It was not until March 4, 1913, that Woodrow Wilson took the oath of office as President of the United States. At the beginning of 1913, America was at peace and still enjoying the “ good old days “ as historians often prefer to call the period from around 1890-1914, before the Great War, World War I, broke out over in Europe. Before the end of Wilson’s first term in office, he would get credit for keeping America out of war, and thus be elected to a second term in November, 1916. Only five months later on April 6, 1917, President Wilson asked Congress to declare war and isolationist America entered the Great War in Europe. After that, nothing in America would ever quite be the same.
The United States had never been involved in a large scale war far from our borders, as with the war in Europe. For the first time in the nation’s 140 year history, we sent millions of soldiers to war in Europe, and when they came home in late 1918 and early 1919, they brought cultural, social and political ideas, along with the scars of battle, home to America’s shores, setting the stage for social, political and cultural upheaval here at home that historians called the “ Roaring Twenties “.
Although the Eighteenth Amendment had been ratified and went into effect in 1919, turning the entire country technically and legally “ dry “, the “ Noble Experiment “ backfired, because the “ Roaring Twenties “ cultural and social liberalism only served to throw gasoline on the fires of prohibition. Americans, especially the young and urban, drank as perhaps never before, and women began smoking in large numbers for the first time. They also raised their skirts all the way to their knees, dressed immodestly from a historical perspective, and men, especially younger men, celebrated women’s first taste of “ liberation “ with predictable enthusiasm.
Although the wild reckless abandon of “ Flaming Youth “ and unbridled laisse-faire capitalism that ended in October 1929 with the beginning of the economic collapse known as the Great Depression, the moral and ethical codes, chastity and modesty tied closely to Biblical teachings, had already been permanently loosened in America. Indeed, a major news event in 1925 had been the “ Scopes Monkey Trial “, in which Clarence Darrow, William Jennings Bryan and a school teacher named John Scopes, brought through the teaching of evolution the first serious questioning by larger society of the literal accuracy of the Holy Scriptures.
In the 1920s, women dressed and painted their faces in public in a manner that would have branded them as whores only 10-15 years earlier. By the end of the 1930s, especially in the large cities, teenage girls began to paint their faces and behave much as their mothers had in the 20s. Dating between teens and young adults now was socially casual, without the required chaperones of the previous generations. Young men who had carefully deferred to the wishes of mostly chaste young women, had began the practice of attempting to “ get into their girlfriend’s pants ” with far less restraint, as 1940 approached.
World War II in the 1940s sent far more millions of men into war, along with hundreds of thousands of noncombatant women, to the theatres of war in Europe, Africa and Asia, and again, coming home to America in 1945 and 1946, brought home the emotional scars of war, long separation from loved ones, family and friends, and a larger wave of cultural and social mores were “ imported “ to America than in World War I. The last half of the 1940s brought a huge wave of marriages, the huge wave of babies known later as the Boomers, and almost a literal explosion in the number of divorces. Divorce had remained rare or uncommon in America, until the late 1940s.
The 16 million American men who went to war, left millions of women to work outside the home in the war factories, creating the iconic “ Rosie the Riveter “ but also exposing women for the first time in history on a large scale, to the concept of employment outside the home rather than almost exclusively being occupied as homemakers.
Prosperity and the widespread devotion to materialism led not only to acceptance of the idea of two-income households but also inattention to the responsibilities of parenthood.
A rising wave, building on seeds planted a generation earlier in the 20s and 30s, of marital infidelity, a steep rise in infidelity and divorce, sowed the seeds for the baby boomer generation to view their parents, and authority figures as hypocrites. The rise of the “ youth culture “ due to the millions of children becoming adolescents by the late 50s and early 60s, began to “ rock “ traditional morality even more, and premarital and casual sex as well as pregnancy out of wedlock began to enter the mainstream of “ socially acceptable conduct ”.
By the mid 1960s, the youth culture began to reach its peak, and between 1964 and 1971 America experienced about seven years of a social and culture revolution that decimated what remained of traditional, mainstream American morality as the dominant national culture. Parents were neglecting to discipline or demand respect from children, and their children openly rebelled and disrespected parents and authority, and, worse yet, were usually allowed to get away with it. Prior to the 1950s or 60s, very few parents would allow their children to sass or talk back, much less openly and flagrantly disobey. By the late 1960s such behavior toward parents by their children was becoming the norm. Parents had failed to abide by the morality they expected from their children, who saw through the hypocrisy; “ do as I say, not as I do “ only accelerated the youth rebellion of the late 60s and early 70s.
Although the revolution and rebellion lost some steam by the early 70s, the cultural changes were permanent, and Watergate in 1972 brought further disillusionment. Early in the 1960s, led by a cadre of women who had witnessed the wholesale entrance 20 years earlier of their mothers and grandmothers into war factory jobs, women joined what would become the Feminist movement. Within 10 years, the movement won nationwide and controversial acceptance and political recognition within the more liberal share of our citizenry. Unfortunately, in addition to fostering ideas that ran contrary to thousands of years of tradition as well as to Biblical Scripture regarding the appropriate role of women, by the early 1970s many of the more powerful and prominent women in the Feminist and equal rights movement were lesbians motivated by a peculiar alienation from men. Thus the Feminist movement developed radical elements beyond the equal treatment under the law that was the originally the central mission.
In the 1970s women entered the workforce by the millions who formerly held traditional homemaker roles or their mothers had done so. They not only wanted full time careers but day care and after school care for their children. On January 22, 1973, the same day former President Lyndon B. Johnson, another apologist for radicalism, passed away, legalized abortion became the law of the land, supplementing the birth control pill as a double- whammy blow to the social capital of conceiving and rearing children.
Premarital sex and cohabitation further weakened marriage already reeling from the post WWII divorce boom, the birth control pill and abortion rights. Out of wedlock births began to rise and the numbers continue to increase to this day. Adolescent children were dating without chaperones or guidelines, illegal drug use became rampant and further blunted along with alcohol the judgments of young people. In 1960, 5% of children were born out of wedlock; today in 2014, it is 41% and still rising.
The 1970s witnessed the modern homosexual rights movement, born in 1969, begin to rapidly grow in both size and in media exposure. The 80s AIDS epidemic, while having a chilling effect on public acceptance of gays and lesbians at first, had the opposite, sympathy-driven effect by the 1990s. Since 2000, the gay rights movement has just about taken over the country, pushing aside freedom of religion, speech and association in the process, and taking hold in much of Christianity. Churches and congregations, many of which, after drifting into laxity on issues of premarital sex, adultery, abortion rights and easy divorce in earlier decades now condoned and have even embraced homosexuality and gay/lesbian marriage as “ scriptural “.
In summary, the past 100 years in America have witnessed the destruction of the Ten Commandments, of Scriptural Christianity, and political movements have succeeded in largely silencing Christianity’s voice and influence, in society, in our social and political institutions, and in our Churches. Churches, Church Pastors, seminarians, and rank and file Christians have failed in large numbers to stand up, speak out or step forward, against these dark and evil developments. More importantly, they should have taken more vigorous action. Without such action, the future of Christianity in America, and America itself, is in great peril. Perhaps we the people, particularly the Christian people of the United States of America, will take the action others have failed to take.
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