I don’t have a lot of pet peeves. But one of the few is when people quote the old urban legend, “Well, you know, the rate of divorce is the same in the church.” Which is one I debunked in my 2014 book, The Good News About Marriage.
Really, any urban legend gets under my skin, but this one infuriates me because it is the exact opposite of the truth. As a social scientist who also is a follower of Jesus, I can say both professionally and personally that life, health, and freedom is found in Christ.
If someone evaluates all sides of a religious faith and rejects it, that’s their decision. But it is pretty sobering to wonder how many people make decisions with eternal implications, based on disastrously wrong information! Like the “fake news” that church attendance makes no difference to your life.
That false notion makes many people assume these things:
- Since church attendance doesn’t matter, God doesn’t matter.
- Christians are a bunch of hypocrites since they say one thing but live just like anyone else. Or in the — slightly censored — phrasing of a friend of mine today: “OK, so Christianity is tons of fun. You go back to God and people start ticking you off left and right.”
- Since following God doesn’t change a life, there is no God – or He is impotent or uninvolved.
All untrue. Sure, individual church attenders sometimes fall down on the job because all people fall down on the job. Every human being is imperfect. But the reality is that church attendance not only matters –it matters a lot. Both in changing lives and hearts, and changing ultra-practical life outcomes.
As of 2014, pretty much every credible secular researcher recognized that truth – even if, ironically, the average church attender heard the urban legends so many times that they believed the opposite. In The Good News About Marriage, I summarized many of the indisputable research studies. And since 2014, many others have continued to find the same thing. For example, a brand-new Harvard study and others find that regular church attendance lowers the risk of divorce by 47%, the risk of depression by 29% and even the risk of dying by 34%!
Now that is worth mentioning to your friends when they wonder why you go to church. That good news is worth shouting from the roof tops. Or at least posting to all those people who believe the fake news.
Helping people thrive in life and relationships is Shaunti Feldhahn’s driving passion, supported by her research projects and writing. After starting out with a Harvard graduate degree and experience on Wall Street, her life took an unexpected shift into relationship research. She now is a popular speaker around the world and the author of best-selling books about men, women, and relationships. (Including For Women Only, For Men Only, and the groundbreaking The Good News About Marriage).
Her newest book, The Kindness Challenge, demonstrates that kindness is the answer to almost every life problem, and is sparking a much-needed movement of kindness across the country. Visit www.shaunti.com for more.