I continue with my notes from Paul McFate, 52 Good Reasons to Go to Church, Besides the Obvious Ones (Chicago: ACTA Publications, 2004). Here are some more of the good things that might accrue to you and your family if you regularly attend religious services:
- Stronger Marriages (25): Church attendance evidently helps make for better marriages, and a higher frequency of church attendance improves marriages even more. A 1980 study of slightly more than 7000 adults indicated that — controlling for age, education, age of marriage, and income level — among those who attended church less than once annually, 34% were either separated or divorced. Among those who attended church several times yearly, 27% were divorced or separated. But among those who attended church at least monthly, only eighteen percent were separated or divorced. That’s just slightly more than half of the percentage among those who rarely or never participated in religious services. [W. Shrum, “Religion and Marital Instability: Change in the 1970’s?” Review of Religious Research 21 (1980): 135-147)
- Greater Resistance to Cancer (26): Many studies indicate that attendance at religious services is correlated with positive health results. Among these is a paper demonstrating a positive relationship between religious participation and the functioning of the human immune system. The researchers looked at the religious practices of 112 women averaging fifty-three years of age who had been suffering from breast cancer for an average of two years. They found that those who were highly religious and/or who attended religious services frequently had stronger immune systems, as indicated by greater numbers of such beneficial disease-fighting factors as T-helper cells and lymphocytes. [M.D. Schaal, S.E. Sephton, C. Thoreson, C. Koopman, and D. Spiegel, “Religious Expression and Immune Competence in Women with Advanced Cancer,” paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association in San Francisco, California (August 1998)]
- Ability to Cope with Disaster (27): It’s common to hear people tell how their faith in God helped to see them through a medical emergency, a natural disaster, or some other kind of personal crisis. And, in fact, there is evidence to support the claim that having a religious support group or a perceived relationship with God can and does help. A 1996 study found that having a religious support structure positively influenced neuroendocrine regulation in people who were undergoing high stress. [T.E. Seeman and B.S. McEwen, “Impact of Social Environment Characteristics on Neuroendocrine Regulation,” Psychosomatic Medicine 58 (1996): 459-471.]
- Decreased Underage Drinking (28): A study of 842 male and female teenagers, both Catholic and Protestant, showed that adolescents with a strong religious affiliation are less likely to be heavy drinkers — but also that boys who were religious but non-church-attending had higher rates of heavy drinking. [R.P. Schlegel and M.D. Sanborn, “Religious Affiliation and Adolescent Drinking,” Journal of Studies on Alcohol 40 (1979): 693-703.