum… But for this would we never have understood the words ‘golden shower,’ ‘lap,’ ‘deceit,’ ‘temples of heaven,’ and others written in the same place, unless Terence had brought a depraved youth upon the stage who took Jove as his model of adultery? … Yet, O my God, in whose sight I now safely recall this, in my wretchedness I willingly learned these things and took delight in them” (Confessions of St. Augustine: Book 1, Chapter 16, Section 25).

He later confesses “I burned to get my fill of hellish things. I dared to run wild in different darksome ways of love. My comeliness wasted away. I stank in your eyes, but I was pleasing to myself and I desired to be pleasing to the eyes of men (Confessions: 2,1,1). With eloquence, he began to describe the result of this casting off of restraint. “Clouds arose from the slimy desires of the flesh and from youth’s seething spring. They clouded over and darkened my soul, so that I could not distinguish the calm light of chaste love from the fog of lust” (2,2,2).

He was only 16 years old as this was taking place! But many a 16-year-old knows exactly what he is talking about. He embraced sexual immorality. “Then it was that the madness of lust, licensed by human shamelessness but forbidden by your laws, took me completely under its scepter, and I clutched it with both hands” (2,2,4).

Augustine gave himself over to sexual immorality and discovered that it brought no peace and no joy, nor did it bring freedom. It brought hollowness, despair, and a soul in ruins. He confessed that he was in love with pleasure, but he had no real love whatsoever. He would have fit in just fine at the intersection of Haight and Ashbury in 1967.

Nevertheless, he discovered that “our heart is restless until it rests in you [Jesus]” (1,1,1). If you want real and lasting peace, it never comes in a pipe. Peace comes not from the poppy, but by at last agreeing that God is right in His ways. If unrestrained sex produced something other than a destroyed soul, if it produced real life and joy, God himself would have promoted it. But it doesn’t and it never will.

We Christians have been given the ministry of peace. “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:20).

We make peace with God, with our fellow man, and with ourselves by confessing that God was right all along. We confess that we threw off God’s restraint because we thought we knew better than God, and it has brought us to its bitter conclusion. I have been at war with God, but now I realize that He was right all along. I make my peace. I surrender. Then through the power of the blood Jesus Christ, by His merit, I am forgiven! Join us in this ministry of reconciliation!

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