Monday, February 01, 2010

Christian Divorce Rate?

This last week was one in which the reminders that the divorce rate among Christians is the same or greater than non-Christians came more frequently and from an extra number of sources. I've wondered about this many times, but only today am I moved to post about it. The divorce rate is supposed to be about 50% for both Christians and non-Christians. But I have a question. Where is this divorce rate happening among Christians?

It's not happening very often in the churches that I have attended. Here's a quick figgerin': I've been attending church for over 15 years. The sizes of my churches added together are at least a thousand people, maybe two, counting people that have come and gone. I've known four divorces. One was between a Christian and an non-Christian with the divorce as a result of the non-Christian deserting the marriage. The other three fall into a category of divorce for cause - causes that fall into the "accepted" divorce debate amongst conservative evangelicals. Not a single divorce for "we just don't get along" or "God is leading us into marrying somebody else" or things like that.

I've attended many weddings over the years, and the divorce rate is zero there. I've also known church-attending Christians in other areas of life, like work and sports activities for kids, etc. I can't think of any there, either.

Contrast this with extended family and other non-church attending people or non-Christians I've known. Divorces everywhere. So, the rates are the same? Maybe they are, but I haven't experienced it, or maybe the way I figure statistics is skewed. Just curious. Any thoughts?


  1. Yes, my experience is similar when I think of it.

    However I wonder if it's because people who get divorces in our church circles find a way of leaving before the divorce, and then enter a new church after the divorce. I think it's difficult to get a divorce and stay in a church. I know lots of people in church who have had a divorce, but they had it before joining the 'church' I'm in.

  2. The 50% stat is bogus.

    It is true there is 1 divorce for every two marriages in any given year.

    However this does not take into account marriages from previous years that did not end in divorce.

    I believe the divorce rate is closer to 30% or so. (and no I don't have a link and I am too lazy to search) :)

    We must also factor in an increasing number of people living together (over the long term) without the benefit of state sanctioned or Church sanctioned marriage.


  3. Then if we take Elizabeth Taylor into consideration...

    For every one of her, eight other couples never divorce.

  4. I've thought about this same subject frequently over the past several years because it bothers me so.

    Where does this stat come from? How do "they" know if a person is a Christian or not? Is it simply because they attend a church? Because if that's the case, some of the most lost people I know attend church.

  5. I would say the Christian divorce rate where I have been over the last 17 years is not a lot different than the non-Christian divorce rate (it's usually more peaceful - that's really about it).

    The problem with Christian divorce starts with Christian marriage. Lots of young people marry for the wrong reasons - usually to sleep with the person - since this is the only way sanctioned by most churches. Those same causes for marriage usually also help the thing end.

    In my experience I see many young people being peer pressured into marriage by their elders in church...when they are not really old enough to know exactly what they are signing up for (on both sides).

    I think I have seen my fair share of divorce and about the same amount that remain seems to be based on compatibility and the joy both get from one another...rushed or not.

  6. If divorces in christian couples are increasing at alarming levels that much the same as people who are not christian so my question is, what is it that is missing even in christian marriage?

  7. The statistics (I had them, with several sources, on my laptop that was stolen, but it will take work to find them again) work like this:
    Polls find, among adults who call themselves Christians, a roundabout equal (sometimes one or 2 percent higher) percentage of divorced than among atheists and unbelievers.
    That is about similar to asking a hundred men in my country (rugby is a popular school sport here) if they have ever been part of a losing rugby team, and hundred women the same question.
    Women don't lose at rugby - not because they are better, but because they don't play. And while the majority of unbelievers never marry, the overwhelming majority of self-identified Christians do. Actually, married Christians are much more likely to stay married than divorce, and among atheists there are more divorced than currently married - with the majority never married.

  8. Retha,

    This is interesting, thanks for the comment. It sounds like you're talking absolute numbers between Christians and non-christians and the way I often hear it is in the rate (i.e. percentage difference). My point is if the "Christian divorce RATE" is so high (or even if absolute numbers are, on the other hand), why don't I know many more Christians who have divorced?