Marriage and Spirituality

Lots of folks are quoting statistics that Christians are more likely than non-Christians to divorce; but those numbers are deceptive, as Glenn Stanton points out in a Focus on the Family report. He writes: “Couples who regularly practice any combination of serious religious behaviors and attitudes — attend church nearly every week, read their Bibles and spiritual materials regularly; pray privately and together; generally take their faith seriously, living not as perfect disciples, but serious disciples — enjoy significantly lower divorce rates than mere church members, the general public and unbelievers.

“Professor Bradley Wright, a sociologist at the University of Connecticut, explains from his analysis of people who identify as Christians but rarely attend church, that 60 percent of these have been divorced. Of those who attend church regularly, 38 percent have been divorced.

“Other data from additional sociologists of family and religion suggest a significant marital stability divide between those who take their faith seriously and those who do not. W. Bradford Wilcox, a leading sociologist at the University of Virginia and director of the National Marriage Project, finds from his own analysis that ‘active conservative Protestants’ who regularly attend church are 35 percent less likely to divorce compared to those who have no affiliation. Nominally attending conservative Protestants are 20 percent more likely to divorce, compared to secular Americans.”

So what is the take-away? “The divorce rates of Christian believers are not identical to the general population — not even close. Being a committed, faithful believer makes a measurable difference in marriage. Saying you believe something or merely belonging to a church, unsurprisingly, does little for marriage; but the more you are involved in the actual practice of your faith in real ways — through submitting yourself to a serious body of believers, learning regularly from Scripture, being in communion with God through prayer individually and with your spouse and children, and having friends and family around us who challenge us to take our marriages seriously — the greater difference this makes in strengthening both the quality and longevity of our marriages. Faith does matter, and the leading sociologists of family and religion tell us so.”

And so does the Bible, of course.

By Mark Mason

(36th St. church of Christ Vienna, WV)

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