The Christian divorce rate myth (what you've heard is wrong)

Discussion in 'News / Current Events' started by mandym, Feb 15, 2011.

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  1. mandym

    mandym
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    COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (BP)--"Christians divorce at roughly the same rate as the world!" It's one of the most quoted stats by Christian leaders today. And it's perhaps one of the most inaccurate.

    Based on the best data available, the divorce rate among Christians is significantly lower than the general population.

    Here's the truth....

    Many people who seriously practice a traditional religious faith -- be it Christian or other -- have a divorce rate markedly lower than the general population.

    The factor making the most difference is religious commitment and practice. 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.


    http://www.bpnews.net/BPnews.asp?ID=34656
     
  2. michael-acts17:11

    michael-acts17:11
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    So, how exactly do you differentiate between serious disciples & mere church members? Do we take a poll of there spiritual maturity? We should not have to handpick who we think are the more spiritual & use them to compare ourselves to the world. If there is an equal or greater percentage of divorce within the church as a whole compared to unbelievers, then there is still something foundationally wrong with the soul of the church.
     
  3. mandym

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    You could try reading.
     
  4. Arbo

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    ...And I would guess that those who are serious disciples recognize that there is real accountability to God when vows are taken before Him.
     
    #4 Arbo, Feb 15, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 15, 2011
  5. annsni

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    When I look at churches around me, I see many religious "clubs" instead of the body of Christ. I see places where people get happy messages, where it doesn't affect their day-to-day life, where sin still abounds pridefully, where the Bible is never read (even in church) and where couples do not look to Jesus Christ as the source of their lives.

    Then I see the true churches where there are disciples, where there are praying people, where faith is lived out daily and people live sacrificially.

    I think that's the difference.
     
  6. mets65

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    Beautifully said
     
  7. North Carolina Tentmaker

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    The divorce rate of different Christian groups, however you want to divide them, is often used as proof of how sinful and worldly they are. The truth is much more complex. Before you even think of looking at the divorce rate you should consider the marriage rate. Couples from conservative Christian backgrounds are much more likely to marry then secular couples, and some marry for the wrong reasons.

    Young people in conservative churches are taught to save sex for marriage. That is a good thing, I am not condemning that, but then you have some couples marrying only for physical reasons. Where secular couples might commit adultery or live together, young Christians are much more likely to marry. Now add in the couples who break the wait for marriage rule. They are less likely to be educated in contraception and more likely to create an unwanted pregnancy. Then they are much more likely to marry as a result. Then you have those in conservative churches who marry to please their parents or others. These groups all end up starting marriages on shaky ground and are more likely to divorce. In all fairness the divorce rate of Christian couples should be much higher than for non Christian couples.
     
  8. Thousand Hills

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    Good points, I agree to an extent. Those with a Christian background are more likely to get married than secular couples who shack up, so the marriage rate does need to be considered in this discussion. (Sadly though, its not uncommon for young couples today who claim to be Christians having no problems in shacking up). However, I would think those Christian couples who did marry for the wrong reasons you mentioned would also be pressured by the same influences to stay in a bad marriage.

    To take a line from an old Roger Miller tune (Husbands and Wives) "Its my belief pride is the chief cause in the decline in the number of husbands and wives" - Sadly, I've seen two marriages fall apart at our church in the past few years. The reasons were probably more complex than I can imagine, but most likely due to financial circumstances, step children, and of course pride.
     
  9. SpiritualMadMan

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    The ability to commit is key...

    Christ was commited to us when He took on human form and took on human flesh for our sakes.

    He remained commited throughout His earthly trek, even to death on the cross. When He (theoretically) could have called 10,000 angels and abandoned all of us. He didn't.

    If a man so loves His wife as Christ loved the church (note the priority of purpose) his wife will be naturally inclined to reciprocate. See Ephesians 5:25

    But, what of commitment?

    While we were in active hatred and rebellion against His Love, Christ died for us. (Anyway!) See Romans 5:8

    I know as a Charismatic/Pentecostal there is a tendency for the teachings (God is a Bless Me God) to make very poor disciples and fair weather Christians.

    IF you are not commited to Christ for better or for worse...

    After all He's done for you...

    How can you expect to be able to commit to a mere human for better or for worse.

    This July my wife and I will celebrate 28 years. She has put up with a lot. And, we have gone through some *very* harsh and tough times.

    By The Grace of Our Lord Jesus.

