Was America a Better Place in the 1950’s?

MickeyMouseClubThe death of Annette Funicello this week has sparked nostalgic reflections of the 1950’s and 60’s by many of us baby boomers.  She was an iconic figure, one of the original “ Mouseketeers,” in the Mickey Mouse Club that aired from 1955-1958.

The America of that era was a more innocent time.  A simpler time.  A wholesome time.    But was America a better place in the Fifties than it is today?  This question was asked by Bill O’Reilly to Monica Crowly and Alan Colmes.  That segment followed Bill’s talking points where in part he made these observations.

“On social issues, in 1959, only five percent of American babies (were) born out of wedlock…Today, about 41 percent, that’s a shocking turn of events. In the 1950s drug use was rare.”

“Another interesting category, innocence. In the `50s and `60’s, premarital sex and explicit behavior even in the media was kept kind of quiet.” 

“The `50s were wholesome, especially by today’s anything goes standards…. white America was kind of unified and standards of behavior were very similar. That unification made it easier for society to function. There was respect for teachers, for cops, for clerics. Now that’s gone. The mantra today being, “Where is mine?

I thought it was ironic that last week O’Reilly referred to those who opposed same-sex marriage as “Bible-thumpers,” and this week he seems to opine for the moral standards accepted by society 50 years ago.

I wonder if the difference could be that in the 1950’s more people went to church than didn’t?  Every day school began with prayer and a pledge to the flag.  There was a Bible in every classroom.  God’s marriage laws were generally accepted and respected by society. ( No one in my grade-school class had divorced parents!) Any utterance of a foul four-letter word merited a trip to the Principle’s office.  Television shows depicted the nuclear family, where truly father did know best!  And despicable, immoral and explicit sexual behavior was not glorified and lauded by the media as desirable.

Now, least I get carried away, let me make clear that the 1950’s and 1960’s were not perfect!  There was racial prejudice, social inequality, and religious hypocrisy.  Just like there has always been. The devil had not taken a vacation during that era!  There was plenty of sin to go around.

But there was a general societal credence to the proverb, “Righteousness exalts a nation, But sin is a reproach to any people” (Prov 14:34). Our national motto, “One nation under God,” was embraced and accepted.

But we’re not going back.  Paul’s warning to Timothy is descriptive of our day. “…Evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived” (2 Tim. 3:14).  So, what shall Christians do?

Rather than curse the darkness, we need to light a candle.  I cannot control what goes on in the White House, the State House, or the Court House.  But I can control what occurs in MY HOUSE!

More than ever we need to practice what we preach.  Live “soberly, righteously and godly in this present age” (Titus 2:12).  We may not be able to stop same-sex marriage from becoming legal, but husbands and wives can honor the God-ordained relationship of marriage by their mutual love, respect and faithfulness (Eph. 5:22-33).

Roe v. Wade may never be overturned.  And the abortion mills will continue to murder innocent babies.  But we can love our children and train them in the nurture of the Lord (Eph. 6:4).

Unwholesome entertainment may flood the air waves as restrictions continue to be loosened, but Christians can refrain from allowing their minds to be polluted by the putridity of filthy language and gratuitous sex.

Some may choose to deaden their senses by drug and alcohol abuse, but we can be sober, temperate, and self-controlled.

Others may bow at the altar of materialism and worldly pursuits, but Christians can and must worship only the Lord God and pursue the things of the spirit.

You see rather than yearning for the “good old days” of the 1950’s, let’s return to first-century teaching of the inspired apostles.  And to a life dedicated to God, led by the Spirit, and alive in Christ!

–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman


Filed under America, Culture

12 responses to “Was America a Better Place in the 1950’s?

  1. Aleta

    We can do what we can do. Great thoughts, Ken.

  2. Bill Hood

    Thanks, Ken. It would appear we are headed into our own modern day era of “Trial by fire” Peter refers to in his first letter chapter 1:7 and again in 4:12
    Thanks for helping us get prepared for so many years!


    Ken, In my opinion the 50’s where the best years we have ever had! Harry

  4. ann white

    ken, i have lamented often about how different things are now that when i grew up. it all goes back to being God centered and Bible centered. i recall when Bibles were read in the classroom, we had chapel once a week in elementary school, religious songs were allowed and things were certainly more morally centered. decline of the family is at the middle of it all. when we realize we need to be God centered instead of self centered, all will begin to go forward in a good way. i will pray that our country realizes this before we completely decline!

  5. Richard Williams, Pine Bluff, AR

    In astronomical science there is a thing called the ‘black hole,” an imploded star so dense that once within its influence, no matter can escape its gravitational pull, even light! Surrounding the hole there is a ridge called the “event horizon” that marks the location where, once crossed, it is impossible to escape the awaiting abyss.

    There is a similar situation in which society descends into chaos by abandoning Godliness. Once the “event horizon” has been breached, there is no turning back. I believe America has breached that horizon and we are, collectively, on the general descent into godless chaos.

    As you say, Ken, we cannot control what goes on in the White House, the State House, or the Court House. But we can control what occurs in OUR HOUSE!

    It is the duty of every Christian to remain faithful no matter WHAT the world around us does. It isn’t easy, but the rewards are out of this world!

  6. Sandra Jo of Pine Bluff, AR

    I recall as a senior in the 60s, when attending all four years of a private all-girls’ high school, I walked past the office and the principal said, “Hello, Sandra.” My heart jumped into my throat! I didn’t think the principal knew me! In those days we respectfully feared authority. I often parallel that event with how I will feel when I see my God in Judgment. I pray he will know me … and know me for good, not that I have been in trouble with Him.

  7. Michael Reed

    Hello. I have been reading that America was not “wholesome” and “pure” during the 1950s, as many of the conservatives wanted to be. The 1950s had it problems of drug abuse, racism, and other issues during the period.

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