Do Christians have a lower rate of divorce than non-Christians?

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

It’s common, in discussions about marriage, divorce, and family matters, to hear the claim that Christian marriages have the same divorce rate as non-Christian ones—the point being that Christians don’t have much of a leg to stand on when it comes to critiquing social policies related to marriage and family. But is that true, or just a myth that’s been repeated so many times we’ve accepted it?

Glenn Stanton has attracted attention over the last week with an essay claiming that Christians do, in fact, average a significantly lower divorce rate than non-Christians:

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.

Stanton makes it clear that it’s “serious Christianity” (church attendance and involvement, among other things) and not just “nominal Christianity” (saying you’re a Christian, but not doing anything to demonstrate it) that makes the difference.

That’s welcome news, if true. I don’t have any evidence to suggest this is or isn’t true, but it wouldn’t surprise me to hear that an oft-quoted “known fact” like this, almost always stated without citing any evidence, turns out to be untrue. But don’t use this in your social-policy discussions quite yet; at least one blogger finds Stanton’s essay unconvincing. The Confessing Evangelical blog thinks the lower divorce rates might just as easily be explained by other factors, not just “serious religious behavior:”

Most of the behaviours that Stanton attributes to serious disciples are likely to be associated with other behaviours or circumstances that may be shared by non-Christians. Attending church nearly every week and praying privately and together suggest a settled, stable family life, and a regular working pattern (no having to work shifts on Sunday, for example). Reading their Bibles and spiritual materials regularly suggests a certain level of literacy and of regularity of routine.

In short, what Stanton is describing is a happy, bourgeois family lifestyle in which people work regular hours, married couples spend significant quality time together (whether thats praying together or just talking to one another), weekends are devoted to family activities (whether thats going to church or to the park) and individuals have the time and mental energy to read books and think about their lives.

Without having read the sources from which Stanton’s argument is derived, I’m inclined to err on the side of caution and be skeptical of his claims. But to be honest, I was struck less by the question of who has the lower divorce rates than by the most optimistic Christian divorce rate cited: 38%. That number might be 5% or 25% lower than the non-Christian divorce rate, but it’s still a horrifyingly high percentage. When it comes to promoting healthy families and marriages, we’ve got our work cut out for us no matter who’s right.

Today’s devotional: can you be rejected by God?

Monday, April 5th, 2010

Have you ever felt, in the midst of a long and dark trial, that God simply wasn’t listening to you… or even worse, that God was rejecting you? Would God ever single out somebody for rejection based on their environment, their family, or other events outside their control?

In today’s Daily Encounter devotional, Dick Innes responds to a reader who wondered if his parents’ sin and failure years ago might have set God against him. His answer is short and to-the-point:

You are not rejected by God. He loves you no matter what your background is or the circumstances of your birth. God’s Word assures us that he loves each of us with an everlasting love. Remember that Solomon in the Bible was the child of a woman with whom King David committed adultery, and that God forgave David, and that Jesus came through the line of David via Solomon. This is a divine example of the grace of God.

Read the full devotional at ACTS International.

Have you struggled to step out from the shadow of family sin or dysfunction, and wondered if God was holding those past events against you? Have you found reassurance, or do you still struggle wtih feelings of spiritual rejection?

Share your thoughts!

Today’s devotional: what do you need?

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

What is the one thing that you need in life? A loving family? Stable finances? A satisfying career? In a devotional at Lifetime Guarantee Ministries, Anabel Gillham argues that all of these perceived “needs” are manifestations of our deep-seated need for security:

…you know–as I do–that our security is severely threatened today. Marriages are “insecure.” Having a Mom and Dad at home is “insecure.” Being financially “secure” can be a dream–or a nightmare–for many people.

There is only one completely secure thing in our lives. That one thing being Jesus Christ and His constant presence with us. No need to fear that He won’t be there when we are hurting. No need to fear He will leave us alone in this scary world. No need to lose confidence as we face a day of demands and schedules and unkind people. No need to wonder about what tomorrow holds. No need to be anxious.

How do we know these things? Because Someone we love and Who loves us has told us this. The deciding factor in our intense need for security is this: Do I believe what Jesus tells me. The place where we live now–this world–is a very insecure place. There are no promises held out to us in this world that cannot be broken, no covenants without loopholes, no perfect people who will never disappoint us. But, this world is merely a training ground’a launch pad. As the old song goes, This world is not my home, I’m just passing through.

Read the full devotional at Lifetime Guarantee Ministries.

Do you recognize the need for security in your life? Do you rest your hope on Jesus, rather than on the unreliable and passing things of this world?

How do you respond to the “black sheep” in your family?

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

Our question this afternoon is a bit different from the last several ones, but I think it’s appropriate with the looming approach of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and those epic family get-togethers that characterize the holidays: how do you deal with the “black sheep” in your family?

Here’s an answer from Dan Seaborn of Winning at Home, a Christ-centered family ministry:

A wise counselor friend once told me that the best way to deal with family members—especially difficult ones—is to simply be a family member to them. What he meant by this was that we should make efforts to bring the very best of family into the relationship. We should lead with love, reaching out to our relatives even when they hurt, annoy, and offend us.

This sounds much less complicated than it really is, of course, because past hurts can run deep, and because if there’s anybody on earth who can really get under your skin, it’s family.

Think about it, though. How would things change if you made an effort to bring the black sheep a little closer to the fold? What would be different if you practiced extra patience, built a bridge, agreed to disagree?