    I am a soldier of the Cross. And, she is my (military) Christian wife.

    See 2 Timothy 2:3
     
  10. targus

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    I agree - the valid comparison would be not only the rate of marriage/divorce but must also include the "living together" figures as well.

    I truly hope that Christians actually do have a much lower rate of "living together" than non-Christians and that I am not making an erroneous assumption.
     
  11. billwald

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    "Many people who seriously practice a traditional religious faith -- be it Christian or other -- have a divorce rate markedly lower than the general population."

    Catholic, Jewish, Hindu, Moslem . . . ?

    I thought Barna was your guy.

    http://www.religioustolerance.org/chr_dira.htm

    George Barna, president and founder of Barna Research Group, commented:

    "While it may be alarming to discover that born again Christians are more likely than others to experience a divorce, that pattern has been in place for quite some time. Even more disturbing, perhaps, is that when those individuals experience a divorce many of them feel their community of faith provides rejection rather than support and healing. But the research also raises questions regarding the effectiveness of how churches minister to families. The ultimate responsibility for a marriage belongs to the husband and wife, but the high incidence of divorce within the Christian community challenges the idea that churches provide truly practical and life-changing support for marriages."

    http://atheism.about.com/od/atheistfamiliesmarriage/a/AtheistsDivorce.htm

    http://atheismexposed.tripod.com/atheists_divorce.htm
     
  12. preachinjesus

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    If you take out the people with multiple divorces (2, 3, 4, etc) and then confine the data set to those who are involved with a local community regularly more than 1 time a month, the data gets a lot better. I've been saying that for years.

    Anyone who thinks they can just pray a prayer they don't actually mean and its a magic pill for salvation, then considers themselves "Christian" is in for an unhappy surprise on judgment day. To be a disciple there is a cost.

    Refining the data set is always a good idea.

    We can also do this for other areas. For instance there is a lot of press about how young people are "leaving church in droves after high school." I openly challenge this statement. They are not leaving Christianity but active, weekly church attendance because they engage with church and spiritual relationships differently. Also they are coming back once they settle down in a post-college career and are getting married.

    Also we hear churches are dying in America. Nope. Take out the mainline denominations that are struggling (largely due to their reliance on an outmoded liturgy and disavowal of biblical fidelity) and small churches under 100 people who can't sustain themselves because they haven't grown in 100 years, and you find yourself with a consistent pattern of growth in other churches.

    There is always more to the data. :)
     
  13. michael-acts17:11

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    Perhaps I should clarify my earlier post. I am not asking how to tell the difference between carnal Christians & committed believers. I was making the point, obviously not very well, that the difference may not translate well into statistical data. Carnal believers would likely not be completely truthful in a survey. I would also say that we should not discount the carnal when judging the spiritual condition of the church. I agree with annsni that many churches are merely clubs. I would go one step further & lay the blame at the feet of shallow pastors who have little if any ability to teach from the Word beyond the most fundamental of doctrines. The spiritual state of our congregations is a reflection of the spiritual maturity of the elder(s) who are charged with feeding them from the Word.
     
  14. gb93433

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    Luke 14:26-27, "If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. "Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.
     
  15. David Lamb

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    It would be interesting to know how the people who say, "Christians divorce at roughly the same rate as the world!" and, indeed, the writer of the Baptist Press article (in his phrase, "Christian leaders") would define the word "Christian". The word is used so loosely these days, so it's important to "define terms".

    From time to time, I am asked to write a short article for the "faith" section of our locan newspaper. Here is one such article, which I include, not to draw attention to myself (I know that others of you could have done a far better job than I), but because it illustrates what I mean about the necessity of defining terms:

    Statistics?


    Imagine an opinion poll about hobbies. 70% reply that they’re sportsmen or sportswomen. What a healthy lot! Not so healthy if only 7% actually partake in any sport!

    Christianity is a bit like that. Not that Christianity is just a hobby, or that church attendance makes you a Christian, but did you know that in the 2001 Census, about 41 million people, out of almost 59 million, said they were Christians? Yet only 3½ million (about 7%) meet to worship God on an average Sunday!

    We could understand a much smaller difference. Illness, trips abroad, duties of doctors, police and so on must sometimes prevent some Christians from attending services. But 37½ million of them?

