Toward a Healthy Marriage, In More Ways Than One
Ever heard the oft-repeated statistic that Christian marriages suffer the same divorce rate as those of non-believers? Thanks to pastor David Wayne, The Jollyblogger, we know that stat is missing some crucial data:
Most of us who are neck deep in the evangelical subculture have heard the alarming statistics that the divorce rate among "born again Christians" is as high or higher than the divorce rate among the more secular.
In an interview on women and marriage in Christianity Today, sociologist Brad Wilcox says this:
This idea that Christians are just as likely to divorce as secular folks is not correct if we factor church attendance into our thinking. Churchgoing evangelical Protestants, churchgoing Catholics, and churchgoing mainline Protestants are all significantly less likely to divorce.
When asked how much less likely these people are to divorce, Wilcox says:
I estimate between 35 and 50 percent less likely than Americans who attend church just nominally, just once or twice a year, or who don't attend church at all. It is true that people who say they've had a born-again experience are about as likely to divorce as people who are completely secular. But if you look at this through the lens of church attendance, you see a very different story.
The bottom line for Wilcox is that, statistically speaking, church-going evangelicals tend to have far more stable marriages than the more alarmist figures indicate. Of course, this doesn't negate the troubles of divorce when it does happen, but it does show that the marriage picture among church-goers is a little more rosy than we might think.
My only comment to add is that a vital faith seems to be the sine qua non of stable Christian marriages. The most stable marriages aren't necessarily those where the couple has read all of the Christian books on marriage, gone to all of the marriage seminars and retreats and learned all the techniques. It's where Jesus Christ is the dominating factor of their lives and where His grace permeates the relationship. Because of that, I think technique-based marital counseling (i.e. the typical stuff that comes across in most books and seminars on communication, understanding, sex, etc.) is only of limited usefulness. Jesus has to be the dominating factor of all of life for the parties to be able to practice the self-denial and show the grace that makes a marriage work.
Of course one of the marks of a Jesus-led life is the active participation in a community of Jesus followers -- a.k.a. the church.
In semi-related news, the latest Men's Health magazine reports:
Kissing may reduce allergic reactions and help fight infection. In a recent Japanese study, researchers measured blood levels of immunoglobulin E (IgE), antibody that can start an allergic reaction. They checked people with pollen, dust-mite, and latex allergies before and after the participants kissed someone for 30 minutes. At the end of the make-out session, the study subjects' levels of IgE had dropped 40 percent. Researchers think that kissing reduces the allergic response by increasing the production of Th1 cytokines, white blood cells that have been shown to halt IgE production.
To make the most of a lip-lock, turn on soft music; the participants were serenaded throughout the study, which has previously been shown to improve immune function.
So for a marriage that is spiritually and physically healthy, you should obviously divide your time between BCC and Inspiration Point. :-)
Not married but eager to get started? BCC has a pre-marriage mentoring program. If you're engaged or about to be engaged, do check it out.
This has been a public service announcement from your friendly neighborhood churchblogger. :-)