George and Abe Were Not Bill

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, Feb. 11 — An opinion piece by Marvin Olasky of the University of Texas cited several examples of 1998 media attacks on the character of past presidents:

“Bill's in Good Company ... Top Contenders for a Rushmore of Cheaters,” said the New York Daily News. “Cases of Presidential Philandering Are Hardly Exceptional,” said Newsday, in an article that pointed to George Washington and Abraham Lincoln — America's most revered presidents — as culprits.

Olasky did acknowledge some evidence that Washington and Lincoln had amorous, but not sexual, proclivities in their youth, but said both were models of marital fidelity.

He added, “Washington could not tell a lie when marital vows and legal oaths were involved,” and pointed out that Washington stayed true to his wife, Martha, for 41 years — despite eight years spent at war.

Lincoln always “put out the fires of his terrible passion,” as his law partner is quoted saying. Olasky recounted one incident where a friend sent a prostitute to him whom Lincoln was able to refuse. Later, when he was married, he stayed true to his wife through 23 years of marriage, even though she is considered mentally unstable by some and “once chased her husband down a Springfield street with a knife,” said Olasky.

Protestants Toughen Marriage Standards

USA TODAY, Feb. 11 — With one out of two newlywed couples facing divorce, a burgeoning “marriage movement” among Protestants is seeking creative ways to address the problem, USA Today reported.

In Florida, the problem is worse. There, three out of five marriages end in divorce, said Gov. Jeb Bush, a Catholic, according to the report. He has endorsed a “community marriage policy” that would link clergy of different faiths together in a common effort to save marriage.

“Clergy who endorse a marriage policy agree to establish minimum standards for a couple about to wed. The requirements can be modified by any religious community,” said the paper.

The plan has been adopted by 100 cities across the nation, and is the brainchild of Mike McManus, founder of the successful Marriage Savers program, said the article. McManus cites statistics that he says show that in counties that adopted the marriage policy in 1995, divorces have fallen about 35%.

But the paper quoted one skeptic: family issues author David Blankenhorn said “these claims just cry out for outside evaluation from accredited scholars.” He added that he admires McManus' work and supports the program.

Some Evangelicals Reject Contraception

CITIZEN, January — Evangelical Protestants are starting to embrace a Catholic understanding of birth control, if Focus on the Family's magazine Citizen is any indication.

In November the magazine published an article suggesting that Christians should avoid the pill. One reader agreed in a recent letter to the editor.

“Bravo for your challenge to Christian couples. ... We hear many messages about trusting God in the arena of finances, healing ... etc., but encouragement to trust God in the area of family planning is either rare or nonexistent” in evangelical churches, she wrote.

“My husband and I were led to relinguish birth control to God's control almost seven years ago, and God has added two precious babies to our family in that time. But I still grieve over the children we missed out on in earlier years because we followed the example of the world and Christians deceived by the world, rather than searching out God's heart on the matter.

“We also wonder if the lack of major progress for the pro-life movement isn't rooted in the contraceptive mentality. Evangelicals say that children are a gift from God, and yet in our own way (contraception) we also reject those gifts. The ‘slippery slope’ of devaluing human life did not begin with abortion; it began when the masses — including Christians — accepted Margaret Sanger's anti-child and pro-birth control philosophies.” Sanger founded Planned Parenthood.