A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Is the Christian Divorce Rate as High as Many Have Said?

What do you make of this?

From Glenn T. Stanton, Baptist Press
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.

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 [1].

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.

Professor Scott Stanley from the University of Denver, working with an absolute all-star team of leading sociologists on the Oklahoma Marriage Study, explains that couples with a vibrant religious faith had more and higher levels of the qualities couples need to avoid divorce:

"Whether young or old, male or female, low-income or not, those who said that they were more religious reported higher average levels of commitment to their partners, higher levels of marital satisfaction, less thinking and talking about divorce and lower levels of negative interaction. These patterns held true when controlling for such important variables as income, education, and age at first marriage."

These positive factors translated into actual lowered risk of divorce among active believers.
The entire post, "The Christian Divorce Rate Myth," can be read here.


PamBG said...

This comment doesn't pertain specifically to Christians, but I've seen data that strongly suggested that the divorce rate of 50% is high because those who have been divorced once are much more likely to divorce after a second or third marriage.

Basically, the divorce rate is high because of "repeat offenders".

The divorce rate for first marriages (which includes those who never get divorced) is somewhere closer to 25% than 50%.

Allan R. Bevere said...

Pam, I've seen the same data as well.

Good point.

Anonymous said...

Barna has data from 2008: http://www.barna.org/barna-update/article/15-familykids/42-new-marriage-and-divorce-statistics-released

He slices his data pretty neatly wrt to "notional" vs "evangelical" and comes up with numbers around 33% for adults who have been divorced. So the number is lower than 50%, as Pam noted. His "Evangelical Christians" see some improvement (26% vs 30% for atheists) but I wouldn't call that a miracle.

NB: Barna defines an Evangelical as one who accepts certain statements like "believing that Satan exists" and "eternal salvation is possible only through grace, not works", not be self-identification or church attendance.