The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines counterculture as…
a culture with values and mores that run counter to those of established society
I was taught that you shouldn’t define a word by using the word you’re attempting to define in the definition… but what do I know? Yet there you have it: A counterculture is a culture with values and mores, (customs) that run counter to those of established society.
If that’s our working definition, then I have a question: Can you think of any group or culture more “countercultural” than men pursuing godliness? This is not a group or category of people that gets good press in today’s world.
About ten years ago, our men’s ministry used a fantastic curriculum entitled, Stepping Up to Courageous Manhood. It’s a 10-week study that seeks to answer the question of what it means to be a godly man.
One of the things that seemed to connect with the men, continually throughout the ten weeks, was just how counter to our popular culture, godly or biblical manhood really is. From the basic values we hold dear, to how we seek to love and serve our families, to the ways in which we desire to care for our communities, it became clearer and clearer throughout the course of the study who the real counterculture actually was… and is.
Within the wider culture there are many subcultures, of which godly manhood is only one. I’m sure there must be a good number of these subcultures that are also countercultural. But certainly, men pursuing authentic godliness must be ranked among them. And the reason is, this godliness runs counter to the “established society.” It operates according to a different standard. And men who pursue this godliness, this view of manhood, are slandered from top to bottom. The hermeneutic of suspicion is through the roof. There must be some ulterior motive why men would champion such a worldview. It must be a power-play… and on and on it goes.
Its unpopular and unwelcomed status as a life worth pursuing makes the journey that much more difficult to travel. Who needs that headache? It will just be easier to live as an undercover Christian, with personal faith convictions hidden from the rest of the world. Yet that’s not an option for men (or women) who follow Christ. In fact, Jesus told his followers they should expect such a response from the world (John 15:18-20).
If you want to join a real counterculture, then give yourself to Christ, follow him, worship him with others, get connected with men who study his word and pray together, who watch over one another in love, and serve others in need and distress. These characteristics have distinguished God’s people for two thousand years and will continue to do so. And know in advance that such a way of living, which seems like such a blessing for the common good, will not always be received as such. And that’s ok.
Going along with the world, like drifting with the current, is easy. The problem is, you won’t like where you end up and you’ll have little say in the matter. Therefore, let me encourage you to get connected with a group of Christian men at a church near you, and join the real counterculture today. The world needs you… and so does your family, church, workplace, and community (Matthew 5:13-16).