Ethics & Religion
A Column by Michael J. McManus


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October 10, 2019: Column 1991: Should Pastors Marry Cohabitating Couples


To: Interested Readers

From:  Mike McManus

This column is written in the middle of a paradox. America is the most religious modern nation, with 64% saying they are members of a congregation and 43% attending in any week, according to Gallup. Yet the U.S. is also the least ethical nation, with the world's highest divorce rate, highest teen pregnancy rate, highest murder rate. My goal in writing Ethics & Religion is to provide a weekly answer, suggesting how Americans can take their faith, and use it to raise the ethical standards in their families, churches and communities.


For example, I have written a number of columns outlining what some churches are doing to prepare couples for a lifelong marriage, to enrich existing ones or save troubled marriages. One column described a "Marriage 911" course taken by a spouse whose mate wants a divorce - that often wins the errant spouse back. Another reported that children of same-sex couples fare poorly academically and emotionally. "We are all Catholics now," said former Gov. Mike Huckabee after the Obama Administration announced plans to force even Catholic hospitals and universities to offer free birth control, sterilization and abortion drugs.


A Father's Day column reported that thousands of children are saddened to learn they have an anonymous sperm donor father. "Why is America's divorce rate highest in the world?" I asked and suggested answers. I proposed that TIME, NBC and PBS could cooperate to give citizens options on how to cut the deficit, and a way to "ballot" on them. I also report and comment on denominational news, such as the Southern Baptists electing their first black president, and a "Pastoral Letter on Marriage" by Catholic bishops.


Another theme is cohabitation, the worst possible marriage preparation. However, one column outlined a better way to test the relationship by taking a premarital inventory in which couples react to 156 statements such as: "Sometimes I wish my partner were more careful about spending money…When we are having a problem, my partner often refuses to talk about it." If the couple meets with an older couple in a healthy marriage to discuss these issues, 20% decide not to marry. But of those who married in one church after meeting with mentors, only 7% divorced in two decades.


Ethics & Religion is timely. A column on Chick-fil-A was written the day millions showed up to express appreciation for its owner's support of traditional marriage. E&R is tough. I called for "tougher gun laws" that would ban sales of assault weapons, sparking more negative than positive reactions. E&R is always constructive, such as a column on a DVD series, "Choosing Wisely Before You Divorce," which saves many marriages.


Hope is the subliminal message of Ethics & Religion. I write about America most difficult moral issues, but for more than three decades I have always offered credible proposed solutions.


My new email address is
Michael J. McManus
syndicated columnist
"Ethics & Religion"
President & Co-Chair
Marriage Savers
9311 Harrington Dr.
Potomac, MD 20854


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