Resources from Marriage Savers: Columns
Copyright © 2010 Michael J. McManus
This is my
1,500th weekly column, which I began writing in 1981. What
have been my goals in writing?
I call the
column Ethics & Religion because I was struck by a curious paradox.
Gallup Polls report two-thirds of Americans are members of a church or
synagogue and two-fifths attend services weekly, making the U.S. the
most religious modern nation.
ironically, our divorce rate is the world’s highest by far: double that
of Canada and triple that of Britain or France. Our teen birth rate is
the world’s highest. We are also the most violent, with a murder rate
six times higher than England.
How can we
be so religious and so unethical?
Each week I
address this paradox and try to show how to “not love with words or
tongue but with action and in truth” (I John 3:18).
I have few
answers for crime, but a winner for innocent children of the
incarcerated. Last Christmas I suggested churches create an Angel Tree
project, affiliated with Prison Fellowship, to buy gifts for children of
prisoners. Plan for this step now that blessed 300,000 children last
year. For detail on this or other columns go to
www.ethicsandreligion.com; and click on 2009.
On March 3
I suggested that U.S. Attorneys enforce federal laws against obscenity,
now available on the Internet, corrupting many. The Obama
Administration has not filed a case.
for the high teen birth rate is the latest craze of “sexting,” in which
girls as young as 9-15 email nude pictures of themselves. On April 21 I
outlined answers for parents.
offered more solutions on how to better prepare for, enrich or restore
marriages. In 1981 I wrote, “It is time to acknowledge that the
American church is partly responsible for the soaring divorce rate.
According to one study, 88% of all U.S, marriages are blessed by the
church. However, America’s divorce rate is soaring off the charts,”
rising from 393,000 in 1960 to 1,170,000 in 1979.
suggested that couples considering marriage take a premarital
inventory, such as PREPARE/ENRICH which asks couples to respond to 165
statements such as “Sometimes I wish my partner were more careful about
proposal was to train marriage mentors to review these relational issues
with the premarital couple.
saw no results of these columns. But in 1983 I began to be invited to
speak to clergy, and suggested all the churches in town require an
inventory and offer mentoring, creating a “Community Marriage Policy.”
Clergy in Columbus, Ga. Biddeford, Me. and Shreveport politely
applauded, but nothing happened.
Modesto, Cal. I opened with this prayer, “Lord, you know I have failed
every time I gave this speech. Today I ask for the words – or the ears
– that might make a difference.” Result: 95 pastors, priests and a
rabbi signed America’s first Community Marriage Policy. They said, “Our
hope is to radically reduce the divorce rate among those married in area
than that has been accomplished. By 2001 the county divorce rate was
down 57%, and it has remained about half of what it had been. The
result: school dropouts fell in this decade by 18.4 percent and teen
births by 30 percent, double America’s decline.
reporting this column I have looked for other answers. Here are four
Enrich existing marriages. Every marriage runs down
over time, but the Georgia church which created the successful
“Fireproof” movie, has also created a six-week “Fireproof Your
Marriage” course that includes DVD excerpts, a Leader’s Guide, a
Participant’s Guide to spark both group discussion and strengthen
each couple’s marriage.
Restore troubled ones: Every church has couples who
have survived adultery or abuse. But few churches train such
couples to tell their recovery story to those in current crisis,
saving 8 of 10 marriages. Pastors typically send them to counselors.
I reported April 7 that “All forms of marital counseling are
associated with a two- to three-fold increase in the likelihood of
Reconcile the separated with Marriage 911, a
course taken by a person trying to save a marriage with a
same gender friend, when their spouse wants a divorce. It saves half
of marriages for only $28.
Help stepfamilies succeed with Stepfamily Support
Groups which save 4 of 5 marriages, 70 percent of which usually
clergy of 228 cities have implemented these strategies in Community
Marriage Policies, saving 100,000 marriages from divorce. (Disclosure,
my wife and I help create CMPs.
Thanks to the newspapers publishing this column, and to my readers!