We keep hearing that the divorce rate among Christians is the same as–or maybe a little worse–than that of non-Christians. That may not be true, at least when you factor in how serious the Christians in question are about their faith:
“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.
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.
38%? That’s lots better than 60%, but still shockingly high, especially among the more devout believers. 35% less likely to get a divorce? One would think it should be greater than that. At any rate, the bottom line seems to be that the more seriously couples take their faith, the less likely they are to get a divorce. That seems like a self-evident truth, but it appears there is also evidence for it.