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Fwd: Marriage Matters - To Everyone - Ethics & Religion Col.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Michael McManus <>
Date: Thu, May 5, 2016 at 12:26 AM
Subject: Marriage Matters - To Everyone - Ethics & Religion Col. #1,810
To: Bill Coffin <>

Ethics & Religion


May 5, 2016

Column #1,820

Marriage Matters – To Everyone

By Mike McManus


            Marriage is declining in America.  There were only 2,077,000 marriages in 2015 – fewer than the 2,159,000 in 1970 when the population was only 203 million.  If the same percentage were getting married today, there would have been 1.3 million more marriages last year!   


            Sadly, a large minority of the population – 44% - say that marriage has become obsolete.  They are wrong.  Marriage has never been more important to everyone.


Dr. W. Bradford Wilcox, Senior Fellow at the Institute for Family Studies and a Professor at the University of Virginia, spoke about the importance of God’s first institution to 100 marriage leaders at the Falls Church Anglican congregation recently. 


He described marriage in America as “separate and unequal.” The college educated “are more likely to enjoy high-quality, stable marriages” than the less educated. For example, the divorce rate of the college educated is low and falling, dropping from 15% in the 1970s to only 11% in the 1990s.  However, the divorce rate is 36% for both high school dropouts and those who have had some college.


Only 6% of recent births to college graduates were to unwed parents, while it was 54% for high school dropouts and 44% for those with some college. “This class divide imperils the well-being of lower-income children who are increasingly likely to grow up outside of a married home,” Wilcox asserted.


“There is strong evidence that family change preceded growing economic inequality.  Specifically, the rise of non-marital childbearing and divorce date back to the 1960s, well before economic inequality began growing in the 1970s…All of the increases in child poverty over the last 30-40 years can be explained by changes in family structure.”


Two-fifths of children will live in a cohabiting household.  He said those homes are “less stable, have less trust, less sexual fidelity, more violence, and are five times more likely to break up than homes with intact, married parents.”


By contrast, married couples “who share a union deepened by time together, a common faith and acts of service and are committed to marriage `till death us do part’ – are more likely to flourish and be faithful to one another. Couples who set aside time to pray together, enjoy markedly high quality marriages,” Wilcox asserted.


George Akerlof, a Nobel laureate who is married to Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, states that “Men settle down when they get married.  If they fail to marry, they fail to settle down.”  Many men are transformed by marriage in ways that make them significantly more successful.  Married men earn about $16,000 more per year than single men of the same age!


However, why did a marriage divide emerge in the first place?  William Julius Wilson argues that the shift away from an industrial economy towards an information economy has rendered the less educated men less “marriageable.”  That is partially correct.


However, Isabel Sawhill, a scholar at Brookings Institution, says this “purely economic theory falls short as an explanation of the dramatic transformation of family life in the U.S. in recent decades.”  There was no great uptick in family instability during the Great Depression when economic dislocation and devastation were much more severe.


Wilcox quotes scholarly studies that between 20% - 40% of the growth in family income inequality “is associated with the rise of divorce and of nonmarital childbearing which leaves many children in homes with only one potential income earner.”


He also notes that the growing marriage divide is “fueling an historically unusual type of gender inequality in low-income communities.” He cites a study by MIT economist David Autor that poor boys from fatherless homes in Florida are much more likely to be absent from school than are poor girls from homes without fathers. “The fallout of fatherlessness has also hit poor boys harder than poor girls when it comes to school failure, violence and incarceration.”


Another factor fueling the low marriage rate in lower income areas is that single mothers have found it easier to get welfare than married families.


Finally, there is a surprising element - the decline of weekly church attendance by those without a college degree has been much greater than among the better educated. 


Families who pray together, stay together – and those who don’t, don’t.


“Marriage is the gold standard for flourishing financially, socially and emotionally – especially for men,” asserts Wilcox. 


Curiously, however, very few sermons are preached on the importance of marriage.


“He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord,” asserts Proverbs 18:22.



Copyright © 2016 Michael J. McManus, President of Marriage Savers, is a syndicated columnist. Past columns can be found at  Hit Search for any topic.






