Christianity and Divorce

Wedding and engagement rings.
Rings signify binding marriage vows

Christians have long maintained that its proponents should have a much lower risk of divorce due a combination of factors. These include the perceived superiority of Judeo-Christian morality and ethics and the explicit teachings of Jesus against divorce.

Two pertinent studies were performed to test the issue: a 1999 Barna study[1] and the 2014 Glass/Levchak study. These are frequently cited by atheists because they appear to suggest that atheists have a lower divorce rate than Christians. Both of these studies found very similar results and came to similar conclusions. They did find a correlation between higher divorce rates and conservative Christian belief, but failed to show causation.

Divorce rates are highest among those with low education, low marriage age, and geographical situation in the Bible Belt irrespective of religion. Divorce rates among Christians are disproportionately skewed by the geographical influence. (You also see a similar geographic distribution for domestic violence and domestic homicide). These three risk factors just happen to correlate with the Southern Baptist Convention specifically and not Christianity in general.

There is nothing specifically wrong with conservative Christianity[2] with regards to divorce. The more you have poor education, low age, poor economic prospects, residence in the bible belt, and (possibly) being southern baptist, the more likely you are to get a divorce.

It’s not hard to find counter evidence against the general claim by examining states and counties with low rates of divorce. There you can find conservative Christian belief corresponding to low divorce rate, below average age of marriage and above average family size. Why not look to these as paragons of conservative Christianity and marriage?

The problem with studies like these are that they don’t show what they purport to show because the geographic influences are too powerful and lack statistical independence.[3]

In order to maximize your chances to avoid divorce, there are a number of things you can do. Combine the risk factors gleaned from these studies mentioned above, the Brookings Institute guidelines, and a few other studies and you get the following guidelines to lower your divorce odds:

(1) Don’t have sex before age 18.
(2) Don’t have sex before marriage, get pregnant before marriage, or have multiple sexual partners.
(3) Don’t cohabitate.
(4) Get married in the 20s.
(5) Graduate from high school. If possible get a Bachelor’s degree or learn a skilled trade, but don’t drop out.
(6) Find stable full-time work and learn how to manage money.
(7) The man should have the higher income.
(8) Don’t have divorced parents.
(9) Be a devout, practicing Christian. Attend church regularly.[4]
(10) Don’t live in the Bible Belt
(11) Have large families and keep multiple generations geographically close together.[5]

The vast majority of things on this list are conservative Christian teachings that when actually followed yield extremely low divorce rates. I’ve attended churches that actively push for these things[6] and whose members practice them. These churches have virtually no divorce at all among its active members. But it’s extremely rare to find a church that emphasizes these principles from the pulpit, members who are parents, Sunday School, Bible studies, pastoral counseling, etc.

[1] The 1999 Barna study is not readily available anymore. It suffered from methodology problems including (1) counting total divorcees against total members rather than total marriages; and (2) not taking cohabitation, as a marriage replacement, into account. I’m not sure if the Glass/Levchak study has the same issues, since the results were so similar. Another example of a methodology error is explained in this NYT letter to the editor. See here for a more detailed treatise on the subject.

[2] Compared to the rest of Christianity. Divorce rates among Christians are still much, much higher than they should be across nearly every Christian denomination, considering the almost blanket prohibition on divorce by Jesus.

[3] When I looked at the raw data for the Glass/Levchak I noticed how it incorrectly groups some conservative evangelical churches as “mainline protestants”, including a number of Anabaptist churches (e.g. Mennonites). This skewed the results.

[4] It should go without saying, but the devout, practicing Christian couple must both agree that Jesus’ teachings on divorce are inviolable. It’s mind-boggling to try to be a devout Christian and fail to follow the clear teachings of the Christ Jesus on marriage and divorce.

[5] The historical decline in family size, enhanced by no-fault divorce and the up-swing in single-parent families, has caused a corresponding increase in social alienation. Being close knit with your large extended family helps you to empathize with those close to you in your community. Contrast this with the dehumanization of internet “relationships.”

[6] Some of these churches defend marriage to such an extent that they will deny membership to anyone who has been divorced and remove those from membership who get divorces. Pastors will refuse to marry couples if anyone has been previously divorced. This “intolerance” leads to strong families, few divorces, and children who become successful adults.

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 Comments

  1. honeycomb

    I’m not a Southern Baptist .. but a Sovereign Grace Baptist .. any way .. all da wimminz at my small church that are of marriage age are not worth a darn. (And yes they attended slut finishing school .. aka college.)

    Conservative Blue-Pill men & women everywhere at my church .. encouraging college for the lil girlz and telling lil boyz to live by the old books (aka Shiv-you’ll-re[gret]) regarding how to treat a lady .. as if there was one within 100 years past to bestow his virtue.

    Gag

    They live in a false reality and promote their young men to slaughter (i.e. divorce) via their bad advice.

    Sigh

    I’m the only single man there .. and it drives’em nuts I won’t indulge in marriage or dating the stock of not-worth-my-time-wimmimz.

    “[6] Some of these churches defend marriage to such an extent that they will deny membership to anyone who has been divorced and remove those from membership who get divorces. Pastors will refuse to marry couples if anyone has been previously divorced. This “intolerance” leads to strong families, few divorces, and children who become successful adults.”

    And there is the real reason we have problems .. Theology that has been corrupted at Christian Orginizations .. and then there’s the femminization of the messages .. (aka man-up .. etc) .. There’s a reason kids that attended church never darken a doorway of a church as an adult (southern baptists own study) .. they’re not interested in being de-mask-u-lated and cucked openly in church.

    Had a female (mother of one lil boy) neighbor of mine get divorced .. she said she prayed on it .. got the church leaderships advice on it .. she was worried it was a sin .. and they told her it wasn’t .. they even remarried her.

    Sigh

    You can guess the church she attended (yes .. a southern baptist affiliated church).

    A Godly Family structure is a strength to a community .. to have atheists with the same or better divorce rates tells how successful the anti-family initative has been.

    Frankly I think I’d rather be around atheists .. they seem to not get offended when I discuss the current state of marriage.

    ..
    ..

    “In order to maximize your chances to avoid divorce, there are a number of things you can do.”

    I know the answer to this one ..

    Don’t get married ..

    (re: how not to get divorced).

    1. Ram-Man

      “Theology that has been corrupted at Christian Orginizations”

      This is just a quick list for maximizing your odds. Even if you follow just 8 of 10, you’ll still do better than average. For those that want as close to a negligible chance of divorce as possible, you need a church that has proper teachings against divorce and a wife who wholeheartedly subscribes to those teachings (not just you).

      “Don’t get married”

      Sadly, if you can’t find a woman fitting the list, then not getting married is safer than settling on a good-enough.

  2. Pingback: The Loss of Monogamy – Derek L. Ramsey

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