Now, I’m not going to say that there shouldn’t be any accountability or that we should turn a blind eye to real problems.

Still, there should come a time when you acknowledge that this family you’ve got is the only one you’ve got. It might never be perfect, but it will always be worth making a phone call, having a conversation, having a laugh.

Read the complete answer at the Winning at Home website.

Do you agree? Are you looking at any difficult family gatherings this holiday season, and if so, how do you deal with difficult family members with Christlike grace? And for extra credit, rephrase the question to ask how we should deal with the “black sheep” in the church family—is your answer to that any different than your answer to the original question?

What do you think?

Winning the battle but losing the war with your kids?

Friday, October 17th, 2008

Do you feel like your relationship with your kids is defined by continual conflict and clashes of will? In a recent article at the Al Menconi Ministries website, Al uses a lighthearted illustration from his own life to demonstrate that parents sometimes need to ‘choose their battles’ with their kids—while expecting obedience from your children is obviously important, choosing to make a mountain over an issue that should be a molehill can do more harm than good.

That’s just one of several articles about parent-child communication that Al’s written over the last several weeks. If you feel like there’s a disconnect between you and your kids, these essays might help:

  • Are you nagging or communicating? There’s a fine (but important) line between healthy communication and plain old nagging.
  • Are you just the chore-giver? Are you a loving, communicative parent, or just the person who assigns chores around the house?
  • A quick fix or a real solution? If you’re like most parents, you’ve found that your kids sometimes make entertainment choices that frustrate or upset you. When this happens, do you go for the “quick fix” or do you take the time to really understand your child’s behavior?

There are hundreds more articles at the AMM website covering topics ranging from parenting to video games to music. Take some time to explore what AMM has to say about raising a healthy family!

Give thanks for dad!

Sunday, June 15th, 2008

It’s Father’s Day—a special day set aside for showing some appreciation for good ol’ dad. Fathers have a unique and critical role to play in raising their kids and helping their families keep on track spiritually. Take a few minutes today to reflect on the ways that your father has contributed to your life (and if your relationship with dad is less than perfect, there’s no better time to take steps to mend it!). And if you’re a father, today you get to bask in your families’ praise… but it’s also a good opportunity to think hard about your role in the family and how you can do an even better job of being a father.

We’ve gathered a few Father’s Day links to inspire you today:

So dads—sit back, relax, and enjoy being the star of the show this Father’s Day… and give some thought about how you’re going to be an even better father this year than you have been in the past. And don’t forget to say thanks to your father!

Do you pray for your family?

Thursday, March 6th, 2008

Most Christians understand the importance of prayer. We pray for big issues like world peace and evangelism, and for small issues like personal health and safety. But how often do you pray specifically for the members of your family?

In a series of posts at the Life Action Ministries blog, Byron Paulus is writing about the importance of praying for your spouse and children—not just when they’re sick or have special needs, but as a part of your everyday prayer life. The series begins with a brief introduction, followed by posts about specific things to pray about for your kids: that they’ll develop an active faith in Christ and that they’ll grow up to be men and women of moral integrity. Paulus promises four more posts in the series, so keep an eye on the Life Action blog for more to come!

Valentine’s Day help for your relationships

Thursday, February 14th, 2008

Love is in the air today, whether you’re planning a romantic date with your significant other tonight, or are eagerly waiting for the holiday to be over and done with. There are a lot of useful articles and resources at about sex, marriage, dating, and relationships, and today seems a perfect time to highlight some of them. Here are some Valentine’s-themed items to get you thinking:

That’s a lot of reading to do between now and tonight. But even after the romance of Valentine’s Day has come and goes, much of this material can help you keep your relationships healthy and Christ-centered. Have a happy Valentine’s Day!

Getting Away with Family

Friday, January 18th, 2008

32138415.jpgStressed out with your family? Need a vacation? Your first thought might not be combine those two. But maybe a secluded week or weekend could revitalize those relationships. Maybe you just need to take a step back from the humdrum or the pell-mell to be with each other.

Perhaps they’re annoying or demanding. Perhaps they’re purposefully antagonistic. But that doesn’t change the fact that they are your family.

I’ll readily admit that I never jumped at the chance to go on family vacation. Upon reflection, however, I really appreciate the effort my parent’s put into them.

In the Community there are a variety of camping, retreat, and conference ministries with many activities and programs for your family. Or if you just need to get the kids out of your hair for a week, some of these ministries would be glad to not only take them, but teach them about God’s plan for their lives.

Check their web sites for more details and dates:

Grace Adventures

Hartland Christian Camp

Forest Glen Christian Camp

Maranatha Bible and Missionary Conference

Mount Hermon

Or search for a camp near you at:

Christian Camp and Conference Center Association

Answers to tough questions about family relationships

Thursday, January 17th, 2008

How can your help your children cope with a divorce? How should I confront bad behavior in my kids? What do I do if my spouse doesn’t share my Christian faith?

All difficult questions—but RBC Ministries’ Answers to Tough Questions takes a crack at answering them from a Biblical perspective. There’s a whole section devoted to questions about relationships, including marriage and parenting questions. The questions cover dozens of important issues that crop up in most families—in addition to the questions above, they touch on everyday family issues like family television viewing and the special challenges that stepfamilies face. You might not agree with every answer, but they’ll definitely get you thinking more Biblically about the relationships that define your family.