Mike McManus is President of Marriage Savers

and a syndicated columnist, writing Ethics & Religion weekly

9311 Harrington Dr.

Potomac, MD 20854




Fwd: How To Help Black Families - Ethics & Religion Col.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Michael McManus <>
Date: Thu, Feb 12, 2015 at 2:21 AM
Subject: How To Help Black Families - Ethics & Religion Col. #1,746
To: Bill Coffin <>


Ethics & Religion

301 978-7105


February 12, 2015

Column #1,746

How To Help Black Families

By Mike McManus


            Fifty years ago, Daniel Patrick Moynihan wrote a report, The Negro Family: The Case for National Action, known today as The Moynihan Report. In 1965 more than half of unwed births in America (167,000 of 291,000) were to black mothers, though blacks were only 11% of the population.


            Those 167,000 were 28.7% of black births that year compared to only 3.9% of white births. The only remedy, he declared was to focus on “a new kind of national goal: the establishment of a stable Negro family structure.”


            Unfortunately, that did not happen.  Black unwed births have more than doubled to 72%.  However, white out-of-wedlock births have soared 10-fold to 35.9% - far above the 1965 rate for blacks. 


Today only 46% of U.S. teenagers aged 15-17 are living with their own married parents, according to a new report by the Marriage and Religion Research Institute (MARRI) of the Family Research Council.


Most American kids have parents who “rejected each other,” either by not marrying or divorcing, in the words of MARRI director Patrick Fagan.


            The situation is particularly grave for black teenagers, only 17% of whom are living with married parents – three times worse than the 54% of white teens.


            In 1950 63% of American teens lived in intact families – two-thirds of white kids and 38% of black teens.  The “White Index of Belonging” has decreased from 67% to 54%, but the Black Index has plunged in half from 38% to 17%.


            In releasing these numbers, The Family Research Council asked two prominent black leaders for their response. 


            Bishop Garland Hunt, a former president of Prison Fellowship and now co-pastor of The Father’s House in Norcross, Georgia, notes “The family in general is in crisis, but the crisis of the black family is much worse.”


            He blames the desire of young people for “sexual liberty,” and laments the fact “Blacks are leading in unmarried pregnancy, the breakdown of the family and people just living together. What has to happen is a movement to bring honor back to the marital status.


            “Marriage is under attack in our culture – such as the pressure to redefine it. No longer is marriage just between a man and a woman. Exclusive heterosexual relationships are not even a goal or seen as necessary.”


            His answer is “to restore our community back to a biblical standard for life. There is no other option. Children should be living with both parents to ensure that they grow up in an environment where they can understand that a young lady does not have to give up her virginity to be like her peers. Instead, she can be a virgin until she gets married.”


            Star Parker spent seven years in the grip of welfare dependency but is now a nationally syndicated newspaper columnist and president of The Center for Urban Renewal and Education. 


In a recent column, she wrote, “Don’t want to be poor in America? Get educated, get a job, get married and have children after you are married. Do this and your chances of being poor are miniscule.”


            She is a rare black conservative who asserts that the War on Poverty’s answer to “the black struggle in America was to pour government money into these communities, which simply subsidized and encouraged destructive behavior.”


            Government money and minimum wage laws “create all the conditions to guarantee future Fergusons – lack of education, lack of family, lack of work.”


            Ms. Parker suggests five reforms for the new Republican Congress “to guarantee no more Fergusons:”


            “1. Pass Welfare Reform 2.0, Congressman Paul Ryan’s Opportunity Grant Program” which would take “the almost $1 trillion in annual spending on 11 different anti-poverty programs and block grant the money to states, allowing them to decide how to use it effectively.”


            “2. Replace HUD housing projects and Section 8 housing with housing vouchers that low-income individuals can use (to live) wherever they want.


            “3. Pass legislation enabling school choice, so low-income parents can get their kids out of the irreparable, union-controlled failing public schools into church schools.


            “4. Allow all citizens age 30 or under and earning $30,000/year and under the option to opt out of Social Security, stop paying the payroll tax, and use those funds to invest in their own private retirement account.”


            “5. Allow dollar for dollar income tax write-off of all charitable contributions that go into designated low-income zip code areas.


            She asserts that “These reforms will transform chronically poor and crime-ridden mostly minority communities into a new era of education, family, saving and work.”


            There’s hope for Black America.


Copyright © 2015 Michael J. McManus is President of Marriage Savers and a syndicated columnist.