    It seems “Christian” is being used to mean very different things. So what is a Christian? Someone born in a so-called “Christian” country? Someone with Christian parents? Someone doing their best? Someone who believes in God? No – even if all those things were true of me, it wouldn’t make me a Christian. And if any of those things could, what a tragic waste for God to send His Son to die on the cross to save me! What a mockery it would make of the words of Jesus in John 14.6: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

    Christian” occurs just three times in the bible. Acts 11.26 says that the disciples (all true believers in Jesus Christ, not just the first twelve) were first nicknamed Christians at Antioch. They were those who had heard the good news about Jesus, and believed in Him. Then in Acts 26, Paul, who had been imprisoned for being a follower of Jesus, is making his defence before King Agrippa. When he has finished, the king says, “You almost persuade me to become a Christian.” Lastly, Peter writes of “suffering as a Christian.”

    In Acts 16.30, a jailer asked what he had to do to be saved, that is, to become a Christian. Paul and Silas didn’t reply, “Don’t bother! You’re the wrong nationality.” They didn’t tell him there was no hope because his parents weren’t Christians. Nor did they say, “Just live the best life you can.” Rather, they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.”

    Are you trusting your nationality, ancestry, good deeds, to make you right with God? Only Jesus Christ can make you a real Christian, not just a statistic in a census!
     
  16. North Carolina Tentmaker

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    So here is a question. Are we saying that those who divorce are not "Real Christians?" Did they get rejected by Christ since they broke their marital vows? Should we excommunicate them?

    The truth is that divorce is much more common today than in years gone by. Some of this may be to declining morality, but much is due to increased opportunity and a lack of the bondage many were held in for centuries. While I do not believe there is a biblical grounds for divorce, and we can argue that on another thread as we have before, divorce still happens, and it happens to Christians, even those ultra conservative "Real" Christians who pass your litmus test for authenticity (glad my relationship is with Christ not some other man or woman).

    To ignore the real problem and place the blame on weak churches or libral pastors is to exclude a large portion of the church from our exclusive fellowship.
     
  17. David Lamb

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    Not sure if you were replying to my post, but it seems you were, as your post follows straight on from mine.

    Anyway, that is not what I meant. I was saying that before we can discuss the OP, we need to know what "Christian" means in the article quoted. Is it used to mean, "people who know their need of salvation, and know Lord Jesus Christ personally as the One Who grants them that salvation," or is it used in the way that so many people seem to have used it here in the 2001 Census, something like: "Well, I'm not a Muslim or a Hindu or any of the other choices, and I don't want to appear totally irreligious, so I'll choose "Christian", even though I only darken the doors of a church building if someone I know is getting married or buried, and I think Jesus was just a good man"?

    Clearly the meaning of the statement about divorce figures among Christians will vary depending on what is intended by "Christian".
     
  18. glfredrick

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    I would suggest that a true gospel and Bible-centered Christian church will be made up of a regenerate membership, and that membership would rightly expect the leadership of the church to watch over their marriages, instituting proper biblical discipline and counseling when those marriages are in trouble.

    That so many congregations have placed a "hands off, you're meddling" concept around their marriages may indicate why there are differences of opinion and of effectiveness of the ministry from one group to another.

    It might be interesting to know what individual congregations are doing in regard to teaching and acting on the sanctity of marriage.

    In our church, for the most part, the bulk of church discipline revolves around marital issues, infidelity, refusal to submit to godly pastoral counseling to reconcile differences, etc. We also have a full counseling department with pastors and elders, plus many trained workers. I understand that a counseling department is out of reach of a congregation that is running in the hundreds instead of thousands, but we've seen much fruit from our ministry.
     
  19. michael-acts17:11

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    A major problem in our churches is that we have young pastors with little or no life experience who are trying to lead & counsel hundreds of believers in all areas of life. This is what happens when the church ceases to be a relationship-centered organism and becomes a religious institution. Younger couples should be mentored & counseled by the elder members based on a foundation of friendship which requires spending time together "fellowshipping". The idea of focusing on relationships & families as the foundation of the church has been rejected in lieu of priestly pastor-centered religion and is suffering the moral & spiritual consequences of this unscriptural paradigm.

    I don't know of a single church that sets personal relationships as a priority. How a person spends their time reveals what is truly important to them. The same is true of churches. In practice, Christian fellowship receives less priority(time) than Sunday lunch at the local buffet.
     
  20. glfredrick

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    You are welcome to visit our "young" church that does just what you say young churches are not doing... Average age is under 30. Relationships are key to the expression of gospel living with each other and as outreach to a lost and dying world. Marriage is taken seriously, and much is made of it.
     
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