The Christian Divorce Rate Myth

In the last couple of days, the article by Glenn T. Stanton from Baptist press has been appearing in some of our favorite reading spots including here at The article asserts that the divorce rate in the church is not as high as the divorce rate among unbelievers.  The message is that people who are committed to spiritual disciplines have a lower divorce rate than the rest of society.  For a ministry with a focus on strengthening marriages for the sake of the Kingdom, one might think we would be overjoyed with the message of the article; but frankly, we aren’t.  Here’s why.

Those of us who have been perpetuating the myth addressed in the article already knew this “new” news.  WGHJ’s approach to healing and strengthening marriage is to lead couples to be hearers and doers of the word.  When husbands and wives turn the other cheek, go the extra mile, forgive as they’ve been forgiven, and love their spouses as they love themselves, they tend to have super marriages.  According to the “The Christian Divorce Rate Myth,” the surveys behind the numbers that support the “myth” include those completed by Christians who aren’t nearly so committed to these teachings.  In other words, the numbers look a lot better for Christians if we will only consider the interviews of people who are committed.  Strugglers make the rest of the church look bad.

You can’t exclude the struggler from the total church picture.  Good grief, if we’re only going to include the “committed” in surveys, then only 10% of Christian men struggle with pornography, only 5% of Christian woman have spoken disrespectfully to their husbands, and only 0% of Christian young people have had sex before marriage!

Only 38% of committed Christians have been divorced.  Really?  Now, that number seems incredibly high!  Even among committed Christians, nearly 4 out of 10 of our spiritual siblings have experienced divorce.

Quick shots:

  • If you want to address how great an impact conformity to the teachings of Jesus can have on a marriage, do that survey.  Don’t redo the numbers for the church by separating the mature from the babes.
  • Keep in mind that many in our churches, based on our informal surveys, are what we call “married but miserable.”  They’ll never get a divorce, but they are convinced they will never be happy.  Again, as we talk with couples, they are married but miserable because they have conformed their lives to Christ in every arena except the home.   They look committed on the surveys, and they are not divorced, but they are miserable.
  • Even the lower numbers are too high!
  • Our marital and spiritual walks are so closely connected that many committed Christians will hit a tough spot in their marriage, and their faith will waiver.  In fact, the faith can waiver so much, the formerly faithful man or woman might not meet the criteria any more for being counted among the committed.  So, they divorce, but they don’t figure in the numbers anymore.  Likewise, a faith struggle will impact the marriage so that the marriage suffers terribly.  Thankfully, though, the church’s reputation in unsullied because they dropped out of the “committed” classification before the divorce occurred.
  • The solution to our embarrassment over the numbers is not to rework the numbers.  The solution is live what Christ teaches in our homes!  Let’s impact the numbers by repenting, and then by being such loving models to the strugglers that we lead them to maturity.
  • 1 thought on “The Christian Divorce Rate Myth”

    1. Deb, don’t know whether you’ve been married or witnessed bad relationships of others, but we’re sorry that your experiences have led to your less than positive feelings about marriage and men. There are many women who have drawn the same conclusions.

      I will tell you that we have witnessed some great marriages and we’re living in one. Richard has his bad moments, but he’s not a horrible man. (BTW, Richard is actually writing this, but I’m confident JL will agree). Neither is Richard available.

      We understand your feelings. That’s why we are doing what we do. We believe that if we can lead husband and wives and be like Jesus and to intentionally pursue the dream of a great marriage, we can be a brighter light.

      “Marriage should be honored by all…” (Heb. 13:4). We’re working to expose it’s value.

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