Mike McManus is President of Marriage Savers

and a syndicated columnist, writing Ethics & Religion weekly

9311 Harrington Dr.

Potomac, MD 20854




Fwd: Impact of Marriage on Income - Ethics & Religion Col.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Michael McManus <>
Date: Wed, Oct 29, 2014 at 1:50 AM
Subject: Impact of Marriage on Income - Ethics & Religion Col. #1,731
To: Bill Coffin <>

Ethics & Religion

9311 Harrington Dr.

Potomac, MD 20854

301 469-5870


October 30, 2014

Column #1,731

Impact of Marriage on Income

By Mike McManus


            There has been a retreat of marriage in America.  In 1980 78% of families were headed by married parents – but only 66% in 2012.


            “The growth in median income of families with children would be 44% higher if the United States enjoyed 1980 levels of married parenthood today,” reports an important new study, “For Richer, For Poorer: How Family Structures Economic Success in America.”


            Here is the reason average income in America has declined. Fewer are marrying.


            However, there is important good news for couples who do marry: “Men and women who are currently married and were raised by an intact family enjoy an annual `family premium’ in their household income that exceeds that of their unmarried peers raised in non-intact families by at least $42,000,” said the report written by W. Bradford Wilcox and Robert Lerman.


            To put that more simply: couples who marry will earn $42,000 more than those who cohabit or remain single.


            Good news for parents of young adults and pastors!


            What’s more, the economic advantages of being married “apply as much to blacks and Hispanics as they do to whites.”  For example, average men who marry enjoy a $15.900 “marriage premium,” while blacks enjoy at least a $12,500 premium and men with only a high school degree or less get a $17,000 income boost compared to their single peers.


            Unfortunately, however, most who marry are the well-educated with higher incomes.  Those with less education and income are the least likely to marry.


            Therefore, the decline of marriage accounts for as much as 41% of the growth in family income inequality from 1976 to 2000.  Single parenthood has soared in recent years. Why?


Men without college degrees have experienced a decline in real income and relative to women’s wages. These men have become “less marriageable.”  That has made marriage less attractive to women.  Unmarried mothers can not only earn good wages, but get government subsidies such as Medicaid and food stamps.


The percentage of teenagers living with married parents fell from three-quarters in the late 1970s to slightly more than half in 1997. Teens without both parents are more apt to get pregnant or become delinquent. 


Marriage fosters maturity in men, self-control and success.  As George Akerlof, author of “Men Without Children,” put it memorably, “Men settle down when they get married.  If they fail to get married they fail to settle down.”


Married men work 441 more hours per year than their single peers.  That’s one reason they earn more.  For those aged 44-46 their family income is $44,350 more than unmarried men.


Furthermore, “Marriage gains in economic outcomes are higher for the less educated and for African Americans,” the report asserted.


Even those who did not grow up with married parents, but who marry “do about as well or almost as well as their peers who enjoyed a stable family upbringing.”


However, growing up with both parents increases one’s odds of becoming highly educated, “which in turn leads to higher odds of being married. Both the added education and marriage results in higher income levels.”


Conversely, the retreat from marriage by less educated, lower income Americans is the primary reason ordinary American families have experienced declining economic fortunes.


What can be done to rebuild marriage in America? 


Brad Wilcox, who directs the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia and Robert Lerman of the Urban Institute – offer these suggestions:


First, halt federal and state financial penalties of marriage.  Unmarried women with children have government subsidies equal to a spouse working full-time at $11 an hour.  But if a cohabiting couple marries, she loses those benefits. To encourage marriage, benefits might not be cut for three years.


Second, they propose expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit for men without children to $1,000 to increase their incentive to work. And the child tax credit “should be expanded from $1,000 to $3,000.”


Third, they argue that government devotes disproportionate subsidies for college that are attended by only 35% of young adults. Why not expand vocational education and apprenticeships to give other young people skills, confidence and opportunity?


Finally, there needs to be a national campaign to promote the “success sequence,” to finish education, get a job, get married and then have children, in that order. Such a campaign could be modeled on the campaign to prevent teen pregnancy that cut teen births by 50%.  Similar campaigns to reduce drunk driving and smoking were also successful.


“For Richer, for Poorer” is packed with fresh analysis and suggestions.


Copyright © 2014 Michael J. McManus, President of Marriage Savers and a syndicated columnist.





Mike McManus is President of Marriage Savers

and a syndicated columnist, writing Ethics & Religion weekly

9311 Harrington Dr.

Potomac, MD 20854




Fwd: Why Doesn't The Catholic Church Fight No Fault Divorce? - Ethics & Religion Col.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Michael McManus <>
Date: Wed, Oct 15, 2014 at 3:32 AM
Subject: Why Doesn't The Catholic Church Fight No Fault Divorce? - Ethics & Religion Col. #1,729
To: Bill Coffin <>

Ethics & Religion

9311 Harrington Dr.

Potomac, MD 20854

301 469-5870


October 16, 2014

Column #1,729

Why Doesn’t the Catholic Church Fight No Fault Divorce?

By Mike McManus


            The world’s Catholic leaders gathering in Rome, published a preliminary Synod report which states that “Divorced people who have not remarried should be invited to find in the Eucharist nourishment they need to sustain them.”


            What about the divorced who have remarried? They deserve “a careful discernment and an accompaniment full of respect…Looking after them is not a weakening of faith and its testimony to the indissolubility of marriage, but rather it expresses precisely its charity in its caring.”


            Huh?  How does this stance testify to “the indissolubility of marriage?” It is the opposite.


A man who divorced his wife and remarried should be viewed “full of respect,” and looked after due to the church’s “charity in its caring?” What about his abandoned wife and her children who are now poor and supported by “Uncle Sugar,” as Gov. Mike Huckabee puts it?


Stephen Baskerville wrote an article in Crisis Magazine: “The Church appears determined once again to avoid confronting the central evil of the Divorce Revolution.  This is involuntary divorce and the injustice committed against the forcibly divorced or innocent spouse, along with his or her children.


He charged, “To treat the sinner and sinned against as if they are the same is to deny the very concept of justice and the place the Church on the side of injustice.”


At the heart of the problem is “No Fault Divorce,” first adopted by California in 1969. Historically, divorces were only granted if one spouse proved their partner was guilty of a major fault, such as adultery, abandonment or abuse. No Fault allowed either spouse to simply declare there are “irreconcilable differences.”


That removed hundreds of years of protection for the innocent spouse and children, and rewarded the evil destroyers of marriage. It was a willful neglect of justice, as if state legislators passed a law saying that murder or robbery would no longer be punished.


Yet neither the Catholic Church nor any other denomination opposed No Fault, which amounted to the “abolition of marriage” as a legal contract as marriage expert Maggie Gallagher puts it. Today it is not possible to form a binding agreement to create a family.


The silence of religious leaders allowed feminists and divorce attorneys to pass No Fault in almost all states by 1975. The impact of divorce without consequences has been immense. 


In 1969 there were 639,000 U.S. divorces – nearly double the 393,000 of 1960, due to the Sexual Revolution.  Only six years later No Fault pushed up divorces by 63% to 1,036,000.


“No public debate preceded this ethical bombshell in the 1970s, and none has taken place since,” Baskerville asserts. 


It was probably unrealistic to expect that the extraordinary Synod of Bishops would address No Fault.  Instead it is considering more conciliatory language toward gays and lesbians, divorced and remarried Catholics and couples who are living together. While the words of “bombshell” and “earthquake” have been dropped, it is unlikely that Catholic opposition to divorce or gay marriage will change. More compassion will be called for.


However, churches should be taking the lead to reform a patently unjust No Fault divorce law.  In 1991 the U.S. Catholic Bishops did issue a paper, “Putting Children and Families First,” that asserted that it “time for society to reconsider the consequences of permissive divorce, particularly in the case of couples with children. One million children see their parents divorce each year. 


“Public policy must be designed to help families stay together.”


What policies should change?  The bishops offered no specifics.  Nor was the issue even mentioned in their 2009 Pastoral Letter on Marriage.


Therefore, I’d like to propose two new laws that Protestant and Catholic leaders could support with their state legislatures. 


First, more time.  The U.S. divorce rate of 23% after five years of marriage is triple the 8% of Britain or France.  Why? If a British wife wants a divorce, but her husband is opposed, they have to wait five years to be divorced – and six years in France. By contrast, 25 states have a ZERO waiting period. Their laws push people to divorce.


  However, Pennsylvania and Illinois allow up to two years delay if a divorce is contested, and have two of the three lowest divorce rates in America. All states should pass similar laws.


Second, Georgia, Minnesota and Texas are considering requiring divorcing parents with children to take a course on the impact of divorce on kids – before divorce papers are filed.


All states should do so.  Children, the innocent victims, need protection.


Copyright © 2014 by Michael J. McManus, President of Marriage Savers and a syndicated columnist






Mike McManus is President of Marriage Savers

and a syndicated columnist, writing Ethics & Religion weekly

9311 Harrington Dr.

Potomac, MD 20854




Fwd: "$10 Great Dates" - Ethics & Religion Col.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Michael McManus <>
Date: Thu, Jul 31, 2014 at 6:14 AM
Subject: "$10 Great Dates" - Ethics & Religion Col. #1,718
To: Bill Coffin <>

Ethics & Religion

9311 Harrington Dr.

Potomac, MD 20854

301 469-5870


July 31, 2014

Column #1,718

“$10 Great Dates”

By Mike McManus


            “$10 Great Dates” is a book opening with a conversation.  One asks, “What’s your favorite date?


            She replies, “You mean before we were married?”


            “No, what’s your favorite date from the last couple of months.”


            After a period of silence, she responds, “We don’t actually date.  We’re so busy, and it’s super expensive!  It’s just not easy to do.”


            If that sounds like you, here’s a must-read book co-authored by David & Claudia Arp and Peter & Heather Larson.  It offers a date a week you and your spouse can do for less than $10 each.


            Think back to your initial dating days and why you dated each other in the first place. “Because I’m crazy about her.”  “He makes me so happy.”  “I want our relationship to grow.”  “I want to know her on a deeper level.”


            “Wouldn’t it be great if married couples could tap into this kind of positive energy in an ongoing way? Dating on a regular basis is a fun way for couples to rejuvenate their love for each other,” they assert.


            The Arps, long-term friends of ours, have often said, “Fun in marriage is serious business. Have you ever met a couple on the way to divorce who were having fun together?”


            Therefore they recommend that couples have regular date nights, but “dates with a purpose.” (Not just dinner and a movie, but dates “that stretch you and take you out of your normal routine.”)


            What makes a date great?  First, “quality time together, giving each of you a break from normal routine, a shared activity and conversation. Men tend to relax through doing an activity; women often relax by talking.” A combination is what’s needed.


               Each suggested date follows a succinct pattern: Before Your Date suggestions on how to research possibilities and tips for the actual date, Talking Points that can be conversation starters. Finally, each ends with Great Dates Takeaway, a thought to ponder and apply to your relationship.  Here are two outlines of $10 Great Dates:


            The “Out-of-Towners Great Date” suggest that you look at your own town as if you were a tourist.  “Pretend this is your first visit. You may be amazed what you discover.”


            Before Your Date research your area. Search the web to find discount days, coupons and other deals for the places you plan to visit. Chamber of commerce have free brochures.


            On Your Date allow plenty of time.  Consider a walking tour of the downtown area. Wear a backpack with water and snacks to stay on budget. Be sure to have a camera.


            Talking Points: What did you learn about your hometown? If you were giving a guided tour, what would you include?


            Great Date Takeaway: When we take the time to explore together, we gain a new appreciation of where we live, work and play. How does this relate to your relationship?


           Take A Hike (Together):  Pack your backpack and take an all-day hike. “We love to hike along the Potomac River, and each year try to do a seven-mile hike that takes us all day up and down a rugged path with scenery that is amazing,” write Dave and Claudia.


            Before Your Date research hiking trails near you. Most hiking guides will give details, such as distance, difficulty and other unique features.


            On Your Date stay on the path, but if it is too difficult, be willing to turn around. On narrow paths, take turns leading. It can be fun to use a walking app. “We highly recommend the Walkmeter app, which costs $5, leaving $5 for snacks.”


            Talking Points: “If you made a map of your marriage journey so far, what would it look like? What were some of the romantic highs or valley lows?


            Great Date Takeaway:   Taking the time to walk together encourages a new appreciation of the wonderful world that God created.


            The Arps have authored similar books, such as “10 Great Dates to Energize Your Marriage,” which is both a book and a set of DVDs that we recommend to churches as a way to enrich a congregation’s marriages. Several hundred thousand churches have shown the brief DVD excerpts on a series of Friday nights, after which couples go on a Great Date to discuss “Resolving Honest Conflict,” “Becoming an Encourager,” etc. 


            Peter Larson is a psychologist who co-authored the customized couple inventory called PREPARE/ENRICH, a diagnostic tool we recommend for both premarital couples and those in crisis.  Heather is a Christian relationship coach. They have produced DVD Dates with the Arps.


            If you have children, see 8 cheap options for child care. 


No excuses not to date!

Copyright © 2014 by Michael J. McManus, President of Marriage Savers and a syndicated columnist.





Mike McManus is President of Marriage Savers

and a syndicated columnist, writing Ethics & Religion weekly

9311 Harrington Dr.

Potomac, MD 20854